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Platform as a Service: The IBM point of view (Livre Blanc en anglais)


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Defining Platform as a ServiceThe consumer view of PaaS
The official definition of Platform as a Service (PaaS) from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) states the following:

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Platform as a Service: The IBM point of view (Livre Blanc en anglais)

  1. 1. IBM Software Technical White Paper WebSphere Platform as a Service: The IBM point of view Don Boulia Vice President Strategy, IBM WebSphere and Private Cloud Contents 1 Defining Platform as a Service 2 The IBM view of PaaS 6 IBM offerings 7 Summary 7 For more information Defining Platform as a Service The consumer view of PaaS The official definition of Platform as a Service (PaaS) from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) states the following: Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or -acquired applications created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly application hosting environment configurations.1 This definition focuses on the consumer view of PaaS in which the pro- vider dictates everything underneath the application layer, including the underlying platform and infrastructure. What is notable about the definition is what it does not include. There is no statement about the details of multi-tenancy in the application, or how the application does (or does not) make use of elastic resources. There is also no requirement that the provider supply special, cloud-only tools to build applications. In fact, the notion of an application lifecycle is not mentioned, allowing the possibility that no development or operational tools are provided at all. Finally, there is no mention of the type of cloud
  2. 2. 2 Technical White Paper WebSphereIBM Software infrastructure, whether it is private or public, and no mention of the details of the compute infrastructure that is used to power the cloud. The industry view of PaaS Many IT vendors, analysts and industry pundits have placed artificial restrictions on the definition of PaaS, such as require- ments for special tools and operational characteristics, public- cloud-only implementations, specific levels of multi-tenancy and elasticity, or classifying only certain types of applications as being able to run on a PaaS. While each of these restrictions provides a convenient simplify- ing assumption for the vendor or analyst, entire classes of viable cloud Platform as a Service implementations are left out of the mix. The effort to define PaaS as the “next big thing” tends to discount cloud-enabled existing software platforms from quali- fying as PaaS environments. The “cloud-native” view of PaaS The desire to make PaaS something completely new causes some vendors to focus only on green-field applications that are written specifically to take advantage of popular cloud capabilities. These so-called “cloud-native” applications typi- cally exhibit specific types of multi-tenancy or make use of automatic, elastic scaling of resources. They often include integrated development and operational lifecycle tools as part of the platform services. While these kinds of applications are very interesting (and do need to be supported in the overall def- inition of a PaaS), the assumption that all types of applications must be modeled this way is false. Furthermore, the assumption that any platform supporting applications that are not “cloud native” cannot be a PaaS is equally false. The service provider view of PaaS Notably absent from most definitions of PaaS is the view from the provider or operator perspective. Too often, the assumption is that the service provider will be some external public cloud entity. However, the truth is that many established enterprises are interested in building and maintaining private Platform as a Service implementations, becoming service providers for various lines of business within their enterprise. While the consumers of a PaaS need not worry themselves with the plat- form middleware and hardware infrastructure, the providers do need to understand these details. How do providers map their existing enterprise standards to their emerging PaaS strategy? Will their existing enterprise applications be able to move to a PaaS? How do they leverage existing hardware and software, and what new hardware or software must be purchased? How does their PaaS implementation relate to other enterprise strategies surrounding cloud (private, hybrid and public)? This paper attempts to clarify the definition of PaaS, the implementation of PaaS technologies, and key considerations for evaluating PaaS capabilities. The IBM view of PaaS IBM supports the definition of Platform as a Service as described by NIST. As a supplier of hardware, middleware and hosted services, IBM leaders are very aware of the wide variety of client application needs that must be handled in a cloud platform. As a result, IBM uses a broad definition of “application” to encompass any client assets that use platform middleware; this includes online applications, batch processes, business processes, business events, web services, integration technologies or application lifecycle management. IBM leaders also recognize that enterprises are often both consumers of and providers of platform services. A complete view of Platform as a Service must address a spectrum of application needs and must answer key questions from both a consumer and a service- provider perspective. PaaS capabilities While it would be ideal to define a single set of capabilities and declare it as “the” Platform as a Service, the diversity of application needs makes this impractical. Factors such as
  3. 3. 3 Technical White Paper WebSphereIBM Software industry regulations and standards, service levels and quality of service, programming language and development tools are just a few of the considerations that can lead to widely different platform implementations. When consumers choose (or when providers implement) a PaaS environment, they make a series of decisions that will ultimately affect the capabilities that are exposed in the PaaS. IBM has categorized these platform considerations into three areas: 1. IT environment factors 2. Platform operational factors 3. Business environment factors IT environment factors Most corporations have an existing set of IT requirements that affect their choice of platform. These could be driven by adherence to corporate standards, skills with specific develop- ment environments and languages, processes formed around operational tools, or compatibility with other systems. These decisions are still very relevant in a cloud environment; if the platforms available do not meet these requirements, adoption of PaaS within the organization can be delayed or prevented. Platform operational factors The operational capabilities exposed by the platform can vary widely depending on the needs of the applications. Features such as multi-tenancy, availability, security, elasticity and performance fall into this category. Existing applications being enabled for the cloud may require specific security or availabil- ity characteristics, but have no need for multi-tenancy and elas- ticity. Conversely, cloud-native applications may not require the same features for reliability and availability but expect the platform to implement high levels of multi-tenancy and elastic- ity. The optimal combination of operational factors will vary based upon the types of applications the PaaS must support. Business environment factors The business environment can have a dramatic effect on plat- form requirements. Industry regulations, standards, country specific legal restrictions and partner relationships can generate very different platform requirements. Unique PaaS implemen- tations will exist to accommodate industry and business requirements. Leaders at IBM believe that a variety of PaaS types will emerge to support different types of applications. Furthermore, a single enterprise is likely to have multiple instances of PaaS as it develops a strategy to optimize for characteristics such as test as opposed to production, and application needs that vary by line of business. Application types Although this paper has stated that the needs of PaaS consum- ers can vary widely based on the types of applications being deployed on the platform, IBM leaders do see trends within the types of platform patterns being created by providers. Broadly speaking, PaaS support can be broken down into two distinct categories: 1. Cloud-enabled applications—An emphasis on deploying existing applications in a cloud environment 2. Cloud-native applications—An emphasis on creating new applications built for the cloud Cloud-enabled applications These are existing applications originally designed for a pre-cloud environment. The application architecture often dictates a specific set of platform requirements, such as operat- ing systems, versions of middleware, and supporting code libraries. Typically, changes to these elements are tightly controlled. Features such as application level multi-tenancy and elasticity are not present in these architectures typically. However, there is still value in moving these applications to
  4. 4. 4 Technical White Paper WebSphereIBM Software a cloud environment in order to leverage pooled resources, automated deployment, common management of platform/ infrastructure services, and cloud-based application lifecycle management. In addition, leveraging PaaS for development and maintenance of existing enterprise application can have tremendous benefits and is one of the cornerstones of the IBM DevOps strategy wherein efficiencies are gained through- out the application lifecycle. Moving these applications to a cloud platform is a good first step towards standardizing on a common set of cloud platform services that span development, runtime and management services. Most of today’s existing enterprise applications will fall into the cloud-enabled category. As such, most private cloud platform activities within an enterprise have a strong focus on supporting cloud-enabled applications. The team at IBM expects this mix to change over time as enterprise leaders evaluate cloud-native applications for new development projects. In the future, both types of applications will exist in an enterprise environment, creating the need for enterprise providers to deliver multiple platforms to serve both types of consumers. Cloud-native applications These are applications created in the era of cloud, with an expectation of leveraging cloud capabilities such as multi- tenancy and elasticity to lower the costs of operating the appli- cation in a cloud environment. Support for new and emerging programming models and tools are popular requirements in cloud-native applications. Common examples of cloud-native features include support for NoSQL databases and program- ming support for scripting languages as opposed to compiled languages. A focus on iterative development, integrated development and operations capabilities and frequent updates to the entire platform stack are also common in these environments. Application owners typically accept a lower level of control over platform software updates and upgrades in cloud-native environments. Applications built on these cloud-native platforms often focus on engaging the user in a multi-channel experience, featuring a strong emphasis on mobile, social and big data concerns. Many Software as a Service (SaaS) applications can be catego- rized as cloud-native due to the needs of their business model. A SaaS implementation leverages cloud to manage platform and infrastructure costs; as client volume increases, the cost to run and manage the platform must remain stable or must decline. Built-in multi-tenancy and elasticity features in the PaaS become critical components for these applications. Implementing a PaaS IBM leaders believe that there will be many different instances of PaaS, each exposing a unique selection of capabilities based on IT, operational and business considerations. Even within a single enterprise there is a very good chance that multiple different PaaS instances will emerge. For example, consider a development and test environment as opposed to a production environment. The former might have minimal requirements on performance or availability, allowing for an implementation on less-expensive hardware. In contrast, a production environment will likely have strict requirements on performance, availability and reliability in order to guarantee that applications stay up and running. While a company could choose to run all of these applications in the same PaaS instance, IBM leaders believe that most companies will prefer to use or create different platform instances to optimize capabilities and cost. Software patterns For those implementing a PaaS, IBM has developed an approach to delivering platform capabilities while allowing pro- viders to choose their own unique blend of IT, operational and business factors. The team at IBM refers to this combination of capabilities as a software pattern. At its core, a software pattern specifies an instance of a software platform, including the
  5. 5. 5 Technical White Paper WebSphereIBM Software capabilities and operational characteristics that platform will have. IBM provides you with tools for building these patterns and provides environments for deploying and managing pat- terns. Using these techniques, service providers can specify what is in their platform, what it supports and how it operates. Furthermore, once a pattern is defined it can be used over and over again to instantiate PaaS capabilities as required. Portability A common problem for consumers of a PaaS is being “locked in” to only one PaaS instance or provider. What happens if your needs change in the future and you want to move to another cloud? What if you want to run your applications in more than one cloud? Software patterns provide portability throughout cloud envi- ronments by capturing the platform characteristics independently of the infrastructure. This allows the same pattern to be deployed throughout multiple infrastructures. When a deployment envi- ronment exists that can instantiate software patterns, a PaaS can be created in that cloud. Multi-cloud scenarios Software patterns open up deployment options for providers, making it possible to create and recreate proven PaaS instances in multiple clouds. Consider these scenarios: ●● New projects could start in the public cloud during the pilot phase, and then move to a private PaaS instance when the project becomes permanent. ●● The production PaaS pattern may be used by development and test so that a higher-quality application is deployed into production; management of the test lab becomes about managing the patterns instead of managing the physical infrastructure itself. ●● Development and test PaaS instances could be deployed on less-expensive infrastructure while the production PaaS is instantiated on a highly available infrastructure. The abstraction of platform capabilities in software patterns also allows support for future hybrid or “cloud-bursting” scenarios. Imagine a pattern deployed on private cloud infra- structure with the ability to automatically expand to public infrastructure during peak loads. Business leaders are interested in Platform as a Service because it: Offers greater business agility and flexibility • Gain instant access to resources for development, testing and deployment • Help programmers immediately focus on the business application, not the infrastructure • Deploy upgrades in minutes • Scale automatically with the business • Pay only for what you use and link IT expenses to business growth Reduces costs • Gain efficiencies from shared, standardized infrastructure • Benefit from shared infrastructure staff and administration • Minimize ongoing maintenance expense • Reduce the costs of project start-up • Improve programmer productivity Improves technical support • Standardized infrastructure • Shared infrastructure staff and administration Why IBM for PaaS? One million three hundred thousand business users of enterprise applications are under IBM management. IBM has more than 20 years of experience running mission-critical applications in production environments, and more than 140 countries have operations supporting the management of client applications.
  6. 6. 6 Technical White Paper WebSphereIBM Software IBM offerings PaaS deployment environments The IBM, platform offerings are vehicles for deploying and managing software patterns. These patterns define the platform capabilities that can be deployed to implement a PaaS environ- ment. Patterns can be defined for cloud-enabled or cloud-native use cases and then deployed throughout multiple cloud infra- structures. Today IBM offers three environments that use soft- ware patterns: 1. IBM Workload Deployer 2. IBM® PureApplication™ System 3. IBM SmartCloud™ Application Services Each environment offers a unique set of deployment options for clients who wish to deploy platform services and establish a PaaS environment for their applications. IBM Workload Deployer IBM Workload Deployer is a physical appliance that deploys software patterns in a custom cloud environment. IBM Workload Deployer works with your existing virtualiza- tion and hardware environment such as VMware ESX on x86, IBM PowerVM® on IBM Power Systems™ or IBM System z® z/VM®. Workload Deployer is ideal for deploying software patterns when a private cloud infrastructure has already been established. In addition to deploying software patterns, Workload Deployer includes tools for defining and creating patterns. IBM PureApplication System IBM PureApplication System is an integrated system of hardware and software for establishing cloud-based software patterns. PureApplication System provides a single interface to control the platform and infrastructure elements. This adds further value to the software patterns concept by managing all of the underlying hardware infrastructure components when deploying applications in a private cloud environment. This significantly speeds the time-to-value for application owners by eliminating administration and management at the hardware, virtualization and cloud software layers. PureApplication System is also a consolidation platform with capacity to support multiple PaaS instances hosting a variety of enterprise applications. Software patterns IBM delivers common pattern technologies to help clients to deploy their own instances of PaaS. This is necessary to support private cloud environments in which the client is the platform provider for a user community. Here are a few examples of the software patterns that IBM delivers: ●● Web application patterns ●● Transactional database and DataMart patterns ●● Messaging patterns ●● Business process management ●● Portal and content management In addition, IBM has worked with the independent software vendor (ISV) community to define common patterns to support key applications that are used by IBM customers. These patterns are listed in the IBM PureSystems™ Centre at PaaS instances IBM also acts as a hosting provider for PaaS capabilities. These platform services are consumed directly from the public cloud.
  7. 7. 7 Technical White Paper WebSphereIBM Software IBM SmartCloud Application Services SmartCloud Application Services is a public cloud PaaS offer- ing. Software patterns that implement a variety of platform services are available in a catalog for use in a “pay as you go” model. IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live IBM WebSphere Cast Iron® Live is a hosted integration plat- form that is used to map and synchronize data between two independent applications. These applications can be hosted Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, or can be private cloud applications running within the enterprise. Summary The Platform as a Service market has lagged the Software as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service segments in customer adoption. The team at IBM believes that a key reason for this is that today’s public cloud implementations of PaaS lack the ability to cover current and new-application use cases simulta- neously. Leaders at many enterprises are interested in becoming service providers for their organizations; they are interested in implementing a private PaaS along with consuming platform services. IBM leadership takes a broader point of view on Platform as a Service, including the service provider and the consumer per- spective, with a definition that can support existing enterprise applications that are moving to the cloud. The IBM team does not believe that choosing a PaaS is a one-size-fits-all experience; the multitude of platform considerations and the differences between cloud-enabled and cloud-native applications illustrate the diversity of options in this space. IBM leaders believe that software patterns are the best way to support clients’ investment in their applications, and to offer new programming models, as IBM clients seek to leverage the efficiencies of the cloud to sup- port cloud-enabled and cloud-native applications. IBM offers products and services that leverage software patterns to meet the needs of platform providers and consumers. For more information To learn more about Platform as a Service strategies, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: Additionally, IBM Global Financing can help you acquire the software capabilities that your business needs in the most cost-effective and strategic way possible. We’ll partner with credit-qualified clients to customize a financing solution to suit your business and development goals, enable effective cash management, and improve your total cost of ownership. Fund your critical IT investment and propel your business forward with IBM Global Financing. For more information, visit:
  8. 8. © Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America September 2012 IBM, the IBM logo,, WebSphere, PureApplication, PureSystems, IBM SmartCloud, System z, z/VM, Power Systems, and PowerVM are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at Other company, product or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. 1 Cloud Computing Synopsis and Recommendations, NIST Special Publication 800-146, May 2012 WSW14197-USEN-00 Please Recycle