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Software Flexibility in the Cloud - Part 4 of 5

Week 4: Platform as a Service

In my last post, I began dissecting cloud computing into its three primary components: infrastructure last week, platform this week and software as a service next week.

Platform as a service (PaaS) refers to the tools used to build software applications (software programs) in the cloud. Think of it as a cloud-based development environment for building and managing software applications. These custom-built applications are then hosted on infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

For example, whereas Microsoft .Net is a traditional type of development platform, a product like WorkXpress is a cloud-based development platform designed to accomplish similar goals. When you work in .Net, you are responsible for all the aspects of installing, managing and updating your tool set, the hardware it runs on, where it's deployed. When you work in PaaS, all of the management requirements are handled for you or are greatly simplified, leaving you free to simply build your application.

When considering PaaS offerings, it is important to understand that a range of key characteristics distinguishes them.

The first characteristic has to do with the knowledge required to use the platform. Some leverage a traditional development language and require a software developer. Others offer tools that can be used with a much lighter technical background by, for example, someone who is good with spreadsheets.

The second characteristic has to do with where the final application can be deployed. Some require deployment on a vendor's infrastructure, whereas others allow you to deploy applications on your own "private cloud" infrastructure (basically, on your own servers).

The final characteristic has to do with the degree of pre-built functionality you can leverage. Some tools have a lot of pre-built applications that you can run with, whereas others always require you to start from scratch.

There are, of course, many other distinguishing features and characteristics, but these three represent the most important.

If chosen well, PaaS can transform your organization. Businesses today are saving material amounts of money in software development costs while also deploying automation throughout their business to a degree they couldn't imagine just months ago. And they're doing it in record time. PaaS tools empower your organization to no longer be held back by technology, but rather to be enabled by it. It frees your team to imagine in the perfect world how they would like to leverage software to automate business operations without having to dwell on the possibilities or costs.

This was posted originally on the Central Penn Business Journal Gadget Cube.

More Stories By Treff LaPlante

Treff LaPlante has been involved with technology for nearly 20 years. At WorkXpress, he passionately drives the vision of making customized enterprise software easy, fast, and affordable.

Prior to joining WorkXpress, Treff was director of operations for eBay's HomesDirect. While there, he created strategic relationships with Fortune 500 companies and national broker networks and began his foray into the development of flexible workflow software technologies. He served on the management team that sold HomesDirect to eBay.

During his time at Vivendi-Universal Interactive, Treff was director of strategy. In addition to M&A activities, Treff broadly applied quantitative management principles to sales, marketing, and product line functions. Treff served as the point person for the management team that sold Cendant Software to Vivendi-Universal. Earlier positions included product management and national sales trainer for Energy Design Systems, an engineering software company. Treff began his professional career as a metals trader for Randall Trading Corp, a commodities firm that specialized in bartering and transporting various metals and coal from the then-dissolving Soviet Union.

Treff received his MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. http://www.workxpress.com

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