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Why PaaS represents the future of IT-- for both users and providers


Guest Post: Bernard Golden, Vice President of Strategy, ActiveState


Cloud computing in the form of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) has revolutionized the expectations of IT. Infrastructure that used to take weeks to months to provision is now available in minutes.


Moreover, most of the traditional drawbacks associated with infrastructure have disappeared as IaaS has become more widely used. The lengthy timeframes to add infrastructure resources to existing applications, led to wildly over-provisioned environments, have disappeared. The heavy upfront capital investment that is required before using resources has also disappeared, supplanted by the pay-as-you-go model of IaaS cloud computing.


The result has been dramatic. Unshackled from long-established infrastructure constraints, developers have embraced cloud computing with alacrity. And, as Jevons Paradox predicts, the lower prices of cloud computing have not resulted in stable infrastructure consumption. In fact, there has been an explosion of use as developers find new and interesting application domains--all made possible by reduced costs.


Looking forward, one can expect that, freed from the traditional infrastructure limitations, demand for applications will skyrocket. In fact, what most companies will experience is a shift from infrastructure availability being the primary IT hindrance they confront to one in which application development, delivery, and operation will be their primary IT constraint. Simply put, the question will be, how can I get faster at applications?


Therefore it makes sense that, according to this article, Gartner has declared 2015 as the year of PaaS. I completely agree, and believe that in 2015 it will become obvious to all participants in the IT value chain that PaaS represents the future of IT:


  • For developers, PaaS liberates them from having to code low-level plumbing as part of the application development process. Instead of writing software to monitor resource loads and start and stop virtual machines to support application loads, developers will use PaaS to manage the plumbing while they focus on the valuable part of the application -- the business functionality. Furthermore, properly configured with buildpacks or service catalogs, developers can leverage pre-configured application environments, enabling quick development of applications with complex deployment topologies. The win? Developer productivity.
  • For operations, PaaS dodges the challenge of shadow IT -- developers directly procuring cloud resources and, perhaps, bypassing or failing to include important application requirements relating to security and compliance. Complete PaaS solutions include operational requirements relating to monitoring, logging, and version control, thereby simplifying operational environments. The win? IT governance and consistent operational practices.
  • For providers, PaaS provides a way to avoid the race-to-the-bottom pricing associated with pure IaaS. When one is selling relatively undifferentiated infrastructure functionality, market prices are set by providers who are most efficient or willing to absorb losses. With PaaS, providers can present value based on application functionality, which is directly tied to business outcomes -- something that companies are willing to pay a premium for. The win? Provider differentiation and higher-margin services.

We are at an inflection point in cloud adoption. For the past half-decade, nay-sayers have been predicting the end of IaaS. Today, that fight is over. Everyone recognizes that IaaS is the infrastructure foundation for the future. Attention will now turn to the next IT bottleneck: applications. The winners in this struggle will be those who figure out how to leverage PaaS to solve the bottleneck and reap the benefits of cloud applications.


Senior Manager, Cloud Online Marketing
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About the Author


I manage the HPE Helion social media and website teams promoting the enterprise cloud solutions at HPE for hybrid, public, and private clouds. I was previously at Dell promoting their Cloud solutions and was the open source community manager for OpenStack and at Rackspace and Citrix Systems. While at Citrix Systems, I founded the Citrix Developer Network, developed global alliance and licensing programs, and even once added audio to the DOS ICA client with assembler. Follow me at @SpectorID

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