How BPaaS Works in the Real World of Cloud Computing - dummies

How BPaaS Works in the Real World of Cloud Computing

By Judith Hurwitz, Marcia Kaufman, Fern Halper, Daniel Kirsch

If you’ve decided to use BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) in a hybrid cloud model as a delivery platform for services, you need to understand how to mesh services together based on the processes you want to execute.

As shown in the following figure, a business process service can be linked to a variety of services ranging from SaaS (Software as a Service) applications, PaaS (Platform as a Service) environments, and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). For example, there may be an analytic process service designed to analyze information coming from a variety of CRM and social media applications.

Linking services together based on process.
Linking services together based on process.

BPaaS services allow you to experiment with new business process ideas because they’re not based on programming each individual business initiative. For example, a packaged BPaaS offering that handles business travel processing or order-to-cash processes may be available, as well as other services that will handle load processing or payroll services, and predesigned services useful for everything from processing claims to managing clinical data for drug trials.

The benefits of cloud-based BPaaS

Like other cloud-based services, BPaaS frees the business and the IT department from having to worry about the underlying services that support the various processes. You don’t have to manage or even know about the underlying middleware, networking, or database. Offerings are created so that security is an element of the solution, not an afterthought.

The process services offered by ADP are probably the best-known BPaaS services. ADP helps companies manage their payroll and the accounting and legal aspects related to that process. A company using ADP doesn’t have to be concerned that its payment information will be intermixed with information from other companies. ADP can implement payroll services based on its customer’s specific business process.

What BPaaS companies look like

It’s worth describing some of the businesses that deliver massively scaled cloud applications and business processes. Most of the businesses listed here had to cover uncharted business territory when they developed their service. For this reason, the services they offer may not traditionally be thought of as business services — but that’s really what they are.

Here’s a list of companies in this field and the business processes they deliver:

  • eBay: Provides an electronic auction service

  • PayPal: Provides an Internet payment capability as a service

  • Skype: Owned by Microsoft, Skype provides Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone calls as a service, most of which are free

  • Google: Provides an Internet search capability as a service

  • This service is free when you have access to the Internet. Google also provides an Internet e-mail service, Gmail. Google has quite a few other services, including maps, news aggregation, Google Apps, and so on.

  • YouTube: Provides video self-publishing as a service and was acquired by Google

  • Yahoo!: Like Google, Yahoo! provides an Internet search service and e-mail service

  • MailChimp and Constant Contact: Provide services for sending out online newsletters and marketing campaigns

  • Craigslist: Offers small ads as a service

  • WordPress: Hosts blogs as a service

  • LinkedIn: Offers business contacts and networking as a service

  • Facebook and Twitter: Provide social networking services that have a huge reach across the globe

These companies are able to support these types of business processes because of the massive data centers they’ve designed to support a specific type of workload. Because their data centers are optimized to support these specialized workloads, they are able to easily support millions of users so efficiently that it’s very hard to compete with them.

Looking at web-based business services

You might be inclined to think that web-based businesses are somehow different from the companies to which you outsource your energy generation or the companies that provide your communications, but they’re very similar.

Be aware that many of these web-based companies started out without a well-defined revenue stream, and some of them have yet to demonstrate a viable business model for their activities. This is currently the case, for example, with Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, all of which exist just because their investors (or Google in the case of YouTube) believe that they will eventually find a profitable way of operating.

Most of the businesses mentioned are dominant in their field because they have established strong barriers to entry and because of their scalable infrastructure and their ability to deliver services at a very low cost. Quite a few Internet auction houses existed before eBay began to dominate the field, and there have been several attempts by would-be competitors to penetrate eBay’s market, but none have made much of an impact.