In an earlier blog on the Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud computing model, I had talked about the four such models. Just as a quick refresher, permit me discuss the same briefly before scrutinizing how a service provider can offer Platform as Service (PaaS) to obtain a competitive advantage. Equally important, of course, and also under the lens is to understand why Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) is taking center stage when it comes to enriching customer communication touch points.
Primary cloud computing models – Introduction
But. First, permit me to list the four cloud computing models:
The primary difference lies in who manages the different components in these models and the advantages and disadvantages extended to the service providers and the user.
Database Operating System
|Infrastructure-as-a-Service||User Manages||Service Provider Manages|
|Platform-as-a-Service||User Manages||Service Provider Manages|
|Software-as-a-Service||Service Provider Manages|
On-premise – When all aspects of the model are managed in-house. In this case, the enterprise usually hires IT specialists to take care of the network, infrastructure management, middleware management, applications availability, etc.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – The cloud provider oversees the management of the infrastructure, storage and networking. The customer deploys and manages the operating system, database, and application etc. as per their requirements on the infrastructure. It is almost like an on-premise deployment, only moving the infrastructure part from data center to the cloud.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – The hardware and required operating system, database etc. all comes from the cloud provider/service provider. The users develop, deploy and manage the applications. Thus, the enterprise requires merely ensuring optimal functioning of the core application part, whilst leaving the rest to the cloud provider/ service provider.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – Users do not require installing or deploying anything on their own. The service provider provides a complete software solution over the internet. All underlying infrastructure, middleware, data and application comes from the service provider, are located on the cloud and is the responsibility of the service provider. The service provider ensures the availability, reliability, scalability and security aspects so as to meet the signed service level agreements. The user requires paying as per the payment model applicable for the service model chosen and start using the software.
You can see, each model has its own set of pros and cons. Opting for one over the other solely depends on what the service provider has on offer and what customers are looking for from the service.
This brief introduction, I believe, is adequate to closely examine the PaaS model and what it can offer both, the service provider and the user.
Platform as a Service – To the rescue of the developers!
In the PaaS model, the service provider provides a framework to the customers’ developers to use their platform capabilities over open APIs and, thereby, help the developers – develop, run and manage the customized applications. The service provider manages the platform and the accompanied complexities, thus significantly reducing the time and effort to develop the application, as the core functionality has already been made available as open APIs. The service provider, however, requires ensuring that increased traffic requirements can be easily accommodated.
In fact, this model is particularly useful for users looking for application development frameworks on the cloud. This leaves them free to focus on other multiple aspects, such as the design, creation and deployment of their applications, building specific logic, preparing and executing a “go-to-market” strategy, et all.
Moving on, permit me to now extend the discussion from PaaS to CPaaS.
Scale the business by enriching customer touch points
In earlier days, custom built applications were designed specifically for a purpose. Simply put, these included calling applications for video and audio calls, chatting applications for chatting, et all. Now, using these different mediums poses the challenge for customers to reach out to these interfaces for interaction. Obviously redundant now, as the need of the hour has transitioned to customers being able to contact an enterprise from the same interface they are surfing or accessing currently. Enterprises, of course, have jumped onto the bandwagon and have simplified how a customer can reach them. The idea, naturally, being to offer an omni-channel, consistent and always-on experience. Clearly, one has come a long way from merely offering a toll-free number on one’s website!
Facilitate the real-time communications in the business applications
Herein lays the usefulness of the CPaaS platform. The idea is to enable enterprises or application developers to add real-time communication capabilities to the applications or channels that they have, instead of building the complete real-time communication stack on their own. The service provider in the backend oversees a myriad of aspects, including, the complex communications protocols, complete calls and chat management capabilities, security aspects, etc. The development is made easier by offering SDKs for different platforms, exposing easy to use APIs accompanied with the extensive product documentation and sample codes to make the most out of the platform capabilities.
According to Gartner – The flexibility of the CPaaS environment, which can be deployed on either a public or private cloud model, means that the market is evolving at an incredible pace.
Get to the speed – Choice is yours!
To sum up, I can confidently state that PaaS is an ideal way for service providers to extend their platform to enterprises for the sheer number of advantages accrued. These include (but aren’t limited to) extending more control and flexibility to build custom applications over the exposed set of open APIs; building customized products at a faster pace; maintaining specific product release cycles; CPaaS extends the same advantages, hiding the complex technologies of real time communications from the developers keeping the contextual communication and user experience at the fore front.
Going forward, this space is certainly poised for a “winner-take-all” situation, where solution providers have their sights firmly set on co-creation and self-service digital engagement. Truly an exciting time, this!