Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is rapidly evolving as a strategic option to speed up the process of developing and deploying services for digital initiatives. The platform as a service model provides businesses with an independently maintained platform upon which their web and mobile applications can be built, refined, and deployed with agility being the core theme. Organizations, however, would need to evaluate the level of abstraction and automation provided by a particular PaaS offering, apart from costs and risk exposure to ensure successful and cost-effective development and deployment of applications.
Like other cloud services, PaaS can also be provided either as a public or a private cloud service:
- Public PaaS is provided by a public cloud service provider for building applications on their cloud. Salesforce Heroku, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and Microsoft Azure PaaS are a few examples of public PaaS.
- Enterprise (Private) PaaS is layered on the top of public Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), on-premise bare-metal and virtual machines, and managed by central IT within an organization. Apprenda, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, and Red Hat OpenShift are examples of private PaaS platforms.
Enterprises should consider public PaaS providers in cases which demand greater agility, keeping in mind that this brings in vendor lock-in. On the other hand, selecting a private PaaS provider offers greater control of self-service and policy-driven development that overlays both internal IT and public cloud.
Considerations for PaaS Adoption
Organizations need to think along the following lines while contemplating PaaS adoption:
- Understand your business objectives and goals, and analyze your operating model and the forces affecting it. Accordingly, derive the business case and benefit-tracking mechanism to validate benefit realization of PaaS adoption.
- Assess the maturity of service providers, features offered, portability of offerings between vendors, and the extent of usage of proprietary components by the vendor that could inadvertently lead to lock-in or make it difficult to move workloads.
- Estimate the effort and time required to make changes to enable existing applications to migrate and run on PaaS. Consider the development tools, languages, middleware, run-time environments and self-service options provided as part of PaaS services while keeping in mind the future development and application needs for meeting the rapidly evolving demands of businesses.
- Keep an eye on the roadmap of your PaaS provider to keep up with the pace of changing PaaS standards.
- Ensure that the PaaS provider is compliant with the internal needs of the organization, and with the legal and regulatory environments.
Benefits of PaaS
PaaS with its ecosystem of middleware, development tools, and business tools offers added advantages over and above those offered by IaaS:
- PaaS development tools enable reusability of codes and faster time-to-market with pre-coded application components built into the platform, such as workflow, directory services, security features, search and so on, thereby significantly reducing the coding time required to develop new applications.
- Makes cross-platform applications quicker and easier to develop with development options for multiple platforms such as computers, mobile device, and browsers.
- Pay-as-you-go model for sophisticated development software, BI, and analytics tools makes it easier and affordable for organizations to try out and utilize such sophisticated tools.
- PaaS provides all the capabilities required to support the complete application lifecycle.
Building the Case for Private PaaS across Hybrid Cloud Environment
Private PaaS is more suited for applications that are highly sensitive to latency or those that use specific hardware devices. Effective and secure integration with public cloud environments is also another major concern that drives companies towards adopting private PaaS, which provides a single hybrid cloud development environment. Some popular private PaaS providers have been listed below:
- Red Hat OpenShift: Red Hat OpenShift is an open- source PaaS solution that helps application development and IT operations teams create and deploy applications quickly.
- Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF): PCF is a proprietary enterprise PaaS, based on Cloud Foundry and owned by Dell Technologies. It helps developers build, deploy, run and scale applications.
- Apprenda: Apprenda’s enterprise PaaS for Java and .NET helps modernize existing applications for the cloud and lets developers build cloud-native applications faster.
Most organizations are balancing a mix of emerging, current, and legacy technologies hosted both on and off premise, and would like to combine resources across all the PaaS clouds—private or public into a single, logical hybrid resource pool and apply flexible, powerful application deployment policies. For such organizations, private PaaS seems to be a more appropriate option that allows back and forth migrations between public clouds and internal IT.
Organizations can opt for private PaaS, or explore one or more native offerings from cloud service providers and understand the consequences of using those in certain cases. These approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages. Organizations need to evaluate the service, features, cost, and risk involved with the goal to improve efficiency and enhance the value delivered while effectively adopting the platform as a service technology.