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2/12/2009
02:54 PM
John Foley
John Foley
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Forrester: Platform-As-A-Service Is Here And Now

Some of the key questions around cloud computing these days involve timing. When will cloud services be ready? And when should your company adopt them? In a just-released report, Forrester Research says there's no reason to wait.

Some of the key questions around cloud computing these days involve timing. When will cloud services be ready? And when should your company adopt them? In a just-released report, Forrester Research says there's no reason to wait.The 13-page report, titled Platform-As-A-Service Is Here; Can It Help You?, was written by Forrester analyst John Rymer and colleagues. The research firm did its homework by interviewing 34 vendors, including Bungee Labs, Coghead, Engine Yard, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Salesforce.

The report focuses on one aspect of cloud computing -- platform-as-a-service. Forrester defines PaaS as including development languages, runtime execution, and app administration and management, all within a hosted service environment. Forrester distinguishes between PaaS for specialized applications (Daptive for project management, for example) and general business applications.

The bottom line is that Forrester says PaaS "is no longer theoretical; it is here now." Despite what they call the "often-silly boosterism" around cloud computing, the report's authors write that "we must acknowledge that established PaaS products ... are providing value to application development and program management teams."

That may not seem like a ground-breaking observation, but the truth is that many IT departments are still in wait-and-see mode when it comes to PaaS and to cloud computing in general. Indeed, Gartner recently said that cloud application infrastructure technologies need seven years to mature. And I would point out that Google App Engine and Microsoft's Azure Platform Services aren't ready for prime time, as neither are generally available.

To be sure, Forrester advises clients to assess for themselves whether PaaS is a potential fit for their requirements. And while Forrester raises a few caution flags, not the least of which is vendor lock-in, it's clear that Forrester is encouraging IT pros to take a look. "With the worldwide recession squeezing budgets, it is prudent for application development managers to create a position on PaaS and perhaps even start experimenting with one of the products." In my view, that's a kick in the pants for those that need it to get started with cloud computing.

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