In today’s world, many companies are fully operating from the cloud. The cloud lets them do anything, from managing documents to streamlining accounts payable, from any location, at any time. Employees are remote, it’s easier to collaborate, and it saves space by getting rid of physical servers.
One way to make working in the cloud more efficient is to use a platform as a service (PaaS). A PaaS provider offers you space to develop apps or software that can be accessed from anywhere. Developers are able to collaborate in one place and work together to quickly deploy software products.
Using a platform as a service saves your developers’ time. It makes it easier to create and deploy apps and ultimately puts money back into your pocket by reducing software’s time-to-market.
What is a Platform as a Service (PaaS)?
PaaS, or platform as a service, is a cloud computing service that includes the ability to both create and develop apps, and features the hardware necessary to make it happen, like virtual servers.
With PaaS, businesses don’t have to create their own infrastructure or servers. They’re able to use the development tools within the PaaS to create software or develop mobile applications and websites.
Take Shopify, for example. Users pay a monthly fee to access Shopify’s platform and can use all of its web applications to generate an ecommerce website. The platform and Shopify’s API allow you to develop your own apps, too.
The Three Types of PaaS
There are a few types of PaaS that developers can use. The type that’s best for your company depends on your requirements for security and compliance, as well as your budget.
This was the first type of PaaS, developed in the early 2000s. Using a public PaaS means that you, as the user, handle everything related to your apps, software, and deployment. However, you don’t handle the infrastructure, the servers, and operating systems that store your data. That’s up to your PaaS provider, and that infrastructure is shared by multiple users.
Since it does run on a public cloud, larger organizations tend not to use public PaaS because of security and compliance issues. The data they store often needs to stay behind a private firewall. For example, a bank couldn’t store customer data on a public PaaS. Usually, smaller to medium-sized businesses use this type of PaaS. They don’t have to focus their attention on maintaining infrastructure, which means their developers can put resources toward developing apps instead.
A private PaaS uses its own infrastructure and a private cloud that’s managed by an organization’s IT department. It’s much more secure, which is why enterprise companies tend to choose private PaaS over public. Plus, these organizations have enough IT staff to run the infrastructure and develop apps at the same time.
Choosing between public and private comes down to how much control the customer wants and whether or not they want the responsibility of maintaining infrastructure too.
Hybrid PaaS combines the public and private clouds into a hybrid cloud. Businesses can continue to use on-premises infrastructure for privacy while combining with the public cloud for additional resources.
If you need more storage space, you can move some apps to the public cloud. Doing this combats latency, as data and applications can flow freely, reducing the burden on a private cloud.
How Does PaaS Work?
The capabilities of a PaaS vary based on the provider, but PaaS services typically include infrastructure, middleware, tools to design and develop apps, operating systems, the ability to work in different programming languages, a data center, and more. All of these elements work together to provide the user with a platform as a service.
PaaS Use Cases
Businesses that use PaaS tend to utilize its tools for cloud-based tasks related to creating applications and software development, like:
- Developing mobile applications
- Deploying app updates
- Using DevOps tools
- Automating maintenance tasks to reduce an app’s time-to-market
PaaS vs. IaaS vs. SaaS: Key Differences
PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS often work together—but have separate functionalities. Each one plays a role in creating and deploying applications.
This stands for infrastructure as a service. An IaaS provides companies with an infrastructure, and PaaS often runs on top of an IaaS. If someone uses this cloud infrastructure, they still have the responsibility of finding a development environment, including servers and an operating system. Usually, that comes in the form of a PaaS.
Examples: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services
With PaaS solutions, users only manage their cloud applications and their data. Some PaaS providers also offer IaaS so that their customers can put all their attention into creating the apps and software they need to build.
Examples: Windows Azure, Heroku
This stands for software as a service. In this case, everything is managed through a vendor. Users don’t have to code anything—they just get the application delivered directly to them through a web browser.
Examples: Google Workspace, Salesforce
The Advantages and Limitations of PaaS
Using PaaS is convenient for many businesses, but with that convenience come a few disadvantages that you’ll need to weigh against the pros.
The Pros of PaaS
Using PaaS means that users can access it via a web browser anywhere. Since many people work remotely, it’s much easier for developers to collaborate, whether they’re in London or Singapore.
Most PaaS resources are on-demand, meaning you choose only the services you want to pay for. This helps alleviate the costs associated with maintaining on-premises hardware too,which makes it a cost-effective option.
The IT team doesn’t have to allot time toward maintaining a platform and has more time to focus on getting apps and software ready for development;and the sooner those are ready for market, the sooner your company starts making money.
The Cons of PaaS
Every rose has its thorn—and that also applies to PaaS. Users must rely on the PaaS provider for service. If they experience any sort of outage, that can disrupt your business. While most do take steps to prevent that from happening, it can still occur—just look at Amazon Web Services. In late 2021, the PaaS provider experienced an outage that affected a series of popular services around the world, including Netflix and Disney+.
Also, once you choose a PaaS and upload all your data, it can be hard to migrate to a new provider if you decide it’s not the right fit. Not all PaaS competitors are compatible with each other, and it could take a long time to download all of your assets and migrate them to a new one.
If your PaaS provider makes updates and stops supporting certain functionalities, that could also pose issues. Say your team programs in a certain language, and a PaaS provider deploys an update that no longer supports that language. Your team would need to completely change all of their code, or even learn a new language.
Examples of Platform as a Service (PaaS)
If you’re looking to use a PaaS, you have several to choose from. From IBM to Oracle, there are many reputable providers. It will be up to you and your IT team to determine which is the best fit for your business goals.
The IBM Cloud itself is a free cloud service provider that gives the user access to over 40 different products, some of which have monthly fees. When you sign up, you’ll see that some products are always free, some have free trials, and IBM gives discounts on a variety of products.
Google Cloud Run
With Google Cloud Run, new users get $300 in credit to spend on their products. Each customer gets two million free requests per month, and you only pay when your code is running. This is ideal for building websites and running back-office administration.
Oracle Cloud Platform
Oracle Cloud Platform offers many different pricing options, as well as a self-service pricing tool on its page, so users can easily estimate how much they’d pay to use their PaaS. It’s pay-as-you-go, meaning you only pay for the services used. Oracle also features a rewards program for customers.
This open-source product was designed as an IaaS but possesses properties of a PaaS, allowing developers to build and deploy new applications. It even serves as support for video games. Blizzard Entertainment uses OpenStack to power the popular game Overwatch.
Engine Yard Cloud
Engine Yard Cloud is designed to work directly with Amazon Web Services and keeps up with all AWS changes for the user, so developers only worry about application development. They have a few options for pricing plans, which are great for scalability as your company grows, and they also offer a 14-day trial.
Red Hat OpenShift
Red Hat OpenShift is a Kubernetes container platform made for hybrid cloud and multi-cloud use. It allows users to run applications on any cloud, no matter what the host environment may be. Red Hat also offers API management to help with delivering applications faster. Their pricing starts at $0.076 an hour.
PaaS Is the Key to Unlocking ERP Integration
One of the ways to harness PaaS is through enterprise resource planning (ERP), which handles company-wide billing, the supply chain and procurement processes, and more.
Use a platform as a service to help integrate your enterprise planning software with the rest of your third-party systems and to automate workflows. Need tips on ERP integrations? Read our e-book.