One More Time: What is PaaS?
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Defining Platform as a Service is hard. I've written about this previously
, but as cloud platforms advance, it's getting even harder. Going forward, it's possible that the idea of PaaS will become so blurry, so loosely defined, that it loses its value as a technology category.
Look at what Amazon Web Services offers today, for instance. EC2 provides basic Infrastructure as a Service. (In fact, an accurate way to define IaaS is to say that it's what EC2 does.) AWS Elastic Beanstalk provides a service that most people would categorize as PaaS. But AWS also provides options in between these two. CloudFormation lets you define and manage groups of resources together, such as virtual machines, databases, and queues. Another AWS service, OpsWorks, provides a more powerful way to group and manage resources, including the ability to specify behaviors using Chef.
Is OpsWorks PaaS? Is CloudFormation PaaS? There's no clear answer to these questions, since there's no real definition of PaaS. Amazon calls OpsWorks a DevOps solution, latching onto a more current buzzword than PaaS, but how is DevOps different from PaaS? PaaS fans have sometimes categorized it as "NoOps", one step further down the line from DevOps, but again, these categories aren't well-defined.
Whatever they're called, both OpsWorks and CloudFormation provide useful services that build on top of IaaS, making life easier for people who build, deploy, and manage applications. This is exactly what PaaS does, although the details vary across different offerings.
So what is PaaS? The honest answer is that nobody knows. And when nobody knows what a term means, that term's value is bound to shrink.
Talking about ALM in Africa and the Middle East
Thursday, April 18, 2013
I'm giving presentations on application lifecycle management next week in some interesting places. The cities and dates are:.
- April 22: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- April 24: Johannesburg, South Africa
- April 26: Istanbul, Turkey
The events are all for IT leaders, and as is perhaps too common these days, pretty much all of them are invitation-only. Still, if you're in any of these cities and interested in a broad view of ALM and its impact on the business, I hope to see you there.
And you don't want to see my travel schedule for this trip; speaking in these three cities in five days requires a whole lot of flying.
Keynote Videos from TechDays
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Earlier this month, I gave a couple of keynotes at Microsoft TechDays in The Hague. One is aimed at developers, and the second is meant primarily for IT infrastructure people. Videos of both have been posted, so here are descriptions and links for the two talks.
Whether we like it or not, it’s becoming a devices and
services world. Traditional applications still matter, of course, and they will
for a long time to come. But new applications often have to support phones and
tablets, and many can benefit from running their server logic in the public
cloud. In this keynote presentation, David Chappell walks through the world
of modern applications, focusing on three things: clients, including Windows 8;
services, such as applications built on Windows Azure; and how the development
process is changing to support this new world. The goal is to give you a broad
perspective on what’s next in application development in the Windows world.
(The video begins with an introduction in Dutch by the Managing Director of Microsoft Holland. My part starts around 14:30.)
What is a private cloud? How is it different from a public
cloud? And why should you care? In this keynote presentation, David Chappell
gives a perspective on these questions. Using examples from Windows Server
2012, System Center 2012, and Windows Azure, he explains the similar
technology that underlies both cloud types. He also shows why the different
benefits that private and public clouds provide will lead most organizations to
use both of them. The goal is to provide a big-picture view of the changes that
cloud computing is bringing to just about every datacenter.
(This video also begins with a Dutch introduction. I come on around 7:00.)
March Speaking Schedule
Monday, March 04, 2013
I'm visiting some interesting places this month, giving talks about cloud computing, modern application development, and related topics. Many of the events are invitation-only, but not all, so I'll post the links I have.
The cities and dates are:
Why Cloud Computing Splits Enterprise and ISV Developers
Monday, February 04, 2013
Up to now, building custom enterprise applications for
in-house use was much the same as building packaged applications that were sold
to enterprises. Whether a developer worked for an insurance company or an
independent software vendor (ISV), her skills could be similar. Moving
between the two often didn’t require much retraining.
Increasingly, though, that’s no longer true. Developers who
work for ISVs now need different skills than developers who create custom
applications for enterprise users. And the change is caused by cloud computing.
In the pre-cloud era, applications built by both enterprises
and ISVs were designed to serve users at a single organization, either the
enterprise itself or a customer of the ISV. Accordingly, those applications
were built to be moderately scalable and to run on servers inside
the organization’s datacenter.
For enterprise developers, the rise of the public cloud doesn’t fundamentally change
this. True, custom applications used by the organization's employees might run their server
logic on a public cloud platform, such as Windows Azure or Amazon Web Services,
but the target user population remains the same. Because of this, the
application’s scalability and reliability requirements are also the same.
For ISVs, however, cloud computing has given rise to
Software as a Service (SaaS). A SaaS application serves users at many customer organizations
from a centralized instance of the software, which means it must be much more
scalable than a traditional enterprise application. Since it serves so many users, the
application must also be more reliable—a failure affects everybody, not just
the users at a single customer. And handling many customers means that the
application must be multi-tenant, able to separate data and more for all of the
organizations that use it.
Building this kind of scalable, reliable, multi-tenant
application is significantly more challenging than building traditional
single-tenant software. As a result, enterprise
software developers won’t typically create applications like this. Why waste
the effort? But the ISV world is shifting rapidly to SaaS, which means that ISV
developers do need to face this challenge. The result is that enterprise developers
and ISV developers need different skill sets today because they need to build different
kinds of applications.
As technologies get more diverse, the people who work with
those technologies must get more specialized. The split
between enterprise and ISV developers, rooted in the rise of SaaS, is just one
more example of this general principle.
An Interview About the Cloud
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
I sat down with my friend David Gristwood in London recently to talk about Windows Azure, creating SaaS applications, how enterprises use public clouds, and other related topics. I've known David for many years--we once visited Petra in Jordan together, a really cool place--and it's always a pleasure to talk with him.
The video's lighting leaves a bit to be desired, but if you're following this area, the content might be interesting to you. The interview is here