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Coming to the Cloud: The Platform as a Service

Wall Street firms and other enterprises with a desire to stay ahead of the curve should start looking at platform-as-a-service offerings, according to Yefim Natis, a vice president at research firm Gartner.

Platform-as-a-service is basically a cloud platform for developing applications. PaaS technology provides on-demand, flexible software building blocks that include application containers, application development tools, integration brokers, and other services, according to Gartner.

However, Gartner said in a report issued last week, the PaaS market is relatively new and there are few PaaS standards, assured leaders or best practices.

In addition, according to Natis, today's offerings are mostly targeted at small and midsize companies, which see PaaS as a ways to develop applications without making major investments in information technology.

Yet Natis, who spoke last week at a Wall Street Technology Association cloud computing seminar, believes the PaaS market will evolve quickly:

* By 2013, all leading software vendors will be competing for leadership in the cloud platform market.

* By 2014, most mainstream IT organizations will have successfully tried PaaS and will be looking to increase its use.

* By 2015, cloud platform experience will be a required skill when IT executives hire software professionals.

Gartner has previously predicted that by 2015, most large companies will have parts of their enterprise software executing in the cloud.

By then, Natis says, Wall Street and other firms will be hard pressed to ignore PaaS's promises, which include reduced dependency on existing IT, ready access to state-of-the-art technology, and lower software ownership costs.

In competitive environments, companies that master the newest technologies often have an advantage over their competitors.

And, when it comes to PaaS, Gartner states the "risk of being late to adopt an industry innovation can be larger than the risk of investing in unproven technology and emerging architecture."