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Okay, Let Me Say It - Generic PaaS Is Not Disruptive
Generic PaaS at best is an incremental innovation
By: Suresh Sambandam
Feb. 9, 2013 04:00 PM
Change. Continuous change is what we have witnessed, since computing began way back in the 1960s. We have had many transformational waves on how the software is built, deployed and accessed - from the COBOL and mainframes to client/server and PCs, to the web, to multi-tier and the whole 9 yards of how code was written, arranged, deployed and managed.
And, then, cloud came with the mother of all changes and changed everything across the board. Not just technology change, but also brought about innovative approaches to the business models and delivery models. Platform as a Service took this further and came to be known as a radical and transformational change! Now, let's take a step back and observe what's really happening. OrangeScape being a PaaS Company, I want to stay focused on PaaS and dig into that little deeper.
If there is one thing that differentiates "platform" from "product" is "program-ability." Hence platforms are about programmers. So, the logical question to ask is what has PaaS done to developers? How has PaaS impacted the developers? I'd stick my neck out and say that Platform-as-a-Service from the giants that we see in the mainstream today is an incremental step forward, and not radical or disruptive in the true sense of the term. Of course there are aspects of disruptive innovation in the "DevOps/NoOPs" area.
Let's look at What is disruptive? And, What is radical? Just when I was looking at a way to get my head around this, I happened to recall the importance of 10X performance, made famous by Jim Collins in his latest "Great by Choice." Even though that applies to the way the businesses perform, I see a parallel to the technology Innovation. And this week, Larry Page also warned the companies that are happy with the 10% improvement. If you're looking for a 10% improvement and not living by the Gospel of 10X, then you're basically doing the same thing as everyone else. Moon shots are radical, they are a 10X improvement. Current mainstream PaaS offerings from industry giants, even with all the noise around them, are incremental by the same rule. Using PaaS, developers still deploy the code on middleware, but now on the cloud it's managed middleware. In my humble opinion, this is surely much much much better than what we had pre-cloud/pre-PaaS, but falls short of radical or disruptive, i.e., the 10X rule.
Ask the question: Has PaaS made a sizable impact on the developer base? The answer is a big NO. I see mainstream PaaS vendors are attaching the same fixed developer base growing single digits every year. The only thing they have come up with is a "polyglot" so that they can expand their addressable market. Net developer growth stays the same. When something is disruptive, it forces many people to jump in. That hasn't happened. Why am I saying this? According to Evans Data there are around 16 million developers in total - this is a WW number. This number is growing only incrementally and not doubling or tripling. This simply means that the mainstream PaaS offerings haven't created enough disruption for the net developer population to grow exponentially. At OrangeScape Platform as Service we are embarked on this journey to create such disruption and growth in developer base - staying true our mission to "Democratize Computing." Only time will tell. :-) !
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