PaaS masters: why cloud platforms hold the key to faster business success

For some time now, the rise of Platform-as-a-Service’ (PaaS) solutions, and the benefits they can provide have been one of the worst kept secrets in business. Like an up-and-coming hipster band that you’ve play live seen weeks before they make it big in the singles chart, PaaS is on the verge of exploding into the collective consciousness of organisations of all sizes. The only difference is that we already know all of their greatest hits, and are simply waiting for the word of mouth to spread to a wider audience. For years now, the benefits of PaaS have been widely known to all, and yet they have been rarely implemented. But why is this the case?

Perhaps the primary reason is that PaaS is the latest in a seemingly endless slew of cloud solutions to have arrived in businesses. We’ve already seen Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and even Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) vying for the attention of businesses. As a result, many have simply seen PaaS as the latest a long line of ‘as-a-Service’ offerings. All of which rather overlooks the fact that the reason PaaS is now gaining such momentum is that, more than any other cloud-orientated solution, the benefits it provides increasingly reflect the changing nature of demand we’re seeing from within organisations.

Getting up to speed

What’s clear is that more businesses than ever are not only beginning to understand the importance of building and deploying their own applications, but are also actively seeking ways to accelerate the process. Indeed, a recent study conducted amongst global IT decision makers by research firm Vanson Bourne, found that 85% of organisations were seeing demand from within their own business to reduce the time taken to build and deploy applications that could make them more productive. This where PaaS comes in.

Only one fifth (18%) of those questioned as part of the same study said that they currently had processes in place that were agile enough to be able to develop and deploy applications as quickly as they would like. However, the same study highlighted that this need for speed was only one of the benefits that users of PaaS solutions experienced, with 51% citing reduced costs and 47% saying that they had seen improved scalability. Meanwhile, a staggering 99% of all organisations said that they had experienced at least one benefit from using PaaS for application development.

> See also: New survey finds demand for PaaS on the rise

However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that there are other, perhaps less tangible benefits to using PaaS as part of your application development process. Of these, the most obvious is that it democratises the application development process within organisations. Where once businesses would have to turn to somebody with traditional, highly specialised programming skills to start building an application from scratch, now there’s little or no need. Today, they only need to provide a template that can allow anyone within the business – regardless of whether or not they come from an IT background – to build the application they need to be more productive.

Empowered to create

What this means is that the application development process is no longer the sole domain of those with deep programming skills. As a result, businesses are able to wave goodbye to long lead times and development cycles and instead empower individual business leads to take control of developing solutions that will most benefit their own department. Increasingly, PaaS is not just an ease-of-access solution that delivers a product or service. Used correctly it can be a business enabler that not only helps organisations to operate more quickly and efficiently, but can also help them to streamline their operations and cut out areas of congestion or delay.

All of these factors reflect the fact that application development is so much more than just another ‘nice to have’ or ‘added value’ optional extra. Increasingly, it’s the difference between getting ahead and staying ahead. What’s important to understand is that modern businesses have IT systems and applications which mirror the core capabilities of the enterprise—business processes and data. These ‘systems of record’ may well be tried and trusted within organisations, but they are also big, complex and monolithic and can be very difficult to evolve.

Many of these systems are key to differentiating businesses and their services, and businesses increasingly need fast access to them. Whether its to differentiate a product offering through mobile or another service, or to plug in another data source in order to make them more effective, accessing these systems can be key. Faster, more agile means of developing applications that can do just that can allow organisations to be smarter, faster and leaner than ever before.

> See also: Optimising application development and maintenance can cut costs in half – Gartner

The future is PaaS

Application development is the way forward for business, and as much as it’s clear that it won’t be going anywhere any time soon, it’s also becoming increasingly apparent that PaaS is the best way of enabling it. Clearly, the benefits that PaaS can provide are no longer the sole preserve of a select few. Indeed, Vanson Bourne’s study demonstrated that just under half (48%) of all IT decision makers are already using PaaS for application development and deployment, with 93% reporting that they had seen improvements in the development and deployment of new applications as a result of implementing PaaS solutions.

As long as there is a demand for more agile, flexible solutions, there will always be a need for application development within businesses. And as long as this need exists, there will always be a need for faster, more flexible systems that can more closely align with business process and allow them to perform better. With more and more organisations embracing PaaS and understanding the benefits it can provide, surely it’s only a matter of time before PaaS solutions hits the big time and is embraced by organisations everywhere?

Sourced from Gary Calcott, ‎Technical Marketing Manager at Progress

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...