PaaS learning guide

Stephanie Mann

Increased adoption of Platform as a Service (PaaS) has revealed its advantages and challenges. This guide offers a look at the latest in PaaS, including its growing role in cloud-computing development, its impact on application servers and best practices for choosing a PaaS provider.

Platform as a Service report: Moving towards cloud-computing development
Given all the hype surrounding PaaS, it can be challenging for enterprise architects to make well informed decisions. Successfully implementing PaaS requires awareness of what can go wrong when adding PaaS to existing application infrastructure. Some key benefits of utilizing a cloud platform are faster, less expensive development projects, reduced application infrastructure administrative needs and smoother integration efforts. But not all platforms offer the same advantages—to ensure success, development teams need to take accurate stock of their current architecture and infrastructure before moving towards cloud-computing development.

Amazon cloud integration in ''Building Applications in the Cloud''
It may be tempting—and cloud providers may encourage it—but rushing to put existing applications on the cloud can lead to failure. In his book, Building Applications in the Cloud (Addison-Wesley, 2011), Christopher Moyer discusses how planning ahead can unlock the benefits of cloud computing architecture. He draws on real world experiences with the Amazon cloud using Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Amazon Elastic Computer Cloud (ED2) and Simple DB. Application integration, he told SearchSOA, is one of the more complicated aspects of cloud computing—but there are ways to ensure a smooth run.

iPaaS seen as important player in early cloud application integration
While cloud computing is gaining ground, middleware integration challenges remain barriers to successful cloud application integration. Enter Platform as a Service (PaaS)—also known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS). PaaS includes a variety of middleware services that have proven to be effective for successful cloud integration. Still, iPaaS cloud integration holds its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to security and data handling issues.

Understanding requirements key when choosing a PaaS provider
Paying attention to internal business requirements is crucial to choosing the right PaaS provider. Dylan Stamat, CTO of ELC Technologies, uses a mixture of PaaS providers to meet the needs of his business. "[Some] platforms have constraints architecturally and there needs to be an assessment of what those constraints are and if they meet your needs," he said. For those in the market for PaaS providers, a solid understanding of what those needs are is the first step—one to take even before comparing the various platforms available.

App integration is result of good architecture: Pradip Sitaram, early cloud adopter
Many adopters of Platform as a Service (PaaS) and cloud computing are motivated by the prospect of faster integration development. However, according to one early cloud adopter, that need for speed is the biggest pitfall of the process. "Requirements and testing should not be compromised," said Pradip Sitaram, CIO of Enterprise Community Partners LLC. "The temptation to go in and start building means you have to make sure the team takes the time to go in and plan." Businesses cannot afford to sacrifice sound software development processes in exchange for speedy integration development.

Open-source project finds right PaaS
Open-source projects can present a variety of distracting challenges for volunteer developers—like provisioning and maintenance. Fortunately, PaaS can alleviate many of those headaches. Take jclouds, an open source community library that turned to PaaS provider CloudBees to save time and focus developer resources on writing code. "The ROI was huge," said Andrew Phillips, a volunteer developer for jclouds.

Ruby, PHP, NET platforms show various advantages for PaaS development
As development teams move to the cloud with PaaS, Web applications will continue to influence the development decisions they make. Managers considering PaaS are increasingly looking to development languages such as Ruby and PHP as a result. Which language they choose depends on their specific needs, but non-Java languages and frameworks with close ties to early PaaS implementations—such as Ruby, Ruby on Rails, .NET and C#–are popular for productivity and ease of development.

How is PaaS changing application servers?
With the rise of PaaS, application servers are facing a call for change, according to Chris Haddad, VP of technology evangelism at WSO2. "ESBs and application servers need to be refactored to become cloud aware and to be cloud-friendly," he said. In a video discussion with SearchSOA's Jack Vaughan, Haddad surmises that new application servers should be multitenant aware, with multitenancy baked in rather than having to provision a unique instance for each new partner that comes into the system.

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