IaaS Exodus

I fear my thinking of late may be somewhat inconsistent: one part of my brain sees quite clearly that PaaS (platform as a service) is destined to win as the preferred method for developing and staging software in the future.  I firmly believe that.  At the same time, part of me has been assuming that the “migration to cloud” is simply swapping traditional OS/server infrastructure – which I call “legacy IaaS” – for private or public cloud IaaS.  And that, I believe, is not going to be the case in the limit.

Perhaps as a software guy working for a traditionally hardware company, I’ve allowed part of me to succumb to fallacious thinking: that people will always want to manage their own infrastructure – install their own operating system, configure it, and then stage software on top of that stack.  But my belief that PaaS wins is at complete odds with that thinking.

There’s no doubt that in the short term, consumers of IT will find it valuable to simply migrate their current legacy IaaS workloads, whether they are physical or virtual, from traditional data centers to IaaS cloud platforms.  It’s relatively straightforward and usually doesn’t require an application rewrite. The trend is accelerating and will continue for some time for various reasons: to control spending, be more agile in responding to market demands, or to take advantage of cloud-specific benefits such as better global reach or multiple staging points across geographies.  But these benefits are inherent to the fundamental nature of “cloud computing” and are not specific to IaaS.

It will become quite clear, quite soon, that IaaS is not the right delivery model on which to build end-user consumed software (SaaS).  Managing one’s own OS and run-time environment stack may give one a sense of control and security, but it isn’t scalable or competitive in the face of PaaS alternatives.  At some tipping point, migrations from traditional IaaS to cloud IaaS will be redirected to PaaS.  More than that, those who have migrated to cloud IaaS will make a final migration to PaaS, leaving IaaS behind for good.

This “IaaS exodus” is inevitable.  Whether it be on-premises or off, private or public, managed or unmanaged – Infrastructure as a Service can’t compete with Platform as a Service for application development and delivery.  Infrastructure will always be there, but it will be running the PaaS – not the apps.


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2 Responses to IaaS Exodus

  1. Arif Jameel says:

    Dr JCL, this is extremely well put. Eventually its all between the wants of the IT versus the needs of businesses. The businesses need a reliable, nimble quick ERP. The IT wants to have a robust infrastructure, OS, application etc. More often than not, it ends up as an impasse between the two. With neither of them serving either. (Hope this makes sense!!)

    In my view we have been looking at so many different scenarios, wherein the IT is always an impediment to business growth. Its about timing and provisioning. PaaS can provide both. Interestingly, I was talking to one of the CIOs of banking here and I had to mention to him that if he does not address his Retail bankers simple needs of campaign management, they would go and get a service from the cloud, just like he could go to dropbox or googledrive and get the storage he needs, making the IT department look like a lame-duck.

    Previously there were no viable external options. Today the Cloud has created the safety vent that most departments have been looking to escape the ironclad clutches of the IT departments. Your take on this, please.

  2. Craig says:

    No doubt that the increasingly easy acquisition of cloud resources has enabled two populations of IT consumers to escape situations where they have typically been starved: 1) the large corporate departments who have to unwind the red tape of an entrenched IT department, and 2) small and mid-size businesses who lack any number of enablers from technology experts to the large sums of cash needed to make capital investments in technology. Pay-as-you go consumption solves these and other problems while potentially creating new ones for organizations that are not prepared to incorporate utility computing into their compliance and policy controls.