[This article was written by Kathy Thomas.]
In comparison to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) has experienced a slower rate of adoption. However, PaaS is coming into its own as evidenced by increased usage and top technology companies such as HP and IBM supporting open source projects like Cloud Foundry by bringing their own PaaS to market.
PaaS is important because apps are an important part of our lives. With this relatively new dependency on web and mobile applications, organizations need to find a way to automate their app deployment and management process just to stay in the game. If you are not looking for a way to speed up your pipeline, you can bet that your competition is. And PaaS is a critical component to achieving this.
There are a lot of PaaS offerings (including some that only masquerade as an actual PaaS), so you need to make sure that you are evaluating an enterprise PaaS and not just one that claims to have the functionality "like it."
Are You Really Looking at an Enterprise PaaS?
Not all "PaaSes" are equal. In your search for one, you need to make sure that you are really looking at an Enterprise PaaS. It's important to remember that configuration management software is not PaaS. Tools, such as Chef or Puppet, are IT-centric solutions and they are an important part of managing the complexity for IT. However, they are not a complete solution if the end goal is to provide a direct route from code development to production deployment. While companies will claim that their software/service will help you get your apps to market faster, it doesn't mean they are providing you with an Enterprise PaaS.
Instead, a true Enterprise PaaS should meet the following criteria:
- Self-serve application deployment for end users
- Application hosting and scaling
- On-demand data services
- A quota and/or usage tracking system for users
- Load balancing and fault tolerance
The Enterprise PaaS Checklist: What Should You Be Looking For?
While the benefits of incorporating a PaaS into your process are clear (e.g. faster time to market, greater cooperation between development and operations, etc.), selecting from the myriad of providers out there isn't easy. Here are some important features to look at and questions to ask during your evaluation:
SECURITY: What kind of security is provided by your PaaS? Does it leverage a multi-tenant architecture?
FLEXIBILITY/AGILITY: Will your programmers be limited to a specific set of languages? Can you quickly and easily deploy your apps to any type of cloud--public, private or hybrid without having to do any additional or special configuration?
RELIABILITY: Will your apps be consistently up and running for your end-user? Can your PaaS monitor your apps to make sure they are running and adjust (add instances, re-route automatically) if issues arise?
PERFORMANCE: Can your PaaS ensure that performance standards are met? Will it automatically scale up or down as demand changes?
SUPPORT INNOVATION: Does your PaaS eliminate manual configuration and provide self-service for developers so they can deploy their apps as they need to without trouble tickets and IT involvement?
Now that you know what you're looking for the next step is starting your evaluation.
Getting Started with a PaaS: POC is Your First Step
Since PaaS is a platform it not only must meet end user workflow requirements, it must also work with the organization's infrastructure. One of the most common ways our customers test out Stackato is through a supported proof-of-concept (POC). A POC deployment is recommended for a comprehensive evaluation of the PaaS software you are considering. It's during this time when you want to make sure that all groups not currently involved become aware of PaaS. While PaaS may be used by developers, it is managed by IT Operations and the efficiency gains are important to IT Executives and the business as a whole. Buy-in from all of these groups is important in the evaluation phase and critical for successful adoption and implementation of PaaS.
Download the Enterprise PaaS Checklist or the complete Enterprise PaaS Evaluation Guide for more information. You can also download the Stackato Micro Cloud or sign up for the Stackato 20 GB Cluster to start your PaaS evaluation.