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7/24/2007
09:20 AM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
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Are We Moving to 'Platform as a Service?'

What's the new buzzword? It's Platform as a Service, or PaaS. Salesforce.com is promoting its Apex platform as a PaaS, something that goes well beyond the notion of a SaaS and that has the potential to change the game in how we consume all IT resources, not just applications... Core to the PaaS notion are a few major components: Development, deployment, integration, design, storage, and operations.

What's the new buzzword? It's Platform as a Service, or PaaS. In this article Salesforce.com promotes its Apex platform as a PaaS, something that goes well beyond the notion of a SaaS and that has the potential to change the game in how we consume all IT resources, not just applications.

From the article:

"Salesforce.com has announced the August release of Salesforce Summer '07 - the twenty-third iteration of the company's CRM application. In addition to service upgrades, the Summer '07 edition will introduce Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)- giving programmers and developers the power of customization through Apex Code, a programming language. Once the new edition is deployed, Salesforce.com promises technology departments and software developers the ability to do what end users have done for years through Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)- automate computing."We've discussed Salesforce SOA here, as well as how their new Apex platform is providing traditional platform services, such as storage, application development, testing, integration, and deployment technology, all delivered as a service. PaaS is just an extension of all that work, in essence giving it name.

What is important is the notion, more so than Apex. Indeed, as SaaS becomes more widely accepted, the use of SaaS providers for common platform services will become more attractive as well. I don't think that all enterprises will move to PaaS, leaving existing enterprise architectures behind. But I do think that PaaS will provide some architectural options going forward that should prove valuable for many enterprise architectures, particularly for those looking for less expensive platforms on-demand or creating shared applications inter-company.

Core to the PaaS notion are a few major components: Development, deployment, integration, design, storage, and operations.

Development. Within the world of PaaS, this refers to the ability to deliver applications right out of the platform, on demand, using development tools that are delivered on-demand. We've seen the Salesforce.com Apex language providing these services, with a few smaller players providing similar capabilities. Deployment. The ability to test, bundle, and deliver the PaaS created applications. This means hosting the applications, typically accessing them visually, through a browser, or as Web services.

Integration. The ability to integrate the applications developed on your PaaS provider, with SaaS applications, or applications that may exist within your enterprise.

Design. The ability to design your application and user interfaces.

Storage. The ability to provide persistence for the application, meaning an on-demand database or on-demand file storage.

Operations. The ability to run the applications over a long period of time, dealing with backup, restore, exception handling, and other things that add value to operations. PaaS is only going to deliver a subset of existing features and functions most of us look for in a platform, but they will delivery enough value to be interesting as a service. Indeed, platforms are costly and the ability to create a platform through a subscription service is compelling. Many within the global 2000 find PaaS as a way to develop, deploy and maintain critical applications on the cheap. Going forward, PaaS may find a nice niche in inter-company problem domains, meaning that it's easier to create shared applications on a PaaS that exists between the organizations, versus creating application on one physical platform on another. Clearly, PaaS is here to stay no matter if the buzzword has a life or not.

Application integration and service oriented architecture expert David Linthicum heads the product development, implementation and strategy consulting firm The Linthicum Group. Write him at david@linthicumgroup.com.What's the new buzzword? It's Platform as a Service, or PaaS. Salesforce.com is promoting its Apex platform as a PaaS, something that goes well beyond the notion of a SaaS and that has the potential to change the game in how we consume all IT resources, not just applications... Core to the PaaS notion are a few major components: Development, deployment, integration, design, storage, and operations.

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