VMworld 2015: You Say Potato, I Say PaaS

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • When is a platform service not a PaaS? When it’s an IaaS, apparently.
  • Which is more important to a PaaS – middleware or virtualization?

When is a platform service not a PaaS? When it’s an IaaS.

Sure, acronyms are confusing and changeable, and I still struggle between MEAP and MADP. But, I always figured a PaaS is a PaaS and an IaaS is an IaaS. Pretty straight-forward, right? Well, not really during my sessions this week while attending VMware VMworld 2015, where I noticed the acronym PaaS (platform as a service) was glaringly absent from executive keynotes and presentations, especially when discussing VMware’s flagship ‘PaaS’ offering, vCloud Air. Some execs went so far as to suggest to the analyst group that we don’t even need the use of the term PaaS anymore. Easy to say if you’re an infrastructure vendor, but I know a few middleware providers that may beg to differ. Furthermore, it’s funny how a vendor that doesn’t cater to developers can so easily wave off a term pertaining to platform services. Developers are all about platforms; it’s their livelihood. So, be careful in your efforts to diminish the notion if you’re trying to get them onboard with your evolving cloud offering.

To be fair, VMware is exploring new terms that encompass the comprehensive cloud, i.e., a solution that supports IaaS plus PaaS, one that highlights its strengths in virtualization, security, and networking. VMware is certainly not alone in its quest for this holy grail of cloud offerings, alongside Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and IBM SoftLayer/Bluemix, among others. I say quest because VMware technically doesn’t include middleware in vCloud Air. Sure, it’s got partnerships such as Kinvey for mobile middleware, and it now has containerization to ease app development called vSphere Integrated Container (please see VMworld 2015: VMware Embraces Pivotal CF Microservices to Bundle Containers with Lightweight VMs, September 1, 2015), and it will also offer a microservices architecture stemming from the efforts of Cloud Foundry which is based primarily on proprietary buildpack technology, but clearly the company’s roots are in VMs, not application platforms. Therefore, the crux of its messaging was about the importance of meshing virtualization (vSphere) with containers (Docker) to ease modern app development whether it be native cloud apps or extending traditional apps to the cloud. HP has faced similar dilemmas around offering a PaaS which lacks middleware until recently, when it acquired Stackato to fulfill that application infrastructure component as part of the HP Helion Development Platform (please see HP Is Now a PaaS Player, but What About Mobile Services?, July 30, 2015). Once HP adds its version of mobile middleware (MEAP, MADP – take your pick!), it will be an even greater threat.

Now, traditional app platform providers of PaaS offerings should be readying their counterpoints to VMware’s argument that platform services are best served on a foundation of virtualization.

About Charlotte Dunlap
Charlotte is a Senior Analyst for Application Platforms at Current Analysis. She covers the technologies that provide the infrastructure necessary to build and run enterprise applications and services. She analyzes the software, services and professional services necessary to integrate disparate systems, create cross-business and cross-technology communications, deliver rich, collaborative applications, and build software that is transparent, optimized and reusable.

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