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What are some important considerations for implementing PaaS?

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Q:

What are some important considerations for implementing PaaS?

A:

Buyers have a lot to think about when trying to select a platform as a service (PaaS) vendor product. Platform as a service is the top layer or runtime layer for an architecture, covering elements like the operating system and web servers. In figuring out what sort of platform will “run the system” in a vendor-supported environment, companies have to make really detailed decisions.

One consideration for platform as a service is whether it fits the business model. If there is existing software that the platform needs to be compatible with, this is a top-level concern. Businesses have to think carefully about exactly what a PaaS offering is supposed to support, to make sure that they choose the right one.

There's also the array of services that a platform as a service solution needs to offer – among them, help with application development, security features, and database handling.

In general, businesses need to know that platform as a service products will be compatible with other products for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) levels. There’s a need to understand how APIs or other tools actually practically connect these parts of the architecture, because it's going to have a big impact on business operations.

One problem is vendor lock-in, where platform as a service tools may be only designed to work with other tools from the vendor’s own tool box. There are also many situations where compatibility is assumed, but in practice, the two or three or more pieces of software really don't work well together. Challenges can include changes to data as it flows through these operational channels, or frustration with non-intuitive interface controls that don’t help “port” incoming data to the user.

Platform as a service development groups look to establish standards for modern “middleware” solutions for these types of connections. The more companies can use programs and APIs to be the “glue” in a cross-vendor setup, the better these complex systems will work.

Support is another key consideration for platform as a service. Buyers need to know what resources they will have at their disposal if they need to be troubleshooting a platform as a service offering later after adoption. Buyers can ask about channels such as 24/7 phone service, on-site consulting, or online and digital messaging support.

All of these elements can make up a thorough due diligence for selecting platform as a service solutions. Popular platform as a service options like those from Amazon AWS and Windows Azure can help businesses to modernize and become more sophisticated, but only if they are set up and maintained in the right ways.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus
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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.
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