Take the next leap with PaaS – you will be in good company

July 3rd, 2017, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: EngineerIT


Andrew Cruise, MD of Routed.

In the computing world we are inundated with acronyms and definitions. Perhaps one of the most confusing one is platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Gartner offers the following explanation: “A PaaS offering, usually depicted in all-cloud diagrams between the software-as-a-service (SaaS) layer above it and the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) layer below, is a broad collection of application infrastructure (middleware) services (including application platform, integration, business process management and database services).

However, the hype surrounding the PaaS concept is focused mainly on application PaaS (aPaaS) as the representative of the whole category.

Gartner analysts, Yefim Natis and Paul Vincent, in a review of PaaS concluded that strategic adoption of PaaS is increasing, while PaaS vendors are continuing to innovate and introduce change. Application leaders responsible for architecture and infrastructure should understand cloud platform market trends to exploit them for competitive advantage.

In their research into PaaS they found that enterprise customers are adopting the service for increasingly strategic initiatives, and more customers believe that PaaS will be the primary form of platform delivery going forward. However, they also found that the PaaS market remains short on standardisation, established best practices and sustained leadership, thus slowing adoption by the more risk-averse organisations.

The internet of things (IoT), a defining component of digital business transformation, is still gearing up for full impact, but already drives innovation and change in IT platforms. In their report they also said that continuous change challenges the established IT practices, leading innovating organisations to seek the agility of the cloud-native platform architectures, technologies and operations. IaaS+PaaS and SaaS+PaaS are becoming two cloud market segments, splitting the PaaS market focus into high productivity (for SaaS+PaaS) and high control (for IaaS+PaaS).

They however recommend that enterprise should continue to increase investment in public PaaS, but retain the ability to change in response to potential disruptions in the still-evolving market. Enterprises should follow a multi-cloud strategy and build relationships with multiple cloud platform providers to reduce lock-in.

Natis and Vincent believe that the trends in PaaS are driven by increasing investment in IoT and digital business. Vendors are expanding their cloud services to include not just the IoT device and IoT vendors gateways, but also event messaging, data quality, data integration, decision rule engines, stream analytics, predictive and prescriptive analytics, and in-memory data management. This accelerates the emergence of the comprehensive PaaS suites, integrating the previously separately standing specialised xPaaSs.

The digital twin, a new architecture model, is becoming essential to IoT solutions and platforms, and most vendors are actively developing effective digital twin architecture and services. Digital twin promises to become a pervasive part of cloud platform services. Pure cloud vendors are increasingly under pressure to support the hybrid cloud/local platform model.

To support IoT business, vendors are being required to offer software for local deployment at the IoT edge. In response, cloud vendors are adapting: Amazon Web Services (AWS), previously a pure cloud vendor, now for the first time offers a software product (AWS Greengrass), and Google has become a software vendor with its acquisition of API management vendor Apigee.

Event processing is becoming recognised as a new, required capability for any cloud platform provider aspiring to market leadership. IoT can enhance organisations’ real-time situation awareness, but to exploit the information streams emanating from IoT devices, platforms must be equipped with event and event stream processing capabilities.

On the South African front, the first vendor neutral cloud platform was launched in June. Andrew Cruise, MD of Routed, says that the South African cloud market is on an immense growth curve and 2017 will be a significant year for overall adoption: “With the high availability of fibre we are seeing more interest in cloud services. This is mirrored internationally where small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are already adopting more cloud services in what will be the largest service adoption shift across the entire IT market space. While locally, we don’t expect such a dramatic uptake immediately, we do believe that there is significant opportunity for secure, robust and reliable cloud hosting services.”

Aimed primarily at the enterprise sector, Routed will market its’ cloud and infrastructure solutions through ISPs and managed service providers. The new company is in a close collaboration with companies such as VMWare, NetApp, Acronis, Microsoft and Dell. Routed is working on a “pay per use” model to further meet the requirements of local businesses, while also structuring its approach in a way that makes it economically viable for clients moving forward. Cloud has traditionally been seen as expensive, which it can be, but Routed has taken its combined intellectual capital and developed a solution set that makes cloud viable for businesses now, and when they scale up and grow in the years to come.

As Gartner analysts alluded in their PaaS 2017 research report, PaaS will be the primary form of platform delivery going forward.

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