Platform-as-a-Service, abbreviated as PaaS, is a type of cloud computing model describing the concept of delivering a computing platform as an integrated solution or service over an internet connection.

In PaaS, the clients get a platform to develop, run and manage different business applications with lesser effort than that required for designing and maintaining infrastructure for releasing an app.

So, what is PaaS?

In PaaS, a third party provider supplies the hardware and software tools required for application development over the internet.

The hardware and software are hosted on the provider’s infrastructure, and hence, users are freed from installing them additionally for running any application.

The cloud has significantly changed how business apps are developed and run. PaaS is an ideal model for running apps without any burden of maintenance of on-premises hardware and software infrastructure at your organization.

PaaS applications include updated features without any hassle of constant upgrades. Several enterprises have adopted mainly it for its simplicity, scalability, and reliability.

PaaS lets every microservice to be implemented and managed quicker, and it is especially useful when microservices are developed using multiple language and frameworks.

In this article, we will highlight why PaaS is extensively adopted by organizations, its benefits, types, applications as well as associated risks. Let us start!

Why is PaaS being adopted?

Designing and running on-premises apps is costly, slow as well as complicated.  They have additional requirements like having an OS, a database, servers, hardware, middleware, and other software.

Sometimes, a group of experts is also appointed for managing network, database, and systems. Also, large organizations often require specialized methods to set up data centers and keep a team for their maintenance.

A massive amount of electricity to power the servers and a failover site to mirror the data center for replicating information during a disaster are needed too.

Applications developed with such complexity and infrastructure are difficult to scale and update in case of a change in business requirement.

This is where PaaS pitches in.

PaaS delivers the necessary infrastructure for developing and running applications over the internet. It offers a quicker and more cost-efficient model for app development and delivery.

PaaS brings with it a new wave of mass innovation and business agility. With its help, the developers can focus on creativity than being busy in managing complex hardware and infrastructure.

What are the advantages of developing apps using PaaS?

PaaS brings with it lots of opportunities that can help an organization to take application development to an entirely different level.

Let us find out what are the key benefits that it offers us.

1. Data Agility

The quality of a custom application depends on how good the data, used to build it, is. PaaS solutions not only create apps using reliable databases but can merge any data with them and generate data-centric apps.

This gives the users an entirely new kind of connected experience and supplies them with correct, contextual information in real time.

Businesses having frameworks, that highly concentrate on data, make it simpler for low-code developers to integrate them into applications. They use point-and-click integration tools for quickly obtaining better applications.

2. Declarative app developing tools

One of the biggest pros of PaaS is that it enables even non-coders to create good quality apps quickly. Advanced and sophisticated drag-and-drop tools make it simpler.

Intuitive mouse-controls, one-click selection, and the addition of elements to application template, and choosing the data, as well as actions from a drop-down list for configuring the underlying business logic, are some methods by which the users can control their development GUI.

3. Support for any system

Using a single all-purpose PaaS development framework is more advantageous for any business rather than using a particular web application development framework for its design and other structures for designing other platforms.

For a business to flourish and stay competitive in the market, it requires a cross-platform solution for building web, desktop, and mobile apps for any system and application architecture — web or native.

4. Flexibility

For building apps that meet the unique requirements of a business or its clients, the companies need something flexible, open, and scalable.

Almost all programming languages (Java, HTML5, Ruby, Python, PHP, and others) must be supported if the application development framework requires extension at any point in time.

Also, the framework must be flexible to scale up and down, depending on the transaction volume received from the users. Preferably, built-in services for testing, analytics, and deploying the applications have to be included as well.

5. Enterprise cloud services

Typically, you also require other things, in addition to a UI, for developing an application. For instance, you need services to support business logic, integrations, APIs, etc. Services to monitor authentication and security are also important.

You also need services for making way for different microservices to incorporate various features like maps, RFID, Bluetooth, push notifications, etc into the application.

In PaaS, its low-code app development framework offers these services in simple categorized formats, such that even non-coders can quickly design the entire application! Thus, it is a UI  along with an out-of-the-box, model-driven cloud services approach which turns aPaaS into a powerful tool.

What are the different types of PaaS?

Initially, PaaS was meant for apps on public cloud services. With advancement in technology, it has evolved into other forms as well. Let us find out.

Mainly, there are three types:

  • Public
  • Private
  • Hybrid

Public PaaS

When PaaS came into light, it was public. Public PaaS is obtained from Software as a Service (SaaS), and it lies between SaaS and IaaS (Infrastructure as a service).

SaaS is the software hosted in the cloud such that it doesn’t consume hard drive from the user’s computer or an organization’s servers whereas IaaS offers virtual hardware from a provider with scalability.

Even with IaaS, the user needs to handle the server, but in PaaS, the provider is responsible for managing the servers.

Early competitors in Public PaaS were Heroku, Engine Yard, Microsoft Azure, etc. These vendors provide middleware which helps the developers in setting up, configuring and managing databases as well as servers. They need not worry about the infrastructure part.

Few small and medium-sized businesses have adopted public PaaS. Larger companies and enterprises have not yet taken it up at a bigger scale because of its enormous number of rules and regulations as well as compliance issues. And so, for such large enterprises, private PaaS has been found very much suitable.

Private PaaS

Private PaaS lets you implement and manage enterprise apps and at the same time, takes care of security and privacy demands. This software can be set up on any infrastructure and can function within the private cloud managed by an organization’s IT department.

The flexibility of the private PaaS solutions makes sure that companies can utilize them for meeting their objectives and thus pave the way for enterprises to transform into the ‘best’.

For instance, if you wish to implement an OpenStack-based private cloud and simultaneously leverage the advantages of PaaS, you can do it!

Some of the famous private PaaS vendors are Apprenda, RedHat, Pivotal, ActiveState, etc.

Hybrid PaaS

The third type, hybrid PaaS is a combination of both public and private deployments. Its concept is similar to the hybrid cloud.

Companies want the flexibility of infinite capacity while maintaining expenses of buying internal infrastructure. That’s why some of them have switched to a hybrid model.

This model provides the flexibility of making the internal infrastructure to support development tasks nearly 80% of the time (or any percentage they want). It offers excellent flexibility as the app developer can choose ‘which’ application is to be run, and ‘not where’ to run.

There are few other forms of PaaS as well which are mentioned below.

Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS)

Communications Platform as a Service, abbreviated as CPaaS, is a cloud-based platform that allows developers to include real-time features for communication in their apps without requiring to make backend infrastructure and interfaces.

A CPaaS gives a development framework for developing real-time communications features without having to build your own. It usually includes software tools, standards-based application programming interfaces (APIs), sample code, and pre-built applications.

CPaaS providers also offer product documentation and help the developers throughout the development process. Some organizations also provide software development kits (SDKs) and libraries for building apps on various desktop and mobile platforms.

Mobile Platform as a Service (mPaaS)

mPaaS is the provision for creating mobile apps and has a per-month pricing system based on the number of devices and supported features. It evolved in 2012. Generally, coding skill is not needed for it.

A mPaaS IDE typically has an object-oriented drag-and-drop interface to quickly build HTML5 or native apps with direct access to a device’s parts like sensors, GPS, accelerometer, camera, microphone, etc. MPaaS can also support several mobile operating systems.

Open PaaS

Open PaaS is a new, open business-oriented collaboration platform which offers an open source software, allowing a PaaS provider to run apps in an open source environment, like Google App Engine. It is free, and you can easily design and deploy new apps on your own!

What are some typical applications of PaaS?

As per our discussion till now, it should have been understood that providing a hosted environment for app development and testing is one of the primary uses for PaaS. But, there are several other causes too for which organizations utilize it significantly.

They are as follows

  • Business Analytics

PaaS provides tools which help organizations and enterprises in analyzing their business data to figure out insights and behavioral patterns. This helps them in making accurate decisions and predict future events like market demand for products and services, etc.

  • Business Process Management (BPM)

Many companies utilize PaaS to access a BPM platform provided as a service as with other cloud offerings. BPM suites aid in integrating various IT components required for process management which involves business rules, data and service level agreements.

  • Databases

A PaaS provider can also provide services like setting up and managing databases of a company. Research firm ‘Forrester Research’ explains database PaaS as an on-demand, secure, and scalable self-service database platform which automates provisioning and administration of databases.

They can be used by developers as well as non-technical personnel.

  • Internet of Things (IoT)

It is expected that IoT will soon evolve as an essential part of PaaS shortly, and PaaS will then support an extensive range of app environments, programming languages as well as tools for several IoT deployments.

  • Master Data Management (MDM)

MDM deals with the procedures, governance, policies, standards, and tools that manage and control the critical business information of an enterprise. It also offers a single point of reference for data.

Such data may also include reference data about customer transactions, as well as analytical data to aid in decision making.

What are the risks of PaaS?

As mentioned earlier, PaaS is a cloud-based service, and hence, it also possesses threats similar to other cloud offerings. Let us see what they are.

Security

PaaS is concerned with the idea of using shared resources like networks and servers. Therefore, security risks include storing critical information into such an environment and having them hacked or misused by cyber criminals or unauthorized access.

However, most of the cloud service providers have succeeded in eliminating such breaches than ordinary enterprise datacenters. So, data security risk has reduced significantly.

With PaaS, an organization becomes dependent on service providers, who in turn, provide the access controls and other security policies into the former’s infrastructure and operations.

Vendor Lock-in

Since organizations depend on a specific service provider’s infrastructure and software, there is a severe issue of vendor lock-in with PaaS environments. PaaS vendors usually dictate the database, storage and application framework used.

Then what about the legacy applications? Enterprises will still need the skills and infrastructure to run them. IT department often raises the question “if the PaaS it selects will interoperate with its present and future IaaS and SaaS deployments?

Lack of proper provisions in SLA

Adequate requirements are not documented in the SLA. The Cloud Computing Bill of Rights offers an important protection checklist which aids in benchmarking a provider’s offerings.

The blooming National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Cloud Computing Security publication, is working to standardize federal-compliant cloud infrastructures and requires to be followed and maintained.

Not everything in the cloud

Not every part of the current infrastructure of an organization may be built for the cloud. If a few components cannot be cloud-enabled successfully, then you might have to change several apps and programs to integrate completely.

You may also require to leave some of them outside the cloud and within your existing infrastructure.

Conclusion

Developing a new application is made easier and faster with PaaS. It is a proven model for running apps without any burden of maintenance of on-premises hardware and software infrastructure at your organization.

Thus, developers can focus on creativity instead of getting busy in managing infrastructure.

PaaS applications also include updated features which eliminate the hassle of constant upgrades. Because of its simplicity, scalability, and reliability, multiple organizations and enterprises have adopted it.

PaaS is friendly to both developers as well as non-technical persons. PaaS allows each microservice to be implemented and managed quicker, and it is especially useful when microservices are developed using multiple language and frameworks.

Platform-as-a-Service, abbreviated as PaaS, is a type of cloud computing model describing the concept of delivering a computing platform as an integrated solution or service over an internet connection.