When you work within the technology sector, it seems there’s always a new acronym to learn, describing the latest in developments.
By now we all know about SaaS, in fact, most of us use them in some form or another. Software as Service has proven to be a popular business model and a hit with users.
As you are probably aware, SaaS exist through cloud computing services. This means that all updates can happen centrally and all data is (hopefully) stored safely on the cloud.
Emerging more recently is the idea that SaaS are just one pillar of cloud computing, with IaaS (infrastructure as service) and PaaS (platform as service) coming out as the other two. So, what is this PaaS and how does it work?
What are some use cases for PaaS? Quick download here
Platform as Service (PaaS) is a complete resource for development and deployment that exists in the cloud. If you think about a traditional development situation, your engineers would need to leverage on-site infrastructure, such as servers, networking, and storage, in order to deploy their programs.
In contrast, PaaS provides a complete development resource, with all of those things included. Additionally, PaaS includes:
“…middleware, development tools, business intelligence (BI) services, database management systems, and more. PaaS is designed to support the complete web application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating.” (Microsoft)
As with other types of cloud services, PaaS are offered via the cloud service provider’s own hosted infrastructure. Users will typically access the services via a web browser, just like web-apps for SaaS.
Infoworld outlines another important aspect of PaaS:
“PaaS can be delivered through public, private, or hybrid clouds. With a public cloud PaaS, the customer controls software deployment while the cloud provider delivers all the major IT components needed to host the applications, including servers, storage systems, networks, operating systems, and databases.
With a private cloud offering, PaaS is delivered as software or an appliance within a customer’s firewall, typically in its on-premises datacenter. Hybrid cloud PaaS offers a mix of the two types of cloud service.”
For companies looking at using PaaS, there are a number of key benefits, many of which might prove to be a business advantage:
Previously when building their own apps, businesses needed server space, software for programming environments, and security to ensure the safety of everything they kept on-premises.
Consider the investment required, not only in those baseline requirements but in ongoing maintenance or required updates. Companies had to purchase complex software stacks and invest large amounts of time and money into technology which very quickly becomes outdated.
PaaS reduces these costs, while the number of automation possibilities also reduces labor costs for companies. It makes sense to use shared applications and take advantage of an infrastructure that has been pre-built and is continuously maintained.
Speed to market
Infrastructure challenges, along with the need for complex solutions for the entire app lifecycle, including building, testing, deploying and management, can make the old internal process of software development a slow one.
PaaS automate many previously manual tasks, and provide an environment which supports the entire development lifecycle. This means that companies can enjoy a faster speed to market than they may have otherwise.
They have options – where iterations or adjustments are needed, they already have the structure in place to support them, without needing to make further investment.
Lower commitment of funds
A PaaS structure gives companies the option of starting out with small deployments, then scaling up as needed. They don’t need to begin by building a massive server in anticipation of future growth.
It is more efficient, as well as cheaper to look to developer tools that are already in place on the cloud. There’s no need to build anything before you begin developing, and developers can focus on the task of creating good code (helping with that speed to market too!).
Access best practices
One common feature of the technology world is how quickly things change. Yesterday’s best practice may become today’s cautionary tale. It can take a lot of work to keep up with the technology and the best practices.
On the other hand, PaaS have best practices built into them for application management. Operations can be completely systemized and are infused with the most recent developments and best practices.
Ability to be highly responsive
PaaS grant companies the ability to be highly responsive with their apps. Any updates or fixes can be deployed automatically, meaning change happens much more quickly than it would otherwise.
At the same time, consider the challenges of scalability if you’re not using a PaaS. You design an app which needs to be compatible with many different devices and operating systems. You also need to ensure that strong security protocols are in place to protect them.
Should your app become popular and receive a sudden spike in usage or downloads, this can be a huge strain on internal infrastructure. When that happens, things can fail and the customer experience is impacted by outages.
On the other hand, using a PaaS should avoid the situation of data centers becoming overwhelmed and allow you to rapidly scale back-end responsiveness. Consider the millions of messages per second that an app like Facebook has to process – your business app might not be at that scale, but you’d sure like the reliable platform behind it!
Support remote work
Like other cloud-based solutions, PaaS inherently support collaboration from across the globe. This makes them a great solution for companies who have development teams across different locations.
As an integrated solution, PaaS allows companies to improve workflows (both for remote and co-located teams), and to create efficient processes overall. Team members can collaborate in real time and the company isn’t busy managing servers or other infrastructure.
In fact, the load on IT can be reduced overall. The PaaS vendor manages all platform maintenance, so your team focuses on your own software.
In another nod to remote, collaborative environments, PaaS have the ability to learn quickly, respond to user needs and rapidly resolve common issues. Organizations can spend less time working “in” the business, or doing the things that “keep the lights on,” and instead focus on working “on” the business.
For many companies, both large and small, the time is right to look to PaaS solutions. The platform approach helps to deliver faster, more secure solutions which harness best practices and remove a lot of maintenance from company shoulders.
As a technology, PaaS have been around for a few years and reached a level of maturity which sees them as a reliable solution. They have the ability to automate processes and provide all the building blocks for companies in need of a full-service package.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons for looking at PaaS is the potential business advantages they can provide. PaaS allow companies to be very agile and responsive to issues or demand. They can scale quickly and avoid costly infrastructure investment. This just may be the edge that one company has over their competitor.
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Full Stack Developer, interested in web and mobile platforms, and the APIs to integrate them. Expert in product development and building integrations between products. The one always with a gray t-shirt.