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The Next Cloud Battleground: PaaS

Private will win this one because it already exists in theory

Back in the day - when the Internets were exploding and I was still coding - I worked in enterprise architecture. Enterprise architecture, for the record, is generally not the same as application development. When an organization grows beyond a certain point, it becomes necessary to start designing a common framework upon which applications can be rapidly developed and deployed.

Architects design and implement this framework and application developers then code their applications for deployment on that architecture.

If that sounds a lot like PaaS it should because deep down, it is.

The difference with PaaS is its focus on self-service and operationalization of the platform through automation and orchestration. Traditional enterprise architectures scaled through traditional mechanisms, while PaaS enables a far more fluid and elastic model for scalability and a more service-oriented, API-driven method of management.

A 2012 Engine Yard survey found that it is the operational benefits that are driving interest in PaaS. The "cost-savings" argument typically associated with cloud solutions? A distant third in benefits attributed to this "new" model:


Interestingly, folks seem positively enamored of public models of cloud computing, including PaaS, and are ignoring the ginormous potential within the data center, inside the enterprise walls. It's far less of a leap to get enterprise architects and developers migrating to a PaaS model in the enterprise than it is to get server and network administrators and operators to move to a service-based model for infrastructure. That's because the architects and developers are familiar with the paradigm, they've been "doing it" already and all that's really left is the operationalization of the underlying infrastructure upon which their architectural frameworks (and thus applications) have been deployed.


At the end of the day (or the end of the hype cycle as it were), PaaS is not all that different from what enterprise architects have been building out for years. What they need now is operationalization of the platforms to enable the scalability and reliability of the application infrastructure upon which they've built their frameworks.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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