Meanwhile, IDC has identified a potentially vast segment it dubs "industry PaaS." The idea is that businesses themselves will create industry-specific PaaS offerings that will enable other businesses in the same vertical to build and deploy vertical apps -- and even sell those apps to each other in app stores. The New York Stock Exchange already has a PaaS offering for trading apps; Johnson Controls has one for energy-conserving "smart building" apps. If it takes off, industry PaaS will provide a clear indication that the cloud is loosening enterprise IT's grip on core technology.
Oracle leaps into SaaS The second biggest cloud news of the year was that Oracle finally decided to jump in. The Oracle Cloud will eventually include a full range of enterprise SaaS (software as a service) applications -- including ERP -- along with a Java PaaS offering. There is some debate, however, over whether Oracle Cloud deserves the "cloud" label at all.
According to Oracle, its SaaS applications are not multitenanted in order to address enterprise concerns about the security of shared infrastructure. Unlike the usual SaaS model, each customer gets its own application instance and will be able to control (within the range of a year) when application upgrades occur. Critics say that's more like hosting than the cloud and will make application management difficult at scale; others say that if the SaaS user experience is the same, who cares?
Either way, Oracle joins legions of providers offering every conceivable Web application. Workday, the SaaS HR and ERP provider that boasts the founder of PeopleSoft as its co-CEO, went public in 2012. And cloud collaboration of every possible stripe exploded, from enterprise social networking plays to new file-sharing competition for Dropbox and Box. One of the most interesting plays, a cloud repository and versioning platform for "social coding" known as GitHub, nabbed a whopping $100 million investment from ultrahip venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.