PaaS Adoption Blockers

Cloud computing has enabled many organizations, small and large, to build business solutions on a platform that enables growth, IT management flexibility, and agility, while optimizing operating costs. I refer to this objective of cloud computing as Adaptive Computing, which is achieved through the use of Platform as a Service (PaaS). As organizations begin to understand the value of cloud computing, many are realizing that certain key blockers prevent them from realizing all the benefits they would otherwise reap. Realizing these benefits require the use of Platform as a Service (PaaS) because PaaS provides complete abstraction from underlying server and networking resources, and as a result allows organizations to build applications and services that are designed to adjust resource consumption dynamically based on actual demand. As a result, PaaS provides an optimized IT resources consumption model that yields a lower total cost of ownership over time. However, PaaS suffers from key adoption challenges which tends to drive corporations to using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) instead. In this post I am providing the top 5 PaaS adoption blockers I have seen so far, specifically for organizations that have a choice to use PaaS or IaaS as their technology foundation.

Blocker 1 – Vendor lock-in

I overheard some vendors discuss how they can convince customers to use services that would lock them in for a long period of time. While this may be good for the vendor, it is obviously undesirable for customers, because vendor lock-in prevents business agility in the long term. Some of the most advanced cloud services that offer the foundation for adaptive computing require the use of vendor-specific technologies. And as a result, some customers are choosing to avoid these technologies in favor of simpler, less flexible architectures, such as IaaS. Paradoxically, this vendor lock-in is creating a disservice to the computing industry and hurting PaaS adoption.

Blocker 2 – Low availability

Most cloud vendors advertise 99.9% availability or higher for certain services. However you will need to check your cloud provider Service Level Agreements for information on how the availability is computed. In some cases, the availability is calculated monthly. A 99.9% uptime monthly means roughly 9 hours of downtime per year. While this may be acceptable to many organizations, businesses for which uptime is critical will find this level of availability too costly for their operations. As a result, organizations that need higher availability will need to spend a significant time and effort in building compensating components that can be too difficult to design and test successfully, hence blocking adoption.

Blocker 3 – Unpredictable pricing

While most cloud providers offer pricing calculators, properly estimating cloud computing costs can be challenging, specifically when you need to consider licensing and labor costs (such as migration and operational costs). However a bigger challenge is the unpredictable nature of pricing, which can change (up or down) in any given month. This is specially true for PaaS applications that are built with adaptive mechanisms designed to automatically expand or reduce IT resources based on actual computing needs. On one hand, adaptive computing provides a more optimized cost curve because only the necessary computing resources are used when needed; on the other hand it becomes practically impossible to predict bills on a month to month basis. As a result, some companies prefer to use IaaS deployments to predict their monthly costs, instead of using more optimized PaaS implementations that typically yield unpredictable bills.

Blocker 4 – On-premises parity

The need to fall back to on premises operations, or to use cloud computing as an extension of on premises operations means that applications should function regardless of their environment. Because of a lack of parity between cloud technologies with on premises services, companies struggle with cloud adoption using PaaS. The parity gap usually affects PaaS solutions; because IaaS is a form of hosting, it can be used to eliminate the differences of parity between on premises and cloud components, and even between cloud providers. As a result, the parity gap tends to drive companies to use IaaS implementations instead of more optimized PaaS architectures. This leads to more rigid cloud implementations, which prevents organizations from achieving the economical promises of adaptive computing only achievable through the adoption of PaaS.

Blocker 5 – Rate of Change

A high rate of change in cloud computing is normal; cloud vendors compete in a young and evolving field, creating a significant foundation for technology innovation. This highly evolving computing model creates new technology platforms yearly and at times retires services that are not economical or that experience low adoption. However this rate of change can create significant challenges for organizations that seek stability and rely on multi-year IT investments, hence preventing larger organizations from adopting cloud computing. In some instances, PaaS software development kits see radical changes within just a few months, causing significant rework for certain applications.

Conclusion

Understanding cloud adoption gaps can help you be more successful in your cloud computing roadmap and help you leverage the lessons learned of other organizations. As a result, the PaaS adoption blockers identified in this post are not meant to discourage you from adopting the cloud; instead they are meant to give you a high level understanding of typical adoption challenges to help your organization prepare for the future of adaptive computing. Many organizations choose IaaS as their first step into cloud computing, because it is the least disruptive. However achieving the highest levels of agile computing that lead to optimum use of IT resources can only be achieved through the use of PaaS, which suffers from the above blockers.

About Herve Roggero

Herve Roggero, Windows Azure MVP, is the founder of Blue Syntax Consulting (http://www.bluesyntax.net). Herve's experience includes software development, architecture, database administration and senior management with both global corporations and startup companies. Herve holds multiple certifications, including an MCDBA, MCSE, MCSD. He also holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from Indiana University. Herve is the co-author of "PRO SQL Azure" and “PRO SQL Server 2012 Practices” from Apress, a PluralSight author, and runs the Azure Florida Association.

Print | posted @ Sunday, December 22, 2013 4:16 PM

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