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SaaS Week

Krissi Danielson

Is PaaS a Passing Fad?

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The concept of Platforms at a Service (PaaS) has that distinct smell of overambition that waft through the IT sector with more regularity than most of us would probably like.

To recap, PaaS is about offering an online platform complete with the application development, data storage and other tools required to run multi-tenanted, massively scalable applications, explains Ovum analyst David Bradshaw. That falls in line with the previously announced Salesforce.com SOA that marries ERP functionalities with on-demand services. You know, kind of like the stuff SAP has been trumpeting in its new Business ByDesign product for a while now.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves; Salesforce.com, a Force (ha ha) to be reckoned with in the SaaS space considers PaaS the next evolutionary step in its business model.

Indeed, as CEO Benioff made clear in his Dreamforce 2007 developer conference speech last month, he views as the new model that will help his company keep up as Microsoft, SAP and other heavyweights charge full speed ahead into the SaaS space in the next few years.

Judging by the blogosphere, however, far from everyone shares Benioff's grand PaaS vision. Dharmesh Shah at OnStartups.com questioned the wisdom of putting all eggs in one basket. The question, as it stands, is less about technology and more about strategic vision. Or to put it more pointedly:

"Is your PaaS vendor going to be tempted to enter your SaaS market?" Smoothspan asked. "If they’re already an application vendor, it’s scary. What are the chances Marc Benioff will let a breakthrough CRM component thrive on his platform versus taking steps to force them to sell to him or worse, building a competitor?"

That, in addition to the inevitable wobbliness that comes with new models, is a strong argument against PaaS' future. Miracles can happen, but we're not holding our breath.


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Krissi - bunches and bunches of respect and all that but you're so far off the mark.

PaaS is the embodiment of the computing cloud's ultimate value. It's a completely logical development. True it'll take something huge to break through the other aggregators walled gardens but PaaS is totally the direction the world is going.

More here....

Not sure how you define PaaS. A PaaS platform aimed at developers to build applications on the fly (IDEs etc) is sub-optimal. But if a PaaS can make an integrated business system available via mashups (programmable web) leveraging all the little but very good components that have been built across the web, it provides strong business benefits. Imagine the ability to mashup a skype conversation, IM chat and a CRM functionality together and integrated together with the partner system. The big boys had 2 advantages - custom systems to reflect business processes and ability to hook up to partner systems via EDI etc. If PaaS can bring these 2 aspects to SMB it has done it's job.

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