AppFog Founder and CEO Lucas Carlson isn’t shy about touting platform-as-a-service as the ideal way for developers to access cloud computing resources, but he isn’t blind either. Although PaaS has been around for a couple years now and has already spurred hundreds of millions in M&A spending, Carlson knows it’s nowhere near the mainstream yet.
Carlson lays out his version of the evolution of cloud computing in the infographic below. Right now, API-based infrastructure-as-a-service offerings like that from Amazon Web Services and SysOps (or DevOps) tools are developers’ best friends in the cloud. Application-lifecycle platforms such as Cloud Foundry (the VMware-ran open source project on which AppFog is built) and Red Hat’s OpenShift are poised to reach critical mass in 2012, whereas so-called “NoOps” platforms such as AppFog and Heroku will reach that point in 2013.
During a recent phone call, Carlson told me PaaS is the model of the future, not the present, because only about 2 to 4 percent of developers — the ones on the cutting edge — are actually using it right now. “As interesting as PaaS is, the majority of developers … have some very real concerns that are holding them back from actually going forward,” Carlson said.
Aside from illustrating the evolution of cloud-development tools, Carlson said the infographic also aims to clearly delineate the different layers of the cloud stack, something he opined on in a December blog post. PaaS isn’t a feature of IaaS, he explained, but “a full reinvention from the ground up.” Every layer has to fully understand the layers below because they must manage them, but the user experience and the resulting increase in developer productivity are what make the service.