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Questions to answer when determining your platform as a service provider (PaaS)

January 24, 2011

If your reading this I am sure your somewhat familiar with Service and Infrastructure offerings. In this post I take a look at what features and functions to look for in a platform. Think of the selection as similar to choosing the operating system for your next smart phone.

When considering the options in helps to condense your decision making factors.

  1. Extent of useable feature set (things that your organizational will want to do)- PaaS products fall into 2 general categories those designed to satisfy specific development scenarios. On the other hand there are others are designed as general-purpose development environments that compete with popular Java, .NET, and scripting platforms.
  2. Application Purpose – Some PaaS platforms are designed for content-oriented applications, while others are designed for transactional business applications. How will your application or service be used, is the platform selection designed for you?
  3. Programming Language – Some of the PaaS environments are designed for programmers who work in Java, C#, or similar third-generation languages , while others use dynamic scripting languages such as PHP, Python, and Rails. Some PaaS products provide visual tools appropriate for developers who are used to working in Visual Studio and other fourth-generation language environments, and others provide tools non technical business analysts.

What to review prior to making a platform choice

  • What kind of database services does the organization need? (platform provide)
  • What kind of application logic would you want to build or configure with the platform? ( I think the tree planting)
  • What kinds of development tools does the platform provide?
  • Does the platform allow on-premise deployment?
  • Does the platform provide application authentication?
  • Does the platform provide a detailed billing service for application usage?

There is of course one other option if you find that PaaS doesn’t meet your needs. Infrastructure-as-a-service vendors provide developers with access to virtual machines, storage, and network capacity, and most use a subscription-based billing model to charge developers based on the resources they consume. In most IaaS offerings, APIs exist but no programming model, lack of a development environment, and only basic application administration. Some common examples are below

  • The regaining vendor is Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services (AWS) includes the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Simple Storage Service (S3), and Simple DB. These services are widely used by development groups creating custom “cloud” applications and by PaaS providers that don’t want to build and run their own data centers.
  • For those creating slick web 2.0 “shiny” web applications, Engine Yard is a hosting environment for Ruby on Rails applications. Engine Yard is a startup that provides “cloud,” managed hosting, and on-premise deployment options for applications built using the Ruby language and either the Rails or the Merb framework. The “cloud” options are subscription-based “slices” of Ruby on Rails clusters, with additional options for dedicated cluster resources; the on-premise option is a locally installed software image.
  • Want to implement a completely custom build check out IT Structures today runs a variety of applications, ranging from Zimbra’s office applications to Cisco’s IronPort and to SAP Business Suite 6.0. IT Structures’ value arises from a proprietary software layer that adapts existing applications to run in its Internet data center, including provisioning, WAN-latency compensation, usage and operations analytics, and backup and recovery.
  • Want to have both internal and external infrastructure options Joyent provides infrastructure and support for all the major frameworks. Their offering provides hosted infrastructure that developers and PaaS platforms can use to host their applications and provides built-in support for Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, and Java applications. A secure option for virtual local area networks (VLANs). The offering can be be deployed in customer data centers. Joyent’s ability to easily bridge on-premise data centers and its own Internet data center lets customers create hybrid environments that use both.

Lots of choices.

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