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With Cloud, The PaaSibilities Are Endless…

I read a very interesting article from ZDNet UK this morning titled “Amazon Cuts Off Stack at the PaaS

The gist of the article is that according to Werner Vogels (@werner,) AWS’ CTO, they have no intention of delivering a PaaS service and instead expect to allow an ecosystem of PaaS providers, not unlike Heroku, to flourish atop their platform:

“We want 1,000 platforms to bloom,” said Vogels, before explaining Amazon has “no desire to go and really build a [PaaS].”

That’s all well and good, but it lead me to scratch my head, especially with regard to what I *thought* AWS already offered in terms of PaaS with BeanStalk, which is described thusly in their FAQ:

Q: What is AWS Elastic Beanstalk?
AWS Elastic Beanstalk makes it even easier for developers to quickly deploy and manage applications in the AWS Cloud. Developers simply upload their application, and Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and application health monitoring.
Q: How is AWS Elastic Beanstalk different from existing application containers or platform-as-a-service solutions?
Most existing application containers or platform-as-a-service solutions, while reducing the amount of programming required, significantly diminish developers’ flexibility and control. Developers are forced to live with all the decisions pre-determined by the vendor – with little to no opportunity to take back control over various parts of their application’s infrastructure. However, with AWS Elastic Beanstalk, developers retain full control over the AWS resources powering their application. If developers decide they want to manage some (or all) of the elements of their infrastructure, they can do so seamlessly by using AWS Elastic Beanstalk’s management capabilities.
While these snippets from the FAQ certainly seem to describe infrastructure components that enable PaaS (meta-PaaS?) when you combine the other elements of AWS’ offerings, it sure as heck sounds like PaaS regardless of what you call it.
In fact, a Twitter exchange with @GeorgeReese, @krishnan and @jamessaull well summarized the headscratching:
With all those components, AWS can certainly enable PaaS platforms like Heroku to “flourish.” 
However, suggesting that despite having all the raw components and not pointing to it and saying “PaaS” is like having all the components to assemble a bomb, not package it as such, and declaring it’s not dangerous because in that state it won’t go off.
I’d say the potential for going BOOM! are real.  It appears Marten Mickos was hinting at the same thing:

However, Mickos disputed Vogels’ claim that Amazon is going to let a thousand platforms bloom.

“He will always say that, and Amazon will slowly take a step higher and higher,” he said, before pointing to Beanstalk as an example. “[But] in my view PaaS has middleware components… and I could agree that it is okay to add [those] to an IaaS.”

In the long term, as I’ve stated prior, the value in platforms will be in how easy they make it for developers to create and deliver applications fluidly.

I may not be as good at marketing as some, but that sounds less like an infrastructure-centric business model and much more like an application-centric one.

Moving on up is where it’s at.  I saw the scratching on the cave walls when I wrote “Silent Lucidity: IaaS — Already A Dinosaur. The Evolution of PaaSasarus Rex” back in 2009.

What do you think?  Is AWS being coy?

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  1. Ben Kepes
    January 26th, 2012 at 17:08 | #1

    Coy? Not so much, they’re placating their current partners (think Heroku, EngineYard et al) as a mid-term strategy. Have no doubt, Amazon will do what they need to do in the future. Many of us believe that PaaS is the future of Cloud – there ain’t no way that Amazon won’t be playing there in the future…

    My 2 cents…

  2. JP Morgenthal
    January 26th, 2012 at 22:02 | #2

    I addressed this last May in my blog piece called “Cloud Architecture: The Perfect Blending of IaaS and PaaS” http://blogs.smartronix.com/cloud-computing/141 . In this piece I effectively identified the entirety of AWS as a PaaS that is focused on building infrastructure systems. I believe Werner’s discussion and your’s by proxy suffers from a narrow definition of PaaS. Any environment that manages scalability and execution of a process is by nature a PaaS and this is what AWS does and goes far beyond Elastic Beanstalk.

  3. James Watters
    January 26th, 2012 at 22:46 | #3

    I can’t believe we are letting an article make us forget that cloud santa gave this exact same talk last year at cloud connect, and used the same 1k platforms bloom to explain it.

  1. January 28th, 2012 at 16:10 | #1