Manager's Guide

PaaS platform guide for managers

Platform as a service (PaaS) is an offshoot of software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). With internet infrastructure becoming ubiquitous and reliable in India, PaaS platform has gained popularity amongst the country’s vast pool of software developers and independent software vendors (ISVs).

This Manager’s Guide to PaaS platform has been divided into seven easy to digest topics as below. 


Download the PDF version of Managers’ Guide to PaaS platform for internal training, presentations, and future reference.


PaaS platform: The basics  

PaaS platform has evolved from software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

In case of SaaS, software applications that run on a cloud infrastructure are delivered as a service to the user organization through internet. These can be any applications, for example, ERP, collaboration, or accounts management. IaaS is a cloud computing platform wherein the customer organization accesses IT infrastructure resources such as storage, processing, networking on a pay-per-use model.

In case of PaaS platform, on the other hand, a user organization accesses the platform hardware and operating system over the internet on pay per use basis. This allows for refreshing the OS, accessing virtualized servers, and using the associated resources to develop, run, and test software applications in a pay-per-use fashion.

PaaS platform enables independent software vendors (ISVs) to develop, deploy, and manage applications without incurring upfront cost for buying the platform hardware or software.

The ISVs in India find PaaS platform as a usable service model as it provides for the underlying functional conditions, development and testing services, reporting services, and database services necessary for their development projects.

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Top PaaS platform market trends in India 

    • Supplier explosion: Current trend of supply exceeding demand will continue as the internet makes it easier to distribute new applications. In that context, boom of PaaS platform providers will fuel this explosion further.
    • Exponential adoption by SMBs: The current trend of SMBs (small and medium businesses) showing keen interest in PaaS platform is expected to continue in the near future.
    • Resolution of data security and bandwidth concerns: At present, the concerns around security of data and lack of bandwidth are restricting market growth. Joint effort by PaaS platform vendors and ISVs will result in suitable resolution in the coming years.

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    Business benefits of PaaS platform deployment 

    PaaS platform helps ISVs to de-risk their business by offering the following advantages.

    • Ubiquitous access:  Its being internet driven, PaaS platform ensures access to resources from anywhere in the world. This is critically important to software companies whose development work is spread across geographies.
    • Eliminating upgrades: PaaS platform ensures that an ISV does not have to keep on investing in OS upgrades and maintenance.
    • Low capital expenditure: PaaS platform makes it easier for the software development companies to manage their working capital needs better as their revenues are largely project driven.
    • Predictable expenditure: As the resource utilization is controlled by the clients, operating expenses are more predictable. For instance, with PaaS platform, the outsourced software product development (OPD) companies can assign separate budgets for independent projects with ease.
    • Facilitates collaboration: PaaS platform allows for collaboration between organizations in neutral third-party land. For example, ISVs can co-develop an application leveraging a third party PaaS platform.
    • Fast implementation:  Since PaaS platform does not entail local installation, the adoption speed is usually high.
    • Rapid scalability: An ISV can increase the resource utilization as and when required without any delay.

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    The disadvantages of deploying PaaS platform 

    • Data security and privacy: The biggest concern with PaaS platform in a public cloud model is data security and privacy. This is because the organization’s information resides on PaaS platform vendor’s infrastructure which is shared by many clients.
    • Data access: Another concern with PaaS platform in a public cloud model is ensuring uninterrupted access to data as the underlying operating environment is shared.
    • High expenses: This is particularly true in case of PaaS platform in a private cloud model. Private cloud model also calls for investment in building in-house expertise.

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    PaaS platform evaluation: Ask these 5 questions 

    In addition to carrying out the necessary information security checks, a CIO should ask the following questions about the PaaS vendor’s capabilities before signing a contract.

    1. Is the PaaS platform provider able to offer a hybrid cloud model? This will assure enhanced data security and flexibility at the same time.

    2. Can the platform resources offered by the PaaS vendor integrate smoothly with the organization’s existing set of applications? That will show the market readiness of the PaaS platform vendor.

    3. Does the PaaS platform provider have the expertise and willingness to work closely with your team and offer support for integration, testing, and customization whenever and as many times as required?

    4. Does the vendor’s underlying platform infrastructure assure high level of robustness? For instance, does the PaaS vendor assure redundancy, fault-tolerance, continuity, etc?

    5. Does the PaaS platform provision for an easy and centralized mechanism to incorporate changes to perform maintenance?

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    Top PaaS platform vendors and their offerings 

    PaaS vendor

    What it offers

    Amazon Web Services (AWS) Amazon Elastic Beanstalk of AWS allows developers to host, deploy, and manage applications in the cloud.
    Google Google's PaaS platform, App Engine, allows organizations to build and host their web applications. The vendor promises centralized administration, 99.9% uptime, and security. It charges $8 per user per month (with maximum of $1000 a month) for its PaaS platform.
    OrangeScape OrangeScape claims to offer, what it calls, a Cross-Cloud PaaS platform by integrating the resources of Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, IBM Smart Cloud, and Amazon EC2.
    Microsoft Microsoft offers PaaS platform services using Windows Azure AppFabric. These cloud middleware services include Service Bus, Access Control, Caching, Integration, and Composite App. The vendor assures compatibility with all programming languages and development frameworks including .NET, Java, Ruby, and PHP.
    Salesforce.com PaaS platform offerings of Salesforce.com include Social Application Platforms, Raw Compute Platforms, Web Application Platforms, and Business Application Platforms.
    Sify Technologies Sify’s PaaS services are offered using its On-Demand Hosting Platform powered by HP's converged infrastructure components.

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    Links for further reading 

    Definition from whatis.com: What is Platform as a Service (PaaS)?

    News: The lines between cloud computing models are blurring

    News: Microsoft Windows Azure pricing models for India simplified

    Buyers’ Guide: Cloud computing services selection guide for Indian organizations

    Tip: Gartner’s cloud computing evaluation checklist

    News: IT chargeback: A fundamental part of cloud computing takes shape

    Blog: PaaS vs. IaaS: What’s Microsoft’s private cloud vision?

    Blog: Red Hat to enhance PaaS cloud offering with Makara acquisition

    News: Joyent PaaS may turn Web app world upside down

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This was first published in March 2011