Sorting through enterprise IT's PaaS options
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"Whether it's for data sovereignty or governance reasons, some of our customers tell us PaaS must be behind their firewall," said ActiveState's Copeland. "They say, 'There's no way we're putting our data on the public cloud,'" he said.
Implementing Platform as a Service (PaaS) in-house can also lay the groundwork for future use of public PaaS, he said. Hewlett-Packard used ActiveState Stackato in-house, and decided to license it as part of its HP Cloud Application Platform as a Service running on top of OpenStack, currently in beta. "That provides us with a common infrastructure stack that we can deploy on both public and private platforms," said Dan Baigent, HP Cloud Services senior director for business development.
Even if public PaaS is not an option for an organization, offering a private version lets IT operations teams provide developers with greater agility and self-service, while still being simpler to manage than a traditional development environment, said Chris Turra, a web operations engineer at Mozilla, the nonprofit Web development organization behind, among other things, the Firefox browser.
After experimenting with the open source Cloud Foundry, Mozilla settled on Stackato. Compared with managing a non-PaaS development environment, Turra said this is much easier. "You don't have to manage individual nodes per se -- rather services that allow other nodes to be set up," he said. "There are some things that you have to wrap your brain around initially," he said, but once you get over that, "it's quite trivial to set up."
Overall, implementing a PaaS supports the operations' team mission, Turra said. "We want to be platform engineers. We want to enable developers to work at a faster velocity, and never get in their way."
Building an in-house PaaS can not only speed up development, but serves other uses, too, said Forrester's Staten, namely the reverse -- helping to bring public-cloud deployed applications back in house, said as well as help operations teams manage integration points between the public cloud and the private data center. To that point, "we're not expecting a huge number of private PaaS -- most will be a hybrid," Staten said.
And even if offering PaaS services makes sense for your organization, don't get too caught up in the hype. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), for all its faults and foibles, dwarfs the PaaS market and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, Staten said. "Plan on adding PaaS to your private and public cloud portfolio, but not as a replacement for Infrastructure as a Service -- rather, as a complement."