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5 Benefits of a Platform-as-a-Service

Alena Davis, Appian
January 25, 2018

For a long time, cloud computing was predominantly used as a simple, cost-efficient way for businesses to access technology services. Need a new app? Instead of rolling out a server, purchasing software licenses and troubleshooting, companies need only to sign up for a subscription and set up user logins. The cloud makes IT delivery easy. However, it may have made technology too easy to access. Many organizations find themselves running into a saturation point where they are using so many disparate technologies that users are jumping between apps and data systems to complete key processes. The time has come to coordinate and integrate cloud services into central ecosystems, and Platform-as-a-Service solutions are rising as a result.

Growing Demand for PaaS

Research from Gartner indicated that adoption of PaaS continues to increase, to some degree because vendors continue to offer more mature, innovative solutions. The internet of things and other digital technologies are also driving change in how businesses leverage their cloud systems. On top of this, businesses are redefining their IT structures and architectures as they take a cloud-native approach to operations.

"The time has come to coordinate and integrate cloud services into central ecosystems."

IDC put the PaaS market's expansion into raw form, projecting the sector will rise at a compound annual growth rate of 32.2 percent for the 2015 to 2020 period. These figures were recently updated from an earlier IDC study on cloud adoption.

PaaS is gaining momentum quickly, but why are businesses so interested in the technology? Here are five of the most prominent benefits of a PaaS system:

1. They Simplify Data Integration

Getting apps and IT services to talk to one another is a programming and networking nightmare for the modern enterprise. IT teams are contending with legacy solutions built on outdated programming languages, highly specialized databases riddled with custom code, cloud apps from varied service providers and traditional enterprise software. In most cases, these solutions aren't built to interact with one another. In pharma, for example, a research and development team may be working on an entirely separate software suite from the users handling clinical trials. When those departments have to collaborate to tweak a drug, the data sharing hurdle can be insurmountable, driving high costs and slowing time to market.

With a PaaS setup, cloud apps and services can be built in the platform using low-code tools. These apps can all share data that is generated and stored within the platform, allowing for extremely easy integration. Solutions residing outside of the platform, on the other hand, need only to be configured to share information with the PaaS setup, not each app residing within it. That means, for example, that a firm hoping to continue using a legacy, customized software suite doesn't need to write code for each app it interacts with. Instead, the company just needs to connect to the platform.

PaaS turns projects that would require dozens of integrations into simple, one-time initiatives. Throw in APIs and similar tools, and organizations can use PaaS to simplify data sharing dramatically.

2. Platforms Blend Control and Freedom

With a low-code PaaS system, organizations can let non-tech users create or customize apps. This provides freedom of choice and establishes a foundation for better business-technology alignment. For IT teams, it may sound scary. Will users break working apps by messing up code? Will they make sure data is safe in the backend? Will the apps provide adequate access control? Platforms deal with these essential questions in a few key ways:

    • In a platform environment, IT users can set rules for tasks such as user authentication and data access based on job role. From there, the system automatically enforces those parameters as users create their own solutions.

    • Using PaaS, the low-code interface features bundles of tested, proven code that users are combining to create and customize apps. They are digging into specific coding languages or altering the underlying program configuration.

    • With a platform, web, mobile and desktop optimization is handled at the platform level, allowing users to create apps with ease while ensuring IT isn't dealing with complexity trying to secure and refine solutions for different device formats.

These factors add up to provide accessibility and control, allowing IT teams to more easily keep up with the rapid pace of change they are facing.

3. PaaS Simplifies the User Experience

The underlying factors behind this benefit have been discussed. Most apps are in one place. Data can be shared between solutions without a hassle. This list could go on. In fact, one issue we haven't mentioned is that many PaaS solutions also incorporate communication capabilities into the ecosystem. These factors add up to make platforms one-stop hubs for enterprise activity, saving users from having to jump between multiple solutions to handle key tasks.

4. Platform Setups Can Sustain Change

With enterprise technology demands shifting all the time, businesses find themselves needing to almost continually roll out solutions that support new capabilities. This demand is largely behind the move toward agile and DevOps methodologies. With a platform in place, a user can create an app to meet a specific function in a matter of hours, perhaps days if the requirements are complex. Over time, users can easily build onto that app, making it easier to not only innovate in the first place, but also maintain momentum and forward progress.

5. PaaS Lets Businesses Own the Experience

Within a PaaS solution, organizations can:

    • Personalize analytics dashboards based on user role and preferences.

    • Brand key interface elements so users feel like they are working within your business, not on a bunch of disparate apps.

    • Establish unique solutions that don't exist in out-of-the-box software.

    • Align the tech functionality precisely with business requirements to truly coordinate capabilities.

For a long time, companies have been held hostage by technology. They've been forced to rely on the whims of solution providers to determine what their businesses could accomplish. PaaS solutions are a bit like building blocks: They give organizations the raw tools needed to build incredibly unique solutions. The rise of PaaS is empowering organizations to completely own and control user and customer experiences, unlocking the potential of digital technologies. Appian is at the front of this trend, helping companies transform their operations and achieve ahead of the competition. Check out a few of our customer stories here to see how we've fostered transformation for some of the world's biggest brands.

Empower, build, launch and change faster than ever before with Appian's low-code application platform.