The public platform-as-as-service market is set to expand rapidly over the next four years, driven by enterprise interest in boosting developer productivity and trimming the costs of cloud infrastructure. At the same time, some vendors have been pushing OpenStack solutions, such as Rackspace's Project Solum, that move up the stack from infrastructure-as-a-service to PaaS.

An IDC report estimated that PaaS would grow from $3.8 billion to more than $14 billion by 2017. Moreover, PaaS investment will increase at a 30 percent compound annual growth rate, significantly outpacing the 4 percent expansion of IT spending as a whole. The Americas will continue to be the large source of PaaS revenue, although the Asia-Pacific region is catching up.

This growth may be attributable to greater enterprise awareness of PaaS's impact on testing and software development. IDC's coordinators argued that a number of vendors have tried to tailor PaaS offerings to specific industries, but have hedged their prospects by partnering with large general service providers. Despite its projected boom, public PaaS may not be in the clear yet, since some companies may struggle to handle its impact on staffing.

"One of the biggest unknowns related to public PaaS is its potential impact on IT staff," the IDC report states. "Because public PaaS improves developer productivity by a factor of two or more, what happens to the developer workforce?"

Writing for ITWorld, Nancy Gohring highlighted the evolution of OpenStack PaaS. Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu, teamed up with Pivotal work on an OpenStack version of Cloud Foundry, but has also affirmed support for Project Solum.

Across the board, the OpenStack community may be in the process of producing mature PaaS products. In an interview with ReadWriteWeb, Mirantis chairman Alex Freedland argued that OpenStack solutions were rapidly moving up the stack and could soon challenge established vendors' offerings.

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