In our analogy, the task of a company's IT department is to cook tasty meals. These meals serve as the basis for the production of the company's own products and services. To prepare them, a corresponding IT infrastructure is required: a kitchen. Part of the kitchen equipment are all the devices that the employees need to produce the dishes: servers, data storage and networks.
In the days before the first cloud computing applications, companies had to set up the kitchen themselves. In a bare room, the pipes, electricity and gas lines first had to be laid. In a second step, the necessary household appliances had to be selectively connected and operated. Finally, the kitchen staff and janitors were hired and trained. That is, in this architecture, the company not only paid for the production of dishes, but also bore the cost of repair and maintenance.
With the advent of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions in the early 2000s, the initial situation changed: Now every company with a broadband connection had the option of accessing a functioning built-in kitchen. The beauty was that many of the maintenance tasks now no longer had to be performed by the company's employees. The kitchen manager saved himself the janitor, so to speak, and always found a "warm" kitchen. The downside: every time he wanted to use the kitchen, there was a cost to the company (e.g., pay-per-use). This is like having a pay slot at the entrance to the kitchen and the kitchen only opening if money was also inserted.
A second option for using cloud technology is software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. In other words, the business model with which the Salesforce company operates successfully. In the kitchen analogy, SaaS takes the position of a food delivery service. The customer can select the dish that is relevant to him from the range on offer and have it delivered directly to his home. The kitchen stays cold. And the customer only pays for what he has eaten.
But what are Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings in such a thought model?
First of all, PaaS is a big suitcase full of kitchen appliances that have not been used in one's own kitchen so far and that radically change the possibilities of cooking. However, these do not have to be installed in the kitchen at great expense, but can be used immediately via API and are practically infinitely scalable. This means that the culinary needs of a corner pub, the gastronomic turnover of a beer tent at the Oktoberfest, and the demands of a three-star kitchen can all be covered with the devices.
This allowed Medtronic to begin implementing Watson - and thus harness the innovative power of a cognitive system for its own products - without having to program a cognitive system itself.
Just like Medtronic, any company (any kitchen) can now access Watson via PaaS. And it's not just Watson that can be accessed. Amazon (AWS), Google and Microsoft (Azure) offer a huge portfolio of cognitive, analyzing and process-controlling digital services. What dishes are cooked depends solely on the imagination of the chef. No one can predict what dishes are possible with all these machines. The motto is: "gratinated asparagus casserole" instead of ready-made pizza.
With this option, digital cloud applications such as PaaS form the springboard for companies into the digital age. In a study for arvato sytems GmbH, the consulting firm Gartner assumes that 90% of all companies will already be dependent on the use of such digital platform solutions in the implementation of new business models by 2020.