Some prefer PaaS over IaaS clouds

  • January 14, 2014 · 6:00 PM

Using IaaS is like driving a stick shift with a hundred controls. PaaS, on the other hand, frees you from the infrastructure and lets you focus on the driving.

Over the past few years, we have seen a number of platforms that offer PaaS services, to wit:

• Microsoft Azure,

• Google App Engine,

• Heroku (now owned by and

• DotCloud.

• ... probably a lot more that I didn't list.

The presenters will describe some of the PaaS offerings and why they're worth looking into. 

• Microsoft Azure offers three programming models (not counting Hadoop and mobile services): Azure Web Sites (PaaS), Azure Cloud Services (PaaS), and VMs (IaaS with Windows & Linux). This talk will put these in context, then show/demo Web Sites in a bit more detail to understand the possibilities.  Bill Wilder (Principal Cloud Architect for Development Partners Software Corporation) is a hands-on developer, architect, consultant, trainer, speaker, writer, and community leader focused on helping companies and individuals succeed with the cloud using the Windows Azure Platform. Bill is recognized by Microsoft as a Windows Azure MVP and an Azure Insider, and is the author of the book Cloud Architecture Patterns, published by O’Reilly in September 2012. Bill can be found blogging at and on Twitter at @codingoutloud. 

• Since its introduction 5 years ago, Google App Engine has expanded far beyond its original form. It now includes 4+ languages, two datastores and a variety of web frameworks. What makes it particularly interesting is its built-in analytics (map reduce) functionality. J Singh started using Google App Engine back when the language choices were Python or Python. Since then, he has created dozens of App Engine projects. J is a long time Cloud and Big Data advocate and frequent lecturer on NoSQL, Hadoop--Map/Reduce and analytics of social media. His company, DataThinks, specializes in behavior analytics for web applications.

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  • J S.

    My slides from the presentation are available at

    Hope to see you at future events...

    January 16, 2014

  • Bill W.

    As promised, I posted my slide deck (link below). Feel free to contact me with any questions or if you want to discuss over coffee or a beer. I will also be giving a similar, but much longer, talk (with a familiar projection system - so no resolution weirdness to mess with my demos!) next week on Tuesday. Hope to see you all at future events.

    January 15, 2014

  • William T.

    Despite the monitor resolution problems - I think the meetup went well. Bill certainly knows his Azure and J Singh did a great job of helping me understand both GAE and Map Reduce. I am really looking forward to the IaaS talk next month. If anyone would like a demo or a trail extension for a ProfitBricks account let me know. Oh and thanks again for Intuit Quickbase for hosting - it was close to the Red Line.

    January 15, 2014

  • Matt J.

    I'm curious to find out how many folks still prefer hands-on access to infrastructure/VMs even in the age of PaaS. My company built a PaaS with the idea that legacy mindsets are hard to change, so being able to port a legacy app over to the cloud (IE: easily convert manual systems scripts over to out-of-box puppet/chef automation, having control panel point-and-click access yet still able to login to a VM) seemed important to customers we spoke to. Any thoughts on this?

    January 14, 2014

    • Nazik H.

      In an ideal PaaS world I wouldn't want to "hands-on access to infrastructure/VMs"­. I don't think the PaaS world is matured enough to satisfy all of my app requirements so therefore I would like to access the infrastructure underneath in a limited fashion to compensate. Windows Azure(WA) PaaS is somewhat flexible in that regard. It allows me to "access" the infrastructure underneath to "a certain degree". For example, today I can create a greenfield app completely relying on WA PaaS w/o touching the infrastructure. I can also onboard and integrate my in-house , 3rd party or open source apps and inject them in to the VM(s) at startup via code in this "PaaS" model. Yes to flexibility?

      1 · January 14, 2014

    • Matt J.

      Makes sense Nazik. In an ideal world, I agree. However, there are still many technologies out there that aren't cloud aware out of box (IE: MySQL), and a whole slew of architects who either don't have the knowledge and/or don't have the time to architect for cloud-aware environments (IE: handling failure in a clean way). I think that's why it's important that any PaaS still allow for access to under-the-hood infrastructure. Automate as much as possible, but allow a user to get their hands dirty if necessary.

      1 · January 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    In my company we are finally starting a new product with Heroku, after lots of studies and discussions, and even if we may go from PaaS to IaaS later for more freedom on the infrastructure.
    (Cloudbees was another possible PaaS provider for us.)

    There is a lock-in risk with PaaS, though.

    This is a very interesting topic!

    1 · December 9, 2013

    • Matt J.

      Yannick: you're absolutely right. Over at Bitlancer, we've built Strings, a PaaS that can be managed or self-hosted.... trying to solve the problem of PaaS lock-in.

      January 14, 2014

  • Bernard G.

    In addition to Bill Wider discussion on Microsoft's Azure offerings: Azure Web Sites (PaaS), Azure Cloud Services (PaaS), and VMs (IaaS with Windows & Linux), J. Singh will talk about the Google App Engine and his experience using it. This should be a great session tomorrow. See you there.

    January 13, 2014

  • J S.

    How to get to the Intuit location: It is walking distance from Alewife Station.

    January 13, 2014

  • J S.

    December 19, 2013

  • Allen F.

    Will you be covering Google's Computer Engine and other players like Profit Bricks and GoGrid as well?

    1 · December 10, 2013

    • J S.

      Probably not in the January meeting, Allen. I'm quite familiar with GCE and GoGrid -- I see them as IaaS plays -- so we might cover them another time when the topic is closer to the IaaS end of the spectrum.

      December 10, 2013

  • Andy D.

    I've been using Google App Engine for a couple of years with success. Looking forward to some comparative analysis vis-a-vis other PaaS offerings.

    December 9, 2013

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