Although platform as a service (PaaS) has yet to find a lot of acceptance in the enterprise, big players such as IBM and now Oracle are starting to enter the fray.
Oracle this week announced that it is investing in Engine Yard, a provider of a PaaS service, as part of the company’s continuing push into the cloud. According to Engine Yard CEO John Dillon, PaaS offerings will soon become playgrounds for innovation within the enterprise. The simple fact is that most corporations don’t have the internal resources needed to experiment with new applications. This has forced them to make strategic bets on a small number of applications with mixed success. PaaS managed by a third party allows IT organizations to invest a lot less up front, which means they can place bets on a much greater array of new applications.
Right now, PaaS has found the most acceptance from startup companies that have little in the way of legacy application development processes or IT infrastructure investments. But traditional enterprise IT organizations are now being asked to develop more Web and mobile applications for deployment in the cloud. Unfortunately, they have less visibility than ever into what degree those applications might succeed or fail. At the same time, many of them are adopting agile development methodologies that require IT infrastructure resources to be available on demand.
There are obviously still going to be any number of issues when it comes to marrying existing application development processes with a PaaS environment. But that can occur over time. The more important goal should be to provide an avenue for application development that allows creativity to flourish.
Most organizations these days are searching for some form of innovation that will create a sustainable competitive advantage. Invariably, discovering what idea will actually deliver that advantage requires experimentation that can easily be provided using a PaaS platform. Whether an IT organization ultimately decides to deploy that application in the cloud or on premise is up to them. What’s important is a PaaS platform that allows them to keep their options open.