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Infrastructure cloud services take a shift toward PaaS

Infrastructure cloud vendors are looking to move up the stack into the platform as a service market, with Tier 3 being the latest example

By , Network World
May 08, 2012 10:28 AM ET

Network World - LAS VEGAS -- Services providers that have traditionally offered infrastructure as a service (IaaS) clouds are beginning to move up the stack into the platform as a service (PaaS) market in an effort to diversify their portfolio and respond to increasing customer demand for cloud-based development services.

The latest example is Tier 3, which today at Interop announced the rollout of PaaS and database as a service (DBaaS) offerings.

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Moves by services providers are slow and steady, says Philbert Shih, an analyst at Structure Research, who says he doesn't expect a major shift away from IaaS to PaaS, rather a progression by certain providers. "All the major players are eventually going to get there," he says. "The technology is out there, it's just a matter of time, development work and refining of a platform that will be offered by the provider."

The biggest driver for PaaS offerings, he says, will be customer demand, which he does not yet see as overwhelming for PaaS services. Enterprises first have to be comfortable with using the cloud in general, then they may look to move up the stack and into a PaaS environment, he says. Doing so, however, allows customers to design, develop and deploy applications entirely in the cloud, reducing the need for on-premise IT resources and providing access to scalable compute instances to power the application through its launch and growth.

Various IaaS providers are taking different approaches into the PaaS market. Some, like Tier 3, are the PaaS offering in-house. Others are using mergers, acquisitions and partnerships to build out a PaaS offering. AT&T, for example, announced in November offerings that incorporate LongJump's platform service. VMware has Cloud Foundry, which is an open source PaaS model that has begun to gain traction with other open source cloud vendors. Piston Cloud Computing, one of the pioneers of the OpenStack movement, recently announced a partnership to leverage Cloud Foundry and eventually support the VMware-backed project in OpenStack. There are even moves by traditional software as a service (SaaS) players, such as Salesforce.com, moving into the PaaS space, with the company's Force.com offering. Meanwhile, Windows Azure is a pure-play PaaS.

"It's a trend we're seeing and it makes sense," says Rich Wolski, co-founder and CTO of Eucalyptus Systems, an open source IaaS provider and a cloud industry watcher. In technology innovation, he says, the natural progression is to start at the bottom of the stack and work up, which is what he sees happening in cloud computing. "It makes sense to go infrastructure first and PaaS second," he says. Eucalyptus is evaluating what moves, if any, it will make in the PaaS market, he says.

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