If there’s one thing that can make the idea of platform as a service (PaaS) succeed, it’s this: make it easy for developers. That was the overall consensus from a panel of entrepreneurs and execs working on various platforms as a service at Structure 2011 in San Francisco on Thursday.
Developers don’t want to deal with the underlying software and the stack, they just want to access the APIs to make good applications, said Isaac Roth, PaaS Master at Red Hat. Red Hat’s OpenShift platform as a service — which it originally acquired when it bought Roth’s startup Makara last year — is chiefly focused on the developer experience and “we’ll do everything else [for them],” said Roth.
On top of being easier for developers, platform as a service can help developers produce applications more quickly, and with more predictability, said Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale. RightScale has customers that, say, when they launch an application using internal services, they have an 85 percent success rate, but with a cloud-based platform as a service, they can get 100 percent success rate, said Crandell.
Using the cloud to provide a platform as a service for developers seems to be working, said Roth, pointing to the collective thousands of applications that have been launched with the panelists’ platform as a service products. And now that the platform is starting to be embraced, another interesting thing is happening: the PaaS is enabling new ways to create applications, helping developers take separate services and glue them together, or letting them write one piece of an application in one language and another piece in another language.