At the recent JavaOne conference panel, Sacha Labourey of CloudBees positioned themselves as the S in PaaS to distinguish themselves with other platforms represented in the panel (OpenShift, CloudFoundry, etc.). I think it is an argument gone stale. Especially, with the twitter snark hat on, I would say
2008 called and wants its Service in *aaS argument back #enufsaid
After the initial few years of Public Vs Private cloud debates, market (and, more specifically, clouderati on Twitter) are mature enough to understand that the needs of the enterprise are very diverse and their requirements varies from traditional data centers to private clouds to hybrid clouds. The days of enterprises will use only public cloud are either very far off or next to improbable. With PRISM, the chance of “public cloud only IT” future is fast fading in our rear view mirror. With the new talk about how some of the early hosted PaaS players are considering private PaaS as an option in their enterprise strategy, it is completely meaningless to stick to the talking point that S in PaaS is (publicly hosted) Services. In fact, OpenShift and CloudFoundry even offer hosted version of their platform along with private PaaS offering.
Without focussing any more on the rhetorical talking points, it is important we focus on the S and define what it means. Even though it is more of a PaaS 101 discussion, I want to put it out in the interwebs to reduce confusion among the enterprise buyers. Also, I want to use this discussion to kickstart a series of blog posts segmenting the PaaS landscape. At the outset, I want to make it clear that this is not Red Hat’s view of the PaaS market. It is my personal view and I have spoken about it publicly when I was an analyst covering the space. I am going to dig deeper on this topic now to set the stage for future blog posts focussing on enterprise platform market.
To me, S in PaaS means either Service or Service enabling software. If the PaaS in discussion is a hosted PaaS offering, the meaning of S is a no brainer (It is Services, stupid). If the PaaS is discussion is private PaaS, which many modern enterprises are using to deliver platform services to their internal developers, S will imply Service enabling Software. The software is used by enterprise IT to deliver platform services to their internal developers. What enterprise developers experience with the platform services delivered by their IT is no different from what individual developers see in the hosted PaaS offerings. The simplicity and abstraction seen by the end users of PaaS, a.k.a. developers, is same irrespective of whether it is hosted PaaS or private PaaS. The difference lies on who runs the service (outsourced service provider or internal IT). The user experience is the same in both cases and the only place where hosted offerings might have an advantage is in the case of sudden web scale spike that could happen in a totally unexpected way. With an open hybrid cloud approach underneath at the infrastructure level, this can be easily managed. The direct impact of such unexpected spikes will have an impact on the IaaS and SaaS layers but it is rare in the PaaS layer of the stack. With a right platform architecture, the platform elasticity can be made seamless if the underlying infrastructure elasticity is well managed. With hybrid cloud approach at the infrastructure level, enterprises can easily meet the impact of sudden spikes in the PaaS layer. Hosted PaaS offering doesn’t have a distinct advantage here unlike their IaaS and SaaS cousins.
Any attempt to twist the meaning of S in the private PaaS as something other than Service is totally misguided. We are done with that debate once and for all. Let us just focus on how we can empower customers based on their needs.