Exploring the Cloud: PaaS

I found this great pic at www.militaryaerospace.com

I found this great pic at http://www.militaryaerospace.com.

I recently completed a study in Communications Technology Convergence.  As an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) professional it’s critical to evolve with the times or risk irrelevancy in your field.  As such I thought a study of technology convergence would go a long way towards fully integrating my heavy telecommunications background with my rapidly evolving foundation in information technology.

When the class started I was a little surprised, but pleased to discover, that it had been transitioning to have a more focused overview of cloud computing.  Throughout the course we were asked to write several small papers based on special points of interest that peaked our attention during the study.  I wrote my first paper on Platform as a Service (PaaS).  It may be bit tech heavy for some, but for anyone wishing to dabble their toes while gaining some understanding of cloud computing I decided to post it here in its entirety.  Enjoy!

Platform as a Service

The cultural inclination towards using “the cloud” as a general term referring to all web based services does little to describe the possibilities that exist in the true cloud; it helps to define the cloud into categorical services, doing so aids organizations who are attempting to evaluate cloud service options.  The industry recognizes three primary categories of cloud services.  These services are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).  The scope of this writing does not extend beyond defining PaaS, exploring its possible uses, and examining how organizations may benefit from pursuing a PaaS solution.

To properly begin this discussion it’s correct to first establish a definition for PaaS.  PaaS can be defined as an ecosystem possessing a unique set of development, middleware, and deployment capabilities.  Often the development ecosystem created by PaaS providers consist of deeply ingrained relationships between vendors (Hurwitz, 2010). This forms bonds that instigate lock-in while maximizing customer benefits.  The trouble with this definition is that it points little attention to the fact that PaaS is subcategorized itself into specific genres of the class.  For example, within the PaaS spectrum of services it’s possible to identify application life-cycle PaaS, business process management PaaS, database PaaS, and messaging PaaS; just to a name a few.   (Network World, 2012).  The point being that the class content remains a bit nebulous when viewed at a high level.  Having established some understanding of what PaaS is, it then becomes possible to discuss some of the ways organizations can make use of a PaaS cloud service providers.

What use an organization may have for a PaaS provider may vary depending on how mature the organization is, and the amount of control the organization desires over the environment.  If an organization has a need to quickly move a software product to implementation and/or market, PaaS can be used to quickly do so without being hampered by some of the factors that increase the expense of setup cost or lead time for the project; such as developing a budget, installing the physical components of the environment, allocation of manpower and time, and installation of your platform (Ferkoun, 2014).  The trouble with using a PaaS provider is that your products efficiency may be limited to operating with the PaaS’s preferred network of vendors; a byproduct of the optimized environment.  This situation can lead to lock-in for the developer.  “If you want to avoid vendor lock-in, you should choose a PaaS solution based on open source projects such as Cloud Foundry” (Teixeira De Magalhaes, 2014).  As useful as PaaS can be organizations must evaluate the true benefits they will gain from using a PaaS provider before committing to a PaaS solution.

There are a number of benefits related to the pursuit of a PaaS solution, in the scope of this writing we are going to pursue only a few of those most unique to this category of service.  As previously touched on, a key benefit of choosing to pursue a PaaS cloud solution is that the development environment comes prepackaged.  What hasn’t been said is that best practices are part and parcel to the package in the acquired environment; when an organization forms relationship with a quality vendor (Cloud Ramblings, 2014).  This is of huge benefit to an organization, because these same best practices stand a good chance of rolling over into any new product’s design.  On a similar note, “…PaaS facilitates reusing services through various kinds of multi-tenancy, load balancing and resource sharing.  Reuse facilitates cost reduction as well as faster innovation.  Changing a reused service results in improving all those applications using it.   An Ecosystem PaaS may include collaborative functions to enhance reuse” (Cloud Ramblings, 2014).  In short, PaaS solutions provide an organization’s development team with an optimized environment to efficiently create, and deploy portable software solutions.

To briefly summarize the main points addressed in this work, any discussion regarding the pursuit of a PaaS solution is aided by first defining the classification of PaaS solution the organization requires.  The usefulness of a particular PaaS solution to an organization can be determined by comparing the overall service the PaaS provider brings to the table versus the maturation, timeline, and control aspects an organization is trying to balance to complete a project.  The key benefit to choosing a PaaS solution is that an organization gains access to a pre-existing development environment (one that has already been adapted for industry best practices); driving down project cost up front, and shortening the timeline from development to deployment.

Sources Cited:

A world of PaaS-ibilities. (2012). Network World, 29(4), 20-22.Ferkoun, M.  Top 7 most common uses of cloud computing. (2014). Thoughts on Cloud.

Hurwitz, J., Kaufman, M., Halper, F., and Bloor, R.  Cloud Computing for Dummies (2010).  Wiley Publishing, Inc.  Hoboken, NY.

9 Use Cases for PaaS – Why and How (2014).  Cloud Ramblings.

Teixeira De Magalhaes, W.  Why open technology matters at the PaaS layer. (2014). Thoughts on Cloud.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: An Introduction to API | TeknicalGrit

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