Amazon Web Services revolutionized the software hosting industry by inventing IaaS, Infrastructure-as-a-Service. IaaS offers fundamental pieces of hosted software infrastructure such as a block store, an object store, compute nodes, public-facing load balancers, and messaging. As revolutionary as this was, it was still fairly difficult for a developer or a small startup to build services on top of these fundamental building blocks. For example, AWS was designed for 2-tier web architectures, where a public-facing front-end server would talk directly to one of the AWS's database offerings. Modern web architectures employ multiple layers of servers (middle-tier) between the front-end and database servers, requiring services such as dynamic discovery. Modern web architectures often require other specialized services in the form of configuration, encryption, search, caching, log aggregation, monitoring & alerting, etc... In order to ease this initial burden on developers, several PAAS providers emerged in the early days, such as Heroku, DotCloud, etc... In a few cases, AWS has bridged the gap (e.g. search-as-a-service, EMR, etc...). Netflix is now offering another approach. It has open-sourced its PaaS components in order to allow any developer/startup to build his/their own PaaS.
This talk was originally presented by Sudhir Tonse on the Cloud Track at QCon San Francisco 2013.