Heroku: PaaS is the future of development tools

Heroku CEO Adam Gross highlights the integral role of PaaS for companies ramping up customer-facing apps

The mantra that all companies need to become software companies is starting to sound familiar. PaaS clouds are the key to making this happen, by providing the means to get customer-facing applications up and running quickly, Heroku CEO Adam Gross argued this week at a developer's conference.

Gross said that even companies not known for producing software need to be as good at operating customer apps as Amazon, Facebook, or Google. "How are they going to absorb all that complexity and sophistication? It's not going to be by starting at the bottom of the stack," he said. Instead, a higher level of abstraction is needed.

PaaS's provisions for on-ramping applications quickly can enable this to happen, Gross stressed while speaking at the DeveloperWeek conference in San Francisco on what lies ahead for PaaS. Gross' talk took place amid debate over whether PaaS has, in fact, lost the cloud battle to IaaS.

During the past two or three years, the industry has reached a point of divergence between on-premise software stacks, tools, and services managed by the user, and those managed on the user's behalf in the cloud. "The result of that divergence is going to have a profound impact on the evolution and innovation that happens in developer services," said Gross. He predicted that developers will be consuming developer services and that there won't be developer software anymore.

Cloud usage is also affected by security and compliance controls. Applications could be deployed, equipped with security infrastructure from the cloud, and PaaS clouds also can offer data services from open source projects ranging from MongoDB to Hadoop, Kafka to Spark and Cassandra, he said.

Containerization, which provides the latest level of abstraction in software, and microservices, are major trends as well. With microservices, developers working on a code base that's more than three years old are probably decomposing it from a monolithic services into multiple services, Gross noted.

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