Understanding IaaS and PaaS

IaaS and PaaS are technologies that have been used to create virtualized environments for organizations that prefer not to develop a system from scratch. Virtualization has been a popular solution as the result of its capability to provide a viable solution that increases productivity while reducing IT infrastructure costs.

The concept of virtualization has allowed organizations to control workloads while reducing energy consumption and the problem of server sprawl. IaaS and PaaS are part of the virtualized model. The two technologies have gradually been shifting to a new role as cloud computing comes to the forefront of IT technologies.

If you are unfamiliar with IaaS and PaaS, first let’s define the concept of both types of technology.

The IaaS Model

IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service and is a technology that allows organizations to setup an IT infrastructure without the excessive hardware costs and maintenance. In a typical IaaS model, the cloud provider supplies the basic hardware and computing resources. This type of model is also known as a hosted data storage solution. The hardware and resources can include servers, virtual machines, network equipment, and data storage.

IaaS has been popular with organizations that have limited IT budgets and startups that are looking to launch their business cost effectively. This is because the cloud services provider oversees the hardware configuration and maintenance and offers a computing model that is scalable. Scalability means that organizations can add or subtract services as their business needs change.

IaaS enables businesses to manage everything as if the infrastructure were implemented on the premises. The difference is the infrastructure is maintained by the services provider resulting in a more flexible, cost effective, and reliable computing service.

The PaaS Model

PaaS stands for Platform as a Service and is a solution that enables organizations to build and manage customized applications without having to initiate application development from scratch. PaaS typically provides a platform for developers to create customized software applications that meet specific business requirements.

The main purpose of PaaS is to provide developers with the tools they need to create and test the applications they write. Additionally, PaaS provides a location where developers can host the applications they create and easily maintain them. This saves time and hassles associated with setting up a development platform from scratch and then having to maintain it on top of creating software applications.

The following video will provide you with a general understanding of why IaaS and PaaS have grown in popularity with many organizations and are still a critical part of the cloud computing model.

IaaS and PaaS Current Trends

There are many technology analysts out there that have given IaaS and PaaS a death sentence when in reality, the opposite is happening with the explosion of cloud computing. Rather than write an obituary for IaaS and PaaS, many providers of IaaS and SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions have simply changed the role of PaaS by providing a platform for developers to create customized applications based on the data that is already on the IaaS and SaaS platform.

For example, Salesforce.com has rolled out a PaaS solution that allows company developers to create new software applications that can easily be integrated with the IaaS or SaaS service they receive from Salesforce. This prevents hassles associated with developing the applications on a separate platform and then having to spend time transferring them to the existing cloud platform. More often than not, this process results in software bugs and glitches that must be worked out before the application is made available to end users.

Other IaaS providers such as VMware have also implemented PaaS technologies for their clients. This enables developers to build customized applications and then host them directly on their IaaS cloud platform. At the same token, there is a growing market for PaaS services that are striving to meet the needs of application developers. These are typically independent cloud vendors that are seeking to meet specific application development needs.

Where IaaS can offer infrastructure hardware, computing, and storage services on-demand, PaaS provides access to customized cloud-based applications. This means that PaaS solutions sit in between Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service solutions. This model allows developers to create applications that automatically run in the cloud without concerns over hardware that is necessary to host the software applications. Additionally, PaaS is capable of supporting a wider variety of software programming languages instead of being limited to a select few such as Java or .NET.

And, since PaaS provides a way to create custom software applications while the IaaS and SaaS models are capable of hosting applications, this represents a natural flow of transition for cloud computing models. It also provides a one-stop service for organizations seeking to consolidate resources and represents an important model for creating customized software applications over the long term.

In terms of IaaS, this type of model is not exactly dead either. Many of the IaaS service provider such as Microsoft Azure rolled out Platform as a Service before establishing IaaS. As the PaaS market slightly decreased, IaaS came back into the limelight with the growing popularity of Amazon Web Services (AWS).

At the present, Gartner, a leading technology research firm and global business leader, estimated that IaaS represents approximately 5.5 percent of the $131 billion cloud computing market. PaaS currently occupies about one percent where SaaS tops out at just more than 14 percent of the market. Additionally, the fact that the PaaS industry is undergoing mergers such as the VMware and Salesforce examples we cited earlier, represents a potential threat to independent PaaS vendors. At the same time, PaaS mergers with IaaS cloud vendors may also be an indication of an effective consolidation strategy for organizations seeking to simplify infrastructure without sacrificing productivity.

Where the Mobile Economy Fits In

With the influx of mobile devices including smartphones, tablet PCs, the Internet of Things, and wearable devices, IaaS is expected to gravitate more toward PaaS during 2014. Social media venues are generating large volumes of unstructured data and the increase in availability of high speed broadband has initiated a new demand for mobile apps that are cloud-based and connect data from multiple sources.

The growing mobile economy suggests a shift in the conventional IT systems that store structured and static data to more modern systems that involve user engagement with dynamic interfaces and quick access to rapidly changing data. This places application developers in the driver’s seat as the key decision makers.

The developers also want to create customized applications quickly without the obstacles associated with a conventional IT infrastructure and staff. This is known as speed to market and makes development more feasible using an IaaS and PaaS model. This type of model provides developers with access to the entire software development environment and the necessary tools for testing and delivering software applications rapidly and reliably without having to invest a lot of capital.

The consolidation of IaaS and PaaS also makes it more difficult to a draw a line between the two technologies. At the same time, it provides a way for IaaS vendors to differentiate themselves while providing an environment that removes the complexities of underlying infrastructure necessary to host software applications.

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