Many organizations are practicing some form of DevOps. Increasingly, they've been adopting platform as a service to capitalize on a market or to realize greater cost and process efficiencies. Some even have multi-PaaS strategies.
For example, entrepreneurs have built applications on platforms such as Salesforce.com to get instant access to an installed base of users. Conversely, the platform provider benefits from the added value third parties provide.
Meanwhile, organizations are under competitive pressure to deliver value to customers faster. And the big cloud vendors including Oracle are encouraging customers to build cloud native applications using their PaaS service offerings. Many companies are building their new applications in the cloud and some are also transitioning their legacy applications.
The use of PaaS tends to result in higher levels of automation, which is important for DevOps teams whether they've adopted CI/CD yet or not. PaaS also improves application scalability by virtue of being a cloud service.
"What we see going hand-in-hand with customers' platform as a service journey is moving from their monolithic application to microservices," said Venky Chennapragada. DevOps Architect at consulting, technology services and digital transformation firm Capgemini North America.
Cloud-native development boosts efficiency since application development, testing, deployment and monitoring all take place in the cloud.
A key question any organization must ponder is which PaaS or set of PaaS is right for the company given concerns about vendor lock-in, cost, security, and the flexibility to add new capabilities such as chatbots, AI, machine learning and perhaps support for IoT applications. There's also growing interest in serverless services.
"The future I see is DevOps serverless pipelines. I should have more events based on the DevOps pipelines that are created on the fly when a developer commits code into a version control system like Github," said Chennapragada.
"Tools should be instantiated on the fly to execute whatever workflow or tasks, complete their path and terminate themselves to that those pipelines are not static."
Some organizations are adopting a multi-PaaS strategy which typically takes the form of developing an application on one PaaS and deploying it to multiple public clouds. However, not all PaaS provide that capability. One reason to deploy to multiple clouds is increase application reliability. Despite SLAs, outages may occur from time to time.
Alternatively, different applications may require the use of different PaaS because the PaaS services vary from vendor to vendor. However, more vendors mean more complexity to manage.
"Tomorrow, your business transaction is going to be going over SaaS services provided by multiple vendors so I might have to orchestrate across multiple clouds, multiple vendors to complete my business transaction," said Chennapragada. "Tying myself [to] a vendor is going to constrain me from orchestrating, so our clients are thinking of a more cloud-agnostic, vendor-agnostic solution."
One of the general concerns some organizations have is whether they have the expertise to manage everything themselves, which has led to a huge proliferation of managed service providers. That way, DevOps teams have more time to focus on product development and delivery.
PaaS expertise can be difficult to find because PaaS skills are niche skills. Chennapragada said his customers tend to maintain control of governance layer, auditing and security and outsource design, architecture and implementation.
PaaS provides various security features such as access controls, identity management, data encryption, automated patch management and zero trust resource access. However, the capabilities and limitations of any PaaS offering should be reviewed by security professionals to avoid unnecessary risks and to ensure compliance with internal security policies and practices.
One general cloud-related lesson some organizations learn the hard way is cost control. While cloud and lower costs seem to go hand in hand, cost overruns can easily occur when teams are not tracking and optimizing usage.
Capgemini wants to ensure there are no surprises, so it's constantly auditing how services are requested and consumed and reporting the numbers to clients. Capgemini also advises the use of more open source tools and technologies to keep licensing costs low. When necessary, the company adds some commercial tools to the pipeline that are generally limited to production and near-production environments (which means commercial products tend not to be used in development or QA environments).
PaaS can make dollars and sense
Increasingly, more applications are moving to SaaS. While that's been obvious in the commercial sector for two decades, it's also spilling over to proprietary enterprise applications, which is yet another reason to adopt PaaS. Slowly, but surely, more applications are moving to cloud and as they do, DevOps teams can benefit from a common technology stack.
PaaS may also be a company's ticket to a successful exit strategy. PaaS providers pay attention to the applications that are built on their platforms because they want to understand how other companies are innovating and how those product concepts are resonating with the marketplace. In some cases, the applications and the companies building them are so compelling that the PaaS provider will acquire them as a strategic asset to advance their own capabilities and offerings.
PaaS is in your company's future if you're not using at least one service already. In today's real-time world, business functions and customers want what they want now, which has necessitated the operational efficiencies DevOps, CI/CD, PaaS and cloud-native application development and delivery enable.
The higher operational efficiencies translate to lower costs and more importantly, faster value delivery.
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