APaaS or Application-Platform-As-A-Service is a service that allows developers to write, deploy and consume software apps over the network without having anything physically located on their own machine.
As internet reaches the remotest of locations in the globe, more and more people will gain access to various application platforms to leverage them. You can build your own shopping cart app for the local store you manage or have a more complex CRM built with drag and drop (No special skills needed). Drag, Drop and Deploy (the 3Ds of aPaaS based app development). You could be up and running by the afternoon break. How cool is that?
Now, you may ask – how is this simplicity possible or is it at all? My answer would be, yes it is and it is for real. Enterprises and consumer web companies are eagerly looking to reach you – the user or buyer. They are putting millions of dollars to build platforms that will connect you to them through APIs, aPaaS platform(s) and web portals. They are bringing in “the” user experience through mobile or desktop clients for you to savor. While their campaigns might not always indicate so, they are going after your $$ big time.
Now, for some serious stuff. Why is aPaaS hot? Because enterprises and consumer companies alike want you to be their constant companion. Whether you are tracking your marketing campaign or building an employee portal for your company, you can use an aPaaS platform to build the right recipe/app for your business. What’s more is the fact that you can talk (I don’t like the word integrate – it is archaic) to any open app and use it to build your own service on top.
Some might wonder – is it a fad that will get over in a few years? – Yes and No. Yes, because competition and significantly better features would narrow down the players who can still stand on their own two feet. No, because things in enterprise IT and consumer web are going to get easier over time, not harder. So, you will do more and more complex things, easily and without stepping out of your desk.
That was philosophy. Let us talk money. Technology over a period of time transitions from being innovation to being a commodity. New technologies emerge to make things simpler and cheaper. Why would you setup a $30m data center for hosting apps (and data) built by your startup ? You wouldn’t and shouldn’t. Market players like Amazon, Google, and Rackspace provide you the necessary foundation of running your business on machines they manage and manage well. Then there are leaders like Heroku (www.heroku.com) and Cloud Foundry that provide you the platform sauce to build your services. You name a service and they can provision it for you in no time. That leaves you with the job of building apps and that is the task where aPaaS providers fit right in. There are many such players already. However, they are in a nascent to early stage building their portfolio to offer the wide range of potential users – from the enterprise to the software developer like you and me. So, keep looking. Who knows? The CRM someone built in 3 years earlier might be doable in 3 months or less for you. Go and build that business.
Couple of leading aPaaS providers include Wavemaker, Rollbase and Longjump besides Force.com. Now is the “minute” or the “hour” to build that app you have been waiting for.