What happens if your PaaS passes?

As of Friday, PHPfog goes away as a supported Platform as a Service.  This is not really a surprise — in November, parent company AppFog alerted affected users that they would have to migrate to the broader, newer AppFog platform as of January 25. And, many have done so, after grumbling, quite happily, according to Lucas Carlson, CEO of Portland, Ore.-based AppFog.
The company started out as PHPfog, which GigaOM’s Derrick Harris characterized two years ago as a sort of Heroku(s crm) for PHP developers, but changed focus to support multiple languages and multiple public clouds.
appfogThe developers using PHPFog probably already know it’s not  easy to migrate from one software version to another and when the software in question is actually the platform which runs your applications, things get really hairy. One AppFog user acknowledged that the company provided notice and guidance about migrating applications but said any such migration is fraught. “Infrastructure moves are incredibly difficult and risky and the upside is usually fairly slim,” he said via email.

The problem of a defunct PaaS may be rare — Coghead disappeared in 2009, although SAP(s sap) ended up buying the intellectual property. But given that PaaSes act as platforms for real applications, customers need to go into deployment with their eyes wide open.
Gartner(s IT) distinguished analyst Yefim Natiz, who studies this topic, recommends that PaaS customers negotiate terms to mitigate risk. “You should put something in your provisions that if the company is acquired or goes away, you can get some money back — even if a company goes bankrupt there are assets left over. The best thing is to get your code in escrow so if the PaaS goes away you can run it on premises if you need to,” he said.
And of course, all companies should always back up their underlying data all the time.
Carlson, who provided the tweetstream below to show how some customers “evolved” their thinking about the transition, said the benefits of moving to AppFog outweigh the headaches of the move itself.
“They get much better service, a choice of infrastructure, new languages, five new database services and can choose whatever version control system they want to manage their code instead of being forced into Git,” he said in an interview.