Friday, May 2, 2008

Understanding the Cloud Computing/SaaS/PaaS markets: a Map of the Players in the Industry

The Cloud Computing/SaaS/PaaS space is loaded with interesting vendors, and the space is booming. If you are trying to navigate this world and need a guide, this blog entry will help. We have assembled a visual map of the industry, showing how the major players fit into the overall space. It will give you an overview of who's who, and what types of solutions are being offered.

NOTE: a newer version of this map is now available. Click here to navigate to the most recent research.

I was greatly assisted by Kent Dickson, VP of Product Management for SaaS at BEA, in building this map. Steve Bobrowski, Director of SaaS Evangelism, also contributed comments. Thanks to both!

Defining the Markets

Before we look at the map, we need to define the major areas that we are covering. Note that in many ways these markets overlap so trying to differentiate which solution is in which is not a meaningful exercise. Needless to say, drawing out the map is a subjective effort, and not all solutions fit neatly into their assigned bucket. The purpose of the visual map is not to address subtleties, but to draw the industry in general terms.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing refers to the virtualization of the data center, such that server machines are not thought of individually but as just a commodity in a greater collection of server machines. Cloud computing solutions in general strive to eliminate the need for an application deployer to be aware of the actual physical machines that are used to host the application. Some have called this idea “hardware as a service”.

Solutions that are most closely associated with the Cloud Computing market are indicated with the image icon on the map.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

An application that is delivered through the SaaS model typically is done so:

  • Over the internet,
  • Remotely by a third party, with little/no opportunity to bring that application in-house
  • With a usage-based pricing model

Solutions that are most closely associated with the SaaS market are indicated with the image icon on the map.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

When a vendor offers a Platform as a Service, they are offering an integrated platform to build, test, and deploy custom applications. The PaaS is offered to you in a SaaS model (remote, usage-based). Dion Hinchliffe recently published a comprehensive whitepaper on this topic.

The PaaS market is indicated with the image icon in the map view.

Core Cloud Services

After defining the 3 markets, there remains a set of solutions that contribute to all as fundamental building blocks. In other words, these solutions address cross cutting concerns.

In the map they are marked with a distinct icon image to set them apart.

The Visual Map

Below is the visual map as promised. You will find a larger version hosted here. An explanation of each category and a full clickable URL list of the solutions is offered below the map.

If you wish to make changes, the original mind map drawing file assets are located here. Please post comments with your thoughts, or use this map as a basis for your own vision of the industry. Please give credit back to the original source (see Creative Commons) if you do.


Defining the Solution Groupings

In the map, we grouped solutions according to the problems they aim to solve. This section details the intent of each category.

Please note that for every category, there are more vendors that could be included. We are not attempting to provide a comprehensive list of every player in the industry. THINKStrategies created the SaaS Showplace if that is what you are looking for.

This map only shows solutions that are both 1) available in some form today, and 2) have significant mindshare in the industry. Feedback is appreciated if you disagree with any solution that was included or excluded.

Left Side

Cloud Providers - vendors who provide server hardware in commodity form, as a virtualized cloud

Cloud Deployment - solutions surrounding the deployment of applications to a virtualized cloud

Virtual Appliances - packaging and virtualization format solutions for provisioning applications into a cloud

Topology Management - solutions focused on the coordination of many virtual appliances (app, DB, network) in the cloud to form a full deployment

Billing, Contract Management - solutions that provide metering, billing, pricing, and contract management to help charge for use of a system

Security - solutions focused on solving security requirements in these markets

Data - services that deliver/retain data for applications

Hosters 2.0 - Hosting Service Providers with SaaS focus. Perhaps a controversial grouping and impossible to define, these hosters tend to appear over and over in these markets

Nerd Stuff - geeky topics fall into this category. MapReduce is mechanism for solving large computing tasks, like Google Search indexing

Right Side

On Demand Apps - the heart of the SaaS market, only a few depicted here but we could add "...and a cast of thousands". These are the end application products offered for consumption in a SaaS model

Integration as a Service - service solutions that help in integrating multiple systems, possibly multiple SaaS systems

Content as a Service - hosted content repositories

BPM and Workflow - service based offerings for managing workflow and process

Platform as a Service - incarnations of the PaaS concept

Reference Solutions List (with clickable links)

Cloud Computing,
SaaS, and PaaS

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Comments from the original blog:
  • Very useful chart. You've misspelled Itensil (not Intensil)in the BPM as a service node -- the website link works though, so don't change that. I'd argue that Itensil is really a PaaS product with pre-built workflow, and invite your readers to have a look and let me know if you agree.

    Posted by: kpatterson on May 16, 2008 at 12:34 PM

  • FYI - I will be working on an updated map shortly. The feedback is still rolling in. thanks for all the email/comments.

    Google - yes, they are listed as a PaaS with their new App Engine offering - thanks for the note, just published an entry on them on my Cloud/PaaS/SaaS microfeed

    And thanks to OpSource for the mention today of the map in their monthly newsletter.

    Posted by: plaird on May 14, 2008 at 1:24 PM

  • Very interesting article. Just two questions -- Did Google recently add an offering to the cloud computing space ? Is a company called involved in the storage-as-a -service category ?

    Posted by: hsr0508 on May 14, 2008 at 11:22 AM

  • I'm a bit cautious of messing with the wiki list Peter but may I also point you to as one of the emergent PaaS players particularly incorporating open source technologies to guard against the lock in fear. Incidentally, the platform has opened itself to Java after debuting Rails. Check them out. Best. alain

    Posted by: friarminor on May 13, 2008 at 9:34 AM

  • Peter Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated. Looking forward for your comment on my post:)

    Posted by: natishalom on May 6, 2008 at 8:03 PM

  • Nati - thanks for the comment, this is what I am looking for. Responses:

    Rightscale, MySQL, Coherence, GigaSpaces, etc: maybe not all of those, but I also have been getting emails offline, and will need to make a v1.1 of the map to include a handful of corrections/omissions. The feedback is still coming in, so will wait a little while. I don't want the map to turn into a 1000 node monster, so I want to be very selective. Jeff Kaplan's SaaS Showplace is the comprehensive source backing all of this.

    Oracle SaaS Platform: this was a late addition, and upon further reflection not exactly right. I now see the Platform bucket broken into two, with PaaS (minus ORCL). Then with a new bucket perhaps containing on-prem platform software that is "SaaS ready". Still noodling on this though.

    Your blog: thanks for the link, I wasn't following your feed, now I am. I would agree in general about lock-in, not totally on board will all of your conclusions. I am deciding whether to add a comment to your blog, write a response blog entry, or succumb to laziness and just let it be. :)

    Cheers - PJL

    Posted by: plaird on May 6, 2008 at 10:23 AM

  • Interesting review. It captures many of the players in this emerging space.
    I think that your missing some important platforms such as RightScale.
    I also wanted to point out that one of the main problems with Platform as a Service that are mentioned is the fact that offer radically proprietary solution. In your list there are few that i rarely heard of in that context such as Oracle SaaS platform..
    I recently wrote a post describing other platform choice that can help building SaaS applications in a way that could be easily ported to any cloud environment. It support also existing Java/Spring and .Net frameworks. In this way you don't have to switch entirely to completely different proprietary framework to leverage the value of cloud based environment.
    The post is available here:
    Google App Engine - what about existing applications?
    You can also view Dave Rosenberg post that points to other frameworks on that regard Sun's OpenSolaris on EC2--overcast but not completely Cloudy
    On the data services side i think that your missing few important and common services that are used by many of the applications running on cloud today such as MySQL, and other data-caching services such as Oracle-Coherence, GigaSpaces, Terracotta, Memcache etc. Some of which integrates with SimpleDB thus providing in-memory front end for better performance and reliability. (See example here SimpleDB such as the one with SimpleDB)

    Posted by: natishalom on May 6, 2008 at 4:51 AM

  • Hi Jim - good questions.

    A lot of parallels are drawn between the ASPs of the 90's and the SaaS providers of today. One of the key differentiators is that SaaS does not require the tenant to make a large upfront payment like they did in the ASP/outsourced model. SaaS is offered with usage based pricing - e.g. you pay $50 per user per month. There are other differentiators, but that is key.

    As for the zero customization solutions being very limited, I think you are right. Per-tenant customizations are critical for the enterprise, be it UI, data model, business process, etc. I think all SaaS vendors are working on solving this, and some have solutions today.

    I posted a list of SaaS podcasts which offer a much more in-depth response to your questions. I found them very helpful in explaining what is happening in the industry.

    Thanks for the comment! PJL

    Posted by: plaird on May 5, 2008 at 10:30 AM

  • This topic is getting a ton of exposure right now, I just finished the Wired article on Amazon's EC2 I have a number of questions on this topic, I'll start with Isn't this simply Outsourcing 2.0? IBM,AmDocs,etc... host infrastructure for many of our customers, you happen to know the hardware, os, and IP of the machine it is running on, change it to a cloud of resources (virtualize and absract it), and change the pricing model...Voila outsourcing 2.0. SaaS gives you more than outsourcing, but SaaS to me is not going anywhere fast, and is only riding the buzz of cloud computing. Cookie-cutter (no customization) solutions offering no diversity from the competition who are all using the same service. I see value in the space, but I have the feeling this is more hype than real value.

    Posted by: jcalise on May 3, 2008 at 10:14 PM

  • Great article Peter, I now have a much better idea of the space. Did not realize was that many players involved. Thanks for sharing this data! Cheers, --alex

    Posted by: atoussai on May 3, 2008 at 7:59 PM

  • Excellent break down of the space, and a great reference to use going forward.

    Posted by: jcalise on May 2, 2008 at 10:45 AM


Jeremy said...

Great work, this is very helpful for seeing the entire SaaS playing field.

You missed one exciting player in the Billing section, Vindicia (

rawagajah said...

Great work also - I like the mind map.

Another missing player is ElasticHosts (, a cloud provider.

Howard said...

Since you've asked for feedback and have requested a very select group of providers, I would add that Terremark should be on the list as a Cloud Provider.

Darren said...

You've missed Business Intelligence. This market is also moving to the SaaS model as organizations demand simple to setup, simple to use, and simple to buy analytic applications.

We're tracking it on our
Keep it Simple blog.

Tarry Singh said...


Nice one. I was thinking of taking it one step further and do a 3-D Map where we connect the these services and providers geographically.

But this indeed is a good one.


anwar said...

Three combinations of Cloud and SaaS

1. Cloud Computing without SaaS.
2. Cloud Computing with SaaS.
3. SaaS without Cloud COmputing.

Please let me know if all 3 of above are valid scenarios.
most of the people disgree on Case-1 "Cloud Computing without SaaS" but I think this is the Valid Case, see below -

I have my own application created in-house for my organization- now I have used IaaS (infrastructure) from some Cloud Provider. Then in this case my application is using CLOUD COMPUTING without SaaS.

Please tell your views on this.

Anonymous said...

I am the co-founder of CloudSigma which we recently launched into public beta. We've essentially stripped back IaaS to a pure infrastructure model. That means no restrictions are placed on the software people can use, combinations of resources etc. etc.

For those that are interested they can find more information on what we are doing at .