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Government PaaS – Framework for standardized GovCloud Providers

PaaS sits as one of the foundation tiers of Cloud Computing

One of the key topics for our Shared Services Canada webinar will be ‘Government PaaS’, referring to Platform as a Service.

Recently I have been interviewing senior executives in large enterprises adopting Enterprise Cloud Computing (see our intro white paper here), and PaaS is one of their headline goals, for the primary transformation business benefit of ‘increased agility through standardization’.

As highlighted on the Mules blog, PaaS sits as one of the foundation tiers of Cloud Computing, referring to the layer made up of middleware as-a-service: Databases, app servers, etc.

By reducing the number of different middleware apps, settling on a small number of common choices and configurations, and making these available on a self-service basis, the IT team can enable software developers to become considerably more productive.

In short they can enable developers to focus on higher level, value-adding function – Designing new innovative business logic and ways to serve users better, not spending time configuring infrastructure and middleware which also increases their likelihood of configuration errors, more downtime, etc.

GovCloud Providers

The Government of Canada has identified their plans for PaaS. The ‘Cloud Security Zones‘ document from Shared Services Canada defines logical models for co-location, IaaS and PaaS. It says:

“This document also provides guidance as to how departmental security domains can be connected to an ITSS shared services domain for the consumption of shared platforms and applications (i.e. Platform as a Service and Software as a Service). This architecture is considered essential to the successful deployment and certification of the GC Community Cloud.”

In their case they define PaaS as the layer that features all platform software (e.g. Apache Web Server, Websphere, Oracle Database Server) required by the application, so that the client need only provide and manage the application software (or business logic) and content.

Diagram showing overview of cloud computing in...

Image via Wikipedia

In the most simple terms this standardization is achieved through implementing a Service Catalogue.

Self-service is one of the key defining characteristics of Cloud Computing, and this is achieved through offering the services via this type of catalogue, where software developers can then pick and choose what Cloud resources they want to order and have delivered in minutes, not days.

The process of publishing items to this catalogue therefore establishes the control procedures of standardization and builds the defined list of what configurations are considered robust and reliable, encouraging greater uptimes.

The additional benefit is that this standardization makes it easier for third-party firms to build GovCloud service offerings. Ie. they can offer this same catalogue, only hosted externally rather than internally.

The Government of Canada identifies examples of services that could be provided as part of a shared PaaS that include single tier web hosting, three tier application hosting, database hosting (DBaaS), and virtual desktop as a service (vDaaS).

With multiple Cloud providers adopting these same product definitions than a single instance of standardized GovCloud services can be rolled out across multiple providers.

Read the original blog entry...

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