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Magic Quadrant for Enterprise High-Productivity Application Platform as a Service

Published: 27 April 2017 ID: G00304071

Analyst(s):

Summary

High-productivity, or rapid application development and deployment, platform technology in the cloud is growing swiftly as enterprise IT increasingly exploits cloud-based tooling with reduced skill requirements. We examine the leading enterprise vendors for these high-productivity aPaaS platforms.

Market Definition/Description

This document was revised on 8 September 2017. The document you are viewing is the corrected version. For more information, see the Corrections page on gartner.com.

Platform as a service (PaaS) is defined as application infrastructure functionality enriched with cloud characteristics and offered as a service. "High-productivity" PaaS supports declarative, model-driven design and one-step deployment.

Such services typically create metadata and interpret that metadata at runtime; many allow optional procedural programming extensions. Various types of PaaS (xPaaS) support high productivity, whereas others support "high-control" features, primarily via APIs and third-generation languages (3GLs), with transparent access to the underlying infrastructure.

Application platform as a service (aPaaS) is a PaaS offering that supports application development, deployment and execution in the cloud. It encapsulates resources such as infrastructure and includes services such as those for data management and user interfaces.

High-productivity aPaaS (hpaPaaS) provides rapid application development (RAD) features for development, deployment and execution — in the cloud.

Enterprise aPaaS is an aPaaS offering designed to support the enterprise style of applications and application projects — such as high availability/disaster recovery (HA/DR), external service access, security and technical support.

Only vendors providing hpaPaaS as a public cloud service are considered in this Magic Quadrant.

See "Platform as a Service: Definition, Taxonomy and Vendor Landscape, 2016" or "Hype Cycle for Platform as a Service, 2016" for an expanded form of the definition of aPaaS and other forms of cloud application infrastructure services (xPaaS).

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Enterprise High-Productivity Application Platform as a Service
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (April 2017)

Vendor Strengths and Cautions

Appian

Appian is an hpaPaaS vendor with strong business process management (BPM) and case management capabilities. Appian has been delivering its Appian Cloud platform since 2007. It has taken a unified-platform approach that enables a single application definition to be accessed on a range of devices without additional development. Appian applications can be developed and executed both on-premises and on its aPaaS offering. Appian has positioned its Appian Cloud platform for general-purpose application development, which includes robust process orchestration, application life cycle management and integration capabilities that compete with both hpaPaaS and high-performance RAD vendors, with a common per-user or per-application-and-user pricing model.

Strengths
  • Appian's recent growth is being driven by customers choosing to adopt Appian Cloud, rather than deploying the platform on-premises.

  • Appian's aPaaS solution is an easy-to-use offering. It has a robust metadata model that enables citizen developers to build applications with minimal involvement from professional developers and system administrators. Appian Cloud's metadata model offers a robust set of high-productivity tools with which to implement business logic. Appian Cloud can also be managed using external application life cycle management tools.

  • Appian's aPaaS offering is well-suited to building multichannel and composite applications that are process- and/or data-oriented. Appian provides a variety of analytic, monitoring and administration capabilities, and packaged native application management and governance capabilities. Ease of use and functional completeness were top reasons why reference customers surveyed by Gartner selected the Appian platform.

  • Appian has strong customer references, all of which indicated that they would recommend the vendor and its hpaPaaS offering to others. Compared with other vendors in this Magic Quadrant, Appian reference customers surveyed by Gartner had the highest average level of satisfaction with the capabilities of the platform and the second highest for overall experience with the vendor. Also, 90% of the reference customers delivered applications in less than three months, which is a much higher proportion than average.

Cautions
  • While well known within its traditional core markets of BPM suites and case management, compared with the Leaders in this Magic Quadrant, Appian does not have as much customer mind share in the hpaPaaS market. With a predominantly direct selling effort and higher price point, Appian's focus has been at the higher end of hpaPaaS market and not on small or midsize businesses (SMBs).

  • Appian does not offer automated bidirectional scaling of its Appian Cloud platform. Appian's aPaaS offering does not yet utilize containers to manage application services, nor is it well-suited to modeling miniservices and microservices. Currently, Appian Cloud's use of underlying cloud native services is limited (primarily to virtual compute resources, storage volumes and networking resources); for example, it does not use a cloud-native persistence layer.

  • Appian provides performance analytics on business processes, but the design experience for data outside of the process is limited and native data visualization is restricted to grids and common chart types. Decision automation is currently limited to process model representations. More sophisticated decisions (using event stream processing, complex-event processing and machine learning) must be automated using third-party services; while custom business logic can be authored using Java Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi) plug-ins, the application life cycle of plug-ins must be managed independently of Appian application files. Custom Appian Cloud plug-ins must be certified by Appian prior to deployment.

  • Appian Cloud's native multitenancy is offered through separate instances on shared hardware/virtual machines (VMs). Appian does not natively support the ability for customers to easily create subtenant solutions. It is a poor fit for independent software vendors (ISVs) looking to host solutions that are made available to multiple customers through a single execution environment.

Betty Blocks

Betty Blocks is a relatively recent entrant to the hpaPaaS market, starting its business in the Netherlands in 2012 and funded privately since then. Its name refers to the no-code concept of application building "block by block." The Betty Blocks aPaaS offering is cloud-only, but can be installed on a client's own infrastructure as a service (IaaS) account.

Betty Blocks customer base has doubled every 12 to 18 months for the past few years. It has a consultancy team that provides application development for those clients with no appetite for even no-code development.

Strengths
  • Betty Blocks aPaaS supports drag-and-drop development for applications — including workflows — with a by-design approach of offering no extensibility through coding. Extensibility can only be provided through service access. The aPaaS offering does, however, support UI JavaScript extensions. Application component templates provide feature inheritance, which means that updates to the master template are, by default, automatically inherited by all users.

  • Betty Blocks no longer prices per user, but per application (with resource-based tiers such as data model size, numbers of actions allowed, endpoints and web services used). This can be complex, but better supports consumer-facing applications.

  • The Betty Blocks aPaaS internals were recoded during 2015 to 2016, to be in the fault-tolerant Elixir language, based on the Erlang functional programming VM. Betty Blocks has since seen improved performance, scalability and agility for the platform.

  • Betty Blocks' surveyed reference customers liked the "ease of use" for developers, more so than for any of the other vendors in this Magic Quadrant.

Cautions
  • Although the Betty Blocks aPaaS UI is pluggable, coded extensions to the platform are still only an entry on the product roadmap.

  • Despite Betty Blocks' pricing model supporting any number of users for applications, most of its surveyed reference customers had 50 or fewer end users, which implies a more departmental role. None of those surveyed had deployed more than 10 applications, and more than one claimed only moderate success for their applications.

  • While reference customers surveyed by Gartner indicated variable satisfaction with Betty Blocks' templates and integration features — ranging from excellent to only fair — half of them also specified a desire for more functional depth and completeness.

  • Betty Blocks mostly deals in the midmarket in Belgium, South Africa and the U.K. Its presence elsewhere is limited, with only a handful of customers in North America, for example.

Caspio

Caspio offers Caspio Bridge, a high-productivity, database-centric no-code business aPaaS offering. Founded in 2000, Caspio was a market pioneer with its cloud application platform for citizen developers and business power users using model-driven graphical design tools and a metadata interpreter at runtime. The platform is built on Microsoft SQL Server and supports relational database-centric applications. An Enterprise version is available for specialized users requiring Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or EU regulatory support. Integration capabilities are offered via a partnership with Zapier. Caspio Bridge is available as both a public service and a virtual private service running in multiple worldwide locations on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure. Paid support plans include live phone, email and chat channels for 24/7 emergency support.

Strengths
  • Caspio Bridge targets business users. Its built-in visual tools facilitate the design and creation of table structures, relationships, authentication rules and roles. These tools enable users to create various interfaces for applications, such as forms, reports and search fields, and to customize application styling, localization and deployment. As a result, applications can be built quickly, with little or no involvement from IT staff.

  • Caspio Bridge's compliance editions provide complete data encryption and audit logs for enterprise customers striving to meet their unique data protection and governance requirements. For example, the HIPAA-compliant edition meets U.S. requirements for the storage and use of protected health information and personally identifiable information.

  • Caspio Bridge has a significant installed base, with 2,500 paying customers (and a similar number on a free plan) across more than 100 countries, and strong recent growth demonstrated with 1,000 paying customers added in 2016. These numbers indicate the necessary momentum for vendor viability.

  • Most of the surveyed Caspio Bridge reference customers praised its product's ease of use, overall technical quality and reliability. They also appreciated Caspio's quality of service and their overall experience with the vendor — including presale, postsale and technical support, and documentation.

Cautions
  • Although Caspio's focus on providing a high-productivity no-code aPaaS offering (some JavaScript extensibility is supported) is a strength, enterprise IT also demands high-control features for more advanced cases. Caspio's specialization, including its focus on relational-database-centered application types, limits its appeal.

  • Caspio Bridge has minimal capabilities in leading-edge business innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT), event processing, analytics (except data visualization component), SaaS ISV subtenancy, API management, process orchestration and decision management, and conversational user experience. This limits the platform to the basic set of use patterns.

  • Given its limited brand recognition and the aggressive entry into the market of cloud megavendors such as Google, Microsoft and Oracle, Caspio may need to focus on a vertical specialization in order to differentiate itself.

  • Most of the surveyed Caspio reference customers consider that Caspio Bridge needs improved support for advanced capabilities, such as those involving the IoT and artificial intelligence (AI); back-end services, such as service-oriented architecture (SOA) and API management; and accelerators, such as templates and prebuilt component libraries.

Fujitsu

Fujitsu targets the digital transformation business with an initiative called MetaArc that covers a wide portfolio of cloud solutions (such as public IaaS, PaaS and private platforms), digital solutions (such as mobile, big data, IoT and AI) and services (such as hybrid cloud management and managed services).

Fujitsu RunMyProcess (RMP) is an hpaPaaS offering acquired by Fujitsu in 2013 as a small French PaaS provider with customers mainly in EMEA and North America. It is now positioned as a strategic component of the MetaArc strategy, with multiple xPaaS features for application development, process management and integration. RMP's use for application development is primarily process-based. RMP's development capabilities are delivered in the cloud via AWS or Fujitsu's own K5 IaaS, depending on location.

Strengths
  • Fujitsu RMP is a high-productivity cloud development platform that enables developers quickly and easily to design and deploy applications through defining processes, business logic, and web and mobile UIs. A particular strength is the integration capability that enables RMP to also be classified as an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) offering, as well as an aPaaS one. It therefore targets integration-rich interactive applications.

  • The RMP platform is being containerized and redeveloped to be a microservice-based architecture that is cloud-infrastructure-agnostic and with enhanced scalability and agility. In particular, this will enable more flexibility as to where RMP runs, supporting Fujitsu's multi-infrastructure strategy for MetaArc.

  • RMP has a major role to play in Fujitsu's vision of MetaArc-based enterprises that can embark on digital transformation projects and exploit Fujitsu's broad service offerings. Therefore, within MetaArc, RMP projects have access to Fujitsu's global resources in order to encourage adoption across industry segments and large enterprises.

  • RMP has succeeded in expanding its customer base in Germany, in addition to other European countries such as France and the U.K., Fujitsu is also expanding its RMP-hosting data centers in Germany, Australia and North America (through its relationship with AWS). RMP is pursuing a multicloud (multi-IaaS) approach for 2017.

Cautions
  • Fujitsu's RMP customer base is small, compared with the leading players in hpaPaaS. Also, RMP's growth rate remains below average, in comparison with other hpaPaaS vendors.

  • MetaArc is a relatively new initiative for Fujitsu, and still in the early stages of adoption. RMP still needs to prove its capabilities as the core driver of MetaArc and to ensure its success.

  • Notwithstanding RMP's strategic role in MetaArc, RMP does not have a clear roadmap for its application development capabilities. This could be a result of the distributed management across Japan and the U.S., together with the desire to address different market capabilities (such as BPM, integration and web applications). For example, RMP's weak support for API life cycle and modern web UI architecture shows that there is room for improvement.

  • Reference customers surveyed by Gartner scored the RMP development experience — in terms of overall ease of use and overall technical quality — as lower than average. They also rated RMP's end-user experience and accelerators as lower than average, compared with other vendors in this Magic Quadrant.

kintone

Kintone, part of Japan's Cybozu, focuses on supporting the development of no-code applications by citizen developers. Kintone is the name both of the company and its hpaPaaS offering.

The kintone offering is available in the cloud only; it is priced per user.

Strengths
  • Use of kintone is characterized by quick and easy web application development that is enabled by application generation from Excel spreadsheets (including the importing of spreadsheet data); template customization from a selection of more than 100 templates; or drag-and-drop visual modeling. The hpaPaaS solution supports user collaboration on data updates.

  • Kintone has more than 5,500 paying organizations and developers in its subscription base. There is also a large partner ecosystem with more than 6,000 certified developers acting as product champions, mostly in Japan. Both its subscription base and its ecosystem are still growing rapidly.

  • More than 250 partners play a major role in kintone's success, supporting over half of kintone's customers. Reference customers surveyed by Gartner value their relationship with kintone and its partners, both before purchase and after implementation.

  • Judging from the responses of surveyed reference customers, kintone's delivery lead times and end-user experience are above average. More than two-thirds of these respondents also considered kinetone's value to be excellent.

Cautions
  • Kintone suffers from a lack of market recognition and visibility outside of Japan, although it has offices in China, the U.S. and, more recently, in Australia.

  • The limited geographic availability, together with a narrow focus on no-code application development, results in kintone not being viewed favorably by many developers; nor by enterprises whose interests may include digital business concerns such as the IoT and analytics, AI or machine learning in applications.

  • Kintone and its apps run on kintone's privately managed infrastructure, which is available only in Japan and China. As kintone does not use a container-based or similar infrastructure to run its platform, it has limited portability outside kintone's own infrastructure. Similarly, external applications and extensions cannot run on kintone's infrastructure, which means they must be located elsewhere — an approach that might raise concerns about latency.

  • Surveyed reference customers identified challenges to the integration of kintone apps with external services, both in the cloud and on-premises.

Kony

Kony , established in 2007, initially launched a mobile app development platform, but has since addressed both mobile and desktop web development. Its application development platform has two primary components: Kony Visualizer for front-end development and Kony MobileFabric for back-end services. The platform was expanded in the second half of 2016, with the addition of the Kony Nitro Engine — which supports any third-party JavaScript framework. Incorporating the features of other popular JavaScript frameworks into the Kony platform enables developers to use the front-end framework of their choice. The Kony Visualizer tool targets business analysts and citizen developers with a drag-and-drop tool that allows for no-code and low-code application development. Kony has customers across all major geographies, and has successful large-scale mobile solutions deployed that it should be able to leverage for additional success in the hpaPaaS market.

Strengths
  • Kony has expanded the capabilities of its specialist mobile development platform to also deliver an hpaPaaS tool that can accommodate citizen developers via visual development, yet allow such applications to be dropped into its full integrated development environment (IDE) for additional customization. It can also integrate into its framework any JavaScript UI framework that professional developers may prefer to use.

  • The Kony MobileFabric cloud platform offers a level of abstraction for both professional and citizen developers, and supports the best practice of a clean separation of UI and back-end services. For example, this level of abstraction enables developers to define an object layer that can connect to data sources and services via a metadata mapping layer.

  • Kony Visualizer is available at no charge, so developers can build applications without incurring any charges until they deploy via Kony MobileFabric.

  • Our survey of Kony reference customers reveals that they are particularly impressed with the end-user experience. This is to be expected from a tool with its roots in mobile UI development.

Cautions
  • Kony's platform is principally perceived as a mobile app development platform. The Kony Nitro Engine adds new capabilities — including the ability to embed and consume Cordova plug-ins for web applications and use 100% of the iOS and Android APIs from JavaScript. Although these recent additions to the platform are, as yet, unproven, Kony has previously had capabilities in this area.

  • Kony is an independent application development platform provider that lacks the resources of large aPaaS platform vendors. Consequently, Kony might become a target for acquisition.

  • Although Kony Visualizer and Kony MobileFabric both have free additions available, they cannot be used together to create a functioning app — a potential source of confusion among developers. While Kony's PaaS version of Kony MobileFabric is only available today on AWS, the company does offer IaaS support for all major public clouds.

  • Kony has not repositioned its platform as both an aPaaS platform and a mobile development platform. This may confuse some customers who visit Kony's website looking for an aPaaS platform.

Mendix

Mendix is a well-established and fast-growing pure-play aPaaS provider. Although it initially offered an on-premises RAD platform, most of its business is now in the cloud. The Mendix Modeler is a high-productivity, model-driven visual development environment generating metadata that is interpreted at runtime.

Strengths
  • Mendix has a worldwide presence, with strengthening name recognition, more than 600 paying customers, 70 app store partners and thousands of nonpaying users. This privately held company is well-funded and has a track record of strong annual growth (more than 75% in revenue terms in 2016).

  • Support for Cloud Foundry and, more recently, Docker container architecture enables Mendix to offer a multicloud presence on AWS (together with some optimizations such as Amazon Simple Storage Service [S3] support), Microsoft Azure and, utilizing its cloud foundry packaging, IBM Bluemix. Other major cloud providers looking to offer an hpaPaaS solution to their customers are considering partnerships with Mendix. Available as software as well as a multicloud public or virtual private service, the Mendix platform is well-positioned to support hybrid computing models.

  • Mendix's no-code modeling tool supports sophisticated data-driven and process-oriented applications. It can generate mobile apps with offline support, as well as client-agnostic "headless" service implementations. Mendix Runtime is natively event-driven (and partly based on Akka). This helps the company support IoT and high-volume transaction processing (hundreds of thousands of concurrent transactions) for some large financial applications. The recently introduced self-service control and configuration of high availability (when deployed on AWS), together with the ability to augment metadata models with Java, JavaScript or Scala, targets the more advanced enterprise deployments. There is also a Mendix App Store — offering a venue for partners and users to share applications, widgets and services — featuring hundreds of prebuilt components and applications.

  • Surveyed reference customers gave Mendix high scores for its user experience, cloudiness, ease of use and administration, and time to results.

Cautions
  • Unlike some competitors, Mendix does not support C# as a language for server-side extensions, and on the client side only via JavaScript SDK, slowing some Microsoft-native adoption.

  • Given that its platform can be easily deployed in other environments, Mendix is an attractive acquisition target for high-control vendors looking to obtain a high-productivity offering.

  • Although Mendix has an established aPaaS business, it faces increasing challenges as megavendors such as Google, Microsoft, Oracle and others ratchet up their hpaPaaS efforts.

  • Mendix is growing fast, but is not yet profitable. Reinvesting income, instead of showing a profit, is a common strategy for aggressively growing companies, but it makes Mendix more reliant on venture capital. This dependence on investors may create pressure to show a profit, cutting short the time it has to innovate and compete.

Oracle

Oracle continues to invest heavily in cloud services. In 2012, it was one of the first traditional platform megavendors to introduce a high-productivity multitenant aPaaS solution in the form of the database-oriented Oracle Cloud — Database Schema Service serving Oracle's Application Express (APEX) development tool. In 2015, Oracle introduced Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator (MAX), a high-productivity rapid mobile app developer (RMAD) tool, and Oracle Process Cloud Service (high-productivity bpmPaaS with aPaaS features). Since 2016, it has also offered the service-oriented Oracle Application Builder Cloud Service (ABCS), which now includes the mobile MAX service.

All Oracle hpaPaaS offerings provide a mobile-enabled, visual-editor-oriented high-productivity toolset. The APEX cloud services are not marketed as aPaaS, but have a strong database-oriented user community. Oracle expects to move cloud APEX users from Oracle Cloud — Database Schema Service to the Oracle Database Exadata Express Cloud Service (dbPaaS); both database offerings are priced by data usage. ABCS provides a service-oriented perspective that can more readily access other services, such as Oracle SaaS. It is based on the Oracle JavaScript Extension Toolkit (Oracle JET) and is priced per user.

Strengths
  • Oracle ABCS complements (but does not require) the other Oracle Cloud aPaaS stack offerings, including Process Cloud. This means that Oracle customers have access to a range of high-control and high-productivity development options that can be used together. Support for such a combination of 3GL and RAD developer styles from a traditional mainstream vendor is still a novelty.

  • Oracle SaaS has a significant market presence, and Oracle ABCS is designed to allow extensibility to Oracle SaaS applications via REST service APIs. This should provide a strong channel for hpaPaaS adoption.

  • Oracle has a multitude of complementary xPaaS capabilities accessible from any of its high-productivity tooling. For high-productivity use, there is the Oracle Process Cloud (BPM, with decision modelling support) and its conversational bot builder. Other high-control services accessible via REST (with suitable guidance) include integration, business analytics, IoT, in-memory data grid, and database. This could reinforce RAD styles of development in enterprises in order to boost overall IT productivity and justify continued investment in the Oracle stack. A higher-than-average proportion of the Oracle reference customers surveyed by Gartner for this Magic Quadrant consider integration to be a strength.

  • Few enterprise software vendors offer a comprehensive set of software services, with full cloud coverage (from IaaS to PaaS to SaaS) plus hybrid support (public, private cloud and on-premises). Oracle is one, and such coverage is likely to prove attractive to mainstream enterprises gradually moving to cloud computing. It is not surprising that half the Oracle ABCS reference customers we surveyed selected it because of Oracle's preferred-vendor status in their organizations.

Cautions
  • Although ideal for create, read, update, delete (CRUD)-type applications, Oracle ABCS itself does not include any means of orchestrating processes. Oracle customers need to purchase Oracle Process Cloud for such capabilities. Oracle customers must choose from multiple hpaPaaS styles (ABCS for SOA, Process Cloud for BPM, or APEX for database extensions), and other than the possibility of accessing shared data services, there is as yet little commonality or portability between these offerings.

  • Oracle ABCS and its underlying JET framework was released in early 2016, and is clearly still under development. Support for the scripting of business logic was added while this Gartner research was being written. The majority of the Oracle reference customers surveyed had fewer than 10 developers using the tool, and more than one-third had deployed only a single application. One-quarter of the respondents declared technical support and documentation to be only fair or worse — indicators of an early stage in a product's life cycle.

  • Surveyed Oracle reference customers gave variable feedback about the successful use of ABCS at this stage. "Ease of use" is considered to be below average compared with other vendors in the Magic Quadrant. The improvement most requested by a high proportion of Oracle's reference customers (higher than average compared to other vendors) was in "ease of deployment."

  • A common concern from hpaPaaS users has been value for money: more than 40% of Oracle's surveyed reference customers judged this as only fair, or worse. Oracle's reputation in contract negotiation may make this perception difficult to change.

OutSystems

OutSystems offers a RAD hpaPaaS solution that focuses on accelerating the "time to solution" of enterprise apps. It is one of the better-known and more-established providers in the market today. The OutSystems platform uses an indirectly executed metadata-driven model — that is, the metadata model is used to generate .NET C# or Java code, which ultimately drives the execution of the application. Applications are developed using an extensible, no-code visual integrated development environment (IDE; known as Service Studio) and deployed on-premises, or in a private or public cloud (AWS or Azure), using a DevOps tool (LifeTime). Applications are usable with web and mobile client devices. OutSystems has customers in 43 countries and has more than 180 partners.

Strengths
  • The OutSystems platform offers a comprehensive set of metadata models to configure application layers including business processes, integration workflows, UIs, business logic, data models, web services and APIs. These enable high-productivity development and a faster time to market for relatively advanced applications. Developers can also compose and incorporate their own custom Java or C# code or libraries.

  • The vast majority of OutSystems reference customers surveyed by Gartner viewed "ease of use" as a strength of its platform. Many also reported "functional depth and completeness" as a key strength. This is a tricky combination, which few vendors in this market manage to achieve. Customers also reported that they were "very successful" with their efforts to date, and that they were "very likely" to use OutSystems for future projects.

  • OutSystems is unique in this market insofar as it focuses on underlying code generation, as opposed to dynamically interpreted execution. Customers have the option to generate the application source code from the OutSystems platform, and deploy and manage it separately. Unlike other vendors, detached code would require no customer redevelopment nor deployment of proprietary software libraries.

  • OutSystems' focus on enterprise-class challenges is reflected in its strong support for the broader software change-management process. These change-management elements are linked from end to end between development (that is, UI, logic, BPM and data integration) and the deployment (quality assurance, test, preproduction and production) environments.

Cautions
  • Customers choosing to discontinue their use of OutSystems and generate standard C# or Java code for traditional development, should recognize that modifying the generated code breaks the synchronization to the source metadata model should they return to OutSystems' IDE in future.

  • OutSystems' web IDE has some limitations compared with its desktop alternatives. Also, its competitors tend to focus on integrated web-based software development solutions, because this approach aligns with the low-touch, self-support nature of cloud development.

  • A few of the OutSystems reference customers surveyed by Gartner felt that its technical support and documentation could be better.

  • More than one-third of surveyed reference customers for OutSystems described its pricing and value as only fair, or worse.

QuickBase

QuickBase's history dates back to 1999 and a tool called OneBase. QuickBase was divested by its longtime owner Intuit in early 2016, and is now privately funded. QuickBase offers a business-user-centric hpaPaaS focused on building no-code, record-based process-automation applications, including data analysis and reporting.

QuickBase uses a public cloud, multitenant, shared-resource, cloud-native architecture. It is licensed by three tiers of monthly per-user subscription plans.

Strengths
  • QuickBase's metadata-driven approach targets ease of use. Table definitions, relationships, forms, reports, charts and dashboards are all built declaratively, with much of the user interface autogenerated. Custom business logic is encoded in formulae, in form rules or in JavaScript embedded in code pages.

  • QuickBase has released more integration features since its change in ownership: These have included updates to its data integration feature (Sync), an event-driven Webhook extension mechanism, and an interface to Workato iSaaS for application integration tasks. QuickBase continues to plan a new-generation architecture incorporating application integration and governance features, as well as increased numbers of concurrent users and data sizing.

  • QuickBase has more than 6,000 customers worldwide, some with tens of thousands of users. The QuickBase Exchange offers hundreds of prebuilt apps, allowing complete access to the underlying designs. These apps provide a rich source of reusable design patterns for QuickBase developers.

  • Half of the QuickBase reference customers surveyed had more than 500 users, and more than half had over 20 applications either deployed or in development. This indicates significant rather than trivial application deployments for a no-code offering. QuickBase also scored higher than average for technical support and pricing value.

Cautions
  • While QuickBase targets rapid applications of record for citizen developers, the platform does not extend the development process to graphical process orchestration modeling.

  • Surveyed QuickBase reference customers had a higher-than-average desire for improved functional depth and completeness, and for integration features.

  • The QuickBase platform has only basic support for some enterprise features (such as non-native mobile apps) which is part of QuickBase's alignment to internally facing applications. In addition, the pace of community input relating to prebuilt apps in QuickBase Exchange has slowed during the past year as QuickBase has increased its curation of contributions.

  • Although QuickBase's momentum appears strong after the Intuit divestment, stewardship via a private equity firm — albeit one with plenty of experience in software tool vendors — poses the possibility of a future ownership change.

Salesforce

Salesforce is a pioneer of cloud computing, having introduced a general-purpose, high-productivity application platform service (Force.com) in 2008. Salesforce's popular SaaS offerings and early commitment to cloud computing generated momentum and market presence for Force.com. Salesforce's aPaaS offering is App Cloud, which includes Force.com and the Heroku high-control aPaaS, although the latter has only secondary impact on Salesforce's position in this Magic Quadrant.

The Force.com platform implements shared-everything elasticity to deliver fully cloud-native operation of process and data management. The core offering consists of a new composable user experience development platform (Lightning), a high-productivity web-based application development platform (Visualforce), and a fourth-generation language (Apex) for more advanced back-end functionality. Execution is entirely by metadata interpretation. Salesforce operates its own data centers in colocation facilities in multiple regions: its first deployment on AWS infrastructure is planned for 2017. The platform technology stack of Force.com also underlies Salesforce's key SaaS offerings, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Financial Services Cloud and others. Salesforce's app store (AppExchange) contains more than 3,000 partner applications, some deployed externally and others native to Force.com.

Strengths
  • Salesforce's well-established presence, revenue, name recognition, native integration with the market-leading CRM SaaS, broad partnerships in SaaS, PaaS and system integration put it on most hpaPaaS shortlists. The recent agreement to port the Salesforce platform to AWS has potential to further accelerate adoption by opening up new regions and new capabilities from AWS.

  • Some of Salesforce's recent or imminent innovations track key market trends and support Salesforce's market momentum. They include the modular composable mobile platform (Lightning), AI libraries (Einstein), continuous DevOps (Salesforce DX), API management (including API introspection, the Open Data Protocol [ OData] and planned support for the Open API Initiative) , further improvements to the integration with the high-control Heroku environment, event processing supported by high-productivity design tools, and the IoT. Salesforce's Ignite initiative implements design-thinking principles for customers and promotes excellence in Salesforce use cases.

  • A strong SaaS ecosystem is a key growth driver for any aPaaS offering. Salesforce's well-established support for SaaS ISVs — through subtenancy and AppExchange programs for partners, startups and incubators — continues to differentiate Force.com and helps it attract new SaaS partners. In addition, Salesforce's strategic investment in training and education (shown by Trailhead and the TrailheaDX event) facilitates a growing community of developers (currently claimed to exceed 3 million) and makes customer adoption easier, more affordable and more dependable.

  • Surveyed reference customers for Salesforce are strongly positive about the productivity, time to result and functionality of App Cloud. Users of competing platforms indicate familiarity with it, which confirms Salesforce's strong name recognition and reputation in the market.

Cautions
  • The proprietary nature of Salesforce's Force.com architecture enhances its cloud-native characteristics, such as the sharing of machine resources, but also locks customers in, deters some adoption, complicates integration with acquired technologies and prevents in-process Java or C# extensions.

  • Almost all the surveyed reference customers for Salesforce expressed concern about the high cost of App Cloud, a problem aggravated by the inflexible tracking and per-user pricing model of Force.com. While the user experience overall parallels that of serverless platforms, pricing that is controlled by a set of limitations (governors) on resource consumption is a lot more constraining.

  • Salesforce's long-standing mantra of "no software" now hinders its adoption for the IoT as that requires some components be local to devices — off-cloud. Similarly, support of hybrid IT is challenged by limited integration capabilities and the absence of virtual private or on-premises deployment options.

  • There are no plans to colocate the high-productivity Force.com technology stack with the high-control Heroku (which operates on AWS). As a result, integration of high-control and high-productivity operations in the App Cloud platform is constrained. Although the bidirectional data synchronization bridge between the two sides is provided, it remains a distant relationship — adding costs and latency to applications that need to combine the multiple forms of business logic.

ServiceNow

ServiceNow was formed in 2003 as a platform company, but switched to its popular IT service management (ITSM) SaaS solution as the demand for service management emerged. ServiceNow now offers a separate product providing hpaPaaS capabilities on the same platform as its SaaS offering.

The ServiceNow platform development tools offer workflow and system integration capabilities with a visual development environment that can be easily used by business analysts and citizen developers, in addition to programmers. The hpaPaaS offering enables the creation of both mobile and web applications, with shared integrations across multiple applications. REST services' output can be integrated into process workflows, and analytics are available across all elements of the platform. ServiceNow does not charge for application development in preproduction, but requires the purchase of a per-user runtime license when an application is deployed.

Strengths
  • ServiceNow is seeing strong growth in its hpaPaaS business. ServiceNow also has a strong installed base for its IT Service Management (ITSM) SaaS offering, which presents the company with a natural growth path for its platform business.

  • ServiceNow uses 16 geographically distributed data centers for its SaaS and aPaaS offerings, which are grouped into eight paired data centers for high availability. ServiceNow also provides a real-time availability dashboard for each customer that reflects everything that has affected the usability of a customer instance. Platform upgrades can be orchestrated, allowing applications to continue to run without instance downtime.

  • ServiceNow's platform architecture features delegated development enabling no-code/low-code and professional development and application scoping, which offers control of platform resources and access settings by application.

  • The ServiceNow reference customers surveyed by Gartner scored it highly for application accelerators, integration capabilities and value.

Cautions
  • ServiceNow's primary business is its ITSM SaaS offering, which means that its platform business may compete for internal resources to some degree. The value proposition and aPaaS positioning of the ServiceNow platform are still maturing, and its go-to-market strategy — beyond selling to its installed base — is unclear.

  • ServiceNow's low-code/no-code tools are very process-oriented and may prove challenging for citizen developers not familiar with process-based design, although there are options for data-centric or UI-centric design. ServiceNow's platform also lacks some enterprise features related to testing, when compared with its competitors.

  • ServiceNow relies on shared hardware multitenancy, with an option for on-premises installation and dedicated hardware. Dedicated instances can mean less-than-rapid elasticity, but ServiceNow does offer subtenancy as well.

  • Above-average numbers of the ServiceNow reference customers surveyed consider that it must improve its ease of use for developers, and its end-user experience. A higher-than-average number of reference customers also stated that the platform was "fair," at best, for the development of advanced services such as IoT and analytics services.

TrackVia

TrackVia offers a high-productivity, low-code aPaaS solution. Its focus since 2006 has been to provide, out of the box, a complete, unified and easy-to-use web and mobile experience for developers. Its cloud-native applications are deployed on AWS infrastructure and use an exclusively web-based IDE toolkit. TrackVia is one of the few hpaPaaS vendors to focus on workflow capabilities beyond basic form-centric applications. It has reported strong year-over-year revenue growth.

Strengths
  • The TrackVia platform provides robust self-service capabilities including a sophisticated user permission engine, which enables enterprise users to control user access down to the level of individual record details. In addition, it provides rich auditing capabilities that include full transparency for application transactions. TrackVia supports a real-time reporting and data visualization engine (for charts and graphs).

  • TrackVia's surveyed reference customers reported they were "very successful" in their development efforts and "extremely likely" to use the product again for future projects. Their primary reason for selecting TrackVia's platform was its ease of use, and customers rated this and "ease of deployment" as higher than average compared with other vendors in the Magic Quadrant.

  • TrackVia supports a variety of technical integrations to external systems, such as event stream handling and IoT integration via REST services, as well as APIs and microservice features. Its robust support for mobile application deployment also stands out from many of its competitors.

  • TrackVia's platform is cloud-native. All versions run on top of AWS infrastructure. It supports public, private, government and HIPAA infrastructure choices on AWS, and TrackVia applications can be moved between these AWS selections.

Cautions
  • TrackVia does not support subtenancy or internationalization features, which limits its appeal to SaaS hosting providers. Half or more of TrackVia's surveyed reference customers identified "functional depth" and "integration" features as being among their concerns.

  • TrackVia offers a strong out-of-the-box developer experience, but minimal integration with external life cycle management tools — which limits its appeal to large teams working on large projects. These deficiencies are scheduled to be addressed during 2017.

  • TrackVia is a small, innovative vendor backed by venture capital investments. It claims strong revenue growth, but has yet to report a profit.

  • TrackVia is currently almost entirely focused on the U.S. market.

Zoho

Zoho is best known for its SaaS suite of business tools for SMBs. Its fastest-growing product line is Zoho Creator, a high-productivity, database-centric business aPaaS offering. Zoho emphasizes its low-code development experience, which is usable by citizen developers. Its platform uses a directly executable metadata-driven model to describe all aspects of an application.

Zoho Creator offers some scripting capabilities — through a model-driven visual-scripting environment — for the writing of code using a proprietary language called Deluge (Data-Enriched Language for the Universal Grid Environment).

Strengths
  • Zoho Creator claims 15,000 Deluge developers and 950 downloadable Market Applications. Zoho Creator can be used to orchestrate use of the Zoho Office Suite, which includes enterprise productivity SaaS applications such as Zoho CRM. Zoho Creator is available only as a public cloud hosted PaaS offering, but Zoho plans to add partial on-premises deployment support.

  • Zoho Creator is a very easy-to-use platform. It offers drag-and-drop configuration of the metadata model used to build applications. Applications can be built quickly, with little or no involvement from IT staff. Zoho reference customers surveyed by Gartner indicated that ease of use was the main reason they chose Zoho Creator.

  • Zoho Creator applications are executed in a scalable, multitenant, shared-everything environment, with the option of a private dedicated database. Management of environments is on a self-service basis. Application authors and end users are well-shielded from the operational responsibilities of the underlying platform, including autoscaling.

  • Citizen developers, and IT leaders charged with supporting citizen developers, may find Zoho Creator's pricing attractive, including options that are not metered by number of users. Although not the most powerful hpaPaaS, Zoho Creator is inexpensive and meets the high-productivity development needs of citizen developers looking to build database-centric business applications. A citizen developer can build modestly complex business applications within the confines of the model.

Cautions
  • The Zoho Creator metadata model is modest. Zoho Creator has no abstract metadata models for process automation, integrations and more complex business logic. Instead, these parts of the application logic must be created using Zoho's Deluge language. While its ease of use makes it suitable for prototyping applications, the strong dependence on scripting may slow the development and maintenance of more complex enterprise applications.

  • Zoho Creator offers no choice of infrastructure providers and is not yet suitable for customers looking to deploy hybrid cloud solutions.

  • Zoho Creator offers no support for industry standards (such as OData access) or standard metadata models. It cannot host miniservices or microservices, offers little in terms of analytic services, and does not integrate with a high-control platform.

  • Support is normally available only on a 24/5 basis (no weekend support is available). Of the vendors evaluated in this Magic Quadrant, Zoho received the lowest scores from its surveyed reference customers for the quality of the relationship with the vendor, technical support, professional services and the overall experience.

Vendors Added and Dropped

We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant may change over time. A vendor's appearance in a Magic Quadrant one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. It may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or of a change of focus by that vendor.

Added

As a new Magic Quadrant, all the vendors included have been added.

Dropped

As a new Magic Quadrant, no vendors have been dropped.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To be included in this Magic Quadrant, vendors must offer (as of 1 September 2016) at least one platform that matches our criteria as listed below.

It must be a cloud service, with the following characteristics:

  • Available by subscription and accessible over internet technologies

  • Available uniformly to all qualified subscribers

  • Including some sharing of physical resources between logically isolated tenants (subscribers or applications)

  • Including some self-service provisioning and management by subscribers

  • Including bidirectional scaling without interruption of activities and with some automation

  • Including some instrumentation for resource use tracking

It has to be an application platform as a service (aPaaS) offering:

  • It encapsulates the underlying virtual or physical machines, their procurement, management and direct costs, and does not require tenants to be aware of them (optional access is okay)

  • It delegates to the providers the patching, versioning and health of the platform stack

It has to provide a minimal set of aPaaS capabilities:

  • Support for the deployment of applications utilizing data schema and application logic

  • Includes tools to develop, version, test, deploy, execute, administer, monitor and manage the applications and their relevant artifacts

  • Allows for functional extensions through external or third-party services.

It has to provide hpaPaaS functionality:

  • It provides a low-code or no-code approach to application development

  • It supports development and deployment by citizen developers

  • It includes single-step deployment

It has to be enterprise-grade and aimed at enterprise-class projects, by:

  • The provider taking some responsibility for:

    • High availability and disaster recovery.

    • Security of access to application services

    • Technical support to paying subscribers.

  • Enabling third-party application access to application logic and/or data via services

It has to be provided as a "stand-alone" service:

  • The platform's clients can subscribe to only the aPaaS capability and not to some other optional cloud service — for example, a SaaS application or another form of PaaS, such as BPM PaaS or dbPaaS — of which the aPaaS capabilities are just an "embedded" subset.

It has to be generally available, with more than 200 organizations as paying customers (as of 1 September 2016).

It has to generate an estimated revenue of at least $4 million (or equivalent) per year (that is, for the 12 months ending 31 August 2016).

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

Vendors in Magic Quadrants are scored on two axes: Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. These relate to their performance in the year of our research (that is, 2016 in this case, because this research began in September 2016) and their vision for the following years. Vendors are scored according to the Gartner methodology for Magic Quadrants and these scores define each vendor's position. In each successive year, the evaluation criteria are changed as new technologies are defined, new markets addressed and new roadmaps created. Vendors are invited to provide the data for the evaluation criteria via questionnaires and briefings, but evaluations also include the results of Gartner customer surveys and analyst information from client inquiries.

Table 1.   Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Weighting

Product or Service

High

Overall Viability

Medium

Sales Execution/Pricing

High

Market Responsiveness/Record

Medium

Marketing Execution

Medium

Customer Experience

High

Operations

Medium

Source: Gartner (April 2017)

To evaluate the Customer Experience criterion, Gartner confidentially surveyed vendor-supplied reference customers. At least 8 references were required for the survey data to be considered for discussion in the Magic Quadrant. While the insights from references may not be statistically significant, they are still useful as real feedback from vendors' customers.

To evaluate the Product or Service criterion (that is, the capabilities of a vendor's available enterprise hpaPaaS offerings) for the vendor's Ability to Execute, we examined the following seven characteristics (with their associated weightings and content).

Note: Throughout this section, * denotes general interoperability and integration characteristics that any enterprise application platform should support. For an assessment of more advanced integration capabilities in specialist iPaaS, refer to "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service."

1. Degree of Cloudiness (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • Self-service access to provisioning, monitoring and management of platform and applications

  • Sharing of resources across tenants

  • Tenant isolation

  • Bidirectional scaling and autoscaling, versus the minimum unit of scaling

  • Resource-use tracking

  • Shielding of users from operational responsibilities (versioning, patching, health and VM management/costs)

2. Enterprise Worthiness (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • High availability

  • Disaster recovery

  • Secure access

  • High-volume throughput

  • SLAs

  • Exposure and access to "near and far" (that is, local/in-process and remote/external) application APIs*

  • Certification of platform or components

3. Functional Completeness (Breadth of Offering) and Functionality of an Application Platform (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • Execution of encoded application logic

  • Access to data in multiple formats

  • Multichannel application support

  • Composite application support

  • Application types (data-centric, dashboards and others)

  • Managed document access

  • Event-stream handling

  • IoT support

  • Analytics, AI and big data capabilities

  • Extensibility with 3GL

  • Subtenancy

  • Life cycle management (DevOps)

  • Application management and governance

  • Monitoring, management and administration of execution

  • Creation of SaaS

4. Openness (Weighting = High)

Coverage:

  • Application portability across different infrastructures (including hybrid cloud/non-cloud)

  • Support of standards (de facto or de jure)

  • Use of open-source components

5. Services Available (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • Integration support (data and application)*

  • Access to SaaS data and features

  • Bulk loading and unloading of data

  • Identity services for authorization

  • Development debugging services

  • Integrated development environments

  • Internationalization

  • Log support

  • Deployment domains and SSL certificates

  • Integrated tooling for development

  • API management*

  • API economy services*

  • Subscriber policy for introducing new features

6. High-Productivity Development (Weighting = High)

Coverage:

  • Design thinking support

  • Requirements support

  • Support for agile development/management

  • Support for test-driven development

  • Support for model-centric UI layer designer

  • Mobile and tablet UI design modelling

  • Business logic or decision modelling support

  • Process or sequence modelling support

  • Data modelling support

  • Case management support

  • Event and state transition modelling support

  • Assurance of cloud features

  • Services repository and governance

  • PaaS+ (PaaS with included applications) and prebuilt app libraries

  • One-button application deployment

7. Architectural Versatility and Consistency (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • Integrated high productivity and high control

  • Use of an industry PaaS or container framework

  • Service-oriented architecture (SOA)/mesh app and service architecture (MASA)

  • Miniservices

  • Microservices

  • Event-driven architecture

  • Digital twin

  • Batch processing

  • Eventual consistency — basic availability, soft-state, eventual consistency (BASE)

  • Atomic consistency — atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability (ACID)

  • In-memory computing

  • Parallel computing

  • Analytics, big data and contextualization

Completeness of Vision

Gartner analysts evaluate technology providers on their ability to convincingly articulate logical statements about current and future market direction, innovation, customer needs and competitive forces, and how well they map to the Gartner position. Ultimately, technology providers are rated on their understanding of how market forces can be exploited to create opportunity for the provider.

Table 2.   Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Weighting

Market Understanding

High

Marketing Strategy

Medium

Sales Strategy

Medium

Offering (Product) Strategy

High

Business Model

Low

Vertical/Industry Strategy

Low

Innovation

High

Geographic Strategy

Medium

Source: Gartner (April 2017)

To evaluate the Offering (Product) Strategy criterion (that is, the roadmap of a vendor's available enterprise high productivity aPaaS offerings) for the vendor's Completeness of Vision, we examined the following seven characteristics (with their associated weightings and content).

Note: Throughout this section, * denotes general interoperability and integration characteristics that any enterprise application platform should support. For an assessment of more advanced integration capabilities in specialist iPaaS, refer to "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service."

1. Degree of Cloudiness (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • Self-service access to provisioning, monitoring and management of platform and applications

  • Sharing of resources across tenants

  • Tenant isolation

  • Bidirectional scaling and autoscaling, versus the minimum unit of scaling

  • Resource-use tracking

  • Shielding of users from operational responsibilities (versioning, patching, health, and VM management/costs)

2. Enterprise Worthiness (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • High availability

  • Disaster recovery

  • Secure access

  • High-volume throughput

  • SLAs

  • Exposure and access to "near and far" (that is, local/in-process and remote/external) application APIs*

  • Certification of platform or components

3. Functional Completeness (breadth of offering) and Functionality of an Application Platform (Weighting = High)

Coverage:

  • Execution of encoded application logic

  • Access to data in multiple formats

  • Multichannel application support

  • Composite application support

  • Application types (data-centric, dashboards, and others)

  • Managed documents access

  • Event stream handling

  • IoT support

  • Analytics, AI and big data capabilities

  • Extensibility with 3GL

  • Subtenancy

  • Life cycle management (DevOps)

  • Application management and governance

  • Monitoring, management and administration of execution

  • Creation of SaaS

4. Openness (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • Application portability across different infrastructures (including hybrid cloud/non-cloud)

  • Support of standards (de facto or de jure)

  • Use of open-source components

5. Services Available (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • Integration support (data and application)*

  • Access to SaaS data and features

  • Bulk loading and unloading of data

  • Identity services for authorization

  • Development debugging services

  • Integrated development environments

  • Internationalization

  • Log support

  • Deployment domains and SSL certificates

  • Integrated tooling for development

  • API management*

  • API economy services*

  • Subscriber policy for introducing new features

6. High Productivity Development (Weighting = High)

Coverage:

  • Design thinking support

  • Requirements support

  • Support for agile development/management

  • Support for test-driven development

  • Support for model-centric UI layer designer

  • Mobile and tablet UI design modelling

  • Business logic or decision modelling support

  • Process or sequence modelling support

  • Data modelling support

  • Case management support

  • Event and state transition modelling support

  • Assurance of cloud features

  • Services repository and governance

  • PaaS+ (PaaS with included applications) and prebuilt app libraries

  • One-button application deployment

7. Architectural Versatility and Consistency (Weighting = Medium)

Coverage:

  • Integrated high productivity and high control

  • Use of an industry PaaS or container framework

  • Service-oriented architecture (SOA)/mesh app and service architecture (MASA)

  • Miniservices

  • Microservices

  • Event-driven architecture

  • Digital twin

  • Batch processing

  • Eventual consistency — basic availability, soft-state, eventual consistency (BASE)

  • Atomic consistency — atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability (ACID)

  • In-memory computing

  • Parallel computing

  • Analytics, big data and contextualization

Quadrant Descriptions

Leaders

Leaders in a market combine an insightful understanding of the realities of the market, a reliable record, the ability to influence the market's direction, the capability to attract and keep a following, and the capacity to lead.

In the enterprise hpaPaaS market, leadership implies an understanding of the demands of the enterprise and the opportunities of cloud computing, and a genuine commitment to enterprise cloud computing. A Leader must have demonstrated a market-leading vision and the ability to deliver on that vision. It must provide the set of services required by the enterprise in a public cloud offering, yet enable use by non-3GL developers. In this developing market, only three vendors have sustained excellence in both execution and vision for long enough to demonstrate effective leadership, but with growing strategic levels of investment we expect multiple vendors to advance in this direction during the next three years.

Note that a Leader is not always the best choice for any particular enterprise initiative. A focused, smaller vendor can provide excellent support and commitment to individual customers, especially when geographic or vertical industry specifics, or the need for a deep capability and commitment to specific features or functions, are important. This more focused type of vendor would not be rated as a Leader in the overall hpaPaaS market, but within a specific segment it may well be treated as such. These segments include process-centric and mobile-centric aPaaS today.

Challengers

Challengers in a market excel in their ability to attract a large user following, but this ability is limited to a subset or segment of the market. For members of that target audience, Challengers can be treated as Leaders, but that specificity presents a barrier to adoption for those outside the segment.

In the enterprise hpaPaaS market, a Challenger may have a strong proven presence and following in the web and/or mobile development market, but lack traction, commitment or insight in the broader enterprise market. A Challenger must demonstrate a sustained excellence in execution and must have amassed a significant following, which is hard to achieve in this new and still evolving market. Two vendors are rated as Challengers in the enterprise hpaPaaS market this year, which is indicative of market evolution.

A Challenger can evolve into a Leader if it adopts aggressive, innovative strategies to expand to the full-breadth target market; demonstrates exceptional insight in its understanding of IT market direction; and retains the capability to deliver on its vision.

Visionaries

Visionaries in a market are innovators that drive the market forward by responding to emerging leading-edge customer demands and by offering the businesses of their customers' new opportunities to excel. Typically, these vendors appeal to leading-edge customers and may even have minimal mainstream presence or name recognition. Their ability to deliver sustained and dependable execution in the mainstream enterprise market is not sufficiently tested. Note that the vision of a vendor is not expressed just in its technological innovation; insightful understanding of market trends is also required for visionary marketing, sales, and product and business management strategies.

In the hpaPaaS market, the single Visionary vendor is one of the classic enterprise software vendors, which is reinventing itself for the next generation of application developers. Generally, Visionaries are investing in leading-edge enterprise hpaPaaS services that are not yet readily adopted by mainstream enterprise customers; thereby providing support for a suite of capabilities such as big data and event stream analytics, IoT, event-driven and in-memory platforms, and mobile computing. Visionaries also excel in understanding the demands of the enterprise on the road to cloud adoption and support: control and management of citizen developers, ready customizations of SaaS, and access to integration for composite application services.

Visionaries should eventually grow to become Leaders; alternatively, they may limit their target markets to focus on their core competencies (or existing customers) and become Niche Players, or mature their specialties to become Challengers.

Niche Players

Niche Players in a market typically specialize in a vertical, geographical or functional area, therefore addressing only a segment of a market. Neither their execution nor their vision is market-leading from an enterprise perspective; often, these are vendors in transition from or to other markets, or they may be subject to excessively conservative risk-averse leadership.

In the enterprise hpaPaaS market, most Niche Players are simply focusing on the SMB market, or focusing on citizen developer models of application development without the full set of enterprise application capabilities. For example, they may be focusing on independent line of business (LOB) use only. Others may be in transition from other market segments, such as BPM or workflow, which have a different enterprise focus.

Because of their relative specializations, Niche Players can often represent the best choice for a specific category of buyer, or for a particular use case. They typically offer specialized expertise, focused support practices, flexible terms and conditions, and greater dedication to a particular market segment and its customers.

Some Niche Players are poised to improve their Ability to Execute and enterprise features and to evolve into Challengers. Others will discover innovative solutions that attract interest beyond their niche segments and will emerge as Visionaries. Some will look to both strengthen and broaden their businesses in order to challenge the Leaders. In this fast-changing and consolidating market, opportunities exist for all comers.

Context

The high-productivity aPaaS market is formed by vendors aiming to provide customers with a cloud platform for the development and execution of cloud-based applications, services and business solutions, without the need for traditional application programming skills.

These hpaPaaS solutions enable the enterprise to utilize a full range of developer assets — citizen developers, departmental developers and enterprise IT professionals — and develop applications ranging from tactical to strategic and stand-alone to integrated. Such applications will typically be data-oriented, although wider enterprise features such as IoT and event-driven support are becoming more common.

Many hpaPaaS applications are constructed to modernize existing departmental applications (such as those based on Microsoft Access) or early generation client/server and three-tier applications that focus on CRUD data operations using simpler web-based user interfaces. Yet their RAD credentials also make them suitable for enterprise applications and more advanced services; they usually include some mobile support as well as some data reporting features. The enterprise requirements of call-out to other application services make them also suitable for use cases such as extending SaaS applications and providing initial iterations of more complex applications that are expected to need more-sophisticated high-control platform usage.

This research covers only the vendors with hpaPaaS offerings aimed at enterprise customers; within this category, however, vendors still differ — in multiple dimensions — in the way they envision enterprise realities, requirements, opportunities and best practices in cloud computing. These dimensions are examined below.

Developer Experience

  • No-coding. A model- or form-driven graphical development environment, typically suitable for LOB and citizen developers, with limited configuration options for representing business logic, complex application flows, or accessing external services.

  • Scripting. A scripting or fourth-generation language (4GL) programming environment, often extending model- or form-driven development environments and utilizing a constrained language mechanism to provide business logic, application flows and data operations, as well as external service access. May also provide access to conventional 3GL software development tooling, usually as an option to built-in developer services.

Model of Elasticity Used

Refer to "Gartner Reference Model for Elasticity and Multitenancy" for more details.

  • Shared hardware. Multiple tenants may share the resources of a physical machine, but each VM is exclusively dedicated to one tenant. The increment of elasticity is the whole VM image: isolation is implemented by the virtualization hypervisor; elasticity is implemented by additional control software. This is a relatively coarse model with a modest degree of resource sharing; however, the less sharing, the more assured is the tenant isolation.

  • Shared OS. Multiple tenants share an instance of a virtual or physical server OS, each isolated via OS containers. The increment of elasticity is an instance of an OS container, which is more lightweight than a whole VM — making elasticity more fine-grained and more responsive to changing demands (an OS container can be instantiated faster than a VM and can therefore be triggered in response to smaller changes in demand). Isolation is implemented via OS containers; elasticity is implemented by additional control software.

  • Shared container. Multiple tenants share an instance of an application container. The increment of elasticity can be a thread, a segment of real memory, a priority level or a database connector. Fine-grained elasticity is the most efficient in responding to changing demands and in the density of resource utilization. Tenant isolation and resource elasticity are implemented inside the application platform container; however, the more sharing, the harder it is to ensure tenant isolation.

Scope of Deployment

Refer to "Hype Cycle for Platform as a Service, 2016" for more details.

  • Public. The aPaaS services are operated by the provider in the data center network of the provider's choice, or from a selection managed by the provider. Software that executes the application is unavailable for review or change, and is fixed and versioned exclusively by the provider (with the subscriber having some control over the timing of updates). The customer operates in logical isolation from other tenants, but shares some physical resources — reducing costs and improving the elasticity of the environment.

  • Hybrid. The provider of the public aPaaS also offers the software that enables its public service — as a software product that is deployed and managed on-premises at a data center of the buyer's choice. The software may not be 100% the same, but offers a choice of location for running the aPaaS applications. The vendor may retain a degree of control of the versioning of the software even if it does not control its day-to-day operations. It is not yet usual for vendors to provide a control mechanism offering deployment in one or the other — the latter is typically a high-control requirement rather than a high-productivity one.

Target Audience in the Enterprise

  • LOB developers. An hpaPaaS solution targeting LOB citizen developers must offer ease of use and simplified references to application data and services. They offer high-productivity, model-driven design of UIs. Typically, LOB developers use these tools in conjunction with prebuilt accelerators or components, or to extend SaaS solutions. Enterprises are encouraging such developers as a means of addressing their backlog of departmental applications.

  • Central IT developers. Any hpaPaaS solution targeting enterprise IT organizations must support development of one-of-a-kind application services, with rapid time to market. These may be standard data-oriented applications, or applications of greater complexity that can still be accommodated by the design patterns supported by the hpaPaaS solution. Potentially, this solution may also be used to provide a minimum viable product (MVP) for an agile-developed application, extended with 3GL-based services as required.

  • In a bimodal IT world, the hpaPaaS solution may be required where central IT is looking for fast returns on investment and access to services that would otherwise be expensive to develop.

  • ISVs. A solution targeting ISVs for turnkey application development and SaaS customization is a key customer category for some hpaPaaS vendors. Where ISVs are developing their own SaaS offerings, the hpaPaaS solution needs to support subtenancy, because the objective of the ISVs is to sell their application services to independent customers (their tenants). Successful SaaS can have ISVs whose clouds have thousands of tenants of their own. The support of subtenancy for ISVs includes support of tracking and billing per subtenant, version control of the application that is seamlessly delivered to subtenants, management that allows the ISV to control all subtenants (including scaling, failover, backup/restore, noisy neighbor control and security), and the self-service management that is offered to subtenants. In other words, the experience of a subtenant must, within its scope, be the same as the experience of the tenant (the ISV) itself.

Pricing Model

Refer to "Reduce Costs of Custom Applications by Leveraging Public PaaS Pricing Models" for more details.

  • Free. Usually limited to developer (nonproduction) usage with resource and support restrictions. Useful for proofs of concept, education and evaluation.

  • Fixed. Priced in proportion to the number of registered users (with some established resource boundaries, such as the number of data objects, bandwidth or storage, with variable overrun costs), applications, or both. Resource ceilings may be tiered with different price levels. Users that are significantly under the use thresholds are paying a premium for predictable budget exposure, and relief from the burden of capacity planning and continuous use tracking. Minimal or no system administration of the service is required of the subscriber.

Users are advised to establish where an hpaPaaS offering sits in relation to the above dimensions when evaluating and contrasting vendor candidates. Although a given project may be more sensitive to some of these categories than others, all will have an impact on the overall experience of the subscriber utilizing a selected service. Understanding this impact in relation to the project objectives is the responsibility of the buyer, and should not be delegated to vendors or advisors: the consequences of a wrong choice can span the entire spectrum from negligible to severe.

Market Overview

The enterprise hpaPaaS market is developing as a complement to the traditional, professional-developer focused high-control aPaaS market. Both are part of the general PaaS market, which remains the smallest of the three major cloud market categories at $7.1 billion in 2016, with IaaS ($25.2 billion in 2016) and SaaS ($38.6 billion in 2016) being the other two (see "Forecast: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2015-2021, 1Q17 Update" ). Within the PaaS market, aPaaS is the biggest sector (over $2.1 billion for 2016, up 26% from 2015 (see "Forecast: Enterprise Software Markets, Worldwide, 2014-2021, 1Q17 Update" ), and the majority of that revenue (more than 75%) involves vendors dealing with hpaPaaS (either alone or in conjunction with a high-control aPaaS offering). Related and overlapping segments include mobile app development platforms ($1.1 billion for 2016), BPM suites ($2.7 billion for 2016), and iPaaS ($0.5 billion for 2016).

Although we identify current Leaders in this hpaPaaS research, the long-term, sustained leadership in the market remains open to new players. New vendors continue to appear: 46 hpaPaaS vendors were counted at the start of this research (versus 18 that were exclusively high-control aPaaS). Major IT vendors (such as Google and Microsoft and Oracle) are now entering the market, often in support of their SaaS businesses. Meanwhile, the overall market — for hpaPaaS and for aPaaS in general — continues to be dominated by Salesforce.

Given the influence of large SaaS vendors in the hpaPaaS market (such as Oracle, Salesforce, and ServiceNow) it is no surprise to see that many users come to hpaPaaS after first adopting SaaS. SaaS customers adapt aPaaS to customize and extend the standard SaaS capabilities, adapting the solutions to their specific requirements. Note that the reverse is true with high-control aPaaS: these solutions are more attractive to IaaS customers looking to aPaaS (with PaaS frameworks, container IaaS and function PaaS) to improve their application development productivity.

The hpaPaaS Magic Quadrant displays a strong diagonal bias from Niche Players to Leaders, representing two market factors:

  • The citizen developer features of hpaPaaS can be considered as diametrically opposed to the enterprise requirements of IT tools. A focus on LOB features is different from a focus on enterprise IT features: the former is focusing on independence from central IT, whereas the latter is looking to accommodate the needs of central IT. All the hpaPaaS vendors provide some enterprise features, yet some are clearly focused on SMBs and departmental needs and others on providing full enterprise IT capabilities.

  • The main focus of most hpaPaaS solutions lies in CRUD operations on data: easy entering of information and ease of access to information. Some hpaPaaS solutions offer process management and support complex business logic. This means the depth of vision across vendors is more restricted when compared with many other Magic Quadrants: there are no qualifying vendors that exhibit low execution and high vision, or high execution and low vision. In some ways, this reflects the maturity of the underpinning technologies — RAD tools have been available for decades.

Some of the key trends in the hpaPaaS market (see "The Key Trends in PaaS, 2017" ) include:

  • The hpaPaaS market continues to evolve at speed, incorporating evolutions of the BPM PaaS market (such as AgilePoint, Appian, and Pegasystems) and rapid mobile app development (RMAD) market (such as Kinvey and Kony). This trend is likely to continue during the next few years as aPaaS incorporates more process, decision and mobile technologies.

  • The largest vendors are now addressing the hpaPaaS market. New offerings from Microsoft and Google are announced or recently available, and other vendors are exploiting framework compatibilities with smaller vendors (such as IBM offering Mendix in its Bluemix catalog). This is because the enterprise customers of these vendors are seeing the value of hpaPaaS and adopting it.

  • The divide between SaaS and hpaPaaS continues to narrow as hpaPaaS providers build up their ecosystems to include templates and prebuilt applications. Some of these will be focused on a particular vertical market, which could lead to vertical specializations later in their product life cycles. Others (such as Kintone) will focus on a PaaS+ experience for users.

  • Standardization around PaaS frameworks (such as Cloud Foundry and OpenShift Origin) or container formats (such as Docker and the Open Container Initiative [OCI]) remain rare in hpaPaaS — such underpinnings are opaque to the developers using these services, so irrelevant from the user perspective. For more mature cloud-oriented enterprises, this type of support can lead to internal benefits of infrastructure and framework commonality, even across multiple vendors. One example is the adoption of Cloud Foundry (and now Docker) support by Mendix, providing some compatibility with suitable high-control PaaS offerings from vendors such as IBM, Pivotal and SAP.

  • While many of the hpaPaaS offerings have precedents or available equivalents in on-premises RAD platforms, the benefits to enterprises of managed cloud services are high for these types of tools. Self-service and scalability without the associated involvement of enterprise operations, are extremely important in ensuring "productivity." Many hpaPaaS solutions can access on-premises services, including databases, but the trend for these vendors is from on-premises to cloud.

  • Many hpaPaaS solutions provide additional services beyond UI, data and process. Multifunction support often includes integration and reporting or analytics features. These may be white-labelled by a smaller vendor, or may simply be yet another REST API offering from a megavendor's cloud suite. The ubiquitous extensibility of hpaPaaS to access other cloud services — which is part of the "enterprise" qualification for these hpaPaaS solutions — means that most offerings can be extended to extremely sophisticated domains (such as exploiting AI, machine learning and chatbots).

  • Modern IT initiatives align strongly with hpaPaaS adoption. Bimodal IT requires experimentation at minimum cost, aligning strongly with the benefits of high-productivity PaaS offerings including hpaPaaS. Even high-control enterprise IT shops are considering hpaPaaS in order to rapidly evolve a "minimum viable product" for agile-based application projects.

  • Digital business and IoT demands are pushing stream processing, event processing, real-time analytics, web-scale, in-memory computing, real-time context-aware decision support and other innovations to the center of enterprise development concerns. While many of these are the domain of high-control aPaaS and equivalent platforms today, we already see hpaPaaS vendors investing in architecture and technologies necessary to support such digital business requirements.

  • Like any cloud service, hpaPaaS is offered with subscription pricing that makes it attractive to both SMBs as well as enterprise IT organizations. This enables smaller businesses to gain the same benefits — of advanced services and scalability — as larger enterprises, together with greater productivity, agility, efficiency and access to continuous innovation.

Acronym Key and Glossary Terms

3GL third-generation language
AI artificial intelligence
aPaaS application platform as a service
AWS Amazon Web Services
BPM business process management
CRUD create, read, update, delete
HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (U.S.)
hpaPaaS high-productivity application platform as a service
IaaS infrastructure as a service
IDE integrated development environment
IoT Internet of Things
iPaaS integration platform as a service
ISV independent software vendor
LOB line of business
PaaS platform as a service
PaaS+ PaaS with included applications
RAD rapid application development
RMAD rapid mobile app development
SMB small or midsize business
SOA service-oriented architecture
VM virtual machine
xPaaS generic platform as a service

Evaluation Criteria Definitions

Ability to Execute

Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.

Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor's capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.

Market Responsiveness/Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness.

Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.

Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.

Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

Completeness of Vision

Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers' wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen to and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.

Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.

Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.

Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.

Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor's underlying business proposition.

Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.

Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.

Geographic Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.