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April 21, 2011

Infrastructure a Bigger Business than Platform "as a service," Forrester Research Predicts

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

As you might well expect, Forrester (News - Alert) Research predicts that infrastructure as a service will be a bigger business than platform as a service. That's the current conventional wisdom, but a well-founded assessment. Most cloud services buyers would likely be more comfortable buying computing services than locking in to a complete platform. The former gives the buyer more control, and more freedom to change vendors. The latter provides far less flexibility. 

Forrester does believe cloud computing represents a major disruption in the information technology industry, caused not so much by the technology approach, but the business model. Simply, cloud computing turns a capital investment into an operating expense. All the traditional advantages and issues with such approaches also will apply to cloud computing services.

Owned infrastructure requires capital investment, but provides more control. Leased infrastructure costs less, because much of the capital investment is avoided, and converts a capital item into an operating expense. Smaller or fast-growing firms often can justify a “leased facilities” approach, while larger enterprises often find the cost of an “owned facilities” approach still makes sense. 

The self-service consumption of highly standardized services using a pay-per-use payment model basically implies a pure opex business model; business users have no capex investments in the cloud. Security of user data often then becomes an issue. Some firms will prefer a virtual private cloud approach, while others might be able to live with a public cloud approach. 

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) will shift from public clouds to virtual private clouds, Forrester Research (News - Alert) projects.  While adoption remains high, the size of the market will shrink, caused by Moore’s law of commoditizing prices; this also applies to some degree to virtual hardware. 

Dynamic infrastructure services, which are the virtual private cloud counterpart of IaaS in the public cloud, are combining pure infrastructure with high-level services and close integration into existing on-premises landscapes. This segment is just about to see real growth and will outperform IaaS in the public cloud in the long run, Forrester Research says.

In other words, public cloud services will cost less in the future because the cost of inputs will continue to decline. “Dynamic infrastructure,” featuring more security and virtual private cloud features, will take more market share over time. 

Platform-as-a-service will become a middleware platform alternative. Preintegrated and, in many cases, simplified platforms for the development of general purpose business applications will become a serious alternative for developing custom applications, Forrester predicts. 

Independent software vendors will also find PaaS a highly attractive option for delivering software-as-a-service (SaaS (News - Alert)) applications.

Gary Kim is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell