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Enough PaaS vs. IaaS: The cloud is really about Services as a Platform

The “XaaS is dead, long live YaaS” commentary is becoming tiresome. IT is complex in the abstract, and is made even more complex by organizational structures, political currents and tribal knowledge. Each business seeks to extract value from their technology investments in a way that works for them.

Labels are useful when they convey meaning efficiently, but in my experience every customer and organization has built their own taxonomy around the higher order concepts. I have spoken to folks that have a set of vSphere clusters and a bunch of manual processes to deploy that calls it “cloud” and yet other folks that have been doing self-service, automated lifecycle management for a decade and labelled it a “cloud”.

I try and go back to the basics when I hear “PaaS” or “IaaS” in any conversation – what is it you’re trying to accomplish? What does your leadership team care about in that mission? What does success look like for you? And then I move into the conversation that is – what does “PaaS” mean to you?

IT is complex, organizations are even more complicated. We should try our best to make this as simple as possible by having conversations about business value instead of silly industry jargon with no common understanding.


For the last few weeks, an interesting and timely debate has been brewing among the technology press and various technology vendors and users about whether or not platform as a service, or PaaS, will survive as an independent cloud computing service category.

NetworkWorld’s Brandon Butler asked if “the PaaS market is dying as we know it”. Long-time cloud bloggers David Linthicum and Reuven Cohen concurred with Butler’s theory that PaaS was being absorbed into the IaaS and SaaS categories. This was met with counterarguments from EMC’s JP Morgenthal and Red Hat’s Krishnan Subramanian that PaaS is indeed a key service catagory.

I think this discussion is worth commenting on largely because it highlights the distinction between what services exist in the cloud and how those services are acquired. This is a common confusion, in part because the distinction is occasionally detrimental to various vendors’ attempts to differentiate themselves, and…

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Categories: Uncategorized

Chris Saunders

Infrastructure nerd learning to code and be a better human

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