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Abbott, Keeven & Fisher PartnersPartners In Hyper Growth

The Future of IaaS and PaaS

Even though I’m a fan of technology futurist, I’m not much of a prognosticator myself. However, some recent announcements from Amazon and recent work with some clients got me thinking about the future of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) such as Amazon’s AWS and Platform as a Service (PaaS) such as Google’s App Engine or Microsoft’s Azure.

Amazon’s most recent announcement was about Beanstalk. In case you missed it this new service is a combination of existing services, according to their announcement “AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an even easier way for you to quickly deploy and manage applications in the AWS cloud. You simply upload your application, and Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and application health monitoring.” This sounds like a move towards the PaaS to me but the announcement made a point that users retained the ability for total control if desired. It states “…you retain full control over the AWS resources powering your application and can access the underlying resources at any time.”

Werner Vogel, Amazon’s CTO, stated on his blog the need for Beanstalk was in dealing with the complexity involved in managing the entire software stack, which to me id the reason the concept of PaaS was developed. He cites examples already in use of Heroku and Engine Yard for Ruby on Rails, CloudFoundry for Springsource, Acquia for Drupal, and phpfrog for PHP. He states “These platforms take away much of the ‘muck’ of software development to the extent that most RoR developers these days will choose to run on a platform instead of managing the whole stack themselves.” This to me sounds like a blurring of the lines between IaaS and PaaS.

Another item, that we’ve actually written about at the end of last year, is the concept of DevOps. This idea which has gained popularity recently acknowledges the interdependence of development and operations in order to producing timely software products and services. Software developers in many organizations need simpler consolidated platform services in order to procure, deploy, and support virtual instances themselves. This is another push for PaaS platforms but with the flexibility for control when necessary.

Market predictions for cloud services in 2014 span from $55B according to IDC up to $148B according to Gartner. Regardless of the exact number, the trend is double digit growth for many years to come. While the market will pressure for commoditization of these services, providers will resist this through service differentiation. This attempt at differentiation will come in the form of add-on features and simplification across the entire PDLC.

The future of Iaas and PaaS is a blurring of the lines between the two. IaaS providers will offer simpler alternatives while still offering full control and PaaS providers will likely start allowing greater control to attract larger markets. Let us know if you have any thoughts on the future of IaaS or PaaS or both.

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