PaaS Remains on the Edge
Tech Strategy Partners, Dec 2009, Pages: 41
How Force.com, Workday, NetSuite and Intuit fit into the emerging enterprise application platform battle for corporate and ISV developers
PaaS remains on the Edge – Why independent software vendors are reluctant to embrace Force.com and why Workday and NetSuite hold promise for corporate developers
At its user conference DreamForce’09, Salesforce.com released some impressive statistics on the traction that its Force.com platform has been gathering. The company claims 135,000 custom applications and 10,000 sites are built on Force.com. Already, 55% of the HTTPS transactions the company processes come through the API (i.e., from partner applications) versus only 45% coming from Salesforce’s own applications.
What drives that adoption and how does Force.com stack up against the alternatives?
New research by analyst firm Tech Strategy Partners contrasts the strengths and weaknesses of Force.com vs. platforms provided by NetSuite, Workday and Intuit. Tech Strategy Partners finds that PaaS is gaining most traction with corporate developers, not independent software vendors (ISVs).
Force.com benefits both corporate and ISV developers
Increased developer productivity is often seen as the biggest benefit, since developers can focus their effort on differentiating, customer-facing functionality, not application ‘plumbing’. Developer can build on existing, pre-defined data objects, security models, user interfaces, business processes and automated management. Building on Force.com reduces average time to deployment by 60% and cost by 54% compared to conventional web-based development platforms like .NET and J2EE.
Improved application manageability is another key benefit. The parent SaaS provider is economically incented to innovate around reducing complexity and automating IT operations, since it is paid a fixed monthly subscription. Moreover, the parent SaaS provider is able to deliver on this because it controls the entire application lifecycle, from design (on its PaaS platform) to operations (in its own data centers).
Additional benefits such as CapEx avoidance and ISV access to the PaaS vendor’s online market place complement the benefits.
But ISV adoption of PaaS will remain mostly at the edge
ISVs that consider building SaaS applications on these PaaS platforms are tying their commercial and technical future to a dominant partner who may or may not remain friendly in the future. Since PaaS vendors are likely to make far more money selling their SaaS application than their PaaS service, they are structurally incented to grow their SaaS footprint, which may eventually encroach on adjacent ISV partners. The direct cost charged by the PaaS vendor for use of functionality and data center infrastructure pales in comparison to these concerns about dependency.
Therefore, mainstream ISVs are unlikely to develop true standalone applications on these PaaS platforms. Rather, ISV applications will typically be adjacent to the PaaS vendor’s SaaS applications, a situation the industry refers to as ‘edge’. Edge applications might include marketing automation, talent management, project management, analytics, or collaboration. These edge applications provide a complementary process and synchronize key data objects with the core application. Core applications such as enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, and other transaction processing or business critical applications are unlikely to be built on another SaaS vendor’s platform.
Corporate developer adoption currently dominates
Corporate developers are usually less concerned than ISVs about long-term technology platform lock-in and are not tying their business model to that of the ISV. We estimate that most of the 188 million lines of Force.com code today come from corporate developers. Many of these would have previously been built on J2EE or .NET and a SQL database.
Advantage of SaaS-vendor provided platforms may be temporary
Over the next 3-5 years, the rationale for building applications on top of SaaS-provided PaaS will become less compelling. We believe that alternative PaaS platforms, evolving from popular web application frameworks, will likely capture greater share among corporate developers and ISVs. As J2EE, SpringSource/VMware, .NET, and LAMP mature into self-managing PaaS services, spanning across hybrid on-premise and cloud deployments, they will come to provide many of the current PaaS benefits while allowing developers to retain much greater control than most SaaS-based platforms. Moreover, these alternative platforms will offer the path of least resistance for the millions of developers trained in these traditional technologies.
New report provides detailed evaluation across Force.com, NetSuite, Workday and Intuit
Tech Strategy Partners’ new 41 page report provides a detailed evaluation of competing enterprise application platforms (PaaS) both from a business model / commercial as well as from an architectural / technical perspective. The report is a must-read for ISVs as well as enterprise developers, architects and application owners. A detailed evaluation matrix stipulates which criteria matter for different use cases. A side-by-side platform comparison contrasts strengths and weaknesses for Force.com, NetSuite, Workday and Intuit, again both commercially and technically. In-depth profiles provide further analysis on each of these platforms. And finally, Tech Strategy Partners predicts qualitatively where the enterprise applications platform is headed in the next five years.
Introduction and Context
Cloud computing is commonly categorized as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Most of the recent debate has centered on IaaS while the importance of and different approaches to PaaS for corporate and independent software vendor (ISV) developers has garnered much less attention. IaaS helps improve capital and operating efficiency via shared infrastructure and infrastructure management automation. But the real operating efficiency gains don’t happen until the applications themselves become part of the service being managed. That brings us to PaaS.
PaaS as provided by SaaS vendors Salesforce.com, Workday, Netsuite and Intuit is likely to remain primarily an ‘edge’ phenomenon when used by other ISVs. It appears unlikely mainstream ISVs will develop true standalone applications on these PaaS platforms in the near future. Rather, these PaaS services will find most success with complementary applications that work at the periphery. These applications will typically be adjacent to the PaaS vendor’s SaaS applications, a situation the industry refers to as ‘edge’.
SaaS-based PaaS vendors are likely to have far more success with corporate developers over the next 3-5 years. Once the SaaS vendors fully open up their application content as Force.com has done, corporate developers are likely to be less concerned with business and technology risk than ISVs.
Longer term, alternative PaaS platforms that can span hybrid cloud and on-premise deployments and that are built on traditional web application frameworks growing out of J2EE, Spring, .NET, and LAMP are likely to capture the most interest from corporate developers and ISVs. These platforms will offer the path of least resistance for the millions of developers trained in these traditional technologies. J2EE developers who understand scale up SQL databases for instance are unlikely to adjust to a completely different scale out programming model embodied by Google AppEngine.
– VMware’s vCloud
– Oracle CRM On Demand
Posted via email from Ippei’s @CloudNewsCenter info database