Earlier this week, IBM released a study showing that 49 percent of IT decision makers see Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) as strategically important. Roughly 20 percent of the 1,500 respondents actually used PaaS as part of their backend IT infrastructure. For the record, IBM defines PaaS as “a foundation of common application services, tools and templates for businesses to rent and build their own powerful applications quickly and deploy them to an automated environment.” Of course, that’s a definition tailor-made to fit its new SmartCloud Application Services, which offer clients access to a development suite of tools, middleware and databases. IBM touts its solution as a way for clients to keep applications and data under its control, while relying on the cloud for everything from servers and storage to networking and virtualization. Respondents also cited pre-built templates for applications and a pay-as-you-go model as top reasons for adoption. IBM’s study identified a subset of what it calls “pioneers,” or organizations and executives compelled by the need to better manage data and produce applications capable of handling complex business needs, as the primary drivers of PaaS adoption. “While cloud adopters have concerns like security and ROI, the PaaS pioneers have overcome their hesitations and are now most concerned about performance and service quality,” read IBM’s note accompanying the data. But it’s not just IBM’s game: a variety of vendors have entered the PaaS space, including Microsoft and Oracle. For these giant IT vendors, of course, there are significant benefits to offering PaaS, not the least of which is the chance to lock those clients into their respective database and application-development environment. All of which raises just one question: while PaaS gives organizations a cloud-based opportunity to develop and deploy tools and applications, how many applications does one organization necessarily need to create? That might explain the difference between the percentage of companies recognizing PaaS and those actually using PaaS as part of their regular workflow: while many see the value in cloud services for applications, the actual need for them may be sporadic for many organizations that don’t routinely deal in massive amounts of data.   Image: bloomua/Shutterstock.com