PaaS Providers Must Evolve or Die

  

PaaS Providers

Technology changes almost as frequently as the latest fashion trend. What’s in vogue today will be out of favor tomorrow; some technologies will fade away while others morph into something new. One of the technologies currently going through a transformation is Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Changes in business requirements, government regulations, and developer strategies are placing new demands on PaaS providers, and a new type of PaaS infrastructure is starting to emerge to meet the changing requirements.

Moving Away from the Platform

PaaS has been with us for more than a decade. As with all “as-a-service” strategies, PaaS is a cloud computing model where a PaaS provider delivers the hardware and software tools for application development as a hosted service. The idea is that by providing ready-made tools, developers can be immediately productive without having to maintain the software and hardware infrastructure. The PaaS provider makes available the tools to develop, store, and test applications, with the scalability to adapt to changing customer needs.

The way customers utilize cloud services is changing. There are growing concerns about being too closely tied to PaaS providers, so engineers are developing container-based applications that can be easily migrated from one provider to another. Some predict that more providers will start offering container-as-a-service, making it easier for customers to run on-premises applications that have ready access to cloud infrastructure services.

However, PaaS will continue to be an important part of the business DevOps infrastructure, even though applications can be moved to local data centers and/or other providers. Consider the growing demand for the Internet of Things (IoT), for example. IoT will need an infrastructure such as PaaS to accommodate real-time data collection, analytics, rapid software development, scalable device management, and other needs. IaaS is too rigid to handle IoT applications and data, and developers will want to take advantage of the ready-made tools offered by PaaS.

New computing models are evolving and PaaS still has a vital role, albeit a different role than in the past.

More Hybrid PaaS

With the move toward containerization, we are also going to see more hybrid implementations that leverage both data center and PaaS resources.

Traditionally, PaaS providers have delivered a platform for end-to-end development and implementation, supporting the complete lifecycle of developing web-based applications without having to manage the underlying hardware, software, provisioning, or hosting. We are now starting to see more hybrid uses for PaaS. Developers are going to start using both public and private cloud systems, adopting multiple development tools and platforms.

You could think of this new strategy as not putting all your eggs in one PaaS basket. Containers make it possible to run applications on any infrastructure, and virtualization allows you to store data in different locations. Integrating private and public cloud environments is a way to control risk and optimize application development.

New Security Concerns

Containerization also will aid privacy and data security. Almost every country is enacting new laws governing data protection and data storage. The European Union, for example, is enacting the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May, which adds new restrictions giving consumers more control over personal data (such as that stored in databases) and restrictions on where data is physically stored. Some countries such as France are going to make it more difficult to physically store personal data in other jurisdictions, which could be a problem for cloud providers. To address these new security regulations, some of the larger providers are building regional data centers.

One of the anticipated challenges is that Software as a Service providers typically contract to host with the most reliable service provider at the best price. That means using offshore IaaS and PaaS providers. And if your IaaS or PaaS provider offers backup services, then your data could be stored anywhere in the world. As a result, PaaS providers are going to have to provide customers with more details about where their data is stored, where it’s backed up, the laws governing those specific regions, and how to monitor changes in data storage locations.

PaaS providers are clearly changing with the times, and DevOps is leading the way by taking closer control of application lifecycle management (ALM). We are going to see PaaS providers offer more platforms and fewer services, and DevOps stepping in to manage a new kind of agile development infrastructure. PaaS will still play a vital role in creating new web applications, but there is going to be a new compartmentalization of tools, testing, code, and data.

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Christopher Rigor

 
Christopher Rigor is a Senior Technical Evangelist at Engine Yard. He’s a long time Rails user, system administrator, and recently became a contributor of RailsInstaller. Previously, he was the DevOps Support Manager for Asia-Pacific at Engine Yard.
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