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Three Things to Consider When Evaluating PaaS

John Golke

By John Golke

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As a sales executive in the IT industry for more than 20 years, I’ve seen many successes and failures over the years. One thing I’ve seen time and again that can trip up organizations is not doing enough due diligence during the buying process.

In my current role at Apprenda, I’ve been working with enterprises to help them find success and better understand the value of PaaS. I do all I can to arm organizations with solutions and work with them to get through the buying process smartly.

Here are three major considerations I stress to large organizations evaluating PaaS:

1) Choose your PaaS evaluation team carefully.

When choosing the team to evaluate PaaS, you should include people from development, operations, networking and infrastructure. But here’s the thing: each of these teams all solve problems differently. And no matter how much you want them to play nicely together to evaluate a game-changing product like PaaS, they will bring along what I call “silo baggage.”

For example, developers may be too focused on speed and not leveraging current investments, processes and/or security patterns and governance. Operations may not be accustomed to a new paradigm of PaaS and may be more inclined to explore IaaS solutions to solve bottlenecks in the development process. And DevOps folks bring the baggage of scripting tools that help deploy applications and may not understand how PaaS fits into the picture.

It is important for each PaaS team member to recognize that they probably bring some silo baggage, and it is good to be open and understanding about this. Bring in agile players that are able to both look at the future and leverage today’s investments.

For some tactical guidelines on how to minimize the natural decision-making bias, check out this article from Harvard Business Review. You also might want to read McKinsey’s excellent paper on behavioral biases in strategy decisions.

2) Focus on value, not industry trends.

Far too often, organizations will be wooed by “hot” industry trends instead of looking at the value products can bring to the table now. One area where this resonates in PaaS is the discussion around “open source.” Yes – there is some benefit in open sourced solutions such as a customized code base to fit your needs. But don’t automatically buy into the hype – look at value.

Apprenda CEO Sinclair Schuller has addressed this previously and made some excellent points. For example, when looking at the category of private PaaS, does open source really mean open? To avoid lock in, are you actually locking yourself into specific infrastructure technologies? Why are some companies actively pumping money into open source if they aren’t going to profit from it?

Focus on the real problems at hand and evaluate value on the basis of how you will implement, deploy, and gain cultural adoption of PaaS. Often, the highest-value scenario is a PaaS solution that leverages today’s technology investments but is also a bridge to new development architectures such as microservices.

3) PaaS needs applications to drive value.

Just like the tree falling in the forest, if a PaaS falls in a data center and no one uses it, did it exist? When executives don’t make their teams cross-functional, we have seen that a PaaS may not gain cultural adoption.

Every organization I have worked with at Apprenda wants many existing applications to go on their PaaS. Consider which vendors can bring applications on the platform readily and easily.

JPMorgan Chase, for example, uses Apprenda to manage more than 3,000 existing applications. Apprenda is bringing real value to the company’s existing .NET and Java applications and helping push their innovative culture forward.

Wrapping Up

When evaluating PaaS, these are three areas on which to focus. Yes, you will want to look at generic requirements, but requirements must go deeper than, “Deploy an application and scale it.” It’s important to understand how you will drop a PaaS into your environment and get your teams using it. At Apprenda, we are proud that we not only produce an enterprise-ready PaaS, but that it is also being used in many large-scale deployments, delivering real value to our customers today.

John Golke
John Golke

John Golke is Regional Director and a PaaS evangelist at Apprenda. He leads sales of solutions and services for the Western U.S. and Canada. When not evangelizing the benefits of private PaaS, John enjoys raising four wonderful children and is an avid mountain biker and outdoor enthusiast. Follow him on twitter at @jgolke11.

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  1. Philippe AbdoulayeMay 28, 2015

    Great article John, I love it.

  2. John GolkeMay 28, 2015

    Thanks Philippe – I know the subject is very near to you. Hope all is going well.

  3. Tim BeditzMay 29, 2015

    Could not agree more John. Excellent points that will help ground a company’s approach to a PaaS evaluation.

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