Wikileaks notwithstanding, PaaS was the word of the week in cloud computing, with Red Hat buying Makara and CloudBees getting funding for its upcoming offering called RUN@cloud. More specifically, Java-PaaS was the real word, as both Makara and CloudBees focus on Java applications. Now, as I explain in my Weekly Update at GigaOM Pro, it’s not a matter of who will step up and offer a Java-capable PaaS service, but which approaches are sustainable.
One big question developers need to address is platform: Do they choose one dedicated specifically to Java, like CloudBees, versus one that supports multiple languages? For Java developers, there has to be some draw to a platform dedicated solely to making their lives easier. Garbage collection, for example, can hinder performance of Java applications, but it’s not the easiest problem to resolve. If CloudBees addresses this while non-Java-exclusive providers decide it’s not worth effort, RUN@cloud should get a lot of consideration.
Of course, there’s something to be said about PaaS offerings that support multiple languages, even where other languages or specific development tools take precedent. For one, doing so adds flexibility — there’s no guarantee that developers or companies will stick with Java forever, or exclusively. Another question is whether supporting only a single framework — like VMware partners Google and Saleforce.com do with Spring — is the best idea when trying to build a large developer base. Such offerings reach out to the Java community, but they don’t reach all of it.
Another question, at least for Java applications: Can public-only PaaS offerings can stand up to PaaS software running atop the infrastructure of a customer’s choosing? With many PaaS clouds residing as software layers atop IaaS clouds, might Java developers not demand access to that software and the ability to run it where they please? Among providers selling this option, to some degree, are Makara/Red Hat, Morph Labs, Tibco and Appistry.
I think it’s too early to tell how PaaS, Java or otherwise, will shape up, but with all the talk about openness and lock-in and hybrid cloud computing, PaaS providers need to figure out how they’ll address the above issues. Their products might be cutting-edge, but limiting the scope of potential customers could be a bad idea.
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Image courtesy of Flickr user Dominic’s pics.
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