I’ve written before about how the ‘deploy and scale’ demo of PaaS is really just a superficial illustration of its potential. It functionally buckets PaaS with automation tools like Chef or Puppet which probably does both a disservice. One of the key benefits of running enterprise PaaS at scale is incredible insight it gives you into how your developers build and operate your line of business systems. At Apprenda, we were recently debating the priority of several new features for an upcoming release and like any good team, we reached out to several of our customers for their direct feedback. Instead of giving us anecdotes and opinions, the customer simply ran a query against their large-scale Apprenda deployment and told us *exactly* which percentage of applications and developers would benefit from the features being debated based on their application composition and task patterns. Think about this for a minute. It changes everything.
Having an accurate and real-time view of your application composition and developer use cases makes problems which are nearly impossible to solve today trivial, almost as a side effect. Governance, compliance, security vulnerability identification, software bugs and yes, feature planning all become incredibly simplified. Once you start doing this at the scale of thousands of enterprise applications, you get statistically relevant insight that you can act on to make your developers and their end users more productive.
Public cloud service providers have been using these techniques for years to help gain insight about their users but this has been mainly focused on consumer products. A shared application platform gives enterprises this same capability except in this case, your ‘users’ are applications. We’re not talking about fancy big data analytics, this is simple transparency. Ask any large scale IT organization and they will tell you that simply figuring out how many apps they have and where they are running is a massive challenge with today’s systems. Enter cloud with its dynamic, elastic and hybrid capabilities and the problem becomes completely crippling.
Improved infrastructure utilization is typically the higher profile benefit touted by advocates of shared cloud infrastructure such as multi-tenant PaaS. While significant, it pales in comparison to the developer and application feedback you can use to improve the agility of your team. In a recent customer conversation, a senior IT executive at a Fortune 50 company said that he would rather improve developer productivity by 2% over improving infrastructure utilization by 20%. The hard dollar savings are a nice bonus but fundamentally, enterprise PaaS is about creating and exploiting a competitive advantage through software. The best way to improve infrastructure efficiency is by filling it with innovative applications that move your top line and that’s what PaaS is all about.