Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

Why Midsize Companies Should Care About PaaS

Oracle recently released the results of the Oracle Cloud Agility study, a survey of 2,263 employees working for large global enterprises. 64% of respondents consider their organization to be agile and 81% stated that the ability to rapidly develop, test, and launch new business applications is either critically important or important to the success of their business. Yet only 32% state that they fully understand what Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is, while 29% admit that they “do not understand it at all”.

Oracle is seeing widespread adoption of PaaS by companies of all sizes, specifically to increase business agility. With apparently widespread lack of understanding of PaaS among large organizations, I thought it made sense to put a midsize lens on the subject.

To that end, I had a conversation with Dain Hansen, Director of Product Marketing in Oracle’s Technology Business Group.

Q: Just What is PaaS?

Hansen: PaaS is simply choosing to run your IT platform as a service for the cloud. Adopting a PaaS strategy provides a commonality of infrastructure for deploying, running, securing, and connecting multiple applications and application development in one place in a cloud environment.

Q: Why Should Midsize Organizations Care About PaaS?

Hansen: The short answer is, “for simplicity and to lower costs”. Cloud was originally designed for running applications—Software as a Service (SaaS). Many of the benefits of PaaS are the same as those associated with SaaS—lower costs, greater agility, and reduced IT complexity.

PaaS is helping small and large companies make better use of the cloud—securing, integrating, mobilizing, and providing analytics on their data. As little as two years ago, an organization would have had to buy and deploy multiple solutions to do all that. As with SaaS, PaaS makes it realistic for smaller organizations to afford and manage technology solutions that in the past may have seemed too expensive or complex.

Q: What Are Some Use Cases for PaaS in Midsize Organizations?

Hansen: A few come to mind.

  • Application Development: Let’s say a midsize nonprofit needs basic donor support capabilities to run a fund raising campaign, including a social media outreach portal where donors can go online to submit their donations securely. The nonprofit also wants to capture donor information. There are many prepackaged donation systems out there but that might be overkill. The nonprofit could choose to develop something in-house using out of the box portal or social media tools. But that would require them to run an entire environment—provision hardware, manage it 24/7, and make sure it doesn’t break because it’s mission critical and every donation counts.

Alternatively, they could use Oracle Application Builder Cloud Service to build those requirements within an Oracle PaaS environment. Or, with Oracle PaaS they could offload all those requirements and responsibilities, leveraging Oracle or Oracle partner resources who know all about best practices and security. Those scenarios apply to just about every business function an organization might require.

  • Extensions and Customizations: The old 80/20 rule is prevalent in the SaaS world. Customers get 80% of what they want out of the box but still need to deliver that other 20% to their end users. In real life, that ratio is often even more lopsided.

For example, we have an Oracle PaaS customer whose business is centered on their partners. They rely heavily on a 3rd party partner relationship management system that required significant customization to meet their needs. They used our Java Cloud Service to build extensions to meet those functional requirements in a cleaner, more manageable way.

With Oracle tools in a PaaS environment, organizations can also customize just a single form or field natively to the app without having to do a potentially more complicated Java extension.

  • Development and Testing: Many organizations outsource this function to Amazon or other providers because they believe that’s the cheapest way to do it. When I discuss this with our Oracle PaaS customers I say, sure, you can test all you want on some kludgy version of a so-called cheaper platform or you can test on Oracle’s enterprise grade platform.

With Oracle, the license is portable so they can do the full production test for mission critical run times. They don’t have to worry about testing on one platform and deploying on another because they’ll have used the same exact version after go live as they did during testing.

Furthermore, our analysis shows that it takes fewer clicks and configuration steps to run our cloud than it does for other providers. It sounds cliché but a lot of customers get seduced by the trend of using a presumably low cost provider when, in reality, the complications of more setup, more overhead, and higher license costs are going to come back and bite them.

  • Compatibility and Integration: The world of one SaaS application is nonexistent. Almost every company that deploys one SaaS application has or will deploy many more, and not always from a single vendor. Each SaaS provider has their own platform, some more robust than others.
Most SaaS providers claim they are open but each is using a different version and standards for what their applications run on. That puts customers at their mercy. How do customers get all their SaaS applications to work together without customizing each one? No organization wants to do that. At Oracle, we understand how that happens. Customers don’t always know which SaaS horse to pick, so to speak. So our goal is to make Oracle a much easier decision to simplify deployment and management, lower costs, and avoid nightmare scenarios.

Q: How Can Companies Avoid Simplify Integration/Compatibility Issues?

Hansen: We recommend three things:

  1. Reduce the number of SaaS vendors you work with.
  2. Choose SaaS applications that are truly built on open standards.
  3. Choose a PaaS provider that uses an open standards platform and can deliver the services to simplify the challenges described in these use cases.

Oracle’s SaaS applications are really good and we have a lot of them. Equally important, we truly build them on open standards—not some proprietary versions of open standards like many of our competitors do.

With Oracle PaaS services, we can provide single sign-on and integration capabilities across all of the out of box applications (Oracle and 3rd party), custom applications, extensions, and data that an organization depends upon. That might mean providing a single repository of customer information across sales, service, suppliers, and finance.

Q: What Else Should Be Important to a Midsize Organization When Choosing a PaaS Provider?

Hansen: Midsize companies need to make sure their PaaS provider supports the way they actually do business. Many are more susceptible than large enterprises to fluctuations in revenue —based on market trends, timing, and the buying behavior of a few key customers—which directly impacts their ability to invest in and consume new technologies.

Oracle uses the same technologies for both our on premise and SaaS applications which means we run the same standards in both deployment scenarios. Thus, with Oracle PaaS, our customers have the freedom to leverage existing on premise investments as they gradually move workload to the cloud.

It’s also important to understand that every Oracle PaaS customer has a relationship with people at Oracle. That’s our business model. That should be especially important to midsize customers who look to Oracle for answers and solutions.

It’s not just that we provide you access to cloud services and say good luck with that. We make is as simple as possible. We provision everything. All you do is setup a user name account and we do the rest. Our goals are to get our customers rapidly on-boarded on cloud and have them see immediate success.

Q: What Can An Organization Do Now To Get Started With Oracle PaaS?

Hansen: If you're already working with Oracle or one of our partners, start by asking them for advice. Otherwise you can go to cloud.oracle.com/tryit, scroll down the page to Platform (PaaS/IaaS). There, you can select any of the solutions within our PaaS portfolio to actually give them a try. There's also a live chat tab on the right side of the page for additional support and advice.

Jim Lein


Oracle Cloud GTM Strategies | Modern Best Practice | Solutions for Growing Companies

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and IoT, making it possible for your organization to achieve more, faster and with fewer resources. It is flexible, supports growth and innovation, and enables new ways to achieve consistently superior performance.

The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.

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