Strategies for Expanding PaaS Adoption Beyond 12-Factor Apps

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) has become a leading force in streamlining software development. PaaS has been around since 2006, with companies like, Heroku, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and DotCloud, which later became Docker, leading the way. Despite the PaaS sector’s $170 billion market share in the cloud industry, companies still struggle with manual deployment and workload lifecycle management. The question arises – why isn’t platform-as-a-service more widely adopted?

One reason may be the lack of versatility in PaaS platforms. PaaS is often seen as a one-stop shop for deploying any application, but this usually refers to 12-factor applications. Many workloads have unique requirements that don’t fit the typical web app mold, such as batch processing jobs, high-performance computing (HPC) workloads, GPU-intensive tasks, data-centric applications, or quantum computing workloads.

The focus should shift towards companies managing all their workloads in the easiest way possible and abstracting their deployment and management. It requires a recognition that there won’t be a one-size-fits-all workload solution. Even former Google engineer Kelsey Hightower agrees that a single, all-encompassing PaaS is improbable.

PaaS needs to be more accurate, and there is a need for a seamless “workload API” that clearly states the intent: to run a specific workload. This term could be used instead of “platform-as-a-service,” which leads to confusion that PaaS is a silver bullet to running anything.

Another change should involve companies providing a seamless deployment and management experience for all their workloads, with each workload having its workload API. For example, Amazon Lambda could be used for batch jobs, Vercel for frontend, Vertex AI for machine learning models, and Korifi for web apps.

The next step is exploring how to pick workload APIs based on the specific requirements of each workload, taking into account factors such as storage, compute, and networking. Providing a toolkit with multiple workload APIs allows the flexibility to choose the right tool for the task at hand.

Ultimately, the key to wider PaaS adoption lies in addressing the diversity of workloads and offering flexibility in workload management. A more versatile PaaS experience across all workloads will be crucial in unlocking the full potential of platform-as-a-service technology and its application in today’s software development landscape.


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