When it comes to setting the record straight about what's going on in the world of cloud computing, TheServerSide always turns to former JBoss Inc CTO and current Cloudbees CEO, Sacha Labourey. We wanted to know how Labourey addressed the common perception that PaaS platforms were really just about simplifying application deployment and management, but really hadn't evolved much out of that particular niche. Here's what Labourey had to say about that assertion:
Misconception #3: PaaS is simply about simplifying application deployment and management
Yes PaaS platforms have proven their value in the fields of application deployment and application management, but saying PaaS is just about deployment and management is like saying a smartphone is just about a better experience with voice and text, when anyone who uses one knows that voice and text is only a small part of the story. The focus of the first PaaS offerings really was about simplifying deployment and management of applications, especially standalone applications, with little to be worried about in terms of existing IT assets, processes or teams to leverage. While this proved to be a great test bed to demonstrate the type of time, effort and quality efficiencies Platform as a Service could bring, PaaS had to increase its scope and depth and aim at upgrading the entire way organizations create, deliver and manage real-life applications that, for the most part, won’t have the luxury to be born on a virgin island.
Addressing the complete application lifecycle management (ALM) process
PaaS can make the weaving together of services and custom application logic simple and seamless.
Sacha Labourey, Cloudbees CEO
So, what’s required to satisfy those real-life IT applications? First, let’s talk about app creation and delivery. The key tool here is continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery. You can bolt a CI tool, such as the open source Jenkins CI, into your processes, but when you use PaaS as your deployment vehicle you need to go a stepfurther on the dev-test-stage processes CI tools drive. You want to be able to scale CI resources elastically and painlessly, spinning up isolated test systems and tearing them down easily. You want to be able to take advantage of the PaaS to do things like blue-green deployments and to operate a proper staging area that is a mirror of production, something that is simply not doable in most IT environments today.
Not being on an island, the ecosystem, in a large sense, is a big part of that story. When you create a new application today, you’re almost always using multiple services, from infrastructure services (testing, analytics, storage, etc.), Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings (such as salesforce.com) to existing in-house systems. PaaS can make the weaving together of these services and custom application logic simple and seamless and offer an end-to-end integrated experience that makes it simple to take advantage of that ecosystem.
Bringing together services, code, logic and teams
The other critical aspect is to fit into the policies of the IT infrastructure you’ll interact with: identity management, VPC/VPN, logging and auditing, compliance, etc. Those are the exact keywords developers do not want to hear about, let alone deal with, but they exist for a reason. Sophisticated PaaS offerings make it possible to act as the inter-mediation layer that will satisfy IT requirements, while offering the acceleration, efficiency and experience that your developers are expecting.
Last but not least, as the usage of PaaS grows within an organization, the PaaS becomes an important hub where IT operations, developers, QA and product owners get to share a common vision of the work to be achieved, and of the current deliverables. Sometimes initially and solely perceived as a positive side effect of using a PaaS, this is actually a very powerful phenomenon. More than that, what we have seen is that a move to adopt PaaS is taken rather naturally together with an initiative to modernize and streamline development, testing and delivery processes. This is natural because PaaS isn’t about applying more technology to solve the same old problems more efficiently - PaaS is much more about the evolution of a platform and tool chain needed to deliver modern applications in the cloud world.