Throughout history, decentralization of systems has always resulted in more robust and agile mechanisms. Whether the organization of large empires or mutually beneficial trading relationships, decentralized systems have successfully multiplied the impact of resources while retaining the ability to adapt to stresses without major structural change.
In recent centuries, the economies of scale prompted a move to integrated systems that produced large volumes of products at low purchase prices to consumers. However, certain advantages of distributed systems were lost or compromised in the process. As we enter the age of AI, machine learning, and IoT-enabled digital transformation, we have the unique opportunity to meld the greatest advantages of both into one powerful, agile, and highly productive approach.
Platform as a Service (PaaS), also called application platform as a service or platform-based service, is a category of cloud computing services. It provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app.
PaaS solutions and services support your development capabilities, which help you extend, integrate, and build innovative applications in less time. In effect, these solutions provide a significantly higher level of capability and agility than legacy infrastructure – without the hassle of maintaining, authenticating, and patching servers and other traditional hardware. PaaS expands possibilities through the incorporation of workflows, APIs, programming languages, development and deployment tools, as well as database capabilities, among other powerful features.
Apps and software-based solutions are rightly regarded as some of the most dramatic enhancements in productivity, process integration, and service-level enhancements. The immense distributed and interactive intelligence they enable is a game-changer for our civilization, let alone individual business models. The PaaS model ushers in a new era of centralized resources, multiplied dramatically by distributed and synergistic systems.
A striking new way to organize digital systems and interfaces
Legacy models for the development of apps required servers, software, data security, and multiple software dependencies – with continual updates – and complex hardware systems requiring ongoing structured maintenance, as well as considerable financial investment. Any infrastructure incorporated into this system was prone to becoming outdated and even obsolete quite rapidly. PaaS, on the other hand, can deliver click-and-code solutions through the use of cloud-based tools, servers, and programming environments, enabling apps to be rapidly developed and hosted with very low upfront costs.
As a solution, PaaS is focused on providing the tools and technologies to create an intelligent enterprise that allows a connected user to orchestrate the entire business and all its functions from a single device. It sets the user free from the dependence of static and stationary infrastructure, allowing information to talk and share its “stories,” rationalizing the business process. PaaS empowers intelligent technologies that are predictive rather than reactive, setting enabling operational excellence and underpinning real-time enterprise mobility in the field.
Integrating functions more economically, fast, and secure
Danish company Vestas Wind Systems, a seller, operator, and servicing provider for wind turbines, provides a dramatic case in point. The company now conducts its complex maintenance tasks with the help of administrative processes that primarily use mobile devices. The entire process integration required no complex redevelopment work and provides field workers real-time access to all relevant enterprise data. PaaS empowered the company to improve compliance, optimizing productivity and integration of processes in a backend-agnostic fashion.
Herfy, Saudi Arabia’s premier fast food chain, has built on a PaaS solution to provide native iOS apps that enable its customers to order their burgers and fries using an app. Oman-based OTE Group, with business interests that span from the automotive industry to home appliances, is making PaaS a central initiative in its digital transformation, using the technology to allow its staff to access enterprise IT infrastructure from their mobile phones. In yet another transformative initiative, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology has enabled online access for several campus facilities and services using PaaS.
Creating synergies and an empowered business ecosystem
PaaS is a generator of mutually beneficial partnerships through enhanced optionality and agility. SAP recently introduced a new consumption plan for customers enabling a future where customer transactions are seamless and where our customers aren’t just happier – they’re better and more competitive than ever before.
What customers truly value with this plan is the amount of flexibility it provides to their development teams to support the rapid changes required by the business. The IT and development teams can test the latest technologies – blockchain, machine learning, and AI – in their test and development systems with zero cost.
To help customers leverage these new technologies and solutions, the SAP Co-Innovation Lab provides project-based co-innovation to enhance the capabilities and knowledge of our customers and partners. Co-innovation is one of our major commitments, because it is the most effective way to demonstrate how we can deliver true business outcomes.
One critical component of a PaaS is a mobility platform. The mobility platform simplifies the development, configuration, and ability to manage multiple applications. This is achieved by providing a collection of tools and services, such as SDKs for Apple and Android, that empower developers to rapidly build world-class enterprise apps that run anywhere, anytime on any device.
All good PaaS providers will also typically provide an associated app center. An app center is a digital, enterprise marketplace where customers can discover, try, buy, manage, and deploy trusted applications that have been built using the tools and services from the PaaS provider. Most app centers will allow customers to discover information about solutions and services, read user reviews, look up certifications, and start conversations with various partners and developers.
This provides businesses that adopt this approach with a strategic advantage over their competitors to deploy solutions far more economically at a pace significantly faster than traditional approaches.
For further information and insights regarding the powerful capabilities and possibilities that PaaS technology can enable, please visit SAP Cloud Platform.