Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providers are split on whether to provide on-premises options of their offerings to enterprises. As of right now, 48 percent of PaaS offerings are available as cloud-only, Gartner said in a recent report. The trend matches up with the firm’s predictions around enterprise IT spending overall: Spending on cloud-based offerings will surpass that for non-cloud IT offerings by 2022.
Gartner has been tracking PaaS for the past 10 years and in that time a lot has changed, including the sheer number of PaaS providers. Gartner research vice president and distinguished analyst Yefim Natis said that though there are currently more than 360 PaaS vendors now, the last time they did this report in 2016, there were only 244 vendors on the market.
“Most people used to think of platform as a service as just being an application platform,” Natis said. Now Gartner tracks 22 different types of categories – including database platform as a service, and integration platform as a service, for example – from vendors who specialize in a particular capability or offer services in several different categories.
To give a sense of how many specialists there are in the PaaS space, Natis explains that 90 percent of vendors only offer a service in one of the 22 categories. The major seven PaaS pros - Salesforce, SAP, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, Google and IBM - touch nine or more categories with their offerings.
With all of those options and a fragmented vendor landscape in comparison to other types of cloud services such as IaaS, enterprises are turning to outside help in determining which PaaS options are suitable to their requirements.
Matt Todd, the founder of Fluent Software, helps businesses of all sizes accelerate software development and performance, through a mix of training, assessment and consulting. A large part of that is looking at the way they deploy software. In many cases, he recommends a DevOps approach that taps into PaaS to improve performance.
“The deployment piece is an issue for a lot of larger organizations,” Todd said, “they could be partly cloud-based and they could still be quite manual in processes or built around quite fragile scripts. So looking at the way that they are deploying and hosting platform as a service can quite often be a good way to give them some kind of benefit in their performance.”
The wide range of PaaS vendors is beneficial to enterprises since what historically prevented larger organizations from embracing PaaS was the constraints of which tech stacks and configurations PaaS vendors could support, Todd said.
“I think with the platform as a service bracket of cloud offerings it is important to make sure that the technology stack they are willing to support is a good fit for your current technology stack,” he said.
Sometimes when working with a larger organization that has a significant amount of legacy technology, there will be some intermediate work to do a technology refresh so it is able to fully embrace PaaS.
A common concern Todd hears from enterprises who are looking at PaaS is complexity, along with the concern of vendor lock-in.
“I think you shouldn’t be too discouraged from going all-in. A lot of people create complexity themselves by going half-in with a cloud vendor because they don’t want to make full use of all of the services a cloud provider can provide,” he said. “I think if they do go all-in they can probably get more value, quicker.”
Whether they are ready for PaaS or not, “larger organizations don’t really have a choice because they have to get on board with this or they will get left behind,” Todd said.