Graeme O'driscoll
Graeme O'driscoll Head: Software Engineering

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is undertaken by third-party providers that deliver hardware and software tools to users over the Internet. These providers will host the tools on their own infrastructure.

In this sense, a “platform” builds on the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model by providing not only the OS layers, but the server, runtime management and additional automation and orchestration. It allows the service provider to manage the infrastructure right up to the virtualisation layer, adding the management of all OS, middleware and runtime functionality. What you're left with is the ability to completely control applications and all data created by those applications.

This provides application software developers with the means to deploy and manage their software themselves with application-relevant service levels and characteristics. By having the middleware, operating system and hardware abstracted from the application software, the organisation needs fewer infrastructure operations, and the application developer spends less time deploying and provisioning – meaning more time developing valuable software. PaaS is a booming market. Gartner predicts that the market will double in size and the service will be a prevailing platform delivery model between 2018 and 2022.

In response to dealing with the pressures of creating great business value by providing increased flexibility and speed, many organisations today are creating a generation of custom applications that are leveraging the potential of cloud capabilities. Software as a Service and IaaS providers are moving into PaaS to help provide enterprise customers with the agility and flexibility that they require. In other words, these organisations are trending towards private turnkey PaaS offerings.

Business benefits of PaaS

  • Rapid time-to-market: This service is used to build applications quicker than if developers had to build, configure and provision their own platforms.
  • Minimised development costs: PaaS allows for rapid prototyping and development by providing pre-built back-end infrastructure. Since users don’t have to build applications from scratch, it reduces the costs that are usually associated with development.
  • Access to sophisticated tools: Developers in the company can take advantage of sophisticated development software and tools that would normally be too expensive to develop, test and reiterate in-house.
  • Future-proof: New features, capabilities and bug fixes are instantiated automatically in the cloud. In this way, the focus can home in on core business initiatives rather than maintaining the company’s underlying IT infrastructure.

Key considerations for deployment

  • Essential services: Look out for the following essential services before you deploy PaaS: application development, database, integration, support and security services, among others. Determine the needs of your application in each service area and assess different PaaS offerings based on these service requirements.
  • Diversification: Be flexible and dynamic with your choice of service providers. Have a target ratio of services to put into PaaS and with a single provider. Depending on size, geographic spread and corporate risk profile, understand if a single or multi-vendor approach is more appropriate. Ensure that applications are fungible between platforms and understand how workloads can be moved between providers or to future providers.
  • Technology roadmap: The CIO will likely construct the technology roadmap. It's important to do so for a PaaS configuration because the company might possess a mixed portfolio of PaaS, IaaS and in-house or legacy technology. Its operating model will need to cater for all those life cycles. A business might need to apply varying levels of architecture and engineering standards to different things. And it can require a combination of people who develop for the PaaS services and self-service their workloads and for retained services that can manage the full support cycle (develop, deploy, provision, support, maintain and change applications and IT infrastructure).

You need to have a complete view of what is taking place beneath the services layer inside the IT infrastructure.Speak to our experts to start the discussion on the possibility of Platform as a Service in your business.

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