4 Ways to Benefit from Using Platform as a Service

I love the question “what is Platform as a Service or PaaS for short?” If I ask that question to 100 people I will likely get 100 answers. This is because it is such a broad area of focus.Someone once told me that PaaS is everything and anything that is not covered by SaaS and IaaS. Wow, that is a big range. So, when asked to present PaaS, the first question I must ask is, “Who is my audience?” 

Shifting the discussion from “What is PaaS” to “How will my business benefit from using PaaS” requires the same focus on the audience. A PaaS is a great tool for mobile app developers, enterprise IT, line of business owners, and ISVs looking to move to a SaaS business model. A PaaS can support all of these audiences but in completely different ways. Now that AT&T has launched its own PaaS I find myself having to answer this question several times a day.

Here are ways that I think a PaaS can serve this broad array of customers:

Enterprise IT – Enterprise IT can use a PaaS to consolidate, modernize, and mobilize legacy applications as well as build new applications. I hear all the time that businesses have way too many apps and way too many application stacks to maintain. A PaaS can provide a single customer interface for all business productivity and back office applications.  The PaaS provider maintains the stack while enterprise IT focuses on the apps.

Enterprise IT can also use a PaaS to deliver value to their internal customers. Too often business unit or department specific situational apps are not built because they are too costly or would tie up too many resources. Some PaaS offerings provide an easy-to-use development GUI allowing a user to build sophisticated applications in just a few hours. Thought you did not have the time to build an app that tracks a marketing campaign? Think again.

Line of Business Owners – Line of Business owners look for prebuilt apps. Some PaaS offerings offer a catalog of applications that can be used right out of the box. Some providers even have an eco-system of software developers in their catalog. Or, as mentioned for the Enterprise IT user, LOB users can build applications and databases using an easy-to-use development GUI. Often LOB projects are too small for IT. With PaaS the LOB can build apps without IT. So no project is too small.

Mobile App Developers – Often Mobile App developers do not need help building the actual device application software. Instead they need an easy to use backend for their app. A PaaS service can be that backend. Online databases, access controls, business logic, and workflows can be easily created in the PaaS environment and reachable via standard APIs from the developer’s mobile app client.

ISVs Moving to SaaSThere are many ISVs who currently serve specific niche businesses and verticals that need help moving to a SaaS model. A PaaS service can take care of all the operations, scaling, patching, and backups; so an ISV can do the things that they do best. Such as, writing applications and selling applications. Some PaaS services have all the building blocks (API library) an ISV needs to build multitenant scalable applications.

You can see that there is no one answer to the question “how can PaaS help my business?” Who you are and what you want to do will change the answer greatly. I sure hope folks log into AT&T PaaS to see how it can help their business.
Don Parente Technology Strategy and Chief Architect Director AT&T About Don