Platform-as-a-Service (Paas), provides a complete, flexible and cost-effective cloud platform for developing, running and managing applications.

Platform-as-a-Service, is a cloud computing model that provides customers a complete cloud platform—hardware, software, and infrastructure—for developing, running, and managing applications without the cost, complexity, and inflexibility that often comes with building and maintaining that platform on-premises.

The PaaS provider hosts everything—servers, networks, storage, operating system software, databases, development tools—at their data center. Typically customers can pay a fixed fee to provide a specified amount of resources for a specified number of users, or they can choose ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing to pay only for the resources they use. Either option enables PaaS customers to build, test, deploy run, update and scale applications more quickly and inexpensively they could if they had to build out and manage their own on-premises platform.

Every leading cloud service provider—including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure—has its own PaaS offering. Popular PaaS solutions are also available as open source projects (e.g. Apache Stratos, Cloud Foundry) or from software vendors (e.g. Red Hat OpenShift and Salesforce Heroku).

Benefits of PaaS

The most commonly-cited benefits of PaaS, compared to an on-premises platform, include:

  • Faster time to market. With PaaS, there’s no need to purchase and install the hardware and software you use to build and maintain your application development platform—and no need for development teams to wait while you do this. You simply tap into the cloud service provider’s PaaS to begin provisioning resources and developing immediately.
  • Affordable access to a wider variety of resources. PaaS platforms typically offer access to a wider range of choices up and down the application stack— including operating systems, middleware, databases and development tools—than most organizations can practically or affordably maintain themselves. 
  • More freedom to experiment, with less risk. PaaS also lets you try or test new operating systems, languages and other tools without having to make substantial investments in them, or in the infrastructure required to run them.
  • Easy, cost-effective scalability. With an on-premises platform, scaling is always expensive, often wasteful and sometimes inadequate: You have to purchase additional compute, storage and networking capacity in anticipation of traffic spikes; much of that capacity sits idle during low-traffic periods, and none of it can be increased in time to accommodate unanticipated surges. With PaaS, you can purchase additional capacity, and start using it immediately, whenever you need it.
  • Greater flexibility for development teams. PaaS services provide a shared software development environment that allows development and operations teams access to all the tools they need, from any location with an internet connection.
  • Lower costs overall. Clearly PaaS reduces costs by enabling an organization to avoid capital equipment expense associated with building and scaling an application platform. But PaaS also can also reduce or eliminate software licensing costs. And by handling patches, updates and other administrative tasks, PaaS can reduce your overall application management costs. 

Use Cases for PaaS

By providing an integrated and ready-to-use platform—and by enabling organizations to offload infrastructure management to the cloud provider and focus on building, deploying and managing applications—PaaS can ease or advance a number of IT initiatives, including:

  • API development and management: Because of its built-in frameworks, PaaS makes it much simpler for teams to develop, run, manage and secure APIs (application programming interfaces) for sharing data and functionality between applications.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): Out of the box, PaaS can support a range of programming languages (Java, Python, Swift, etc.), tools and application environments used for IoT application development and real-time processing of data generated by IoT devices.
  • Agile development and DevOps: PaaS can provide fully-configured environments for automating the software application lifecycle including integration, delivery, security, testing and deployment.
  • Cloud migration and cloud-native development: With its ready-to-use tools and integration capabilities, PaaS can simplify migration of existing applications to the cloud—particularly via replatforming (moving an application to the cloud with modifications that take better advantage of cloud scalability, load balancing and other capabilities) or refactoring (re-architecting some or all of an application using microservices, containers and other cloud-native technologies).
  • Hybrid cloud strategy: Hybrid cloud integrates public cloud services, private cloud services and on-premises infrastructure and provides orchestration, management and application portability across all three. The result is a unified and flexible distributed computing environment, where an organization can run and scale its traditional (legacy) or cloud-native workloads on the most appropriate computing model. The right PaaS solution allows developers to build once, then deploy and mange anywhere in a hybrid cloud environment.