By: Ian Campbell
Web-based applications are transforming basic business processes and start-ups are going to market without owning any IT infrastructure. How? Welcome to the platform as a service (PaaS) cloud delivery model. Ian Campbell reports
Amazon and its Elastic Compute cloud set the agenda for the concept of platform as a service (PaaS) delivery.
Using web services expertise that it honed over many years with its online store, the company transformed the economics of computing, facilitating on-demand capacity that allows an organisation or a team of developers to build and scale an IT environment in minutes, paying only for what they use with a credit card.
Others would follow the model if not the idea of instant payment, including Microsoft with its Azure platform. It has proved fertile ground for Ergo, an Irish services company with a software solutions division that was already skilled in using Microsoft's .NET development tools.
On Azure, Ergo has been able to develop applications for county councils and deliver them for free, earning revenue only when they are used.
Adhering to the best principles of PaaS, components are scalable and reusable, allowing Ergo to build once and use many times.
In Offaly the online software is used for processing dog licences, in Cork it's for issuing parking permits. "We re-use a basic engine that we developed which could be used for other services," said Mark Bate, chief technical officer at Ergo.
"It's conceivable that it could evolve to become an entire business process outsourcing solution for councils, taking at the paperwork and license issuing of their hands."
When Microsoft first signalled its intentions to take to the cloud, traditional channel partners might have feared for their survival. Ergo shows how new and lucrative business models can evolve. The sweet spot, according to Bate, is the hybrid cloud.
"We are typically seeing customers who keep some information and applications inside their own security parameters, while leveraging the public cloud for other types of data. It's a hybrid of on and off-premise and we tie the two together," he said.
"We retain our professional. services work while the client gets the costs savings from the PaaS development framework."
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