PaaS is gaining more and more traction in the IT world, and being driven by app development teams. But, since it is being driven by app teams very few IT teams really understand the different methods by which PaaS can be delivered. In the industry today we’re starting to see PaaS follow the same trends as we have seen with the cloud by transitioning from purely Public to Private and Hybrid PaaS solutions.
Before we get into the different PaaS classifications (public, private, and hybrid) lets baseline on what PaaS is and why it’s so popular.
What is PaaS
Simply put PaaS platforms deliver a platform for developers to build and run applications while abstracting out the underlying set of resources. If you’re interested in a more in-depth article there is a great one on Network World. So PaaS drastically simplifies the life of a developer and reduces the time it takes to develop and deploy an application.
Let’s look at WordPress for example. If you’re not familiar with WordPress the open source platform is the most popular blogging platform in the world, a good 25%+ of the internet runs on WordPress. If I’m a web developer and I want to start a new website how do I go about doing that?
Before PaaS, a developer would have to setup a VM, or have one setup, then install WordPress, then get to work. It sounds pretty simple but the act of getting a VM up and running, patching, and installing software can take over a day.
After PaaS, all I have to do as a developer is click the start WordPress button, configuration, installation, and patching is taken care of for me on the backend. And, in less than 15 minutes I’m off and running.
That’s PaaS in a nutshell. Sounds pretty great doesn’t it? And, it all came out of the Cloud.
PaaS works great for the cloud. If you really think about it the entire idea behind cloud is that you can rapidly deploy and use infrastructure on demand. Public PaaS fits this use case perfectly.
Now instead of an end user requesting a VM from AWS, he or she can request an actual application, WordPress in our example earlier, and have it up and running in minutes. The availability of the AWS Marketplace (and similar offerings from Google and Microsoft) has sped this adoption by making things easy for application developers.
But, public PaaS can have drawbacks as well. How do you manage costs? What if applications need to be internal or private? The same way that these questions are driving adoption of OpenStack, VMM, and vCloud Automation internally, they are beginning to drive the adoption of Private PaaS.
The goal of private PaaS is really simple. Deliver the agility offered by public systems while maintaining the benefits, security, compliance, and potentially cost of the private datacenter.
With these goals in mind many large organizations have made the transition to PaaS based platforms for their development teams. Some organizations have seen lead time in application development drop from a week+ to under 30 minutes.
By implementing this flexibility, IT teams have been able to better serve application developers while making better use of internal resources, and reducing the ultimately costly cloud sprawl that many organizations face.
But, what happens when the internal resources run out? That’s where the hybrid model comes into play.
The story for hybrid PaaS is the same as the story for the hybrid Cloud. Organizations are looking to have the flexibility of infinite capacity while maintaining cost efficiencies of owning internal infrastructure. For this reason, some organizations, and more to come, have switched to a hybrid model.
This model gives the flexibility of building out the internal infrastructure to support development operations 80% of the time (or whatever percentage they choose). And, for those peaks seamlessly deploy to the cloud.
Since the application developer is only involved in choosing which application is run and not where the application is run, the hybrid solution offers ultimate flexibility.
PaaS in Conclusion
PaaS platforms have significantly reduced the time that it takes to deploy and develop applications, and increased flexibility for organizations. As agility becomes more and more necessary in order to compete public PaaS systems have led the way for deployment of hybrid and internal PaaS systems.
The question becomes, as workloads can be deployed anytime, anywhere, and on any infrastructure how do IT teams manage the environment to maintain performance and keep costs under control?