The cloud computing market is littered with acronyms describing the various services which are contained within it, so for many business users the process of working out which ones are worth adopting can be confusing. Platform as a service (PaaS) is a growing area of the cloud industry, and understanding its definition is just a small part of appreciating why it might be sensible to integrate it into your IT infrastructure. So what is PaaS and how easily can your business deploy it to take advantage of the positive assets that it affords?
In the days before cloud computing, businesses had to manage the majority of their IT needs on-site, making them accountable not only for the hardware infrastructure for storage and networking, but also the software ecosystem existing in the virtual space created by this equipment.
Running apps locally not only involves the procurement of the right licensing to account for the number of users that will require access, but also setting up the operating system on which the software can be installed, and perhaps even developing programs from the ground up to serve a purpose in a very specialised working environment. With PaaS you can outsource the costs associated with installing and maintaining hardware and underlying OS software to a cloud provider, and instead focus on the process of creating apps on a platform which is not limited by the same pressures as would have been present in the past.
Boosting Smaller Businesses
Because the financial issues associated with accessing a modern environment in which software can be developed are alleviated by PaaS, it is not only the largest companies that have the resources necessary to fuel success.
PaaS is accessible to smaller firms and because many services operate using an on-demand payment model, you are never charged for more storage and processing capacity than is necessary. This helps to eliminate many of the obstacles which might have kept small firms small, allowing them to tackle larger rivals with innovative offerings that are just as comprehensively developed as anything coming out of the competition.
The scalability extends beyond mission-critical apps and platforms to those important software assets which might only be required for a limited time and would thus be very costly to procure for internal use. PaaS customers can get access to these types of services in short bursts, which keeps costs manageable while also ensuring that the best possible platforms are integrated into the development process.
Since PaaS allows you to host the underpinnings of your development platform remotely, you can also free up your staff to access these services off-site, rather than requiring that they are constantly on-premises to remain productive.
Browser-based development tools can enable mobile and remote working, which means employees can engage with a project whether they are in the office, on the move or at home. This not only helps to improve the effectiveness of individual members of staff, but also adds to the agility of the business as a whole, empowering it to tackle unexpected circumstances without grinding to a halt.
The rigidity of development has been a millstone for many companies attempting to host solutions in-house, but PaaS breaks down these boundaries and throws open the floodgates for a wide variety of potential benefits.
Different cloud solutions involve different levels of provider responsibility, so it is important to keep these variables in mind when choosing a package. For PaaS, the provider is responsible for network connectivity and bandwidth, as well as the physical server hardware used for hosting, including the storage, in addition to the operating system and perhaps a number of key apps which will be relevant during the development process.
Packages can vary significantly from provider to provider and PaaS is not a particularly rigid aspect of the cloud market, so it may also contain elements of SaaS (software as a service) and IaaS (infrastructure as a service), which does make it harder to put a label on any one solution.
Provider data centre facilities can be another variable that you need to take into account when deciding on the right PaaS package for your business. For example, data backup and mirroring across multiple sites for the purposes of continuity might be desirable, along with redundant hardware and power elements to minimise downtime and disruption that could be costly when they do occur.
Establishing the boundaries of your relationship with any PaaS provider is important when committing to a service plan, so make sure that your business is happy with the specifics of any contract to avoid any unwanted surprises further down the line.
Appropriate PaaS Deployment
As with most IT services, PaaS is not a universally vital asset but one which will be better suited to some companies than it will to others. PaaS comes into its own in enterprises which regularly engage in time-sensitive projects that require apps to be brought to market as quickly as possible while preserving quality and innovation along the way.
Those companies which are facing the prospect of having to consolidate IT resources to save money can certainly benefit from PaaS, because it does not require that you compromise on the capabilities of your systems, or require that you resort to over-provisioning, so as to keep up with the demands which are placed on them by your activities and growth.
Businesses which need to create bespoke software that would previously have required multiple different servers and OS environments are also high up the list of those that will be better off once they have migrated away from on-site infrastructures towards PaaS hosted in the cloud.
Getting On Board with PaaS
Once you have determined that PaaS would be an important tool for your company, you need to actually go ahead and decide on the type of provider and package that you require. At this point it is important to keep a firm grip on reality and avoid being blinded by marketing promises and sales hype. Cloud providers of all sizes offer PaaS, so look for a company that is willing to engage with your business and listen carefully to your circumstances and needs so that it can deliver the best possible level of service as a result.
Although PaaS is a smaller part of the cloud than SaaS and IaaS, its niche status is relative to the overall size of the market, which given the rate at which it is expanding could make it an even more important factor within the next few years as companies seeking the competitive advantage adopt it in droves.
This blog is listed under Cloud Computing Community