Breaking Down Cloud: PaaS

In our last blog post, we talked about cloud computing’s potential to foster the kind of innovation that we saw on the Internet in the 1990s. We suggested that enterprises ask, “How can we use cloud technology to do something different?”

Now we want to dig into one of cloud computing’s core components – Platform as a Service or PaaS – and look at how this flavor of cloud computing is enabling innovation.

First, let’s define PaaS. It’s a technology that combines hosted infrastructure with a development platform such as Java or APEX, purposely separating the development environment from specific operating systems or hardware.

This enables software developers to streamline web application development. By working in the cloud, small companies can access resources they couldn’t afford otherwise, and big enterprises can act quickly and nimbly.

According to blogger and WaveMaker CEO Christopher Keene, “PaaS offers the potential for general developers to build web applications without needing specialized expertise. This allows an entire generation of MS Access, Lotus Notes and PowerBuilder developers to start building Web applications without the huge learning curve.”

The potential development benefits are many:

  • Flexibility: Use what you need, pay as you go. Cloud-based development platforms can expand as your needs expand, then scale up or downsize as market conditions dictate.
  • Easier management: Developers are assured that their development environment is stable, reliable and up-to-date. There’s no need for bug fixes, version control or buying more machines.
  • Ease of collaboration: The cloud allows people to collaborate in a natural, real-time, horizontal way that’s often impeded by networks, especially secure networks. Managers can take advantage of different people’s skill sets to build a Web application quickly and test it under real-world conditions.
  • Cost savings: Better resource utilization, and reduced cycle time on development projects, means managers save money as they gain speed and agility. Companies can avoid major investments in infrastructure, and just get to work writing and running their applications.

Are you a developer or business looking at PaaS? What concerns do you have?

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