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Up In The Cloud: Platform As A Service
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Up In The Cloud: Platform As A Service - Executive Leadership Articles

Up In The Cloud: Platform As A Service

Executive Leadership Articles

Up In The Cloud: Platform As A Service

In our earlier looks at cloud applications, we made references to “Software as a Service,” the model that offers word processors, photo editors, spreadsheets, and other applications not as products we purchase, but as services we rent. For example, rather than purchase Microsoft Office, installing it on our computers and being stuck with it until we purchased the next version, we can now subscribe to Office 365, which includes the Office products, plus a few other applications and cloud storage. This cloud service offers the benefit of always having the latest version of the software and accessibility on any web-connected computer, rather than just the machine a purchased copy of the software resides on. The biggest downside is continuing costs, possibly for included applications you don’t need or use.

This consumer level of cloud use is as deep as most of us want or need, but there are two broader models as well, some of which we’ve alluded to in our articles on cloud sprawl and cloud management: Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), both worth at least a rudimentary understanding of if you are a decision-maker about how your company uses or does not use the cloud. This article will focus on PaaS.

If you or your company develops its own software, whether for sale on the market or for in-house tasks relevant to your work, you might investigate Platform as a Service. With Software as a service, you’re renting the use of application software. With Platform as a Service, you’re renting the stuff that lets you develop the software, run the software, test the software, monitor the software, and share the software with others.

To get a very simplified specific understanding of PaaS, consider a basic mobile app. Just from the user’s interaction with the app, there are many platform-related tasks that can now be hosted in the cloud rather than in your company’s own server. A user opens a mobile app and expects something to happen. A lot of what’s happening isn’t going on in the user’s phone: the phone is merely the conduit.

The info most likely comes from a computer somewhere, running many processes to deliver the content or experience, including verifying that the app on the phone is up to date, the user is authorized to use the app, and everything the app is supposed to do is ready to go. If the app recognizes individual accounts, it checks the credentials against its stored record. Those records are in a database, which is on a computer somewhere. If the app crashes, it records certain diagnostics so your team can troubleshoot later. All of these functions are offered in Platform as a Service packages offered by cloud computing companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

On the development side, your programmers often build software in modules. This module to deal with security, another for cloud syncing, another to make sure everything is running smoothly, and yet another to quit the app if things are going crazy. PaaS services boast tools allowing your coders to skip the boring stuff and get to the stuff that makes the app yours, including compatibility with as many operating systems as you need. PaaS lets them focus on the real work, rather than checking first to see if every one of these development tools is current, and then building things from scratch. Additionally, PaaS makes it possible to include some aspects of development without hiring someone to tackle specific pieces of the job.

Most Platform as a Service usage is pay-as-you-go, although there are other models. This means you pay only for the computing you actually use, but it also means you have to keep an eye on processes so you aren’t being billed for stuff you aren’t even using anymore, as explained in our cloud sprawl article.


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