Business success nowadays often relies on rapid-paced development and deployment of enterprise software, as well as consumer-grade apps and services for customers and employees. These software solutions are costly and time-consuming to create, and are burdensome to maintain and upgrade.
Platform as a Service is a cloud-based approach to these challenges that can significantly reduce those costs. A third-party PaaS platform can eliminate the need for organizations and DevOps teams to worry about servers, operating systems, software updates, storage, and security.
Two types of PaaS
- Public PaaS delivers services over the internet to paying customers. Products and providers in this space include Microsoft Azure, Engine Yard, Cloud Foundry, and Google App Engine.
- Enterprise PaaS is an on-prem service provided by an organization, using its own servers, middleware, networking, and security to deliver platform tools and resources to developers, partners, and customers. Vendors include Apprenda, Pivotal, and Red Hat OpenShift.
Examples of three PaaS use cases
PaaS can be used in almost any industry to accelerate software releases and iterations. Companies like Netflix and Google, among others, pioneered PaaS to create flexible, cost effective, and scalable approaches to software development.
As more companies embrace digital solutions to improve business outcomes, they often choose PaaS models. Below are three companies that switched to PaaS models and are reaping the rewards.
Allstate: PaaS for roadside assistance
In 2015, the insurance giant Allstate launched the Good Hands Rescue Network to speed up roadside assistance for stranded motorists. Good Hands is a crowd-sourced network, accessed via mobile or app, that can summon independent contractors for a tire change, fuel delivery, jumpstarts, lockouts, or other minor roadside assistance, usually in fewer than 30 minutes.
Allstate built and maintains the Good Hands network on its own PaaS infrastructure. It works across iOS and Android operating systems, and includes a virtual assistant that uses natural language processing and text message processing to summon help. In a Forbes interview, Suren Gupta, Allstate’s executive vice president of technology and strategic ventures, describes a new “Talk, Tap, Text” model of customer service. It’s part of the company’s initiative to develop digital products using continuous software integration and delivery.
With Good Hands, Allstate is able to source reliable operators for non-tow services that make up half of all roadside assistance requests. This frees up traditional rescue crews to focus on more critical assistance.
Fidelity International: Goodbye to ‘supertanker’ app releases
Agile, cloud-based software delivery is crucial to modern banking organizations. In 2013, to advance its cloud delivery strategy, Fidelity International shifted work to a PaaS. According to a Cloud Foundry case study of the project, the new DevOps model has allowed Fidelity, using Cloud Foundry’s open source application platform, to operate, manage, and update more than 45 applications across its PaaS.
Fidelity’s DevOps teams can now handle new product releases and software iteration rapidly, doing away with what Emma Hammond, head of Global PaaS Platform at Fidelity, calls its old “supertanker” application releases. Not only can Fidelity deliver software more quickly and securely, it can also upgrade it during normal business hours, without interrupting its services.
“We’re encouraging our business to see that small changes, done frequently and safely at low cost, is where all the action is,” Hammond said in the case study.
Bosch: PaaS for IoT
The number of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to reach 41.6 billion by 2025, according to IDC. Bosch is a German engineering and technology conglomerate that produces about four million IoT sensors a day. Bosch knows the biggest challenge to connecting them is the array of incompatible standards and protocols.
According to Bosch, the company developed the Bosch IoT Suite, based on Cloud Foundry, to offer protocols for partners looking to quickly build and implement new IoT products and solutions. Bosch made the system available as a PaaS to partners and developers. It is now a key part of the Bosch IoT Cloud, which speeds up releases, increases security, and reduces the complexity of IoT apps.
Today, Bosch and its partners use its PaaS model to create IoT applications for the automotive, manufacturing, energy, and construction industries. With six million devices already connected to its system, Bosch’s PaaS is helping deliver applications that detect safe driving (to enable insurance rebates), free parking spots (for mobile-enabled driver apps), and smart-home devices for lighting, heating, and doorbells that can be accessed remotely from any device by a mobile device.
Stefan Ferber, vice president of engineering at Bosch Software Innovations, said in a case study by cloud services company Altoros that Bosch’s software services break down the Bosch IoT Suite “into easily reusable microservices that cater precisely to IoT developers’ requirements.” The result is accelerated software development and time-to-market cycles for new products.