Every now and then I am asked by someone to guest post on my blog – recently Quinton Wall from salesforce.com approached me to do a series on PaaS. I took a look at what he was proposing and accepted his offer since I see a lot of value in what he’s doing trying to set a baseline for the discussion around PaaS. For full disclosure I need to clarify that I did not ask for, nor was offered, any financial recompense for running this series – it’s a simple case of getting some interesting thoughts out to the world.This is part three of a three part series.
Part one and two of this series discussed the capabilities within Infrastructure & Operational services and Platform & Developer services required for a comprehensive PaaS solution designed for business success. This final article will conclude the discussion by looking at Business services and the importance of democratizing development and empowering users across the organization to rapidly deliver apps.
Capability: Declarative Business-Level Services
Without a doubt, developers are critical in building and delivering next generation apps, but any PaaS solution must also enable a hugely influential and highly productive part of the organization – the business users. Too often, solutions to business problems become technical problems, but this does not need to be the case. If there is one thing that I have seen during my time in I.T. is that the best way to give business users what they want is to empower them to deliver their own solutions.
A modern PaaS solution should not be limited to developer productivity and must support business level services including workflow, reporting, search, drag and drop schema creation, and more to ensure PaaS can be a successful alternative to the creation of unmanaged and adhoc databases and spreadsheets within the organization. This ability to support the democratization of app development and delivery must be a core component of the entire PaaS platform. Doing so, empowers business users to rapidly create apps that do not add to the IT backlog, without sacrificing the need to remain compliant with IT.
Capability: Simple, Social, Trusted Identity
Identity used to be synonymous with login and authentication. Now with the app-centric, mobile-first world that dominates our workplaces, identity is about providing access to the most current and relevant information possible. Comprehensive PaaS solutions support true multi-tenant approaches to data separation across tenants at an infrastructure service level, and extend upon this rich security context for an individual organization’s data by supporting managed sharing of data at a developer level all the way to business level requirements.
Identity should not be limited to a single provider, but should allow organizations to leverage existing identity services as well as embrace social services for authentication. Further, identity strategies must ensure that the administration of app connectivity can be managed centrally in an efficient manner.
Capability: Marketplaces To Sell, or Extend, Your Apps
The need for developer add-on services as well as business level marketplaces to discover new apps to extend your business is a critical part of an organization’s ability to delivering quicker time to market via PaaS. Successful organizations of tomorrow will not only leverage marketplaces, but also internalize some of the capabilities offered by leading PaaS providers to package and distribute their own apps and services both internally and externally. Re-use, once the exclusive domain of low level development efforts will become more prevalent as organizations, and in particular, lines of business, are able to deliver point-of-opportunity solutions which can be easily packaged, customized and offered to other areas of the business.
Too often however, organizations become mired in debates over the definition of what PaaS is, or isn’t. Part 1 of this series posed a simple questions “how will a technology [PaaS] will help your business.”.
Rather than focusing on the definition of what PaaS is, or what it is not, this series has focused on the capabilities of success made possible by a comprehensive PaaS solution. Organizations should understand, and identify, the capabilities required for their company to achieve business success needed to be a leader in their industry, both on a departmental level for tactical success and at a strategic corporate level. With a solid understand of the capabilities of what PaaS can deliver, only then can businesses unlock their potential to deliver game-changing apps, and answer the question of how can PaaS help its business.
About the Author – Quinton Wall is the Director of technical platform marketing at salesforce.com, and aspiring fantasy author. He is a regular speaker at cloud and developer events around the world, active contributor to open source projects, and the developer.force.com site. When he is not working with the salesforce platform, building mobile apps, or writing books, Quinton can be found on twitter (@quintonwall) sharing his thoughts 140 characters at a time.