For better or worse, Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) will continue to pull business workflows into mobile and personal devices. Efforts to keep business functions in their traditional channels have largely failed and according to analysts, we should expect sharp double-digit growth to continue.

This paints a picture of a much more challenging application development environment. More applications must now be accessible, directly or through some intermediary, to a wider range of environments than ever before. Management and rank-and-file people now expect access to once sacrosanct information -- inventory data or customer files, for example -- no matter where they are or what time of day it is.

All these challenges point toward mobile application development, and ultimately almost all development moving to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) if it is to achieve needed productivity. The mosaic of functions, platforms and users, must be cemented into place and made more robust.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Why PaaS? Last year was an important, stake-in-the-ground time for the Platform-as-a-Service market, as vendors defined their vision and moved more actual capabilities to market. Although some suggest that PaaS will eventually get squeezed out of existence because it sits, implicitly, between infrastructure as a service (IaaS), a la Amazon AWS, and software as a services (SaaS), as exemplified by Salesforce, this is untrue. For many organizations PaaS will be indispensible as a tool for leveraging IaaS -- providing the needed tools and controls -- and delivering the organization- or market-specific SaaS capabilities that end-users need.

Although it will have competition among buzzwords from the “Year of the Internet of Things (IoT)” -- a challenge that further reflects the growing complexities that IoT is creating for developers -- I see 2014 as the “Year of PaaS.” Indeed, IBM’s and Cisco’s recent announcements that they will each invest a billion dollars in their cloud market is a sign that the pioneers have been on to something important.

More organizations are adopting PaaS. Gartner published in January of this year its first Gartner Magic Quadrant for aPaaS. What's driving the interest? Developers and IT in general are dealing with stiffer competition and limited resources. PaaS can help them solve those problems by supporting better and faster development, agility, analytics and scalability, while offering more favorable cost structures.