Platform as a Service (PaaS) very well may be the smallest of the as-a-service markets, but it's going to grow significantly over the next few years. According to a new report from MarketsandMarkets, the global PaaS market will grow to be valued at $6.94 billion by 2018.

The report, "Platform as a Service (PaaS) Market - Global Advancements, Business Models, Technology Roadmaps, Forecasts & Analysis (2013–2018)," aims to define the market segment, breaking it down into the three categories of public, private and hybrid cloud, as well as various markets such as application development and maintenance, business process management, application and integration PaaS offerings.

If the report's predictions hold true, the PaaS market will grow from the current value of $1.23 billion to almost $7 billion by 2018, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 32.54 percent. Hardly an insignificant number, and it's one the channel might want to take note of as players continue to build out their public, private and hybrid cloud offerings.

According to MarketsandMarkets, the key driving forces behind the rapid pace of growth over the next few years will be in the application development process, including in agility, scalability, limited needs for expertise, easy deployment and reduced cost and development time.

The research firm noted that PaaS has traditionally been the smallest market in the as-a-service space, falling well behind SaaS and IaaS. But although it is smaller, it's still a "very significant" aspect to cloud computing.

"This trend has been adopted by most of the traditional cloud computing and IT solution providers in the market like Amazon, Google, IBM, etc. Also many small players specializing in providing PaaS solutions have emerged and made the market so dynamic and competitive. This trend has benefited most of the application users and has increased the demand for PaaS on various sectors," the market research company noted in its announcement of the new report.

When it comes to where PaaS is going to grow biggest, that would be North America, MarketsandMarkets stated. It remains the biggest market for PaaS solutions, and it doesn't look like that's going to change any time soon.