Platform-as-a-service: Robust integration for small and large enterprises
According to Markets and Markets, the market cap for hybrid integration platforms (HIP) will grow to $33.6 billion in 2022, up from $17.14 billion in 2017. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions are increasingly popular as enterprises large and small move their legacy applications and workloads to the cloud. It is sometimes called iPaaS because of the platform integration and interoperability options it enables for developers, according to TDWI.
Hybrid cloud benefits
Two primary hybrid cloud benefits are scalability and deployment. Enterprises can scale up resources using PaaS to accomplish one-time or infrequent projects that require computing resources they don’t have on-premise, such as infrequent data analytics projects that are resource-intensive for a short period of time, according to TechTarget.
For more risk-averse enterprises, the hybrid cloud is the logical first step to cloud-enabling the business. It offers them a platform to test cloud workloads across one or more public cloud service providers (CSPs). It takes up-front planning and analysis to make this first step, however, so you’ll need the right cloud expertise in your organization to make this happen.
Organizations can also deploy other workloads to the public cloud, such as web servers, databases and test environments. The public cloud can be especially beneficial when businesses expect limited use of workloads, such as seasonal or once-yearly projects, because they can easily remove their workloads from service, according to DZone.
In a data-intensive world, security concerns abound for all enterprises. When you implement a hybrid cloud solution, you can maintain your data securely in a private cloud while the application front end resides in the public cloud — offering your users the best of both worlds.
There’s also the benefit of agility with a hybrid cloud because you can tap into the public cloud during times of heavy usage, helping prevent system outages during times of high traffic or when your organization is steaming toward a critical deadline.
Hybrid clouds offer improved business continuity, enabling your enterprise to weather natural and man-made catastrophes. For example, suppose a tropical storm likely to cause outages is bearing down on your area, and you have a business-critical application that must remain online. You can transfer workloads to your hybrid cloud and make your data accessible to business users with little or no downtime.
The concept of a hybrid cloud-as-a-platform for innovation is seen as a benefit by some cloud watchers. Even if innovation isn’t part of your organization’s lexicon, think of going to a hybrid cloud as enabling you to trial-use new services without having to outlay capital expenditures for hardware and infrastructure — not to mention the added staffing expenses.
Platform-as-a-service benefits for the large enterprise
When a large enterprise goes to PaaS, it can change the entire dynamic of the organization including operations, strategy and culture. Here’s how:
- IT staff move to more meaningful work: PaaS inside a large enterprise can mean reassigning IT staff from humdrum operations and maintenance work to more strategic projects billable to clients — or at the very least internal projects that can help move the business forward. While this benefit sounds too good to be true, you should have a strategy and communications in place to sell the benefit to your employees.
- Formation of a cloud-native organization: Another dynamic change is businesspeople and IT people working together more. At the business level, it means staff having more insights into platform releases from the PaaS vendor, or even insights into the PaaS platform roadmap. Business users in more staid enterprises may need some mentoring and guidance for the enterprise to make the most of this increase in user participation. Agile development and DevOps are also attainable for the large enterprise transitioning to PaaS, enabling IT to better serve the business’s needs. IT Pro Portal advises that becoming a cloud-native organization requires significant changes in how your IT department organizes itself. Foremost, DevOps teams and agile approaches become part of standard operations in cloud-native organizations.
- Cloud strategy grows across the business: Growing a cloud strategy inside of a large enterprise means starting off small by migrating a department-level application to a hybrid or public cloud. You’ll need to capture integration, security and business requirements before you kick off your first migration. Choosing a cloud service provider (CSP) for your first application migration can be made easier by experimenting with the free and trial tiers before you make a financial commitment.
- Application migration made easier: The ideal candidate application for migration is one that’s coming to the end of its life or is otherwise in need of an upgrade. Take the extra time to work closely with the business users of the application you choose to migrate. One of your goals should be to win cloud advocates amongst your business users, so treating them as stakeholders during an initial project can help win them over to leaving behind legacy applications. Take the lessons learned, then choose another application to migrate. With each migration, you should continue to fine-tune your project planning, all elements of your process and the tools you use.
Top hybrid integration platform features
When selecting a HIP, here are features that should be at the top of your list of requirements:
- Role-based user experience (UX), including integration specialist, integrator and administrator
- Governance features including application programming interface (API) policy management, APIs and integration service catalog, lifecycle management, metadata management, data quality, tracking and operational analytics
- Orchestration tools
- Integration scenarios support for A2A, B2B, cloud services, mobile apps and IoT
- Core application and data integration capabilities
- Communications styles and protocols
- Operations, monitoring, management and security tools
PaaS benefits for the small enterprise
Small enterprises gain many of the same benefits from PaaS as do large enterprises. The bottom line is that small enterprises can get out of the infrastructure business by moving to the budget-friendly consumption-based services of a PaaS provider. These give a small business cloud services that can rival much larger enterprises. They also get access to cybersecurity expertise from their PaaS provider that they otherwise may not be able to afford to hire.
Top platforms as-a-service in the market
Some of the top platforms as-a-service available on the market include the following:
- Amazon EC2 provides secure and resizable compute capacity in the cloud.
- Google App Engine is a cloud platform for developing and hosting web applications on Google infrastructure in Google data centers.
- IBM Managed Platform-as-a-Service provides provisioning, configuration and scalability for hybrid cloud solutions.
- Microsoft Azure focuses on lowering the complexity and expense of purchasing and managing software licenses, cloud infrastructure and middleware for development tools and related resources.
PaaS is becoming an integral cloud technology that enables small and large enterprises to build solutions that can elevate their business and operations to best serve their customers and clients while still taking advantage of legacy on-premise infrastructure.