How Verizon's PaaS strategy stands out from the crowd

Buzz around the platform-as-a-service market has been heating up over the past few months and so it makes sense that cloud service providers across the market might be examining their strategies around PaaS.

Verizon is one cloud provider that has been out front about its PaaS strategy, which stands out among its competitors.

This morning, Verizon said that CloudBees, a PaaS provider, will be offering its service on the new Verizon Cloud. Still in beta, Verizon Cloud brings Verizon into the true infrastructure-as-a-service age, allowing customers to order up compute and storage services online. It's an upgrade over Verizon's Terremark offering, which still runs but doesn't offer self-service access. While Verizon gets a bit overshadowed among cloud providers, Frost and Sullivan recently ranked it third, behind Amazon Web Services and Rackspace.

crowd_2.jpgImage credit: Flickr/_MaRiNa_

CloudBees isn't the only PaaS to run on Verizon's new cloud service; it joins Cloud Foundry and Engine Yard.

Verizon has been open about wanting to partner with PaaS providers rather than try to offer its own PaaS service. That strategy is a bit different than that of some of its competitors.

"Each one of these PaaS providers has a large community around them," said John Considine, CTO of Verizon Terremark. In other words, Verizon figures that by partnering with many PaaS providers, it is adding their customers to Verizon's cloud. Partnering with just one PaaS provider or even offering its own PaaS services directly might attract fewer customers.

While most of the independent PaaS providers run their services on multiple clouds, they are surely wary of some of their cloud partners. For instance, while most of them run on AWS, it's not entirely clear what AWS's strategy is around PaaS services. AWS offers some basic PaaS-like services so it's possible it could gradually add more and more services, in competition with the independent PaaS providers.

Microsoft started out offering a PaaS first, later adding IaaS. Some independent PaaS providers do run on Azure, which makes sense because they are catering to customers who might be Microsoft shops and might want to more easily use other Microsoft cloud services. But there's a risk of getting overshadowed by Microsoft's own Azure PaaS offering.

Google also has its own PaaS offering, Google App Engine.

Verizon said it will continue to enhance its own platform with capabilities like autoscaling and monitoring, but that it doesn't plan to try to compete directly with the PaaS folks.

Verizon's strategy might be best for end users but it's not clear yet if it will survive. The independent PaaS providers are likely to offer more complete services as well as those aimed at niche markets. That's good for end users that have specific needs.

But as the big cloud providers see more interest in PaaS, they're likely to want more of the action, which will put the squeeze on the independent players.

We're in for a lot of change in the PaaS market in the coming months. The growing interest is due, in part to the next wave of companies showing interest in using the cloud but looking for an easier entrance than IaaS. "We're off the leading edge of adopters and getting toward the mainstream," Considine said.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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