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The PaaS business case - with Progress CTO Karen Tegan Padir

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed October 15, 2013
What motivates a 30 year old software company to double down on its future with PaaS? I put that question directly to Progress CTO Karen Tegan Padir.

What motivates a 30 year old software company to double down on its future with Platform as a Service (Paas)? While at Progress Exchange 2013, I had a chance to put that question directly to Progress CTO Karen Tegan Padir with the cameras rolling. I also wanted to know why Padir had placed her own career bet on Progress (she joined the company in September 2012, and took on the CTO role in June 2013).

During our shoot on day two of Progress Exchange, Tadir addressed those questions and a few more. She also spelled out the IT trends affecting customers that fueled Progess' launch of Pacific, their PaaS platform.

Show Notes
Why Padir joined Progress
1:20 What Progress learned about PaaS from its customer dialogue
3:19 Cloud impact - making the business case for PaaS
4:48 Changing how companies build apps
5:47 If you weren't at Progress Exchange, what did you miss?

I was especially interested in the feedback Progress is getting from its customers about Pacific. As a not-so-closeted PaaS evangelist (I outed myself during the video), my big concern is getting too far in front of customer needs.

Padir shared this feedback from their 1,400+ ISV community:

They want to know how can they go to the cloud, how can they create new applications quickly, how can they get new features into market very quickly. Another piece is around customization. We have lots of customers that create an ERP system and they want it to be customized for a specific vertical. That could be very difficult to do. They also want to take that into the different geography and different markets. Having technologies like our Corticon business rules can help you create rules - not whole new applications - for customizations and localization. [Our ISVs] can use se our rules engine to help them get their applications to market quicker.

Padir's case for building on Progress' application platform comes down to these characteristics:

  • data-driven (ease of data integration)
  • business rules for easy customization and localization
  • no need for GUI experts - build apps in drag-and-drop environment
  • build and deploy apps quickly without cumbersome upfront IT infrastructure investment

Padir's case for building apps on a PaaS such as Pacific:

You don't have to go and hire system administrators to set up the hardware infrastructure and cloud infrastructure, you don't have to hire a database administrator to set up the database. You go to the PaaS and all of the runtime, embedded database is all there for you and you just worry about creating your application. Startups get to spend money on people that are domain experts for the business they're in and the application they want to build - versus the infrastructure of configuring a database, setting up systems, etc.

Developing on a platform is a model worth chewing on - in my view it beats the heck out of customizing an on-premise code base and (potentially) tying yourself to outdated systems that are difficult to upgrade. As I said in the video, we'll see what the market has to say about it.

Final thoughts

When I consider the criteria Padir laid out for better application development, most of it sounds just right - especially the data-driven framework supported by extensive business rules. My questions would be about the GUI expertise aspect. I continue to believe that UI expertise is a vital part of building next generation applications. I would have dug into that more with Padir but we both had places to be.

I did, however, comment on UX as it pertains to Progress' mobile development strategy in my  Progress Exchange event wrap. (My recent piece on mobile apps mistakes also gets into this). Progress is certainly thinking hard about UX - in fact they hired outside UX specialists to help design the UI for Pacific. That's a topic to return to. Next up? A series of videos I shot with Progress partners. Den Howlett and I are currently reviewing that footage - watch this space.

Image credit: PAAS. Information Technology Concept © tashatuvango -

Disclosure: Progress paid for most of my travel expenses to attend Progress Exchange 2013.

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