Yesterday at Structure 2010 in San Francisco, Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Yousef Khalidi participated in a great panel, "Platform-as-a-Service" with other vendors to debate the direction PaaS will take, as well as where cloud computing is best suited for most companies.  Khalidi and other panelists, Lew Moorman, president of Rackspace Hosting, Mike Piech, senior director of product marketing at Oracle, Byron Sebastian, ceo of Heroku, and Tien Tzuo, founder & ceo of Zuora, described how companies are "moving to the cloud", which applications are best suited for cloud environments, as well as the metrics that companies need to adopt in order to understand both the value and costs associated with a PaaS model.

While differences in approach and recommendations emerged during the panel, Khalidi emphasized the need for customers to consider the specific needs of their environment and look for a PaaS vendor that offers the most choice and flexibility.   And, he continued, while there are many decisions to be made in determining which applications to move to the cloud, the underlying value a cloud platform such as Windows Azure provides developers and operators is freedom from worrying about the details of their infrastructure so they can focus on doing their jobs.

Ultimately, all panelists conceded that the PaaS market is still evolving but all agreed that the potential efficiency and agility gains for companies are huge and that most companies should take a closer look at whether PaaS may work for them.  If you want to see the entire panel, please go here.  If you attended this panel and have any comments or questions about what you heard, please feel free to post a comment below.  We look forward to hearing from you!