Platform (PaaS) , not Infrastruture (IaaS), as a Service

Jonathon Feldman wrote in February “Why IaaS Won’t Happen in Most Enterprises“.   He makes the argument that departmental business needs will drive spending on Platform as a Service provisioning.   The argument is a solid one that Konduit has been using to satisfy end-user needs for over ten years.

Like software application development tool vendors, most PaaS providers rely upon a following of application developers to train and certify in their technology, all at significant time and dollar investment.  If they attract enough followers, then major tool vendors eye them for acquisition, which is followed by migration or deprecation, leaving customers to start over again.

When PaaS licensing is combined with application development services so that customers are not left with unsupported mash ups, we call that Support.  The development, deployment, and support of applications written using Konduit’s Transaction Editor Platform as a Service stays within the control of Konduit engineers.  A customer’s subject matter experts remain in control of the work flow and practices that define the software’s functionality, without having to understand the mechanics underlying the computer logic, security, reliability, or presentation methodologies.  They just get to use it and share it as needed.  In essence, Support as a Service, provides infrastructure, platform, and services to the end-user without requiring their understanding of the technology.  Unfortunately the acronym SaaS has already been taken.  Please comment with your ideas for a new acronym for Support as a Service.

 

Cloud Economies of Scale – Not!

Over the past five years, software vendors have been moving their customer-premise offerings to cloud services.  The cost of software license fees are added to costs for hardware, network, and security infrastructure.  Millions of dollars are being invested in putting packaged software in the cloud so customers can expense rather than amortize their information technology purchases.  Like the record industry, vendors create bundles (i.e. albums) in order to stack less-used features with their core features.  Monthly subscription service rates are calculated like lease agreements, so accountants can depreciate these investments.  The assumption is that economies of scale apply to technology.

These investments ignore the fact that technology is distributing workloads, not consolidating them. The Internet of Things is adding points of input.  Arrays of commodity smartphone components continue to replace multi-million dollar engineered products from digital microscopes  to satellites and cable TV.  The Internet is still made up of mostly personal computer technology all wired together.  Blade server technology uses a distributed design to imbue redundancy, and thereby reliability, into their products.  Distributed computing is the only possible way to solve the most difficult problems.   Unfortunately, software design has not kept pace.

 

The act of creating “packaged” or “common off-the-shelf” (aka “COTS”) software products requires accommodating the needs of a diverse set of users.  This results in a small (20%) subset of features that remain useful for any particular group of users, while the majority of features (80%) remain unused. Custom software, by contrast,  contains only those features that users deem useful.

 

The development and support of custom software requires knowledge of how business processes operate.  Small enterprises that cannot afford a full-time programmer or have difficulty retaining staff due to volatile business cycles, need a software solution that applies common computing principals while remaining flexible in the data elements it can handle.  Spending millions of dollars customizing an enterprise package is out of reach for most small enterprises.  (Large enterprises just waste a lot of time pretending to use more features.)

 

Most small enterprises rely upon spreadsheets and word processors to digitize their paper document world.  Vendors reply with file-based solutions to help them “organize” their digitized documents.  Few vendors offer structured data solutions that enable searching, sorting, and sharing of the transactional details of documents.  Companies that combine the ease of use of a spreadsheet with the accountability of a database using a common business process methodology can solve this problem.   A common business process methodology enables Konduit.com to highly customize web-based applications for each client, while retaining a secure, cost-effective operational environment.

 

Scalability of the cloud is not achieved by moving bloated software to mainframe hardware.  Cloud scalability is achieved by distributing only “needed” features and applying a common business process to a unique set of data items. This allows software and hardware to be shared while content remains specific and relevant.

 

What is a database service?

Database as a Service (DBaaS) may sound like a service business, but really its just another specialized Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The CTO Vision article on DBaaS talks about hosting a database management system, but not hosting the application itself. Specifically, the author states “I believe that the reason for the draw is that databases, while critical to your applications, are generally a bit difficult to configure, scale and operate correctly. When presented with the opportunity to off-load that work to a provider, developers jump at the chance.” Developers seek help with databases because they were taught little in school about them and their experience becomes clouded by the many misperceptions about relational databases best described by Fabian Pascal. A good starter article is “Data Management’s Misconceptions” by Joab Jackson.

A software application that relies on mash-ups of packaged products without professional services to clarify and organize the meaning of data is, well, meaning-LESS. Database management systems and programming languages cannot, by themselves, provide the meaning, integrity, and consistency that gives an application purpose and usefulness. Some ONE needs to be facilitating the discussion of what functionality is needed, and to clarify what the nouns and verbs used to describe a business process mean. Without this clarity of purpose, any software application will eventually be doomed.

Konduit.com combines the professional services needed with a process framework that accelerates the iterative cycle of process adaptation to empower young businesses with a virtual “IT Department” where none exists. This service is delivered over an encrypted connection on the Internet, requires little upfront cost, no contracts, and a predictable recurring monthly fee structured to reflect the complexity of the application delivered.

The term “database” is filled with mystery, but in reality it’s just about communication and logical organization, something every business needs in order to thrive. The more organized your business information is, the greater chance you will have to settle misunderstandings with your customers and vendors. If you can audit the history of data changes, you can identify and remedy mistakes and know who needs more training.  Database management systems provide a critical part of what is needed.  Information technology is more than hardware and software as commodities. Information technology requires people who understand your business and can rapidly adapt your software-based process automations to changes in the marketplace or operations.  To be effective, a software developer must understand how to use a database management system in the context of a business process automation application.

This is why companies are still afraid of the cloud

This is why companies are still afraid of the cloud

 

On April 25, a systems administrator was sentenced to 33 months in prison for intentionally causing damage to a protected computer. Jonathan Hartwell Wolberg of Tucson, Ariz., will end his prison term with 36 months of supervised release for sabotaging his former employer’s cloud computing server.
According to court documents, Wolberg had worked as a systems administrator for “Company A,” a cloud provider headquartered in Virginia. After resigning, Wolberg continued to enter the Company A cloud to damage its servers, its reputation, and its business. This included shutting down “key data servers,” including those supporting hospitals. As a result, Wolberg caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
This is the kind of story that scares — or is used to scare — IT organizations about the cloud. After all, core to the cloud-client relationship is your trust in the client provider to keep hackers away from the systems carrying your data and running your services.
Wolberg committed the crime, but Company A made it all too easy for him to do so.
They’re rare exceptions, fortunately, especially at the major cloud providers.
That said, it’s a good idea to ask your cloud provider a lot of questions, especially if it’s a smaller provider. In some cases, a premigration security audit is in order. The provider should be receptive to such validation requests — an enterprise looking to use its cloud could result in a business relationship that lasts for years.

Read the full story at InfoWorld.com