What is PaaS – Platform as a Service
Cloud computing has recently experienced tremendous growth, and the upward trend is set to continue in the coming years. Businesses and organizations of every kind have been quick to adopt this practice of using a network of remote servers rather than a single server to store, manage and process data – opening an exciting world of possibilities for innovation and growth.
As Susan Ward notes in The Balance Small Business, cloud computing is especially advantageous for small businesses, as it gives them access to data and applications from anywhere at anytime from any mobile device, at a reasonable price – without having to purchase software. This greatly helps level the playing field, allowing small and mid-size businesses to compete with larger enterprises.
Cloud services consist of three main types: software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). As this blog has covered the first two in previous months, we focus this month on PaaS.
De-mystifying PaaS – what it is and what it features
• PaaS is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run and manage applications without the complexity (and expense) of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app. PaaS can be delivered in three ways:
• Public cloud service from a provider, where the customer controls software deployment with minimal configuration options, and the provider provides the networks, servers, storage, operating system (OS), middleware (e.g., Java runtime, .NET runtime, integration, etc.), database and other services to host the customer’s application.
• Private service (software or appliance) behind a firewall.
• Software deployed on a public infrastructure as a service.
In addition, notes John Meegan of IBM, PaaS systems typically build in security and data-protection features, including resilience capabilities such as replication and backups. This can improve security and reduce the need for in-house security skills. Meegan continues:
“The provision of sophisticated, off-the-shelf capabilities as services enables the rapid creation and evolution of applications that address business requirements. This is especially important when considering mobile and web applications that include social and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities.
“Business applications typically require integration and involve aggregation of data and services from multiple existing systems. PaaS systems usually feature prebuilt integration and aggregation components to speed and simplify necessary development work.”
Dan Juengst of Red Hat OpenShift discusses PaaS in the video “What is a Platform as a Service (PaaS)?”
The powerful benefits of PaaS
Meegan lists the broad benefits of PaaS:
- Scalability, including rapid allocation and deallocation of resources with a pay-as-you-use model (noting that the use of individual resources can vary greatly over the life cycle of an application).
- Reduced capital expenditure.
- Reduced lead times with on-demand availability of resources.
- Self-service with reduced administration costs.
- Reduced skill requirements.
- Support of team collaboration.
- Ability to add new users quickly.
How PaaS works
PaaS does not replace all IT infrastructure needs; instead, you rely on the service provider for some vital services like Java development and application hosting. The service provider builds and then supplies a robust and conducive environment so that the user can install data sets and applications.
Several of the PaaS products help in the software development. PaaS platforms offer many facilities, such as compute and storage infrastructure, version management and text editing. They also offer compiling and testing services which help your team create new software efficiently and quickly.
Looking ahead to what’s next for PaaS
Shawn Stamp, Practice Director of UpperEdge – a Boston-based IT advisory company – anticipates PaaS to become more robust to the point where tech savvy users – as opposed to traditional programmers – will be able to develop/manage increasingly feature-rich custom applications.
“The addition of AI to PaaS offerings will help to enable this,” Stamp says.
A word of caution
You should carefully select the PaaS service provider after evaluating the downtime and lock-in risks. If there are frequent outages, it can affect your productivity. Provider lock-in is the other concern where it is difficult for the users to migrate many of the services and data from one PaaS product to another.
Another potential issue is the internal changes that a provider makes to the PaaS product. If the PaaS service provider decides to stops supporting some programing language or plans to use another set of development tools, it can become a problem for the user. You need to follow the PaaS provider’s service roadmap to know if or how it will affect your capabilities.
Prominent PaaS service providers
There are many PaaS service providers offering the tools required to build enterprise applications. Evaluate those that meet your organization’s technical requirements, then make a careful selection to prevent issues in such areas as language and service.
Google App Engine – This is a cloud computing platform that helps you develop and host web applications in data centers managed by Google. It uses and supports such languages as Java, Python, Go and PHP.
Microsoft Azure – Supports application development in such languages as Note.js, PHP, Java, Ruby, Python, and .NET. It allows developers to use Visual Studio and software developer kits to develop and deploy applications.
Red Hat Open Shift –PaaS offering that can be used for creating open source applications using a variety of languages, components and databases. You can get on-demand access to Open Shift and build, deploy and manage scalable applications.
AWS Compute Cloud (EC2) – Allows a developer to create, deploy, manage, and scale web applications and services that are developed with languages such as .NET, Ruby, Python, Go, Node.js, PHP, Docker, and Java on common servers like Apache, Nginx, etc.
Heroku Enterprises (Salesforce platform) – Support such languages as Java, Python, Ruby, Node.js, Cloture and Scala. It offers Unix-style container computing options that run processes in an isolated environment.
No matter which PaaS provider you choose, keeping your company’s data secure is always the first priority. DocuServe is a cloud-based digital data protection company providing services that include cloud-based document management, content encryption and distribution, and digital media replication and encryption. Contact us today to learn about our full range of solutions.