An Introduction to Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Computing

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Platform as a Service or PaaS is a cloud computing model, which offers a centrally hosted platform to developers for building software assets or creating applications. The platform can be accessed over a network, such as the Internet, using a common web browser. Thus, as a developer, you can build, run and manage applications on the cloud, without going through the hassles of on-premise platforms.

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PaaS vendors provide the tools and environment for development and also manages all aspects of infrastructure and applications. This also frees you up from other low-level concerns of the development environment and can focus on the actual task at hand.

Most vendors also provide ongoing support through different stages of application development and deployment. Right from the initial conception of the idea or creation of application to the testing and final delivery – you will find dedicated support for each level.

Why is PaaS used?

It is used to reduce development and deployment time while simultaneously making significant cost savings. Instead of purchasing the several independent tools for creating, testing and delivering software, you get to lease the tools, the platform and pre-managed environment. You can pay on the go, ensuring you pay only for what you actually use.

The time, money and IT resources you would typically spend on server requirements, network bandwidth, storage overheads and other fundamental requirements such as middleware are slashed. In addition, it allows you to meet the needs of customers faster, by speeding up development. Your time-to-market decreases and so do costs associated with maintaining a heavily staffed IT team.

Since PaaS reduces complexity, it also decreases skill requirement in organizations. Improved agility, higher flexibility and optimized infrastructure utilization are some of the other reasons why PaaS is used.

Considerations in choosing a PaaS vendor

Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, Cloudbess and Force.com are four popular PaaS vendors that offer an array of tools and support options. Comparing their features will allow you to narrow your choices down to the most relevant PaaS packages. Most vendors offer pre-configured features that allow you to subscribe selectively (you can discard the ones you don’t need).

Apart from the features, you also want to pay attention to the security, support model and level of scalability offered. Vendors that offer configuration-ability and transparency can be trusted. Check the propriety information of the package as well. You want a vendor who allows different developers in diverse geographical locations to collaborate and share codes easily.

Also check for the compatibility of the different tools offered by your PaaS vendors across various cloud models. Service interoperability is another desirable feature. In addition, take a look at the additional resources listed below for more information.

Additional learning resources

A combination of positive and negative keywords helps improve understanding. Look for “examples of PaaS in action”, “benefits of PaaS”, “security problems with PaaS”, “concerns with PaaS” and “PaaS success stories” plus “PaaS adoption failures” to assess the benefits and risks of platform-as-a-service.

In addition, go through the following links as well:

An overview of PaaS and its many uses by Search Cloud Applications
Tips for developers and businesses getting started with PaaS, by Microsoft
Important questions you should ask a PaaS provider by Search Cloud Applications
Key considerations before moving to PaaS by Search Cloud Applications