PaaS vendors draw battle lines over containers

Containers are ushering in era of co-opetition in PaaS

News this week that platform as a service vendor Apprenda is supporting Google’s Kubernetes container management platform could be viewed as so-called battle lines being drawn in this still-developing market.

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The PaaS market is still viewed as the smallest of the three major cloud models, garnering somewhat less interest compared to software as a service and infrastructure as a service markets. But it’s no less important. PaaS products create an environment for developers to rapidly build, host and scale applications.

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One of the hottest trends in application development is the emergence of containers like Docker, which provide a way to package application code. The three major PaaS vendors - Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry, Red Hat’s OpenShift and Apprenda – all support containers. PaaS platforms can handle a small number of containers. But managing a lot of containers presents challenges, so these PaaS vendors have evolved their platforms.

Kubernetes is an open source tool designed by Google to manage hundreds or thousands of containers at a time. Red Hat in the past had already pledged allegiance to Kubernetes. Google and Red Hat are buddying up in the cloud on a number of fronts, including running Red Hat’s OpenShift in Google’s cloud.

Today though Apprenda jumped into the fray too, announcing that it would also support Kubernetes. Apprenda CEO Sinclair Schuller says the idea is that Apprenda has focused its PaaS on supporting integration with existing legacy applications, particularly those built in .NET and Java. With support for Kubernetes, Apprenda can be a single platform for managing both legacy .NET apps, and cloud-native, microservices and container-based apps using Kubernetes.

Cloud Foundry, meanwhile, has developed its own container management platform named Garden, which supports massive scale-out of containers too.

451 Research’s Jay Lyman says it’s turning into a complicated market with vendors cooperating and competing with one another – creating so-called ‘co-opetition.’ Containers are a good example for this. PaaS vendors have received a market boost thanks to the emergence of containers. Yet container companies like Docker, CoreOS and Mesosphere provide PaaS-like functionality (aka, competition). “We continue to see a growing number of vendors supporting

Kubernetes, but we also see continued mixed use with other software including CoreOS, Mesosphere and Docker Swarm,” Lyman explains. “These vendors … certainly compete with one another, but also must support and integrate with one another to address the reality of mixed use among large enterprises. We expect this coopetition among the container management software and players to continue.”

The battle lines are been drawn, but they’re getting blurred.

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