Time to rethink Platform as a Service, some say

People were excited about PaaS when first introduced, but the enterprise fit has been clunky. But PaaS may be the only way to achieve speed in today's markets.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

In some circles not too long ago, 2015 was predicted to be the year of PaaS (Platform as a Service). However, here we are in our fifth month of the year of PaaS, and it doesn't seem to be at the top of peoples' lists.

It seems PaaS adoption has been slow going. Jon Evans, for one, says PaaS -- at least the public PaaS coming out of places such as Google (App Engine) and Amazon Web Services (Elastic Beanstalk) -- has lost its oomph. In a recent TechCrunch column, he opines that the promises of PaaS provided by third-party cloud vendors -- development environments and middleware run as services -- have not yet come to pass.

He blames cost, lock-in, and culture. 'You get more bang-per-buck by simply buying and running your own servers," he explains. Also, he adds, "companies don't want to give up perceived control over their systems-even if that control is never worth its associated complexity-and sys admins, understandably, don't want to evolve themselves out of a job."

Yet, the time has come where PaaS may be the only effective option for enterprises that are pushing to get things out the door in the blink of an eye -- which seems to be just about everyone these days. There's simply no longer enough time to fuss with internal development environments and middleware, trying to keep everything up to date and accessible.

A recent white paper from Ericsson spells out the enhanced role for PaaS in today's fast-moving digital economy." A new era of PaaS is required," the paper urges. "A platform approach must be designed to take the best elements of PaaS for empowering developer speed, in combination with the best elements of dynamic enterprise policy control for IT operational governance." In other words, a tightly managed and highly controlled cloud -- a hybrid cloud, that is.

For his part, Evans says it's inevitable that enterprises will gradually embrace PaaS as the way to go. It's just a matter of time, as developers, their IT bosses, and their businesses get comfortable with the idea. Cloud itself actually is now becoming very commonplace and an accepted part of the scenery.

But it's not just comfort that will bring people to PaaS, the Ericsson paper points out. PaaS is the only way to get things done and out the door fast, while still maintaining quality and security.

The paper says the case for PaaS can be broken down into three components:

Deployment: "Imagine a scenario where the CMO or developers could instantly acquire the appropriate cloud resources (public or private) directly from the enterprise hybrid cloud, with IT governance baked in," the paper states. "This new era of PaaS needs to be built on a platform that supports speed of deployment for developers across complex enterprise environments, where diverse workloads,workload portability and composable microservices are critical to success."

Orchestration: "A new era of PaaS should be built on a platform that puts the workload at the center....Orchestration is about workload management, and all the things needed to ensure ongoing uptime and efficiency." These factors include lifecycle management; service bindings; resource management; and semantic awareness.

Governance: "A new era of PaaS demands a policy-driven approach where policy is foundational, built into the platform and pervasive to every aspect of the way a workload is deployed, orchestrated and governed." Policy should include: access controls; credentials; efficiencies; performance; resilience; lifecycle; and compliance."

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