Blurred lines

Has PaaS past its sell by-date?

Lucy Carey
grave

There’s a growing chatter on the impending demise of PaaS as we know it – but, we might be writing the obituary a little bit prematurely.

Like
all good death rumours, talk of the impending demise of PaaS has
been going on for a while
now. In the past few weeks,
a rising hum of chatter from analysts in the space that it’s well
on its way to being dissolved into IaaS and SaaS models has reached
a crescendo.  

The pending dissolution of the PaaS model is a view
shared by JFrog’s Fred Simon, who listed the consolidation of IaaS
and PaaS as one of his key
predictions for 2014
earlier this month. He added that the,
“technical line will get more and more blurry, and the companies
involved will also merge.”

This ‘blurring’ of the lines is evident in new
services by AWS and Microsoft, which have both put forth offerings
which mix up the traditional parameters of PaaS and IaaS. For
example, with Amazon, you can get services from infrastructure up,
bundled up to include middleware facilities, as well as ongoing
operations services and deployment.

Leading the charge against the formerly buzzy service is
Research 451, who wrote a blog
post
 which outlined the ways which PaaS is being
“squeezed between consolidation with IaaS and heavy use of
SaaS”.

Now, you can’t herald the death of a widely used
service like that and not expect a few detractors.  Several
vocal critics of this theory promptly weighed in – notably RedHat’s

Krishnan Subramanian
, who insists that it remains alive and
well as a key service category.

Subrahmanian attributes this “premature” eulogising of
PaaS as a failure on the part of the naysayers to recognise that
the service is flourishing – it’s just evolved into a new state of
being. He notes that, whilst many enterprises utilised PaaS for
their production workloads in 2013, how it was adopted crystallised
into two very clear strands.  

PaaS began life as the filler layer between IaaS and
SaaS in the cloud stack,  with PaaS serving as the deck used
to build apps, and the IaaS and SaaS sandwiched around to host
them. In recent times however, innovations to tailor the offering
to the needs of modern enterprise by the likes of Red Hat in
OpenShift and Pivotal have naturally served to alter the
traditional architecture of PaaS.

What we have now is PaaS by service orchestration,
wherein PaaS takes the form as a composition of hosted services
needed for the applications to run, and PaaS by container
orchestration. This latter form was propelled in development by
Linux Container technology reaching maturity, and, as the rise
of Docker
has shown, is perfect for users looking for a swift,
lightweight means for porting their applications across diverse
cloud providers.

He notes that the hum of interest around OpenStack’s

Project Solum
, which focuses on building an abstraction layer
for app deployment with container technology, is further evidence
of a growing vendor interest in this new variant of PaaS.

It’s true that, more and more, vendors are looking to
consolidate the functionality of IaaS and SaaS into PaaS systems –
and that’s something we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this
year. Although analysts may not recognise the newly emerging models
as traditional PaaS per say, it’s safe to say that any eulogies for
this cloud technology are well and truly off the mark.

Image by Sascha Wenninger

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