Global revenue for platform as a service (PaaS) will grow consistently for five years from 2012 to reach $2.9bn in 2016, up from $900m in 2011, according to research firm Gartner.
But as the platform-as-a-service delivery model grows, it will intensify the competition between large cloud service providers and enterprise software suppliers which look to capture the growing market, Gartner predicted.
"Of all the cloud technological aspects, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) are the most mature and established from a competitive landscape perspective, while PaaS is the least evolved," said Fabrizio Biscotti, research director at Gartner. "For this reason, PaaS is where the battle between suppliers and products is set to intensify the most.”
According to Biscotti, the PaaS landscape is still in flux, with traditional application infrastructure suppliers facing competition from new large players moving into the market, and a number of specialised PaaS-specific players cutting into their profits.
PaaS, which allows enterprises to rent virtualised servers and associated services for running existing applications or developing and testing new ones, includes suites of application infrastructure services, such as application platforms as a service (aPaaS) and integration platforms as a service (iPaaS).
It also includes specialist application infrastructure services, such as database PaaS, business process management (BPM) PaaS, messaging PaaS and other functional types of middleware offered as a cloud service.
Customers can subscribe to a cloud provider's PaaS or may buy a cloud-enabled application infrastructure product and build their own PaaS for private cloud (private PaaS) or public cloud consumption.
An outgrowth of SaaS, PaaS allows customers and developers to change and upgrade operating system features frequently, as well as minimise expenses.
It also allows small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access technologies and services they otherwise could not afford, said Natis.
PaaS individual segment growths
The PaaS market will touch $1.2bn in 2012 and $1.5bn in 2013, Gartner estimated.
It also predicted spending on PaaS technologies would average $360m per year between 2011 and 2016.
One of the largest segments within PaaS market is cloud application platforms (aPaaS). According to Gartner, this segment accounted for 34.5% of total PaaS spending in 2012.
The popularity of SaaS also drives adoption of PaaS as customers look for customisation, extension and integration of their cloud-based applications, according to experts.
Mature IT markets, including the US, Western Europe and Japan, are fuelling the global adoption of PaaS.
Emerging markets are currently only marginally investing in PaaS, but this trend is expected to change as PaaS matures as a technology and the supplier landscape consolidates around fewer mainstream players that have the capability to service wider geographies, Gartner predicted.
More about platform as a service
PaaS growth to intensify competition
A majority (70%) of PaaS functionality in use today is application infrastructure and middleware (AIM) capability.
Despite that, even large AIM suppliers, such as Microsoft and IBM, have only marginal share of the PaaS market.
This leaves the door open for more competitive landscape disruption over the next three years, since many of the largest enterprise software suppliers are on the cusp of entering the PaaS market with their own offerings, according to Gartner analysts.
This means AIM suppliers could consider PaaS in their offerings or have a strategy to address the needs of those clients looking at cloud for future deployments as the segment grows.
"All software mega-suppliers are strategically investing in the PaaS market despite the relatively modest projected market revenue," said Gartner analyst Yefim Natis.
"The fundamental appeal of PaaS is the opportunity for independent software vendors and IT organisations to create software solutions with minimal capital expense and without the hassle of provisioning and configuring the underlying infrastructure," he said.