Public cloud providers offer either infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or software-as-a-service (SaaS). A few are recognized as providing a third type distinct from those two –platform-as-a-service (PaaS). But over the last two years, the distinctions first set out by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on different types of cloud have blurred.
Now, an IaaS or SaaS provider that doesn’t also offer a development platform is in danger of losing customers to competitors. Users are coming to the public cloud, not just for compute cycles or software services, but also to develop their next generation of business applications. That further demand gives Microsoft and IBM advantages that AWS and Google sometimes struggle to match.
Likewise, it holds open a door through which a company such as CenturyLink, Oracle, Salesforce, or SAP can become mega-cloud providers themselves. Each is capable of providing desired elements of a development platform that works with a set of SaaS application that may be missing elsewhere.