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What is PaaS all About? – Part 1: It’s about Abstraction!

This is the 1st part of the multi-part series on ‘What is PaaS all about?’

Let’s start from seeing the “Platform” story prior to Cloud. Enterprise IT did a lot of heavy lifting. They hand crafted the platform by combining various products like App Servers, Web Servers, Databases, Middleware, Integration Servers, Portal Servers, Workflow Engines and so on.

Pre Cloud EraNot only did Enterprises IT create a unique combination for them, they also ended up redundantly deploying it for various projects within the enterprise. There was no common or central runtime platform, although they always intended to create one. In most cases, it was an approach or a blueprint.

A runtime platform was constructed every time as per the blueprint for every project. Looking back it sounds draconian but that’s what everyone did happily and some of them continue to it every today – not realizing that’s exactly what PaaS does. For any enterprise that is not in the business of creating and selling software, it does not justify internal development when off the shelf option exists and all the more true for platform software.

Platforms on the Cloud

Platform on the cloudAs we see in this picture, all the different technology pieces of the platform have already come together as a pre-integrated stack. There is a tectonic shift in the value proposition of ‘Cloud Platforms’. This value proposition revolves around ‘Abstraction’ and giving up the fine grain control. In the case of platforms like OrangeScape and Force.com – it actually goes beyond the infrastructure or middleware level abstraction, to the ‘application’ level abstraction.

All these technological advancements coupled with delivery model & business model innovation by providing it ‘as-a-service’ and ‘pay-by-the-drink’ brings in a tremendous amount of disruption. This presents an opportunity to move away from large cap technology expenses and to align technology costs directly with business growth.And, evidently, IT leaders need to watch out for this huge shift.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series – How convergence of various technologies creates a perfect storm of Cloud.