By Kyle Berry
At some point over the last few years, your organization has probably had to replace aging servers or expand its server capacity. You may have determined that Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers can often satisfy your hardware needs. By utilizing this cloud service, you can rapidly deploy server infrastructure and storage to meet your needs. But, are you fully utilizing the value of the cloud?
You’ve gained the advantages of never having to rack new hardware replacements. Beyond that, you can increase storage, memory, or CPU power with the ease of an online order. You’ve saved the cost of data center real estate, power, and cooling for those servers.
Good for you!
But, then the tricky part comes – who maintains the operating systems? Who applies security and other OS patches? Who patches databases? Who provisions development and analytics tools?
If the answer to most, if not all, of these questions is your IT department, then you may have room to gain efficiencies and save even more costs.
You may have determined that Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers can often satisfy your hardware needs...but, are you fully utilizing the value of the cloud?
Enter Platform as a Service
Under-utilized and oft-forgotten Platform as a Service (PaaS) gives you all the advantages of IaaS and more. Like IaaS, platform as a service providers are responsible for server hardware, virtualization, storage, and networking. While service specifics can vary somewhat from provider to provider, core PaaS services also include the provisioning and maintenance of operating system software and database systems. This means that the PaaS provider is responsible for installing OS patches, security updates, database platform patches.
This graphic does a good job explaining the differences between types of services:
If your IT organization adheres to well-designed processes for consistent security patching, and it has redundant roles within the organization to apply patching, then perhaps PaaS does not need to be a priority for you. However, I’ve been a part of enough compliance projects where companies thought that they had these processes nailed down, only to discover that servers had not been patched in months or even years! This patching component is one of the biggest advantages to PaaS.
Platform as a Service Benefits
Software as a Service (SaaS) is the best way to minimize the load on IT. However, not all business needs can be met with a SaaS model. When you have to develop and maintain your own applications, PaaS allows you to easily spin up environments, complete with the necessary development tools and libraries. Utilizing PaaS can save significant development time and resource costs due to included, pre-built components. Also, PaaS components are kept up to date with new features and bug fixes to ensure that your applications have the latest capabilities.
It’s not all roses, though. If you run an application that requires specific tweaks to the OS and environment, then PaaS may not be a good answer in that case. This is because you have less control over the OS parameters and runtime environment. The question comes down to how much of your technical environment do you need to manage yourself.
What Does This Mean for Your Business?
Historically, companies have often treated IT as a cost center instead of a business partner that can help the company innovate. That’s because technology support is complex, labor intensive, and expensive. If you’ve already made moves to IaaS, then congratulations on removing some of that burden from a capital expense perspective – but keep going.
If an IT organization has less burden to engage in traditional technology support activities, then those resources can be repurposed for innovation. What is the benefit to your manufacturing business if these same technical resources are being used to build analytics that improve efficiency and product quality? How many more customers could your financial institution attract if you could improve and expand the mobile app services offered to its customers? How many more patients could your healthcare network serve safely if you could optimize your telehealth offerings?
IaaS provides many advantages, but do not forget about the added benefits that PaaS can bring. The more cloud service offerings that you can utilize to unload traditional IT burdens, the more you can use your technology resources to innovate and grow your business.
If an IT organization has less burden to engage in traditional technology support activities, then those resources can be repurposed for innovation.