Long live PaaS - CloudBees gets $11M infusion

About that whole PaaS is dying thing...

A few weeks ago an article I wrote with the headline: "Is PaaS as we know it dying?" caused quite a stir, and led to many other pundits in the industry offering their own two cents on the issue.

This week CloudBees, a Java-focused PaaS announced $11 million in new funding, led by Verizon Ventures, bring its total funding to more than $25 million. Last week Cloud Foundry had a big week. IBM announced it would invest $1 billion at the PaaS market (although we take that somewhat with a grain of salt), and Cloud Foundry - which has arguably the most buzz around it as an open source PaaS initiative - has developed into its own open source governance model, complete with a foundation and partners, such as Rackspace and IBM.

So, what about that whole idea of PaaS dying? Well, if you read my article closely, you will realize that I, nor anyone else I quoted was declaring PaaS a dying market. Instead, the argument made by 451 Research Group's Jay Lyman is that pure-play PaaS vendors could get squeezed out by IaaS and SaaS vendors.

First, some refresher background. The Platform as a Service market is typically thought of as a cloud-based application development layer meant to build applications for the cloud in the cloud. In that sense, many people think of the PaaS layer sitting in-between the IaaS layer underneath which provides infrastructure and the SaaS layer above, which serves applications. PaaS is about building and managing those applications that run on the infrastructure.

Many IaaS and SaaS vendors have rolled out PaaS-like features to their clouds. Salesforce.com, arguably the largest SaaS vendor, has Force.com and Heroku. Amazon Web Services has Elastic Beanstalk.

Lyman wrote a report noting that independent PaaS vendors likely will not be able to go it alone - they will need partnerships with IaaS and SaaS vendors. Hence, the model, at the time of pure-play PaaS vendors, was dying. And since that article came out, that's exactly what we're seen happening.

Examples of this include CloudBees announcing a partnership to run its PaaS on Verizon's IaaS cloud. Now, Verizon has backed that up with an investment as well. Cloud Foundry announced a partnership with IBM and Big Blue in turn announced BlueMix, which is a PaaS based on CF. Cloud Foundry also has a partnership with Verizon, which points to Verizon's desire to be a polyglot PaaS that gives developers a variety of choices for application development.

PaaS is not dying. The way PaaS is being delivered is changing though. Many signs point to PaaS being a strong industry: Enterprises need a way to build applications for the cloud in the cloud. The point of my previous article is that the way PaaS is consumed by businesses will likely not be through pure-play PaaS providers. As evidence by announcements over the past couple of weeks, instead, PaaS vendors will partner with IaaS and SaaS providers to offer their application development services that run on the partner's IaaS or SaaS.

Long live PaaS.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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