Open Source’s Role in the Development of PaaS

A former colleague of mine forwarded me a report by McKinsey & Company outlining some of the emerging trends taking place within the SaaS market.

The report is loaded with information, including an estimate that the SaaS market will grow to more than $35 billion in the next five years. But in particular, the report delves into the next generation of SaaS architectures, and obsolete ones, and underscores the importance that ISVs will play in the upcoming “platform wars.”

Companies like Salesforce.com and others have gotten a lot of attention over the course of the past decade, the market has so far been remarkably closed and proprietary. Salesforce.com has maintained a draconian hosting policy and continues to rely on a proprietary, JAVA-based language for coding.

As the McKinsey report eludes to, the same trends driving open source adoption will ultimately drive SaaS adoption of open source. Future SaaS platforms will converge with traditional tools, offering on-demand development based on traditional programming languages with built-in tools for customization and integration for basic users. These same trends will also work particularly well for vendor partners and ISVs, as they look build an ecosystem around the providers and host their customer’s solutions themselves.

The key to such successes will be the ability of vendors to offer partners and customers alike a platform based on open standards and built on simple, robust programming languages.