Currently, it seems that most business activity in the cloud is focused on Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) rather than Platform as a Service (PAAS).
Despite the obvious advantages of PAAS over IAAS, very few enterprises would see economic benefit in redesigning their applications for a PAAS platform. IAAS provides a means to allow them to use their already virtualized environments on someone else’s hardware. Ultimately, cloud computing is about economics. Even those moving to PAAS, for the most part, are treating it as a hosting platform. They are looking for a cheaper way to host, which as I have argued elsewhere is usually not the case.
In both cases, what people are doing is outsourcing the datacenter.
To get the true benefits of cloud computing, whether through IAAS or PAAS, you have to design explicitly for that platform. I have discussed this in many past blog posts. You have to design explicitly for failure, and you have to recognize that you are building a distributed system. Over the long term this approach will bring sustained success.
IAAS as currently applied is a dying niche. Of course any evolutionary extinction takes time. The long time span allows it to be unnoticed, or even if noticed, most people feel it will not affect them. Of course sometimes dynamic changes occur. Ask the dinosaurs, or even the railroads or minicomputer companies. See how the companies that compose the Dow Jones averages have changed over the past 100, 50, 30, or even 10 years.
Companies continue to do things the way they have always done until a successful company creates a new fad in corporate philosophy. Companies then run to become blind followers. One classic example is Deming’s work on modern manufacturing. Although he lived in the US, it was not until the Japanese had success with it that US industry started to adopt his ideas.
Someday, somewhere, somebody is going to build a widely successful company using PAAS. Then, everyone, like lemmings, will run to emulate them. The irony is that some will run to do it even if it makes no economic sense for them.