It can be argued that Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) have been sufficiently commoditized so as to neutralize any “breakthrough” competitive advantage they might originally have presented. In simple terms, once everybody’s doing it, you have to do it just to keep pace. If only one bank had Automated Teller Machines, that bank would have a big advantage. Today, things like ATM’s and online banking are commodity offerings. Without them, a bank could not stay in business. We’re rapidly getting to the point where the same can be said for enterprises that don’t recognize and exploit the value of IaaS and SaaS where appropriate.
So, what is PaaS?
PaaS stands for Platform as a Service. In essence, it offers companies a way to develop applications without having to invest in platform infrastructure, specifically the computer hardware and software necessary to build and run the application.
This means saving money in more ways than just the hardware and software investments, though. Hardware needs a physical place within the enterprise to reside. Electricity-hogging cooling systems must be put in place, and there has to be some provision for disaster recovery. And, once that is accomplished, the system must be maintained. Sounds like fun, no?
But it’s way more than just the hard dollar savings
What about the advantage of allowing your IT Department to build and deploy applications quickly and securely? This is invaluable. No one knows your business as well as you do. While best of breed packaged solutions will always have their place in the enterprise, to optimize your competitive advantage your IT Department has to be able to develop applications that are suited to the way your business works. (Which, of course, is why you spend so much time and money customizing those best of breed solutions.) You have to have an agile solution that allows IT to utilize not only its technological skill but also its knowledge of your business. And, as PaaS evolves, so will your IT Department’s ability to maximize its value, as more and better development tools become available.
IT can be more important than ever, but not just as the guys and gals who fix things that break or customize and re-customize software that will never do exactly what you need it to. Your company’s IT Department can now be the vanguard of something truly revolutionary. With PaaS, even the small enterprise can do what was once available to companies with vast resources; develop Web applications that fit exactly what your business needs. And as you evolve these Web apps, staying ahead of the competition will remain a product of your ability and imagination, not the number of machines you can afford.