The numbers are in and it seems that growing demand for greater speed and more line-of-business control over application development has pushed platform as a service (PaaS) to a tipping point of ubiquity. Several recent surveys show the state of PaaS is in rapid growth mode as a number of application deployment trends have raised the bar for continuous delivery.
One of the surveys, conducted among 1,358 IT and business pros by GigaOm Research and North Bridge Venture partners, clearly illustrated the dramatic rise in PaaS usage with just 7 percent of respondents stating they used PaaS in 2011 and 41 percent saying they now use the technology. Within two years, the survey shows that number will rise to 62 percent. And that’s slightly more conservative than a different survey conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Progress, which shows that 70 percent of 700 respondents are either already using PaaS solutions for application development or are planning to use them in the future.
The second survey points to increased pressure for even faster application delivery as a major driver of this push, with 85 percent of IT leaders reporting demand within their organizations to further reduce the time it takes to develop and deploy applications. That demand is coming from the top reaches of organizations and from the most important outside influencers—approximately 43 percent of respondents said rapid development was demanded by the C-suite, while 47 percent said the pressure was coming from existing customers or partners.
The push for faster development from business stakeholders is understandable given overall cloud trends. The GigaOm survey reports that 65 to 70 percent of respondents will move some or significant business application processing to the cloud in the next one to two years. This trend is led by front-office business functions, with 52 percent of sales and marketing moving significant portions of application load to the cloud 44 percent of customer service and 44 percent of business analytics.
This movement is led by a vanguard of those championing what executives at Progress are dubbing the DYOA movement—develop your own application—as many departments are increasingly trying to get what they need out of applications by developing their own.
“Departments are keen to develop their own bespoke applications for specific business functions rather than relying on developers to translate their business needs,” says Mark Troester, a product management leader for Progress, who explains this is in turn driving further PaaS uptick
Rob Walters, CTO of Engine Yard agrees that PaaS will not only be used to help speed up development in IT but to allow line of business some flexibility while metering the chaos that would come from a complete circumvention of the central development staff.
“Business managers commonly circumvent lengthy procurement processes and use the cloud to deploy new apps or launch time-sensitive campaigns faster. This can cause headaches for it departments that have to maintain security and regulatory compliance,” Walters says. “The most successful companies are finding ways to reap the benefits of the cloud-agility, efficiency and cost savings—while integrating security and governance best practices to ensure they’re driving business growth without undue risk.”
The process of how that happens on the development side is still up in the air and all over the map. Some organizations have developers distributed across department, others maintain a tighter centralized leash around projects.
However, what’s not in doubt is that it will take more than PaaS to speed up development. How organizations use these solutions within DevOps and continuous delivery models may prove the make-or-break element of how well the organization can successful deploy with speed and agility.