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Cloud Computing

Akhil Bhaskar (Australia) - Deploy and Manage Your Applications In The Cloud With Ease

How will Platform as a Service (PaaS) change the face of cloud-based services as we know it?

First of all, the word 'cloud' has a polarizing effect on people: you either love the idea or you want to stay away from it completely. For me, a cloud is simply a mechanism that provides a set of services in a centralized manner. This means that the cloud is my infrastructure layer – be it within my internal server farm (private cloud) or hosted with an external vendor (public cloud) or something in between (hybrid cloud). However, it is more important that I am able to tie them altogether – and properly. To do so, I would use a PaaS solution as my application platform. With a PaaS solution, I can take existing assets and develop new applications and deploy them to a wide range clouds. In simple terms, PaaS is the delivery of a computing platform and solution stack as a service.

Yet, it’s more than a buzzword; it's a paradigm shift for enterprise IT. Here’s why. Paradigm shifts migrating to a PaaS model requires two paradigm shifts: one is technical and the other is governance related. The technical changes result from having to learn new dashboards to configure, along with changes required for networking (if using a private or hybrid cloud). The governance changes, however, are bigger in scope. Governance charters need to be established or reviewed to enable the addition of ITIL as a topic of discussion. Depending on an organization’s maturity, capacity management will need to be part of the discussion, as do SLAs and charge-backs to the business or IT groups requiring this core infrastructure.

Drivers of PaaS traditionally, organizations have viewed IT from a cost versus benefit perspective. However, organizations often require IT to be scalable. This is because it's easier to err on the side of overcapacity rather than risk missing Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for business focused services. As such, I believe this is one of the key drivers for the evolution and deployment of PaaS. Other drivers for the deployment of PaaS include organizations with a centralized IT group; organizations with a need for elasticity within an IT infrastructure; and organizations looking to reduce costs without incurring undue risks. Getting PaaS Qualified There is no doubt that technology is a big component of cloud computing, but it is just part of the story.

You also need to consider the other two pillars of any IT initiative: processes and more importantly, people. I consider a PaaS environment to be completely transparent to the organization and the developers that build its services. As such, the people that most need to adjust to this new paradigm shift will be those within the infrastructure teams. However, if you already have the necessary background, then only minimal training is required. The Next Step Implementing PaaS requires an enterprise wide culture shift. As such, you get one chance to get it right. So for those who are implementing PaaS, experiment within the various options available to you, such as Red Hat OpenShift. Join a community that can help guide you through this implementation. And get trained For those of you considering entering the PaaS space, this is a brave new world - a world that is still being shaped. Now is the time to be at the forefront of the evolution.

By Akhil Bhaskar, a Regional Manager for JBoss Middleware for Red Hat’s Asia Pacific region.

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