Platform-As-A-Service: The New Black?


Are you a dedicated follower of fashion? Don’t worry if the answer is no. Today, fashion is no longer the sole domain of devout catwalk copycats, and we all follow trends whether it is a conscious decision or not. Some designs are timeless, but I think it is fair for us all to say that, despite being ‘cool at the time’, some past clothing purchases can quickly become outdated after finding themselves replaced by newer, more fashionable alternatives.

In this way, it’s similar to the way we use and consume technology, both in our personal and professional lives. From this perspective, an old Discman, fax machine and desktop computer are all comparable to a pair of fetching tie-dye flares from the 70s. It is rare we see people using Commodore 64’s to do word processing!

In terms of fashionable technology, in recent years, businesses have found themselves consumed by chatter around a number of trends including BYOD, mobility and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). What these have in common is that they all represent huge steps away from traditional one-size-fits all business technology, which finds itself moving increasingly towards more bespoke applications and strategies.

Returning to our fashion analogy, with 70 per cent of CIOs using SaaS solutions, cloud computing has moved beyond just a fad into true classic status. Large enterprises have fully transitioned IT functions onto the cloud and are now making use of capabilities such as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to further enhance their tailor-made technology.

Complicated technology is gradually becomes less niche, more accessible and more comprehensible to the average layman. As such, it’s clear that more and more people are willing to get involved and offer their own spin on the benefits it can provide. The rise of the ‘citizen developer’ is a prime example of this. The emphasis has transitioned from the complicated back-end function, into the business opportunity presented as a result.

This is the turning point where businesses stop all adopting the same technology, and start differentiating themselves by what they can do with it. Employees within businesses are now developing applications designed specifically to their needs, quickly and easily.

With a PaaS toolkit full to the brim with simple drag-and-drop facilities and the ability to turn business processes directly into applications, business-savvy individuals can build apps to their exact specifications and reap the benefits.

As this trend becomes more mainstream, the inevitable result will be that developers will have to be far better equipped in order to remain relevant to the application development process. As individuals become more aware of the potential of the technology in their workplace, developers will need to become increasingly business savvy to meet their high expectations.

PaaS solutions will provide the armoury developers need in order to deliver the most connected, efficient, relevant and timely applications to an increasingly knowledgeable audience. As individuals gain a better grasp of technology, so developers need to get a deeper understanding of the business and the processes that drive them.

Except for large IT deployments, this will spell the end of long, complicated project documents bandied between managers and developers. Instead, we’ll see agile development incorporating people from both camps, supported by a solid PaaS foundation.

Whether it is technology or fashion, the biggest danger facing individuals is the temptation to become comfortable in the status quo, or even worse, exponents of outdated processes. End-users in 2014 will increasingly demand a tailored product and experience, for a one-size-fits-all price, whether it is on the high street or at their desks. In order to deliver, developers must invest in the latest tools and not be afraid to use them.

If we see PaaS and other such cloud platforms as the new black, then client servers and hard drives are the technological equivalent of socks and sandals. 2014 could be a turning point, which sees high-end technology becoming accessible to the masses and, as a result, developers having to up their game in order to keep up with the latest fashion.

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Ramesh Loganathan

Ramesh Loganathan is Centre Head & Vice President of Products, at Progress Software's Hyderabad labs. Ramesh started the first Progress Hyderabad team of 20 engineers building a new product from scratch in 2004. He returned in 2008 as Centre Head and is responsible for restructuring the centre into Centres of Excellence model with each centre owning a tech horizontal and engaged on multiple products in that area.