Orchestrated PaaS: A Product-Centric Approach
“We must indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin Franklin reportedly issued this as a warning during the Revolutionary War of 1776. Fast forward to the technological war room of the 21st Century, unity is still the key to victory, especially when it comes to the ‘Battle of the Clouds’! Cloud technology is at chaotic crossroads. At the time when cloud adoption soared across industries, a plethora of companies jumped on the bandwagon with a short-sighted strategic approach. They quickly realized that the future of cloud computing does not lie in the implementation of multiple cloud resources but in the holistic adoption of cloud in all its forms. In other words, the value of cloud services is increasing exponentially as it functions as a single, cohesive, and orchestrating unit.
What is Cloud Orchestration?
Let’s take the example of a mechanical watch. How does it work? It involves the functioning of numerous interconnected gears that work in perfect harmony to measure the passage of time. The end result looks something like this:
The number of gears (or jewels) is directly proportional to the price of the watch. Why? Simply because every additional gear substantially improves the accuracy of the result. Fascinating stuff, isn’t it?
This is how cloud orchestration works. If you consider every independent cloud deployment and functionality as a gear, then orchestration is the process of bringing together every moving cloud part and tying them up in a single and monolithic workflow.
Benefits of disparate cloud resources working in tandem include the likes of high availability, scaling, failure recovery, and dependency management. DevOps can boost the speed of service delivery while reducing costs and eliminating potential errors in provisioning, scaling, and other processes.
In this case, the end result looks like this:
And this is the groundwork on which our story is based on.
PaaS – The Realm Beyond Cloud Orchestration
Platform as a Service or PaaS is a type of service deployment in the cloud that takes a product-centric approach and goes beyond orchestration. It aims to meet the basic infrastructure and platform needs of developers to deploy applications. They do not need to handle mundane tasks. Instead, they can use APIs to develop, test, and deploy industry solutions. For this purpose, they are generally hosted and deployed as web-based application-development platforms. This gives developers the flexibility to provide end-to-end or partial online development environments.
While it does help to orchestrate containers, the main function of Orchestrated PaaS lies in setting up choreographed workflows. This makes it relevant for software solutions that want to primarily focus on the development cycle of the software and the monetization of new applications. By deploying agile tools and techniques, companies can accelerate application development, reduce compartmentalization, increase collaboration, and boost scalability.
Apart from these, the primary reasons to implement an orchestrated PaaS strategy are:
- Accelerated application development
- Quicker deployment
- Faster go to market
- Organization-wide collaboration
- Hybrid cloud flexibility
- Enterprise-grade security
There are two basic types of Platform as a service deployment – ‘Service Orchestration’, and ‘Container Orchestration’.
These include public PaaS solutions and functions as a bundled package for individuals, startups, and small teams. Being public in nature, it does come with certain limitations in terms of the depth of integration it offers. Hence, it poses to be a difficult choice for organizations that are looking for company-wide standardization.
But, in situations where quick prototyping and deployment is needed with an ability to go past compliances, public PaaS solutions can come to the rescue.
Container orchestration includes private SaaS solutions that function as a closed system. It does not focus on where the product or application is running, rather concentrates on simply the running of the resulting service. For instance, the end result can be loading certain web pages without any latency.
But modern Enterprise IT has gradually brought about a change where they are concerned with the scale of application and not just the underlying system.
The Coveted PaaS Model
To better understand how a PaaS framework can serve certain business scenarios, here are certain cases of this model.
- A single vendor owns every platform or application that is contained in the PaaS model.
- Applications need to be developed from scratch and leverage a formalized programming model.
- The services involved in the solution are common and stable.
- All the roles of containers used in the business model are stable.
- No industry-specific service or application is being used in the platform, and it is simple and easy to design and manage.
The whole idea of PaaS is to empower developers by helping them deliver value through their product without worrying about building a dedicated IT infrastructure.
Best Practices and Patterns of Orchestrated PaaS
The manner in which a PaaS system can be fundamentally orchestrated depends on its solution-specific application scenario, business model, and enterprise architecture. Based on this, integration patterns with other leading industry solutions can also vary. Various patterns in which PaaS can be implemented include:
This is implemented within an industry solution and becomes a part of it. Examples of this include; a cloud-enabled integrated information framework. In such a system, only certain parts or functions of the whole system are deployed as PaaS solutions. The rest of the solution is not hosted on the cloud.
Functions as ‘PaaS on an industry’ and includes industries that host value-added PaaS solutions that can be used by customers in tandem with their core industry offerings. Primary functions and infrastructures are maintained outside the cloud environment. Examples here include; a self-service telecommunications service delivery platform that is based on the cloud that empowers customers to quickly deploy value-added PaaS functionalities from the ground-up.
The core function or solution of the industry is bundled together in the same PaaS environment. The end result is an industry-specific PaaS solution that empowers the entire business model of the company to function as an independent node in the ecosystem.
The World of Containers: Building Blocks of PaaS
In the elementary sense, containers are what have made PaaS possible in the first place. All the necessary code of a function can be bundled into a container, and the PaaS accordingly builds on to run and manage the application.
Although PaaS boosts the productivity of developers, they have little wiggle room. But, now, further technological development has made an autonomous existence of containers possible with leading software solutions, such as Docker, Kubernetes, and Red Hat OpenShift.
With these applications, developers can now easily define their app components and build container images. Apps can now run independently from platforms, paving the way for more flexible orchestration.
Software-Driven Container Orchestration
Here’s a close look at the various software that is making PaaS orchestration possible by functioning at the container level.
Docker is an open platform that is meant for developing, running, and delivering applications. It enables users to treat their infrastructure like a managed application. As a result, developers can quickly ship codes, test apps, and deploy them by reducing the time gap between writing and running codes.
Benefits of Docker for Paas Orchestration include:
- Faster delivery of applications.
- Easy application deployment and scaling.
- Achieving higher density and running more workloads.
- Eliminating environmental inconsistencies.
- Empowering developer creativity.
- Accelerating developer onboarding.
Kubernetes is another popular container orchestration tool that works in tandem with additional tool sets for functions, such as container registry, discovery, networking, monitoring services, and storage management. Multiple containers can be grouped together and managed with a single entity to co-locate the main application.
Features of Kubernetes include:
- Algorithmic container placement that selects a specific host for a specific container.
- Container replication that makes sure that a specific number of container replicas are running simultaneously.
- An auto-scaling feature that can autonomously tweak the number of running containers based on certain KPIs.
- Resource utilization and system memory monitoring (CPU and RAM).
3. Red Hat OpenShift
This is a unique platform that is a combination of Dev and Ops tools that functions on top of Kubernetes. Its aim is to streamline application development and manage functions like deployment, scaling, and long-term lifecycle maintenance.
Various features of the tool include:
- Single-step installation for Kubernetes applications.
- Centralized admin control and performance optimization for Kubernetes operators.
- Contains functions, such as built-in authentication and authorization, secrets management, auditing, logging, and integrated container registry.
- Smart workflows, such as automated container build, built-in CI/CD, and application deployment.
- Built-in service mesh for microservices.
In fact, Openshift has become the go-to platform to implement PaaS orchestration.
At Parkar, we recently came across a project where the client was looking to develop a next-gen platform that increased speed and incorporated
innovation in their existing technological ecosystem. Our developers used Openshift as the orchestrated container platform and significantly reduced the time to market.
The decision paid off with significant metrics and the following project results were realized:
It is safe to assume that successful cloud orchestration opens the door for a number of benefits for the entire cloud ecosystem. These include forced best practices, simplified optimization, unified automation, improved visibility and control, and business agility. The PaaS construct functions as a layered model to deliver specific applications and services. It also improves the end-result with abilities like rapid time-to-market, future-proofing, and investment protection to support all-round cloud-based digital transformation.