Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) in 2014

by [Published on 6 March 2014 / Last Updated on 6 March 2014]

In this article we will consider PaaS as a growing deployment platform for 2014.

It is expected that one of the cloud trends for 2014 will be continued growth in the adoption of PaaS.

Companies are continuing to adopt PaaS due to the advantages the cloud model offers, advantages like decreased IT costs and increasing performance of application development. PaaS is expected to grow substantially over the next 3 years. Most companies tend to begin their cloud journey with Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), many of those companies at a later stage decide a shift to PaaS is necessary to reap further benefits. In this article we will consider PaaS as a growing deployment platform for 2014.

Introduction

Recently there has been differing points of view surrounding PaaS with some referring to PaaS becoming a feature of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) rather than a cloud platform in its own right. The confusion is due to the increased blurring of the three cloud platforms (IaaS, SaaS and PaaS) within the current cloud setting.

To maintain control PaaS technologies may be the way to provide integrated application management of mobile applications.

Gartner has predicted that PaaS will have an extensive part to play from 2014 and by 2016 every organisation will be running part of their software on either public or private PaaS, some will even utilise this platform completely.

So what is PaaS…?

A Brief definition of PaaS

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a core layer of cloud computing architecture.

PaaS is a cloud platform aimed at the developer, cloud computing development. It’s a model for running applications without the hassle of maintaining the hardware and software. The service provider supplies underlying hardware, software and provisioning hosting capabilities. The offering may also include services for application design and development, testing and deployment services as well as a variety of managing tools and services.

Differing from Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), PaaS includes a fully maintained operating system, by the provider, whereas IaaS does not.

PaaS is considered by most organisations looking to speed up application development while decreasing infrastructure costs. It is driven by productivity gain rather than the drive to move to cloud computing. It employs server virtualisation technologies which enables reliable and scalable computing resources which ultimately allows the user to develop and deploy their applications.

PaaS can be deployed as public or private, even a hybrid approach could be utilised, depending on the requirements of the organisation. Areas to consider when deciding on public vs. private PaaS may include:

  • Organisation size
  • Resources required to maintain the services or processes
  • Resources required to maintain the infrastructure
  • Flexibility required
  • Requirements surrounding security and compliance

Some organisations are choosing private PaaS to gain the benefits of PaaS without the impeding risk that comes with public cloud. The organisations can then retain control of security and performance while still providing their developers with the flexible environment for app development and deployment. However public PaaS benefits from decreased IT infrastructure costs while providing increased availability and scalability.

Private PaaS:

  • An organisation wants the PaaS within their own environment, hosted in their private cloud and behind their firewall.
  • Customised requirements: The model is adapted to the organisations unique requirements (language, web servers, authentication systems, framework, database etc.)
  • Increased security: location of stored data can be controlled and increased privacy and control over data. This may be essential for some organisations thus making private PaaS a better choice for some.

Public PaaS:

  • One size fits all approach: Limited to a certain framework, database and languages etc.
  • Is beneficial as the infrastructure does not need to be managed in-house.
  • Better suited to small organisations or those just starting out who do not require a large amount of flexibility with regards to languages and frameworks.

Hybrid PaaS

  • A hybrid approach may be beneficial. Organisation’s may prefer to have private PaaS for compliance or security reasons, but perhaps would also benefit from public PaaS for testing and development.

The drivers and trade-offs of PaaS

As with all cloud platforms, PaaS has its advantages and disadvantages. The key to achieving the best from the cloud platform is understanding what you want to achieve from its deployment and how you can make the deployment best suit your needs while achieving the maximum benefit from the cloud model.

Drivers of PaaS

Trade-offs of PaaS

Increased productivity

  • Application development is much faster
  • Software deployment is much faster
  • Load and functional testing is much simpler to perform

Security and data handling concerns

 

Compliance with data regulation is expected these days. Usually through complete control and responsibility of ones data it’s less complicated to maintain compliance.  

 

With PaaS, this becomes more challenging. It’s important to ensure that

  • The provider you choose has good security   procedures in place
  • You know where your data is being stored
  • A third party audit of the provider compliance is undertaken

Brings congruence between application development and deployment

Faster integration could be a pitfall of the development process if planning and testing are compromised

  • Ensure planning and testing procedures are followed so that this is not neglected

Increased reliability and availability

  • The provider you choose to supply your service would have greater expertise in that area. Thus they are in the best position to provide you with the maximum uptime and availability possible

Disaster recovery (concerns surrounding the recovery of your data)

  • Ask and understand how your provider   approaches disaster recovery
  • It’s important to have a workable procedure in place for recovering your data if the PaaS provider becomes unable to continue the service
  • Be sure that the disaster recovery methods used by your provider comply with those required by your organisation

Reduced cost

  • No capital cost involved for owning server   hardware, network resources and OS
  • All resources are rented and managed and   maintained externally
  • Costs can be limited to business demand, as PaaS is an ‘on demand’ service where you pay according to the resources you require

Performance (concerns over performance guarantees)

  • When comparing providers ensure that you   understand the performance levels you are guaranteed to receive
  • Make sure there is an SLA in place and that you are happy with it
  • Ensure the support you are offered is equal or better than the support you would be acquiring internally if it were the case and that the level of support is part of the SLA.
  • Understand who is responsible for which areas

Real time up-dates and modularity

 

Connectivity concerns: connectivity ultimately determines your performance and availability

 

  • Connectivity should meet your peak demands
  • Should be resilient
  • Make sure the bandwidth and network performance between your primary site and PaaS solution is appropriate for your usage requirements

 

Reduced application infrastructure administrator requirements

 

Smoother and faster integration

 

Choice of OS leading to seamless migration of data and applications

 

Increased scalability

  • You can scale up according to demands without disruption to the service.

 

Increased accessibility

  • PaaS is a cloud service thus available from anywhere at any time as long as you have an internet connection

 

Simplifies replication and backup solutions

  • Backups and disaster recovery is more efficient   and cost effective

 

Table 1

The growth of Platform-as-a-service in 2014

In 2014 PaaS has reached a new level of maturity, in 2013 PaaS was adopted by many organisations. It was first constructed as the middle layer in the cloud stack between IaaS and SaaS but as cloud deployment platforms have matured so has PaaS, it has evolved to meet the needs of many organisations as a platform in its own right and is now seen as one of the strategic means to innovation.

Although SaaS and IaaS could be extended to resemble some form of PaaS, in 2014 there is a clear importance for PaaS as a separate layer in the cloud stack.

PaaS is less complex and more cost effective than IaaS and has the ability to simplify the efforts of IT departments as they evolve to more modern ways of developing.

Everywhere organisations are looking to improve their software development and delivery along with productivity gains. This is enabled through PaaS, allowing the provider to concern over the platform, its infrastructure and operating system etc. and leaving the developer to deliver the solutions on top of the managed platform.

PaaS is helping to pave the way to organisations adopting governance best practices. It allows for simplified user experience to complex development tools, processes and delivery. Through incorporating software best practices, test automation, integration and fault tracking, governance is improved leading to better quality software being developed.

PaaS offers on-demand environments that alleviate the complexity of developing for users and reduce skill hurdles permitting rapid innovation and experimentation and making consumption of IT infrastructure and services simpler for everyone.

In 2014 leading vendors will continue to deliver strategic versions of PaaS, and many organisations will evaluate how these offerings could fit into their IT strategy to reap the rewards.

PaaS will expand into the cloud environment, over the next few years and will continue to evolve offering simpler administrative management, support for development in multiple languages, seamless integration into applications and hybrid cloud capabilities.

Conclusion

Organisations computing in the cloud are quickly acquiring the desirable amenity to take much for granted. With PaaS increased flexibility, accelerated time to market, seamless deployment are further benefits that are soon to become the norm through the adoption of this cloud platform.

Like with other cloud deployment models private cloud is often the approach adopted for being ‘less risky’, it seems to be the same approach for PaaS. Similarly with other cloud models hybrid cloud seems to be the future deployment of choice for PaaS.

The combination of PaaS becoming simpler to use and the increased trust allowed to cloud by organisations makes PaaS path to adoption very viable.

If Gartner’s trends are anything to stand by then perhaps choosing not to adopt PaaS will be holding you back in the evolving age of development technology and hindering your innovation and long term success.

The Author — Ricky M. & Monique L. Magalhaes

Ricky M. & Monique L. Magalhaes avatar

Ricky M Magalhaes is an International Information Security architect, working with a myriad of high profile organizations. Monique is an international security researcher, she holds a BSc Degree (Cum Laude). Previously she has focussed on research and development at leading enterprises in the Southern hemisphere.

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