As acceptance of platform as a service (PaaS) cloud services continues to accelerate, companies are increasingly free to bypass underlying in-house IT infrastructure and OS requirements, focusing instead on the type of services required and service level agreements (SLA). And that spells the beginning of the end of having to deal with the cost and hassles of complex middleware.
PaaS radically changes the picture from a development standpoint. Typically, middleware solutions focus on a specific runtime behavior, such as running an application within an application server, running processes or working with rule engines. Some of the providers go as far as delivering a set of tools or plug-ins that make the development of solutions for that runtime easier.
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This is good from a vendor's perspective, but is this truly satisfying from a developer's standpoint? Developers are using a myriad of runtimes that have to properly integrate with each other. Yet, software has to be developed, tested and validated. Middleware vendors never help with those critical steps. So development teams resort to using specialized tool vendors for solutions as diverse as continuous integration, static code analysis, code repositories, bug trackers and binary artifact repositories.
To do their jobs properly, development teams are forced to have a relationship with at least a dozen vendors to provide the complete workbench they need. The development teams then spend a significant amount of time and resources building, maintaining and extending their environment, all of which comes at the expense of building software and creating value for the company.
PaaS, on the other hand, is all about providing a service that will allow developers to create and run applications without having to care about the infrastructure and operational aspects of maintaining it.
IT can hold a completely different role in this setup. They won't be involved in building the infrastructure required to operate the application and they are not going to be monitoring, maintaining and patching the stack. Plus, they don't have to be concerned with delivering top-notch Java clustering, and setting up firewalls, databases and load-balancers, among other things.
IT can leave those issues to the PaaS vendor. As such, PaaS becomes the new and reliable engine developers will use to get their environments setup and responsible for provisioning, managing, monitoring, patching and evolving that environment.
And don't forget the "S" in "PaaS." PaaS is more than just a set of well-orchestrated software processes. PaaS providers now act as the new support organization developers rely on when things don't happen as expected. From an IT operations standpoint, PaaS acts as a major friction-killer between IT and development. Infrastructure and operational aspects are now owned by the PaaS provider and are delivered to the developer as higher-level concepts, such as "create an application" vs. "give me an application server" on a set of standardized notions. Obviously, this helps to significantly reduce friction.
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