There are a few go-to people TheServerSide keeps at the front of the Rolodex. When it comes to cloud computing, and especially the Platform as a Service space, it's former JBoss Inc CTO and current Cloudbees CEO, Sacha Labourey. We asked Labourey why it was that small start-ups and many mobile vendors were quick to embrace the cloud, while at the same time, the larger, enterprise organizations were reluctant to get their feet wet. Apparently, that's not exactly the way Labourey sees it. Here's Labourey's attempt to address the misconception that 'PaaS and SaaS is only for the little guy.'
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Misconception #2: PaaS is just for the little guy
There's no doubt that individuals, startups, and smaller businesses have been the first movers in Platform as a Service (PaaS), and that's natural. It's natural because PaaS, particularly fully managed services offerings, gives organizations a chance to focus on creating and delivering applications while leaving behind the burden associated with infrastructure and operations. Mixed in with these early adopters have been some larger companies executing on a top-down directive to 'take advantage of the cloud.'
Lately though, the industry has seen a major shift toward more enterprise-level adoption as an overall trend. Why? One of the biggest reasons for strong growth on the enterprise side is that traditionally late adopter enterprises are being disrupted by the smaller early adopters. In some ways, this is the wave of Software as a Service (SaaS) and mobile offerings coming to market and impacting traditional players in many spaces. In other ways, it's the IT department finally responding to the developers standing outside of their offices carrying pitchforks and torches. Overall, two quite different use cases are leading this move towards PaaS.
Traditionally late-adopter enterprises are being disrupted by the smaller early-adopters.
Sacha Labourey, Cloudbees CEO
Continuous Integration (CI) in the Cloud
The first prominent use case is the one of build and test. Development teams are constantly fighting to get access to proper resources to build and test their software. Yet, IT departments tend to focus their limited bandwidth and resources on production-oriented activities: testing and quality assurance are not their immediate priority. To that end, some PaaS platforms provide ready-to-use Continuous Integration (CI) services that make it possible to build and test software in a continuous fashion (i.e. any time something changes in your code, a new series of tests get initiated in a clean room environment), in the cloud. Those services require no software, no setup, no maintenance nor infrastructure from the IT department, and don't put the burden on the development team to maintain their own custom-built CI cluster in the cloud. This need for increased testing tools and resources is only made bigger with the advent of mobile applications that don't just require very intense testing, but new testing tools, environments and processes that most IT organizations are, for the most part, not yet prepared to deliver.
Facilitating User Engagement
The second use case nicely complements the first one. Many lines of businesses in larger enterprises feel the urgent need to engage in new forms of user engagement: social, mobile, local, etc. Unlike traditional business software that's being developed in those organizations, those new type of user engagements involve a significant part of discovery: businesses are looking to push new applications out as early as possible, validate their impact on users and, based on their discovery, improve and re-deploy a new version of the application - and iterate from there. Current IT environments are typically hostile to these fast-iterative development and deployments. This is where public PaaS come as a nice complement to the traditional IT environments: by extending the core IT infrastructure or an enterprise with the Fast IT environment that a PaaS provides, developers are able to securely leverage their company's core systems and data, sitting on IT's own data centers, while implementing and deploying new applications at a fast pace within a PaaS environment. In that scenario, it is important to note that PaaS is not replacing traditional IT, it is instead extending it to satisfy the DNA of a new class of applications.
In either case, people are looking for PaaS to help them get to market faster, reach new customers and deliver better value to their existing ones, just like the more nimble little guys have already figured out how to do.