Enterprise PaaS is about Operations

#PaaS #devops The notion that PaaS exists solely "in the cloud" as a discrete environment of developer services is hampering the maturation of enterprise PaaS

The three most common answers to "give me an example of PaaS" are: Force.com, Azure, Google. I didn't even need to do an unscientific Internet survey to nail that one down.

These are certainly fine examples of PaaS, but they are not necessarily examples of enterprise PaaS solutions. While off-premise PaaS offerings do address many of the same challenges being faced by enterprise operations today, they do so in a way that makes integration and control - not to mention the measurement and monitoring required by developers - nearly impossible.


“Our core competency is application development; we are not a technical operations or cloud operations team,” Fischer said.

PaaS technology saving time, money, changing application development

Indeed, an Engine Yard "State of PaaS" survey in 2012 showed that respondents see the biggest benefits of PaaS as being operational in nature. 

What the Engine Yard survey does not provide insight into is whether this explosive growth in PaaS will be on- or off-premise. While the benefits remain the same (with the exception, perhaps, of capital cost reduction) the difference between the two models is significant.

On the one hand, an off-premise PaaS solution means no worries about anything infrastructure for anyone within the organization. On the other hand, an off-premise premise PaaS solution comes with the same baggage as off-premise IaaS offerings: a lack of control and visibility into the infrastructure. Visibility and control that is often considered critical to maintaining performance of applications and applying appropriate security and access control policies.

On-premise PaaS, of course, comes with a price tag and a longer time to implement, both of which may be show-stoppers for those organizations that cannot risk capital or time. But for the more forward looking, long-term investment capable organizations, on-premise PaaS will ultimately offer both the reduction in costs (over time) as well as the highly desirable operational benefits without compromising on visibility or control. That is in part because as a component of the PaaS infrastructure, visibility and control mechanisms can be accounted for and architected into the solution.

This is exactly what Margaret Dawson, Vice President of Product Marketing and Cloud Evangelist for HP and CloudNOW Top Ten Women in Cloud recipient, noted at DeployCon this past spring, "Most enterprises are going to move to a hybrid world. What we don’t have yet is a common management and monitoring layer. For enterprises, to be able to audit and control everything in one interface is going to become critical.”  [emphasis mine]

It is common management that enables both control and visibility, as well as operationalizing scalability - a key capability desired by application developers and DevOps adoptees alike. Control and visibility are critical to addressing a key application concern - performance. As noted by a recent F5 worldwide survey, performance of web applications remain at the top of their "to address" list, closely followed by controlling costs and mobile-user performance.

Controlling infrastructure costs can be in part helped by visibility and more intelligent distribution of load that adapts more rapidly to demand and ensures that resources are consumed in a manner that optimizes utilization without compromising on performance. That means application-appropriate load balancing algorithms (read: round robin is almost never appropriate for modern applications) as well as an integrated feedback loop between the application and the scalability service (i.e. the load balancing service through which elasticity is achieved).

Enterprise PaaS, therefore, will focus more on the implementation of a common management and operational platform that provides control, visibility, and scalability to enterprise developers and devops that can meet both performance and cost requirements.

Enterprise PaaS is, ultimately, about operations and how operations can enable development and devops to address the concerns typically associated with application delivery. There are signs that application server platform vendors like RedHat are beginning to address these concerns with new and expanded offerings. But as with many other application delivery capabilities that started out in the application server tier, these will likely not remain there long as other tiers within the data center begin to offer more capable and robust application-specific solutions.


Published Jun 17, 2013
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