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Microsoft Cloud Authors: Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Serafima Al, Janakiram MSV

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Let the Platform-as-a-Service Battles Begin!

Vendor competition is getting fierce to ensure their platform is chosen

Platform as a Service(PaaS) is a growing area of interest in cloud computing. The inclusion of infrastructure with industry leading middleware capabilities reduces the barrier to create and deliver innovative applications and business processes to customers. PaaS can be a game changing direction taken by start-ups, independent software vendors, systems integrators and hosting companies who are all involved in putting their solutions to end customers.

Start-ups have the potential to build and deliver applications leveraging their domain knowledge with flexibility and agility never possible before. This can help them build solutions without a great deal of investment and a value proposition that customers would be hard pressed to ignore.

Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) can migrate their existing on-premise solutions to platforms that can be supported at much lower costs. Although this can cannibalize existing sales, the failure to make this option available to customers will attract competition from start-ups and creates the potential to lose new sources of revenue to competitors.

Systems Integrators (SI’s) provide services to customers to optimize their existing environment. The capability to migrate applications to a easily supportable common platform that can be very attractive to large customers. It has the potential of speeding development while lowering testing and support costs. Large customers could use the help and advice of SI’s to implement private clouds leveraging a single PaaS solution across the organization although there is always fear of vendor lock-in.

Hosting companies are committed to making information technology services available as easily as the telephone dial tone. Most already provide infrastructure services to any buyer. The differentiator is the value of providing a common platform. Making this capability available to customers could change the way new initiatives are launched giving them business agility never possible before.

There is going to be an intense competition between vendors to win the business from the entities mentioned above. It will be driven by factors like vendor reliability, partner support and at times even overlap in business between some of these entities and their vendors. The high stakes could put buyers in the drivers seats until there is a clear leader among the PaaS vendors.

Oracle made a major announcement that could set the stage to change the growing PaaS marketplace. Although some called the announcement of Exalogic Elastic Cloud “cloudwashing”, the value proposition will make it very enticing for users to consider. A common platform would reduce costs through skill availability, defect detection, developer support, etc. Widespread acceptance of any platform could lead to the emergence of de facto standards.

Given the nascent nature of the market, several major vendors are making major product and acquisition investments to offer a PaaS value proposition the attract customer interest. The next two years will be interesting as vendors lay out their strategy and customers pick their platform of choice.

On the final day of Cloud Expo's newly-enhanced and expanded Cloud Computing Bootcamp in Santa Clara, on November 4, several vendors will present their cloud computing portfolio and strategy that will give attendees a good perception of the future cloud computing marketplace. (By popular demand, as they say, the new 4-day Cloud Computing Bootcamp now runs from Nov 1-4, in parallel to the main event.)

 

More Stories By Larry Carvalho

Larry Carvalho runs Robust Cloud LLC, an advisory services company helping various ecosystem players develop a strategy to take advantage of cloud computing. As the 2010-12 Instructor of Cloud Expo's popular Cloud Computing Bootcamp, he has already led the bootcamp in New York, Silicon Valley, and Prague, receiving strong positive feedback from attendees about the value gained at these events. Carvalho has facilitated all-day sessions at customer locations to set a clear roadmap and gain consensus among attendees on strategy and product direction. He has participated in multiple discussion panels focused on cloud computing trends at information technology events, and he has delivered all-day cloud computing training to customers in conjunction with CloudCamps. To date, his role has taken him to clients in three continents.

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