A new study by the IBM Center for Applied Insights found that the need to streamline new application development is driving demand for a form of cloud computing known as Platform as a Service (PaaS). In response, IBM is today announcing the general availability of a new PaaS offering for the fourth quarter to help organizations build and deploy their own software applications quickly and effectively by renting IBM's PaaS cloud computing platform of integrated middleware, monitoring, networks, servers and storage.
IBM's survey of more than 1,500 IT decision makers from 18 countries found that forward looking IT leaders are blazing the trail with early adoption of PaaS for business advantage – citing big data as the #1 reason amongst several strategic initiatives they were targeting. The study also showed that nearly 20 percent of respondents are currently using PaaS, although more than half recognize the opportunity.
Business and technology leaders are beginning to seek out this new type of cloud computing to keep computing costs low and to expedite delivery of new products and services. Unlike other cloud computing services, such as Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service, PaaS uniquely offers a foundation of common application services, tools and templates for businesses to rent and build their own powerful software applications quickly and deploy them into an automated environment.
"Just as auto makers have used common platforms or chassis to manufacture their lines of cars more efficiently, PaaS allows organizations to standardize their IT platform and quickly introduce new competitive offerings," said Erich Clementi, senior vice president of IBM Global Technology Services. "IBM is focused on industrializing this cloud platform to drive business innovation around key enterprise applications."
IBM's new PaaS cloud offering, SmartCloud Application Services, provides self-service, instant access to an application development suite of tools, middleware and databases, available via pattern-based technology.
The study found that 49 percent of IT decision-makers see the strategic importance of PaaS as a way to drive innovation and improve the whole application lifecycle across the enterprise. They are now contemplating using PaaS as a pragmatic approach to future expansion. They believe PaaS can drive greater differentiation and strategic impact for a business, by standardizing efforts for development, deployment, production and maintenance.
Client Pioneers for PaaS
The study identified a group of early adopting PaaS "Pioneers" (comprised 16 percent of the survey respondents) who saw the strategic benefits of PaaS as a way to innovate. The research showed the more strategic the benefit, the greater separation between the Pioneers and the rest of the respondents.
According to Pioneers, access to tested "patterns," which leverage both human expertise and data to create a template for complex tasks common to many development efforts, differentiates the unique value of PaaS from other cloud alternatives. Two pioneers include CLD Partners, a custom software development shop based in Virginia, and Haddon Hill Group (HHG), a systems integrator based in California.
These companies use PaaS to set up new testing environments and add users in a matter of minutes. These time savings, along with PaaS's pay-as-you-go subscription model, have helped PaaS pioneers drive down their overall development costs.
"One of the most important benefits of PaaS is the ability to use patterns. They give us tested templates for jumpstarting specific applications very quickly with all the favorable attributes of the cloud," said George Knoll, general manager of HHG. "If you are a financial services company that needs a mobile application for customers to look up savings portfolio details, you don't want to start from scratch. PaaS patterns give you a set of rich tools to build the mobile application very quickly without worrying about big technology investments."
"We're a small business now capable of offering a flexible platform that can readily adapt to meet the shifting demands of the software development industry," said Steve Clune, CEO of CLD Partners. "We're confident that, as a PaaS pioneer, we're now more equipped to keep pace with our most aggressive future development plans."
Study's Key Findings
Pioneers ranked the primary drivers for their PaaS journey, which include: data management, integration and analysis, efficiency, and resiliency. Key findings include:
- Among Pioneers, 52 percent are driving towards application integration and better data management.
- The current and planned usage rate for Pioneers is three times higher for analytics than other respondents.
- Pioneers were almost twice as likely to identify pattern-related qualities, such as portable, standardized, and repeatable, as highly valuable compared with the rest of the respondents.
While cloud adopters have concerns like security and ROI, the PaaS pioneers have overcome their hesitations and are now most concerned about performance and service quality. In that vein, nearly half of Pioneers noted they have used application outsourcing, a rate of 70 percent higher than the rest of the respondents combined and their usage rate for public cloud development environments is almost six times greater.
"This study is one of the first deep dives into what arguably is considered the least understood area of cloud computing," said Kevin Thompson, manager at the IBM Center for Applied Insights. "The major finding is that these cloud Pioneers have a greater comfort level with the cloud concept and depend on its repeatable and standardized best practices to focus greater efforts at the application level driving business innovation."
The study recommended that business leaders unlock the power of PaaS by differentiating the way applications are created, developed and managed. IT leaders can work with a skilled partner to identify best practices and expertise, and harvest repeatable patterns to be leveraged across the cloud platform.
IBM Launches Its Cloud Platform as a Service, IBM SmartCloud Application Services
As part of SmartCloud Application Services, IBM has built expertise into a set of common services and pre-integrated patterns, which accelerate the development and delivery of new applications, eliminate manual errors, and drive consistent results. These application patterns are deployable into a public cloud with IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, or a private cloud with the IBM PureApplication System or via IBM Workload Deployer. Because no two applications' requirements are the same, these customizable and portable patterns give clients flexibility and control over their application deployment.
To access the IBM PaaS research report, visit www.ibm.com/cai/paas
About the IBM Center for Applied Insights
The IBM Center for Applied Insights at http://www.ibm.com/smarter/cai/value introduces new ways of thinking, working and leading. Through evidence-based research, the Center arms leaders with pragmatic guidance and the case for change.
About IBM Cloud Computing
IBM has helped thousands of clients adopt cloud models and manages millions of cloud-based transactions every day. With cloud, IBM helps clients rethink their IT and reinvent their business. IBM assists clients in areas as diverse as banking, communications, healthcare and government to build their own clouds or securely tap into IBM cloud-based business and infrastructure services. IBM is unique in bringing together key cloud technologies, deep process knowledge, a broad portfolio of cloud solutions, and a network of global delivery centers. For more information about cloud offerings from IBM, visit http://www.ibm.com/smartcloud. Follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ibmcloud and on our blog at http://www.thoughtsoncloud.com.
 The study's 49 percent total comprises 16 percent of "Pioneers" (who have adopted PaaS and see its potential as a way to drive innovation and improve the whole application lifecycle across the enterprise) and 33 percent "Experimenters" (who are using PaaS and are taking a pragmatic approach to future expansion).
 CLD Partners and HHG were not affiliated with IBM's PaaS study. Their comments reflect their views as independent PaaS pioneers.
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