Platform as a service, or PaaS, is exciting a lot of our customers—not just those who want to move to the cloud, but also those who see PaaS as a way to build applications faster and more efficiently. As Oracle releases more development tools in the cloud, I believe that PaaS will become the de facto way to extend software as a service (SaaS).
First, let’s explore some of the major benefits of PaaS. With PaaS, you no longer have to worry about the cost and time associated with maintaining hardware or a data center. By bypassing the setup required for a development environment, your organization will achieve faster time to value on projects. Most PaaS offerings are on a consumption model: Much like buying gas, you fill up only when you need to, and you pay for only what you use. Finally, the quick-start, user-friendly, cloud-based development tools enable and foster continuous innovation.
In my work for Certus Solutions, a leader in Oracle Cloud implementations in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, I have been particularly interested in “PaaS4SaaS,” which is the ability to extend Oracle’s cloud platform and applications with our own mini applications and have them seamlessly co-exist. Here are a few points I’ve observed for Oracle customers looking to do the same.
By bypassing the setup required for a development environment, your organization will achieve faster time to value on projects.
PaaS is a great opportunity to extend not only your SaaS solutions, but also your on-premises solutions. You can build applications on PaaS and then integrate them. For small or bespoke solutions, a great place to start is one of Oracle’s undiscovered jewels, Oracle Application Express (Oracle APEX). This no-cost option of the Oracle Database is Oracle's primary tool for developing web applications with SQL and PL/SQL, and I have seen some very large, amazing solutions written in APEX.
Java continues to be the standard of choice, even in the cloud. PaaS lets you use native Java for your cloud or mobile applications. There are also Java frameworks that enable you to get up and running faster, allowing you more time to concentrate on your product.
It doesn’t just end with development. With Oracle PaaS, companies can build their own applications in the cloud, and then license the final product to their customers as a SaaS solution through Oracle’s Marketplace. This allows partners to bring their innovation to the Oracle ecosystem and run it on Oracle’s cloud.
“PaaS4Saas” enforces discipline. If you are extending SaaS and you want the extensions to be seamless, you need the same design and development principles that Oracle used. SaaS solutions cannot be customized. That doesn’t mean they cannot be extended—you can do a lot of configuring and tailoring to make them meet your needs—but you cannot amend the code delivered.
Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. We traditionally heavily customized our on-premises applications and have had to live with the difficulty of maintaining and upgrading these applications ever since. Solutions evolved that meant we could keep our extensions separate from the standard applications. Plus, technologies such as service-oriented architecture mean that you can build your own apps to supplement what you’re doing in the commercial solution and orchestrate them to work together. The discipline enforced in the cloud is actually good practice for all our applications.
Debra Lilley is an Oracle ACE Director and vice president of Certus Cloud Services at Certus-Solutions.
The user experience is uniform. What makes Oracle Cloud applications so attractive is not just the functionality, but also the user experience (UX). The UX is continuously being improved and includes the introduction of the Simplified User Interface. When Certus delivers PaaS to our customers, it will have the same UX.
An extension is just that—the ability to move from the delivered SaaS to a specific extension with the same experience. Customers don’t want to know that they’re in another application, and they don’t want to have to navigate separately into an extension. They want a simple, all encompassing experience.
As Oracle releases more development tools, the power of PaaS4SaaS will only increase. For companies willing to adopt some of these innovations early, the payoffs can be very rewarding.