2012 has for a long time been associated with a whole range of different eschatological beliefs, the common theme being that 2012 will be the end of the world. But, if we are still here at the end of this year, I believe that we will be able to look back and see this year as groundbreaking in a number of ways. This will be the year of all things mobile, HTML5 and 4G, and to a growing number of people, the real year of the Cloud.
Though many people out there are still debating the safety of the Cloud and worry about the implementation of it (see Symantec’s recent “State of the Cloud” survey), the truth is that once something has made it past “early adopters” (generally this group includes developers) and is working its way through the “early and late majorities” (Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve) it is going mainstream. If anything, right now, the Cloud is going through the fast acceleration of Roger’s S-curve and not the traditional adoption Bell Curve: there was a period of slow adoption until the social and technical factors aligned for its explosive growth.
All that said, if anything, last year (2011) was the year of the Cloud. Although that can be debated, the truth is that this year is the year of the Platform-as-a-Service. There are a number of reasons for this; foremost among them is the fact that the PaaS is the next step in the evolution of computing, and more specifically, the Cloud.
Without the Cloud, the PaaS as we are seeing it could not exist, but even more than that, the PaaS takes all the advantages of the Cloud and makes them available in a way that eliminates the need for the end user to have to manage any lower level resources or infrastructure. The automation that the Cloud allows for is realized in its proper form with the PaaS.
There are number indicators that support this, from the more mainstream web-centric platforms like Amazon.com, Google, YouTube, Facebook, iTunes and Twitter, to some of the up and coming PaaS that will be game changers for the developer and the product manager, like Google App Engine, Engine Yard, DotCloud and Jelastic.
As more and more developers become aware of the benefits of the PaaS, the move away from the traditional model towards the new, web-centric, browser based model will accelerate. That trend has already started, developers want to be able to focus on what’s important to them—functionality of their application—and not have to worry about the underlying structure. Web hosting providers can take advantage of this by focusing on what they are good at—providing and managing computing resources and infrastructure, servers and hosting, and support for those resources—and then providing a PaaS that users want.
2012 is the year of the PaaS. The Cloud has allowed it to happen. As more and more end users and service providers jump on the bandwagon, the opportunity to take advantage of the developers need for the PaaS will only grow.