When is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) not a PasS: reflections on Oracle Cloud Platform

Dan Lahl

Posted by Dan Lahl on October 27, 2015

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One of my favorite jokes when I was a boy is this:  Q: when is a door not a door?  A: When it is ajar…  Today, I want us to reflect on this question: When is a PaaS not a PaaS?  And I want to focus our PaaS reflections on the Oracle Cloud Platform…

Oracle is making a lot of noise lately over their Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering, the Oracle Cloud Platform. But just because Oracle grouped together some technology and slapped a PaaS label on it, does not mean it lives up to what a true public cloud platform should do: drive innovation in an agile and streamlined manner.

Platform as a Service: Definition

Let’s quickly review how the industry defines a Platform as a Service. The following is copied directly from Wikipedia:

A Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage Web applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app.

 Public PaaS is derived from software as a service (SaaS), and is situated in cloud computing between SaaS and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). SaaS is software that is hosted in the cloud, so that it doesn’t take up hard drive from the computer of the user or the servers of a company. IaaS provides virtual hardware from a provider with adjustable scalability. With IaaS, the user still has to manage the server, whereas with PaaS the server management is done by the provider.

 With PaaS, the consumer manages applications and data, while the provider (in public PaaS)… manages runtime, middleware, operating system, virtualization, servers, storage and networking.

The diagram below illustrates the components mentioned above that are managed by a vendor on behalf of their customers, depending on the cloud service (PaaS or IaaS) provided:

blog pic

The Lack of a Public PaaS

With this as our level set explanation of a PaaS, let’s turn our attention back to Oracle’s supposed public cloud platform. Their included database software and app server software – housed in that runtime/middleware/O/S layer illustrated above – are not managed by Oracle. Like all IaaS vendors, Oracle does provision and maintain the hardware infrastructure portion, represented in light blue above. But from a PaaS perspective, Oracle requires its customers’ database administrators and developers to manage the middle layer (highlighted above in dark blue) themselves.

So, by definition, Oracle does not have a public PaaS offering, like Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix and SAP HANA Cloud Platform. This limits Oracle’s customers’ choices considerably by forcing them into a costlier and more onerous to manage, private-only PaaS model with no public or hybrid cloud options. The Oracle Cloud Platform—according to a Gartner analyst consulted on this topic—really amounts to an IaaS+ cloud offering. Customers who purchase the Oracle Cloud Platform end up with an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) plus tools to manage the software in-house.   But make no mistake, when a customer buys into the Oracle Cloud Platform today they still have to install, configure, patch, monitor, manage and upgrade the Oracle server themselves.  Which begs the question, “As a customer, why should I use this service from Oracle, is this service really saving me any time and money, or is this just a machine offload from my datacenter (IaaS)?”

Further, if the customer uses Exadata as a Service, there may be additional licensing costs to pay Oracle, as Oracle DB licenses are required to run at the disk processing layer of Exadata.  Oh by the way, that has to be managed, patched and upgraded by the customer too…  But Exadata as a Service is the topic of my next blog, so stay tuned for that…

Bottom line, every customer evaluating PaaS platforms (or IaaS+ platforms) should do their due diligence on how much savings in time and effort they will gain from each vendor in the market.  With SAP’s HANA Cloud Platform, SAP manages, patches and updates the Services on the platform for our customers.  Oracle customers should ask their Oracle sales rep how this works for the Oracle Cloud Platform, and they should also ask their Oracle rep exactly how the Oracle Cloud Platform will save them valuable time and money.


So, the answer to our question at the outset of this blog: “When is a PaaS not a PaaS?” is this; When it is the Oracle Cloud Platform…





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