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As we move forward into the era of Cloud, I sometimes wonder if we are in danger of history repeating itself. In its abstracted essence, modern Cloud is rather similar to last-century Bureau Computing – and, as then, there is now a risk of lock-in to a powerful vendor. There are plenty of Cloud choices, yes, but Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure probably, together, have overwhelming market share. And when you have chosen your Cloud (making sure that you have an exit strategy etc.) and used it for a while, changing Cloud vendor suddenly doesn’t seem very attractive anymore. You could change, but you use a lot of vendor services and, while you’re quite sure that they are available on other platforms, they are called something different on each platform, and packaged up differently, and (although you really do have “cloud-neutral” policies) you do have a couple of routines based on vendor-specific utilities because performance in that area is critical. And there is regression testing – after you’ve changed cloud provider, are your application’s behaviours exactly the same?
Changing cloud provider is going to be an awful faff – and risky too. Better stay with the devil you know and work around any issues.
This doesn’t sound good, does it? Perhaps what you want is a cloud-neutral, software-defined PaaS that abstracts away the vendor’s cloud technology – and reduces vendor lock-in risk. Preferably one built out of established Open Source components, as you don’t want to get locked into your PaaS vendor either.
So, that is where I am coming from. Nowhere does lock-in matter so much as with your cloud development platform. Not only do you want to avoid building Cloud apps with run-time lock-in to a particular vendor, but in the Mutable Enterprise you will need to continually enhance and maintain apps, even after you’ve changed Cloud vendor.
It aims to be a rich ecosystem of Open Source technologies:
- It provides over 100 templates for popular runtimes.
- It offers 20 managed data services from Postgres and MySQL to Elastic Search, Kafka, Redis and more – all fully managed, backed up, scaled and upgraded.
I guess that Developers can just write code, which they like and delivers value, with the platform managing the virtual infrastructure (it is bundled with observability and compliance tools). YAML is used by the platform to automate Testing, Packaging, Provisioning and Deploying what you have written, although I assume that you have to supply some information to configure this. The platform also handles Monitoring, although your people will have to be involved with this, of course (I wonder if there is an AI opportunity here).
The platform aims to facilitate sustainability because it helps you see where waste is occurring, as well as optimising location and sizing. Their environmental positions are audited by a third party (Greenly), and the results are publicly available here. There is also managed security across the whole platform.
The business model of platform.sh is international in scope (although just over half of its revenue comes from the Americas, currently) and its route to market is split between direct sales (including its 350 partner agencies and direct sales), and indirect sales (just under half) as a white label PaaS. It seems to be doing well and has some impressive customers. But I am sad to say that I hadn’t heard of it before I was briefed. Visibility is often an issue with white-label companies, but platform.sh is now working on its brand awareness, as well as increasing its APAC presence by 2025/6. I think that this PaaS is one to watch.