How IoT relates to the cloud and PaaS: Pace and flexibility

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By Alex Vilner, managing director, SaM Solutions

With all things tech switching to cloud-based platforms the ‘as a service’ industry is exploding. The one that started it all, SaaS (software as a service), is now joined by IaaS and PaaS.

The commonality for these ‘as a service’ offerings is that they are all based in the cloud, solely managed by the provider and available to clients via a membership platform.

Connected devices are changing the landscape of technology. We don’t purchase anything – we subscribe to it. The pace of technology growth led to a culture of obsolescence. Barely had companies adopted and incorporated a new piece of software or infrastructure into their technology stack and a new version was released.

Membership-based or ‘as a service’ offerings do two things: first, they ensure that companies always have access to the latest features and services without the cost and headaches associated with incorporating new releases. Second, there is an economy-of-scale dynamic at work.

Developers of these services work on the offering every day. Building a feature or improving an existing one might take two or three dedicated developers working for weeks. The ROI for this investment, if the services are maintained in-house, simply isn’t there for most companies; however, service providers push this new feature to all of their customers meaning that the benefits are experienced across the board.

IoT reliance on the cloud and the benefits of the ‘as a service’ model has made companies re-examine their available tools in search of solutions that are as flexible, scalable and economical as their own products.

PaaS operates in the area between SaaS and IaaS; giving full control of the application and the data to the developer. The infrastructure (middleware, operating systems, virtualisation, storage and networking) are unlikely to change during the development process of an IoT application. This is why it makes sense to leave those aspects to be managed by someone else (IaaS provider).

Why does PaaS fit with IoT?

Data, data, data: So much of the IoT is about data. Data collection. Data storage. Data analysis. Much of the testing required by IoT applications requires different configurations of data and most IoT applications are developed for multiple use case scenarios. PaaS allows developers complete control over collected data without the burden of managing storage systems.

Future flexibility: Data analysis requirements will change as the application sees wider adoption and developers learn more about how users are deploying the product in real life. Smart developers plan for this eventuality by building products that include flexible components. PaaS allows developers to customise data analysis both now and in the future.

Pace and competition: With predicted billions up for grabs, rest-assured that competition in the IoT space is only going to continue to grow. Releasing products months and sometimes years ahead of pre-IoT project estimates requires development teams to reconsider which aspects of the stack need to be built in-house and which can be managed by someone else.

Workflows: For many adopters, the primary draw to IoT solutions is automation. Instead of relying on the inspector to manually bring up the inspection requirements for a component, a device scans a barcode on the part and ensures that all of the requirements and data recording areas are automatically displayed to the inspector when the component arrives. Developing new workflows and optimising existing ones is a driving force behind new releases of IoT applications. PaaS provides just the access needed to continue making these improvements.

Virtual everything: Not only have our tools gone to the cloud, our teams have too. Most development teams include members from various facility locations, both on- and off-site, and help from outsource firms. Teams are rarely co-located making tools that are based in the cloud necessary to efficient team operations.

According to Fabrizio Biscotti, research director at Gartner, “the PaaS segment showed impressive growth, not just in the AIM (application infrastructure and middleware) market but across the entire enterprise software market” in 2015. This growth points to the increased demand for IoT-supporting development tools and the continued growth expected in this area.

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