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By Zahid Jiwa, VP UK&I, OutSystems

Zahid Jiwa
Zahid Jiwa

Out of all the different cloud computing services, platform as a service (PaaS) has been the slowest growing with many organisations hesitant to adopt.  In fact, according to various estimates, PaaS claimed as little as one percent of total cloud spending in 2012.

However, this is set to change as PaaS finally appears to be coming into fashion. In terms of adoption, it’s predicted that PaaS will leapfrog other cloud services in the coming years. Leading analysts Gartner and 451.com estimate a steep rise in PaaS adoption, forecasting an increase in spending to more than $2.9 billion by 2016. Indeed, PaaS is projected to attain a 41% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2016.

So why has PaaS suddenly become so relevant?  I think it’s largely a reflection that organisations are now more confident about using cloud services in general, especially when they understand that cloud isn’t an all or nothing decision. Organisations have the flexibility to move between cloud and on premises as well as to create hybrid solutions.  The move to cloud can be gradual and iterative; you can fire up new projects in the cloud quickly and easily then if you need to, you can bring these back in-house at a later date.

Although the technology may have taken longer to mature than first anticipated, PaaS is showing positive signs of stability as well as security. As a result, those early adopter fears are slowly melting away.  Today organisations realise that PaaS is safe, secure, highly scalable, and extremely cost efficient.

Looking back, I can remember that after the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, which sadly devastated parts of Thailand, the cost of hard disks went up by 40% practically overnight.  This, combined with the impact of the recession, has had a dramatic impact on how organisations now approach application development. Price increases have had a long-term negative effect on infrastructure and development costs, making it extremely expensive to commission new projects today. Costs that organisations had been willing to sink into running their IT infrastructure 10 years ago have become unsustainable.  The net result is that we have seen many organisations grappling with budgets and priorities, looking for more cost effective ways to support their IT development requirements.  As we slowly start to climb out of recession, organisations are continuing to seek out more intelligent ways to spend their money.

So let’s go back to the sudden relevance of PaaS. I believe that we have reached a ‘Perfect Storm’ – where PaaS in not only considered more resilient, scalable and reliable, it has also become more mainstream. As organisations continue to look for more cost effective ways to build their development environments, they are increasingly doing this on an as-required basis.  With PaaS, companies realise they can achieve this far more easily and cost effectively whilst safe in the knowledge that they are not exposing the business to risk.

Today SaaS and the cloud are recognised as an efficient way to run your IT, and most organisations will have some or all of their technology infrastructure in this environment.  So why shouldn’t application development and PaaS live in the cloud as well? All things considered, it now makes perfect sense to try PaaS.