By now, enterprises understand the value of Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), but there still is much confusion about Platform as a Service (PaaS). This confusion is one reason why enterprises have been slow to adopt PaaS. Why is there so much confusion? Because PaaS is still in its early days of maturity, but it is growing up really quickly right before our eyes.
As mentioned in a number of posts, there is a clear trend away from Platform-specific PaaS (where you write your application to the platform) and Language-Specific PaaS (which provide support to one or possibly a couple of languages) to Universal PaaS, which is capable of supporting any language and any platform. There’s a little bit of a gray area, but we would include ActiveState Stackato, AppFog, dotCloud, GigaSpaces Cloudify, Red Hat OpenShift, Salesforce Heroku, Uhuru Software AppCloud and VMWare CloudFoundry in this category. These vendors differentiate themselves by providing a broad range of Application Services or Application Lifecycle Services.
AppFog (the company formerly known as PhpFog) has become the latest enthusiastic adopter of CloudFoundry to go to General Availability with a value-added implementation of the open source CloudFoundry.org stack. The key differentiator is the RAM-based pricing policy around the Public Cloud offering – roughly $25 per GByte per month (first 2Gbytes are Free).
There is now a huge amount of movement in the area of what we have called “Diverse” Platform as a Service i.e. PaaS that delivers a number of different application infrastructure technologies on a mix-and-match basis and where there is no proprietary technology layer at any point in the platform stack. Amongst these we would include OpenShift, Cumulogic and CloudFoundry from our recent set of posts. AppFog sits in this category, and the fact that it has been recently renamed from PHPFog highlights a major trend in the space, the vendors typically start by developing a single technology, build an initial business plan and gain some market traction within that niche, and then move on to supporting a broader range of platforms.