Q: When is a Platform Not a Platform? A: When It’s a ‘Services as a Platform’

Blog - Question

It sounds like semantics but the question gets to the heart of both the technology and business models that will be driven by the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the API Economy. The question was thoughtfully explored by James Urquhart in his GigaOm post Enough PaaS vs. IaaS: The cloud is really about Services as a Platform.

MachineShop was founded on this very premise – deliver functionality as discrete services rather than cram them into a platform and put it in the cloud somewhere. As Urquhart points out in his prescient post, customers want to consume services, discrete services, regardless of where or how they are deployed. The new model can’t just be about moving monolithic platforms to the cloud and changing the pricing strategy. Buyers are catching on.

Companies like Twilio and Stripe have successfully demonstrated the enormous value and popularity of delivering specific software functionality from the cloud through discrete APIs. And you’re wrong if you don’t think those companies, and their respective valuations are ‘platform’ businesses.

From our perspective, both enterprise and consumer IoT applications demand this Services as a Platform approach for a number of reasons. First, in many cases data normalization, aggregation and management will take place at the edge, in networks, on prem or in private clouds. This requires a very flexible consumption model. Second, customers are already utilizing services from a variety of third parties (Twilio, Google, Stripe) and want a unified aggregation of these services with the value that might otherwise be locked in a traditional platform. Identifying and delivering only the specific services and APIs that an organization requires is the ultimate model for customers and it should be the only model offered by providers.

At MachineShop, we can deliver more than 400 native services via APIs to our customers and can easily aggregate and manage thousands more. We embrace the Services as a Platform model and hope to bring about a fundamental change in how organizations consume and utilize software.