As for app dev services, partners often play a role, but take into account such providers as Google, Microsoft, Joyent, and others who began with PaaS and only recently ventured into IaaS. If their languages and development environments are on your wish list, your choice of IaaS provider may be an easy one. Note, however, that IaaS providers appear to be adding support for new app dev flavors and services all the time.
Be aware that some IaaS providers define PaaS as functionality to onboard and manage applications. We feel that's nonstandard and misleading; PaaS is really about providing an application development, testing, and deployment environment in the cloud. There's no shortage of those platforms of every possible variety, whether or not they're integrated into your IaaS provider of choice.
The IaaS explosionDo any of the new providers have a shot at unseating Amazon? Not in the short term. The collection of products and services offered by Amazon Web Services would fill a small book, from a broad range of EC2 instance types to NoSQL databases to Hadoop/MapReduce services to virtual private cloud capability and a vast software marketplace.
And the leader is not standing still. In March 2012, Amazon struck a preemptive blow by dropping prices on both its EC2 service and its hourly rates for long-term contract customers. Prices for Reserved Instances, which involve a one-year contract, were sliced by up to a third. Even bigger volume discounts are available, but most of the cuts are intended to entice entry-level customers who could be lured by competitors. As before, you can take advantage of a yearlong free trial.
Still, many feel the luster of Google's highly touted infrastructure could lure customers who've held off venturing into the public cloud. And the hybrid approaches of Azure, HP, OpenStack, Rackspace, and others could prove successful as more enterprises adopt private cloud technology -- and the ability to "burst" from private to public IaaS infrastructure becomes a reality. Terremark is taking this hybrid approach, too, using one of the most advanced private clouds currently available: VMware's integrated suite of virtualization and cloud products. Terremark, like IBM, seems to prefer a phone call rather than self-provisioning when beginning IaaS relationships with enterprise customers.
Is the IaaS boom a fad or the beginning of an era where businesses decide they want someone else to maintain their infrastructure? That's a trick question because customers often discover, to their dismay, that they may have been be able to lay off a few admins who maintained in-house systems -- only to discover they need to hire other admins who specialize in an IaaS provider's feature set.