6 reasons contractors are struggling to embrace PaaS
- By James Benson
- Sep 04, 2014
Are you curious about what platform as a service (PaaS) could do for your agency? If you are interested in building solutions faster, production efficiencies and cost savings, the answer would be “a lot.” After all, PaaS can reduce the application life cycle by 31 percent while saving the government more than $20.5 billion annually, according to some estimates.
Simply stated, PaaS represents the next progression in “as a service.” It builds a bridge between software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS), greatly enhancing application delivery. Also about nine of 10 public sector customers transitioning to PaaS say it’s providing vital support for cloud computing and data center consolidation. Still, only about half of agencies are either using it or are in the process of adopting it. The rest aren’t considering it or remain on the fence.
So what is holding PaaS deployment back? Frankly, it’s what many systems integrators aren’t telling government IT decision makers – but should. They’re reluctant to introduce PaaS to customers for reasons that speak more to their own shortcomings than to the low cost, high value solutions PaaS can deliver.
Here are six reasons agencies are passing on PaaS. They also represent reasons why agency technology officers and system managers should consider taking back control of tools like PaaS that help agencies stay agile, innovative and current with their constituents and end users.
1. Integrators feel no pressure to finish their jobs faster. No, they really don’t. Agencies have their own set of procurement timelines in place. Once those are determined, that dictates the schedule. Sure, everyone talks the talk about “faster, better, cheaper,” but many agencies aren’t walking it. There aren’t any incentives for IT contractors to push projects ahead of schedule. So they won’t. And those who do are the outliers representing potential risk to the customer.
2. Integrators like to use their own stuff. PaaS involves leveraging someone else’s infrastructure. But systems integrators can be controlling. They harbor doubts about the success of another party’s delivery and performance and certainly won’t embrace it without leagues of assumptions and caveats to protect their risk, whether real or perceived. They worry about inviting too much risk that is out of their control.
3. Integrators are uncomfortable with the very concept of PaaS. Regardless of what many claim with respect to innovation, most integrators prefer to stick to what they know. They’re not eager to embrace new technologies that promise to disrupt all of the processes they’ve institutionalized. Imagine turning an aircraft carrier around; there are lots of moving parts and it takes a long time to achieve. Yes, integrators recognize that PaaS is a game changer, but until procurements demand PaaS, they would rather wait it out.
4. Integrators will make less money. This isn’t exactly a revelation. Integrators have depended upon traditional models of implementation (meaning slow systems development life cycles) that deliver solutions in months and years. PaaS reinvents this model by commoditizing software development and significantly accelerating time to market. Fewer billable hours means less revenue, period.
5. Integrators don’t want to deal with tech transformation. Integrators are well aware of how rapidly tech is advancing – and for many this creates risk. Never mind that there will be so much IT innovation that emerges in the meantime that their original proposal and technology choice could be moot. With PaaS, they can produce project-benefiting changes on the fly – another reason they avoid it.
6. Integrators can’t afford to be wrong. Integrators have grown accustomed to receiving a list of requirements and satisfying them – never mind if the requirements were not fully vetted or thought through at the time of procurement. Not their fault. Most do what they’re told and leave little room for experimentation. And with Lowest Price Technically Acceptable bids, I don’t blame them. But PaaS fosters the very outcomes – cost reduction, faster time to market, increased agility – that government needs to move forward at the speed of today’s business.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying PaaS is the answer to every IT question in the government marketplace. Integrators will say PaaS isn’t ready for missile systems, global finance or critical programs that must be delivered with 100 percent precision or lives will be in danger. And guess what? They’re right. Due to the stakes involved, such acquisitions and deployments should be subject to the most rigorous of review, and frankly PaaS should not be used.
But for the day-to-day functioning of the government – the endless business applications that ultimately serve citizens and the business of government – PaaS presents far too many cost and efficiency advantages for integrators to keep it from you.
James Benson is a senior vice president at HumanTouch, LLC.