Why the Cloud is Like an Orchestra; and PaaS the Conductor

Cloud like an orchestra visual - 1

Dain Hansen, Director, Cloud Platform GTM, Product Business Group @Dainsworld

Musical instruments sound great on their own, but they’re even better when played together: the same applies to cloud services

For many years, cloud adoption was presented as a series of choices. These included such decisions as whether to adopt public or private cloud; or to ignore both and to stick with on-premise enterprise IT systems. Businesses also had to get to grips with a wide variety of services – starting with Software as a Service (SaaS) and then moving swiftly on to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). This raised further questions: which of these services would benefit them the most? Which should they invest in immediately and for which could they afford to wait?

With the coming of age of cloud computing, it is now clear that while key decisions still need to be made, making the right choices for the business has never been easier. This is because it is now clear that the future for enterprise IT doesn’t lie in the implementation of one or two cloud services (no matter how strategic) so much as in a holistic adoption of the cloud in all its forms. This is because the value of cloud services and infrastructure increases exponentially when delivered as an orchestrated whole.

In the same way the sound of a lone saxophonist is in no way comparable to the power of a full orchestra; likewise, businesses that have a holistic cloud strategy are in a different league to those that run isolated elements of the cloud. While the latter might enjoy productivity and costs benefits in the short term, the former stand to deliver far greater benefits from the complete transformation of their businesses.

Let’s be clear: when I talk about a ‘holistic’ cloud strategy, I’m not – yet – talking about 100 percent cloud-based IT systems. Such systems are at least a decade away, and in the meantime there will be a period where cloud infrastructures will co-exist with infrastructure on-premises. This approach makes complete sense, as businesses have invested too much in their existing systems to do away with them altogether. Instead, companies should be looking to marry the resources and technology they have in place with their cloud and hybrid equivalents.

This approach to the cloud will interest any organization serious about being a contender in the digital age, because it allows them to combine the best of their public and private clouds with resources on-premises. But for such a system to work there needs to be a glue to bind the various elements together. Without a means to integrate public, private and on-premises applications, middleware and infrastructure, and to enrich each with data taken from across the enterprise, the cloud will not live up to its potential.

This is why choosing the right Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution is so important. PaaS is the conductor of our orchestra: it ensures that all elements of the cloud environment work in concert and are perfectly tuned to harmonize.

The best PaaS systems, for instance, enable integration between the various cloud services (such as SaaS and IaaS solutions). This allows businesses to virtualize processes, such as web application development, while still having access to the same standards and tools they are used to from their on-premises environments. Modern PaaS offerings also enable businesses to shift workloads between the public and private cloud, as well as on-premise, and hybrid environments, allowing them to easily migrate on-premise applications to the cloud and back as needed.

But PaaS has a far greater role to play in enabling the holistic cloud than just acting as a bridge between the cloud and on-premise worlds; it’s also an important means of ensuring cloud services deliver all they’re capable of. For example, an organization might find that its off-the-shelf SaaS applications don’t fully meet its business requirements; at least not in the way its ‘old-world’ and (most-likely) highly-customized enterprise application did.  In fact, it is often these customizations that are attributed to delivering competitive differentiation. In this case, businesses can use application development cloud services (database and middleware) to develop and deploy custom code, or complete application extensions that broaden and customize the functionality of their SaaS applications and tailor them to their needs.

Businesses can also extend SaaS applications with platform services to provide additional capabilities such as document sharing or analytics. A good PaaS environment will enable this and bypass the pitfalls that traditionally plighted app customisation, such as complicating the update process.

Many businesses today are in a fight for survival. They’re facing more demanding customers, and new digitally-enabled competitors and business models. It’s time for businesses to get serious about the cloud, and this means replacing ad-hoc implementations with a fully orchestrated cloud platform. It’s only through such a platform that businesses will be able to transform, compete and win.

To find out more about how PaaS can help enable a holistic cloud environment please download our guide.