Thursday, February 9, 2012

Who's Managing Your PaaS Apps?

Sam Charrington recently posted a nice article called The Disintegration of PaaS. In it, he describes how early PaaS providers (PaaS 1.0) locked developers into their stacks and essentially prevented the movement of these apps onto other PaaS platforms. Sam also describes the coming of “PaaS 2.0,” a more open platform that allows different development stack modules for databases, application servers, etc. to be included within your application stack. PaaS 2.0 providers will also cultivate the community of tools that can be used within a deployment stack. The hope is that PaaS 2.0 will level the playing field and focus these providers on what matters most – service quality and customer service.

That takes me to the part that no one is really talking about when it comes to PaaS – the management aspect. Up to this point, we have more often talked about the development side (pre-production). But, PaaS then hosts the application created. How will organizations dictate the SLAs to be in place when the application is live for others to consume (i.e. scale-up, scale-down, etc.)? How will they relay their DR requirements, or moreover how will PaaS providers allow for different RTO/RPO strategies?

In order for PaaS to live up to its hype of becoming mainstream and making it ever easier for consumers to use the cloud, providers need a mechanism for capturing an application’s service level requirements. Building an app and placing it in the cloud is one thing, but if we actually want to allow IT to leverage the cloud there are best practices and specific business policies that need to be communicated in some way. Without this capability, PaaS will only be used for non-mission-critical workloads.

This is where cloud management solutions come in. For IaaS, we have talked about how cloud management solutions have helped to deploy and manage applications and workloads in the clouds. I think without these tools, PaaS players will not be able to provide the second part of their offering. PaaS providers need to leverage these mainstream tools and provide some interface to them.

As I write about this, I am also thinking about how we are further validating the need for an application-centric approach.  As PaaS adoption continues it will become more apparent that it is not about provisioning and managing servers or groups of servers in the cloud (infrastructure-centric), but rather the application or service. We need context! Your customers care about consuming your applications and services, and expect a certain level of service; they don’t care about servers. The notion of PaaS is to further hide the IaaS complexity behind the main goal: build and deploy apps. Now I think is the time for this approach to take center stage.


  1. Thanks for sharing this information on Cloud Management Software with other people. I really like your blog and information given in the blog.

  2. Thank you Daniel! I've been very tardy on posting new articles due to an interesting 2012 for me. I hope to pick it up very soon.