George Reese of enstratus just wrote a great blog post about VMware’s cloud strategy, but I zeroed in on one of his major sub-points. He mentions that the entrance into the IaaS space by Google and Microsoft signifies that PaaS isn’t getting the mass adoption that was expected.
In short, Microsoft and Google moving into the IaaS space is the clearest signal that Platform as a Service just isn’t ready for the big leagues yet. While their respective PaaS offerings have proven popular among developers, the level of adoption of PaaS services is a rounding error in the face of IaaS adoption. The move of Google and Microsoft into the IaaS space may ultimately be a sign that PaaS isn’t the grand future of cloud everyone has been predicting, but instead just a component of a cloud infrastructure—perhaps even a niche component.
I highlighted the part in the last sentence. Something that I’ve seen more of lately, and appreciate more now that I work for Tier 3, is that PaaS is still really ahead of its time. While many believe that PaaS is the best cloud model (see Krish’s many posts on PaaS is the Future of Cloud Services), I think we’ve seen some major companies (read: Google and Microsoft) accept that their well-established PaaS platforms simply weren’t getting the usage they wanted. One could argue that has something to do with the platforms themselves, but that would miss the point. Large companies seem to be now asking “how” not “why” when it comes to using cloud infrastructure, which is great. But it seems we’re a bit of a ways off from moving up the stack further and JUST leveraging application fabrics. During the recent GigaOM Structure conference, there was still a lot of focus on IaaS topics, but Satya Nadella, the president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, refused to say that Microsoft’s PaaS-first decision was the wrong idea. But, he was realistic about needing to offer a more comprehensive set of options.
One reason that I joined Tier 3 was because I liked their relatively unique story of having an extremely high quality IaaS offering, while also offering a polyglot PaaS service. Need to migrate legacy apps, scale quickly, or shrink your on-premises data center footprint? Use our Enterprise Cloud Platform (IaaS). Want to deploy a .NET/Ruby/Node/Java application that uses database and messaging services? Fire up a Web Fabric (PaaS) instance. Need to securely connect those two environments together using a private network? We can do that too.
It seems that we all keep talking about AWS and whether they have a PaaS or not, but maybe they’ve made the right short-term move by staying closer to the IaaS space (for whatever these cloud category names mean anymore). What do you think? Did Microsoft and Google make smart moves getting into the IaaS space? Are the IaaS and PaaS workloads fundamentally different, or will there be a slow, steady move to PaaS platforms in the coming years?
Great point about full PaaS being ahead of the market, but enterprises being ready for more than pure IaaS. At rPath we are hearing the same thing from our enterprise customers. Apps on current architectures (JEE, .NET, and often some of both) aren’t clean enough for full-blown PaaS, but don’t see enough benefit from better elastic infrastructure. We’ve been calling that middle ground “enterprise PaaS” for lack of a better term — wrote about that recently at http://blog.rpath.com/understanding-enterprise-paas/.