How PaaS Widens the Divide Between IT and the Business

Michael Vizard

There’s a lot of discussion these days about the implications of platform as a service (PaaS) in the cloud, but the fact remains that the usage of PaaS remains confined to a relatively small base of IT organizations.

According to Ryan Shriver, agile cloud development analyst at The Virtualization Practice, an IT consulting firm, PaaS usage today is mainly occurring among so-called lean startup companies that don’t want to invest in IT infrastructure. They would rather pour that money into the application they are building. Once they see how successful that application is, Shriver says they may choose to move that application to an on-premise PaaS deployment once it scales to a point where they need to gain greater control over it. Known as hitting “the scrum wall,” most users of PaaS in the cloud are years away from making that decision.

Traditional enterprises, meanwhile, are struggling with the continuous delivery implications of agile development. IT operations teams, as part of the “DevOps” crisis, are overwhelmed by demands to roll out and update new and existing applications. The good news is that more of them are starting to deploy cross-function teams of IT specialists to break down the silos that currently dominate IT infrastructure management.

But the inertia and politics associated with such a move is immense. It will take most IT organizations several years to get to the point where they have the processes in place to incorporate PaaS platforms into the culture, says Shriver. At the same time, we’re entering a new era of hyper-competition in the cloud, which means most IT organizations are confronting scenarios where the business has hired developers to rapidly create applications using PaaS services in the cloud that essentially end run the internal IT department. In fact, the latest rallying cry in the PaaS community is “NoOps” with the idea being that higher levels of automation will eliminate the need for most of the manual processes that currently dominate the data center.

How all this will get reconciled is anybody’s guess. But right now there are so many divides within IT it’s hard to see how the growing divide between the business and IT over cloud computing is going to be reconciled anytime soon. And, of course, the longer that already sizeable rift persists, the harder it becomes to heal.

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Aug 14, 2012 1:52 AM Yaron Parasol Yaron Parasol  says:
Michael, Very good post IMHO. You are touching on the right problems and dilemmas. However, I think the rift between IT and business is bridgeable if investing the IT budget in tools that brings togerther DevOps control and automation with Cloud Onboarding thus achieving agility and cost reduction but coping with the complexities of IT management of a diversified application portfolio and the challenges of virtualization and elasticity. There are several products that aspire to meet this goal, one of them is GigaSpaces Cloudify (I'm the product manager of Cloudify). We see more and more companies taking the DevOps approach another step from deployment automation to PaaS automation achieving the desired enterprise cloud. Reply
Aug 14, 2012 1:20 PM Ashish Bhagwat Ashish Bhagwat  says:
Micheal, a great perspective. There's a risk, considering the paths that IT silos have taken are driven by the mindsets they've traditionally got into, that they'd further drift away from business. There's a truth in your argument mixed with traditional reality, but I take a different perspective to this trend. I feel that the IT has a chance to elevate to become a "Business Platform Player" rather than remaining a mere DevOps machine. This can be achieved especially since virtualization and paas would actually mean that they can outsource the operational and maintenance activities, and focus really on the business value generation. For this to happen, obviously there's a new skillset to develop and mindset needs to change. Even the way IT is organized would have to change. I take an optimistic view and claim it would have to happen - the hard way or with intent. Can't write in detail here. Here's more on my post that I wrote last year. Cheers, Ashish Reply

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