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PaaS Best Practices : Platform for Hybrid SaaS

The GC Community Cloud ITSS documentation stipulates the Cloud service specifications that the Government of Canada plans to deploy, and can be used by external commercial providers as well as internally by Shared Services Canada users.

They provide technical design blueprints for security configurations to ensure Cloud environments are compliant with Government of Canada standards.

Primarily they can be used as industry-wide product specifications because they’re based on the NIST models that are now universally recognized as the default Cloud Best Practices, and relate to how service providers define and deliver their services.

The four primary categories are:

  • Colocation
  • IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service
  • PaaS – Platform as a Service
  • SaaS – Software as a Service

NIST calls these Service Models and they do indeed define product specifications, in that they regulate what the service provider is and isn’t responsible for, in terms of up to what ‘layer’ do they provide technical support for.

For example PaaS includes elements like Databases, and so the Cloud provider therefore agrees to support that application.

PaaS Catalogue – Standardization

IaaS refers to virtual servers and storage, whereas PaaS is about the middleware between this layer and the applications that make use of them – such as Operating Systems, web servers, middleware and database software, and so forth.

A PaaS strategy builds these into self-service portals to maximize the productivity of software developers and also to better enforce Enterprise Architecture standards. A proliferation of multiple different software platforms can be tightened back to just a few, while also reducing delivery times from weeks to hours and minutes.

In the GC Community Cloud Canada begins to define their PaaS catalogue items, as well as increasingly ITaaS-centric, such as single tier web hosting, three tier application hosting, database hosting (DBaaS) and Virtual Desktop (vDaaS).

Hybrid SaaS

The GC Community Cloud also defines two different PaaS implementation models – A (Dedicated PaaS) and a (Shared PaaS), again referring to whether the PaaS itself is in a virtualized, shared environment or operating its own single hardware.

Critically this is described as the foundation for their SaaS strategy too, and ultimately defines a new category of Delivery Model, a ‘Hybrid SaaS‘ scenario.

Typically SaaS is entirely remotely hosted, but as the Government of Canada stipulates, they are looking for SaaS but delivered via a more localized version, based on a Hybrid Cloud approach – Therefore Hybrid SaaS.

They describe this as:

“In addition to the IaaS and PaaS services, shared applications will also be provided as part of a Software as a Service (SaaS) set of offerings. Examples include a shared eMail service or a shared Collaboration service. These applications will reside within the same shared domain as the shared PaaS set of services. This will enable SaaS applications to leverage the shared PaaS services to the greatest extent possible (ie. for SaaS applications to be hosted on the PaaS services.”

This is part of a broader ‘GC Community Cloud’ program which defines an overall multi-tenant ‘Federal Cloud’ architecture, to encompass Shared Corporate Applications -

A multi-tenant application environment for their breadth of enterprise applications, like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft, used for their core business processes like PAY, and also their common IT requirements, like email and collaboration. As described they are starting to see these as PaaS layer items, setting them up for SaaS delivery scenarios for these major applications too.

These approach is also appearing in the USA too. The NIST Business Case Use cases also stipulate these same combination, where the E-Discovery service is also asked for via this Hybrid SaaS model.


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