The buy or build debate is one that continues in many businesses and it spans the simple and the complex; from websites to fully fledged ERP and CRM systems. The arguments for building out from scratch what one needs may be compelling, with preservation of trade secrets hedging on competitive advantage, getting a perfect fit, control and ownership of output product cited as key reasons to build in-house. Before the widespread adoption of internet enabled services driven by an increase in stable connectivity and solid infrastructure, a good percentage of IT applications were deployed in-house riding on billing that factored in dedicated bare metal, the software loaded thereon and support functions that would mean physical visits to a facility.
Platform As A Service (PaaS) offerings are built to be sufficiently flexible to allow for broadest possible fit without compromising on core functionality. “Out of the cloud” features normally provide scaffolding that covers 80-90% of your business needs, which when coupled with access to application programing interfaces commonly referred to as API’s or other service add-ons, internal publics or contracted third parties can then tailor bespoke solutions with a lower total cost of ownership and shorter turnaround times.
Technology is more about people than product and talent wars are a part of any running business. The biggest challenge with building in-house technology from the ground up comes to a head when resources seek new opportunities elsewhere. Without a solid knowledge transfer process or development ecosystem, this gap could prove fatal for your business. PaaS reduces this risk by allowing your business to build on the edge of a common core with access to high level technical support where needed backed by a service level agreement. Another mitigated risk is that of creating loopholes that could be exploited from within or without the business with exposure limited to functions that are “easy” to recover from.
PaaS vendors focus on specific niches and with the backing of continuous research and development have the benefit of understanding both the business requirements and subsequent technology needs for the industry or segment that they serve. This is akin to having an entire outsourced department making available tried and rested tools and models without the business meeting payroll.
While one size does not fit all, the commoditized offerings by PaaS vendors, allow businesses to innovate and differentiate on the cheap.