How much PaaS can you really use?


How much PaaS can you really use?

Part 2: Cloud and infrastructure article series

In enabling new business and preserving existing value, IT executives are more challenged than ever to balance the agility companies want with the stability they need. Legacy data centers are increasingly removed from the cloud and mobile end users. Delivering data to a variety of devices and taking advantage of new platforms typically requires giving up some control over IT infrastructure. Our new series, The cloud and infrastructure covers these trends and ways IT executives can make the most of emerging technologies. The first article in the series addresses how cloud computing and the end-user experience are changing how—and where—end users are accessing data.

Most IT executives actively seek ways to standardize software and IT infrastructure and to simplify development, support, and maintenance processes. At the same time, it's important to consider where there may be a competitive advantage and how best to balance the emerging, current, and aged technologies available. This is particularly true with the growth of analytics, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things, all of which could leverage platform services.

Maturing platforms as a service (PaaS) are providing enhanced automation and developer self-service, programming interfaces, and more integrated middleware and management capabilities. These emerging services abstract applications from infrastructure, eliminate the need to buy, host, and operate computing power and storage, and offer the potential to simplify and standardize in one go.

But it's unlikely that a cloud PaaS is the best answer for all use cases, or even whether too many apps in one basket is advisable. Even if you decide to PaaS as part of your overall IT infrastructure strategy, your current applications might need significant rework to be cloud and platform ready. So you're potentially left with a mixed bag of cloud, internally optimized, and legacy capabilities—each requiring a different management approach.

PaaS adoption stats

The PaaS market is estimated to reach $7 billion by 2018 implying a five year CAGR of almost 23 percent.

IT infrastructure strategy: Past, present, and near future

In the past, enterprise CIOs and CTOs built and owned their technology stack, buying or developing business application software for a chosen IT infrastructure. The level of control was high, but managing the complexity, breadth, and depth could hinder growth and innovation.

Today, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is more common, offering an integrated IT infrastructure stack with some level of automated provisioning, on- or off-premises. Application development is still oriented to take advantage of a specified infrastructure and there is likely still a need to configure and deploy the business software and infrastructure layer to work with each other.

Looking to the near future, PaaS is a much-hyped but still-maturing platform service that builds on the IaaS model, providing computing and OS layers plus server and runtime management and additional automation and orchestration. Application software developers 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 organization needs fewer infrastructure operations, and the application developer spends less time deploying and provisioning and more time developing valuable software.

Deciding if PaaS is right for your business

Key factors in assessing how—and how much—PaaS should be included in your IT infrastructure strategy include:

Enterprise value: How well does PaaS map to critical business capabilities?

Feature maturity: Does PaaS fit for its intended purpose in the organization?

Understanding the gap: How does your enterprise compare with the supplier in terms of the technology roadmap, and application, data, and security architecture?

Dealing with another roadmap: Are you ready to give up some control over your technology architecture?

Consider diversification: Can you be flexible and dynamic with your choice of service providers?

Existing portfolio mix: Would the right parts of your portfolio benefit from PaaS?

PaaS infrastructure strategy questions to ask

What now?

Download the full article to read more about these topics, as well as how to assess the bottom line for finance and risk, and how to staff and operate an IT infrastructure strategy that includes PaaS.

The maturity and service coverage of PaaS makes it a good candidate for parts of your portfolio, but it's probably not quite right for all of your needs. It's likely that for some time you will continue to balance a portfolio of emerging, current, and legacy technology, which means you need to know what is happening beneath the services layer inside the IT infrastructure. Two important and expensive items in this are providing and hosting your computing capability. The next article in this series, "The end of the efficiency trade," considers developments in computing power and data center approaches, and examines whether some key historical trends have broken down.

More from the cloud and infrastructure article series

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