PaaS Another Dumb Marketing Acronym causing mass confusion


“Platform as a Service” if that is not about the most ambiguous description of something you’ve ever heard then I don’t know what is…. I’ve always thought it was a stupid name for the third (Cloud market, segment, platform, uuuhh sector?) whatchamajigger of Cloud Computing. I’ve always had in my own mind what it means and being someone who has been designing and building Cloud Infrastructures (over 20 since 2004) I believe I know what I’m talking about to some extent however, then about a year ago I began to see stories from analysts (so-called experts who’ve never designed nor built one in their life) telling me it means something completely different, then I decided to examine some supposed actual PaaS services and was completely dumbfounded with how cheesy they were, it has not what I had envisioned, not even close….

So I’ve decided to develop my own PaaS solution and hopefully show everyone how it should be done, what it “was originally meant to be”.

So look for the “real” definition of a PaaS service to launch later this year from a company which is already in the process of launching six new disruptive and cutting-edge Startups this year alone. The stealth-mode company “Synapse Synergy Group” a cutting edge technology think-tank which has been able to acquire some of the most brilliant developer talent from all over the world including Poland, South Africa, UK, Germany, Spain and the US.

In a panel on “The Future of PaaS in an IaaS World” at Cloud Connect Summit, colocated with UBM Tech’s Interop Las Vegas, there was a surprising amount of disagreement on how to define platform-as-a-service as a form of cloud computing. Each member of the panel, which included several well-known cloud spokesmen, had a different definition.

Mark Russinovich, a technical fellow on the Microsoft Azure team, said he sees PaaS as “writing code that is integrated with a runtime environment, as opposed to code that is dropped into a virtual machine that’s sitting on a bare-metal server, a legacy kind of server. That’s the key differentiator point. The software knows something about the environment it’s running in.”

Margaret Dawson, HP’s cloud evangelist and VP of product management, claimed: “It’s really about that full environment for application development all the way through full, lifecycle management, even some of the orchestration stuff. It’s about a full environment, not only for development of the application. To me, it adds a layer above IaaS.”

Jesse Proudman, founder and CEO of Blue Box Group, a hosting service that, among other things, provides developer services and manages large-scale Ruby applications for customers, said: “For me PaaS is really about the service catalogue — consumable types of services — whether it be application delivery or container service. It’s that abstraction that delivers the ability to move workloads from cloud to cloud. I think that’s one of the most powerful features of PaaS technology in the market today.”

[Want to learn more about the debate over the future of PaaS? See Cloud Crossroads: Which Way PaaS?]

Brent Smithurst, VP of product management at ActiveState, supplier of Stackato PaaS software, said Stackato is “a platform-as-a-service based on Cloud Foundry and our primary market is Fortune 500 enterprises who use the platform in-house, on-premises. We’ve actually tried to get away from calling it PaaS. We really just call it an application platform.”

Krishnan Subramanian, director of Red Hat’s OpenShift platform strategy, said that, in addition to Linux containerization and open source tools, “I have a simple definition for PaaS. The application scales with the platform. It scales with the infrastructure seamlessly.”

So cloud platform-as-a-service, according to the PaaS experts, is a platform where the software knows about its environment in which it’s running. It’s also full application lifecycle management, from development through deployment and its production life. It’s also a catalogue of application services. It’s also an “application platform” and it’s a platform that can scale with the application seamlessly. Is that clear?

Proudman listened to the definitions and inserted an additional thought: “I really believe PaaS as a technology stack focuses on application delivery; it goes beyond just packaging up applications or services and really needs to provide a full orchestration chain to deliver those applications.” This comment makes deployment a more important part of PaaS.

Dawson also added a thought on why she continues to see PaaS as a distinct cloud layer separate from IaaS. “One reason that it doesn’t become part of IaaS is you’ve got to be able to have application portability. If it’s just tied to one type of IaaS, then you don’t have that portability.”

Red Hat’s Subramanian, however, disagreed. “I don’t think it’s just application portability… It’s application portability and portability of application environments.” That is, all the things that the application needs to run — its database interface, middleware, and security policies — need to become

What is sad is that people use these Marketing acronyms without ever even knowing what they mean all the time. I wrote an article many years ago about the “Mass Marketing Addiction to Acronyms” as I’ve watched it take perfectly good terms such as wireless and try to confuse people with “wifi” or ASP with SaaS, or virtual server with VPS, it never ends I just heard another one the other day which was so stupid I railed about it for five minutes to a good friend who used it and forced me to have to ask him what the hell he was talking about…. It was another marketing acronym for something else that had a perfectly good name already, but my point is that the Marketing Junkies have created this mess and we should all stop propagating their garbage unless we actually know what we’re saying and why…. If there’s already a good name for something, refuse to propagate their confusion, I make it my small part to not use stupid acronyms just because “it’s the new thing” to call wireless, wifi I don’t know about you but wireless is much more descriptive and a much better term, and zip think I’ll continue to use it, thank you very much indeed…

By Jarrett Neil Ridlinghafer 
CTO of the following –
Synapse Synergy Group
Chief Technology Analyst, Author & Consultant
Compass Solutions, LLC
Hadoop Magazine
Cloud Consulting International