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FCW : November and December 2014
While federal agencies have been adopting Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions for several years and have ramped up adoption of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as well, it has taken a while for agencies to discover the benefits of Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach. Now that they have, agencies have begun the work of evaluating which PaaS solution is best. But not all PaaS solutions are created equally. We spoke with Dan Juengst, Director of OpenShift PaaS Product Marketing at Red Hat, about what to look for and what to avoid. What are the most important factors to consider when shopping for a PaaS solution? Juengst: Make sure everything in the PaaS stack is fully supported by the vendor, including the operating system. Also, look for a PaaS that’s open and extensible. Technologies based on open source allow agencies to leverage the large community that works on it and helps drive innovation. Also, we see a lot of government IT departments contributing back to open source community with innovations. It’s becoming a nice give-and-take. How can agencies assess whether the solution will be a good match for their needs? Juengst: Look at your own application portfolio and plans for application development and characterize those applications. What languages are they written in and what architectures exist in the environment? That will help them understand what solution to move forward with because different PaaS platforms specialize in different programming languages or middleware. Also, if you know you have to support a lot of legacy applications, look at a PaaS solution that includes development tools like Java EE. That way, you will be confident that it will be able to support both legacy applications and enable new types of applications. It’s also important to evaluate whether the PaaS offering will integrate well with an agency’s existing management and monitoring tools as well as existing reporting, financial and asset systems. How can agencies evaluate the security aspect of the PaaS? Juengst: Get the security teams involved very early. Make sure everything in the technology stack is already approved at the security level the agency requires. Also, make sure that you choose a system that runs with Linux container technology using secure containers. That’s critical to running in a secure multitenant fashion. What does Red Hat’s PaaS solution OpenShift offer? Juengst: OpenShift includes a full complement of open source programming languages giving polyglot choice to developers. It includes containerization for multitenancy, automatic provisioning, automatic application scaling, continuous integration, and self-service for developers. OpenShift accelerates development and delivery of applications from Java EE to Node.JS for web, mobile and enterprise applications, and can be a key enabling technology in a DevOps transformation. What’s new or coming up in the PaaS world that agencies should keep in mind when choosing a PaaS solution? Juengst: There is a strong move toward DevOps, where development and IT operations work collaboratively and use automation to accelerate the process of application deployment. There is also a movement toward microservices, where applications are being designed and architected such that compute functions are divided into small components and everything communicates over APIs. The other important trend is toward container technology, especially Linux containers. This improves security by separating applications running on the same machine. If the PaaS solution you choose doesn’t incorporate these features now, make sure that the vendor has a roadmap that plans to support them in the future. Picking the Right PaaS EXPERT Q&A SPONSORED CONTENT Dan Juengst, Director of OpenShift PaaS Product Marketing at Red Hat