The Complete Guide to Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service empowers businesses and professionals to move away from on-premise development environments to developing, testing, and deploying software on the cloud.

In this guide, you will discover why businesses are investing in PaaS and what industries are reaping the most benefits from it. You will also learn how you can use PaaS to cut costs and save time, outsource maintenance and other critical parts of managing your software development.

A couple of decades ago, most of the business world did its computing over in-house systems. Now, we expect global end-user spending in public cloud services to reach over $362 billion by 2022 (1), and the growth of PaaS to follow this upward trend.

Platform as a Service in 2017 was a $6.27 billion market (2). In 2020, the PaaS market spending came to $50.8 billion (3).

Why Businesses are Moving to the Cloud

More enterprise businesses are migrating to cloud solutions for these reasons:

  • For greater flexibility,
  • To improve efficiency and security, and
  • To cut IT spending

The Platform as a Service market is not the highest-grossing of all cloud service forms. It also doesn’t have the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Still, PaaS penetration and adoption shows no signs of slowing down.

Businesses create more value and improve the efficiency of their IT processes using PaaS technology. To do the same, you’d need to understand the possibilities in Platform as a Service.

We’ll explore what PaaS is, its distinction from IaaS and SaaS, common use cases of PaaS, and the benefits.

However, Platform as a Service (PaaS) is one of the three primary tiers of cloud computing. The others are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

All three cloud computing tiers come under the public cloud services market. To understand PaaS, you’ll need to understand how cloud services work.

What are Cloud Services?

The cloud provides an alternative to the traditional way of storing and retrieving data on local devices. Cloud computing created the ability to store data on networks of remote servers accessible over the internet.

With the remote data storage ability came the possibility of managing and processing these data remotely.

Then cloud services expanded to offer business process software and tools you could run remotely.

In time, entire development platforms and frameworks became available on the cloud to enable you to create, deploy, and manage your apps and software.

Lately, cloud computing provides the infrastructure that allows you to install and run any software or operating systems you want.

Now, cloud service providers (CSP) offer multiple third-party services and products like applications, software, infrastructure, and platforms. These services are available on the cloud for a fee and open to the public through the internet.

Fewer enterprises use legacy on-premise IT solutions, and up to 94% (4) are adopting cloud computing. Already, 85% of global enterprises (5) store sensitive data in the cloud.

If you’re wondering, what type of scenario would be best served by using a platform as a service (PaaS) cloud model? IoT seems to be taking the lead.

However, you might have more questions. What’s driving this growth? Why are businesses moving to the cloud and adopting PaaS solutions? Let’s explore the answers.

Benefits of Cloud Services

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All forms of cloud services share these common advantages over in-house solutions:

Lower IT cost: cloud services don’t require the end-user to maintain some physical system. There’s also no extra spending on software updates or a robust IT team.

Improved performance: cloud services are hosted over global networks of datacenters adequately maintained with the latest hardware and software upgrades.

Speed and flexibility: you use cloud services when you need them. With the instant provisioning of computing resources, the cloud reduces the burden of managing fixed storage capacity and improves your computing speed.

Improved systems and teams’ efficiency: your teams don’t have to worry about network latency and unexpected hardware crashes. Since the cloud service provider handles the maintenance, your systems are always efficient. You can also access data from anywhere in the world.

Secure system: cloud services implement intuitive extensive cybersecurity controls to spot potential threats and deploy countermeasures.

Forms of Cloud Services

Cloud services are deployed in several ways. With greater penetration of AI, Machine learning, and data tech, cloud services deployment has even more possibilities.

However, there are three primary forms of cloud service models:

  • SaaS: software as a service.
  • PaaS: Platform as a Service.
  • IaaS: infrastructure as a service.

We’ll understand the differences between these cloud service models, but this guide will focus on Platform as a Service.

What is Platform as a Service?

Platform as a Service is a cloud model that provides a managed application development and deployment environment.

PaaS contains all the services you need to support a web application’s lifecycle—from the infrastructure (servers, data storage, and networking) to development and management.

As is increasingly essential, IT teams extend their daily routine to automated solutions to improve efficiency and time management. The PaaS provider manages the maintenance, database systems, operating systems, analytics, business intelligence, and runtime.

The team will only need to handle app building and management.

How Does Platform as a Service Work?

To use PaaS, you’d have identified a need in your company to build software.

Channeling your resources to building on a cloud platform eliminates the time you’d have to spend navigating the nuances of building your development infrastructure.

When you need it, you purchase the right combination of cloud services you want from a service provider platform. You can pay as you use, to have control over your spending.

With cloud development platforms, you don’t have to worry about software updates and licensing. Your development environment and other services are provided on demand.

PaaS is still a DIY app and software development route. But, instead of a development environment on physical storage, you use a sophisticated cloud-hosted platform.

You also get access to the platform’s infrastructure, middleware, and container orchestrations for your app deployment on the cloud.

Using a cloud platform service is like traveling by taxi. The car is provided with additional services, and you don’t have to drive yourself, only just give the destination. You may also decide the route the driver must follow.

Differentiating PaaS from Other Cloud Services

There are shared features between the three cloud service models. But each has a few additional functionalities beyond others. Each provides a different strategy for managing your IT needs.

To verify the suitability of Platform as a Service to providing what you need, how’s how PaaS differs from other cloud service models:

PaaS Vs. IaaS

For infrastructure as a service vs. platform as a service, how do they compare against each other? Cloud infrastructures allow businesses to connect their systems over a secured remote network and offer storage for hosting software and OS.

IaaS is essentially a remote data center facility or building where you can host your data, software, and OS on the cloud. It provides enabling infrastructure for the virtualization of business processes.

With more multinational companies’ workforce adopting remote work, IaaS provides a way to connect teams across locations on a singular infrastructure.

PaaS will achieve this same virtualization and team collaboration over the cloud, but with the added ability to build and manage your apps and services.

PaaS Vs. SaaS

Along with the infrastructure of IaaS, SaaS offers the app and OS development and management framework of PaaS. But in a way, that is even more out of the control of the user.

SaaS products enable the same virtualization capabilities as IaaS and PaaS, with already-made cloud-based software and services you can purchase as an end-user consumer.

You don’t handle the software development, deployment, or maintenance. You only use the consumable software for creating end-products.

For instance, a PaaS tool will enable the build and manage ERP software. But a cloud-based ERP tool you can purchase is a SaaS product maintained by the service provider.

SaaS systems are the most public of cloud services and very similar to using the bus:

You share the service with other users, and the SaaS product has its assigned or defined features, like bus routes. You can get off when you have reached your destination.

IaaS Vs. PaaS Vs. SaaS

Each cloud service model differs by the extensiveness of its IT management strategy.

However, there are a few additional capabilities with each model. Here’s a quick list to help you spot the differences between PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS solutions at a glance.

Platform as a Service Use Cases

In what ways do companies use PaaS solutions? These scenarios would be best served by using a Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud solution.

Application Development and Management: Cloud platforms as a service enable the development environment and framework to build and run agile cloud-native apps, OS, software, and services.

PaaS providers provide this by making available the infrastructure and software to stack up as many application elements as you need with little or no codes.

PaaS solutions are also equipped to manage the deployment and maintenance of your app’s entire lifecycle and runtime.

Platform as a Service providers offer additional services to improve the scalability of your built apps and software.

Analytics and Business Intelligence: As built-in features of cloud platforms, these services real-time runtime data reporting of your key performance metrics.

The business intelligence feature of platforms improves the functionality of your deployed services to enable data-driven business decision-making.

Workflow and Scheduling: Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers offer businesses the ability to migrate workloads and manage scheduling and remote collaborations. Teams wouldn’t need to be physically present to implement DevOps tasks.

APIs and Microservices: PaaS systems can be used to access and manage integrations, APIs, gateways, portals, and other similar microservices.

Database Management and Directories: PaaS manages data visualization, runtime data collection, storage, directory for recoveries, and server hosting.

Networking Firewalls and Security: PaaS can host developed software, and in that way, run and maintain networking firewalls and manage cybersecurity.

Who Can Use PaaS?

Platform as a Service is penetrating various industries at a mind-blowing rate. One of the major factors driving this adoption is the cost efficiency of using cloud platforms over on-premise alternatives.

Companies also want to improve the chances of scaling their business by leveraging the most efficient and accessible systems.

Business people rarely have to use PaaS systems. But, these operational professionals find PaaS useful in their daily work:

  • Developers, web development professionals, software developers, and app developers.
  • Product managers and teams,
  • Technology and business solutions professionals,
  • Cybersecurity experts,
  • Data scientists,
  • Network engineers,
  • Cloud solution providers.

With greater interaction between multiple emerging technologies, more people adopt PaaS as an accessible platform for building custom cloud-based solutions for their industries.

In these industries, you’ll notice the impact of PaaS:

Banking and FinTech: experts anticipate that cloud services in banking will revolutionize payment methods and remote banking. FinTech companies depend on PaaS to build next-gen intuitive and scalable apps and banking software.

Retail and e-commerce: 70% of retailers predicted that cloud computing would be a major factor in the industry’s growth in 2020. E-commerce apps and retail POS built and deployed over the cloud gives buyers a personalized experience from anywhere in the world.

By that, pricing and cost of goods are reduced, products are more accessible, and businesses become more scalable.

Manufacturing: the manufacturing industry has grown at a rate of 23% in recent years. Cloud technology has contributed to that stable growth rate.

PaaS is useful in discrete and process manufacturing to develop custom process software. This software achieves more incredible processing speed and accuracy.

IT services: Developing and managing your own IT tools and apps on cloud platforms gives you more control than you’d have if using SaaS products. It also beats on-premise alternatives in cost, accessibility, and security.

Other industries: computer software and hardware, education, government administration, and healthcare are other industries where PaaS is invaluable.

Platform as a Service Examples

Let’s review six of the top PaaS products available in the market and show you what you can achieve with each one:

1. SAP cloud

The SAP cloud platform, which has now been integrated into the SAP business technology platform, enables developers to create web application extensions.

The unique feature of the SAP platform is the ability to integrate multiple development landscapes.

SAP cloud is pushing the boundaries of cloud Platform as a Service with its integration and extension capabilities.

SAP cloud platform offers developers its custom Enterprise integration platform as a service (EiPaaS) and a development environment to build, run, deploy, and extend applications over the cloud.

2. Microsoft Azure

Microsoft’s Azure is a platform in its base model, but its size incorporates SaaS and IaaS functionalities.

Azure provides an environment to develop, deploy, and manage full web apps’ lifecycle in multiple server frameworks. It also adds other cloud computing services: an infrastructure to host your servers, storage, developed apps, and end-user consumable software.

In this robustness, Azure offers you more and efficient virtualization, allowing teams to collaborate seamlessly.

3. AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Beanstalk application platform allows developers to migrate or build, run, and deploy full custom apps to the cloud.

The Elastic Beanstalk Platform as a Service gives developers some control over the infrastructure. It offers a lot of flexibility with security, customization log, autoscaling, and resource allocation.

You don’t need to worry about load balancing or provisioning.

This PaaS system supports multiple server frameworks (Nginx, Microsoft IIS, Passenger, Apache HTTP, and Apache Tomcat).

4. Google App Engine

This web application platform by Google is arguably the most scalable serverless PaaS development environment.

Google deploys many platform services and infrastructure to run any size of query that passes through it.

With the App Engines rapid deployment comes a few control challenges and a lack of autonomy in vendor choice.

There is, however, a range of developer tools available on the application platform. Also, Google offers support for multiple development languages.

5. IBM Cloud Foundry

The Cloud Foundry application platform is an open-source PaaS solution that allows developers to migrate existing apps or build and manage new custom apps.

Developers may scale their apps with the number of add-ons, certified platform providers, cloud technology, learning materials, and support available on the platform.

6. Oracle Cloud platform

The Oracle Cloud service provides infrastructure and cloud-based applications and services, as well as the development environment.

The cloud platform was originally designed to work for Oracle’s SaaS applications. But it gained usage for works on other web apps too.

However, users have reported a complex platform interface and underperformance in provisioning depending on use condition. Nevertheless, with Oracle’s suite of cloud services and app development functionalities, the platform has many praises.

One of the most significant advantages of Oracle’s PaaS solution over Amazon’s is the cost.

Oracle doesn’t shy away from comparing its pricing and robust offers to Amazon’s lighter and more expensive offers on its website.

7. Salesforce Lightning

Lightning is the cloud platform where developers can build custom MarTech solutions by means of reusable element blocks. Salesforce proposes that Lightning is their next-gen productivity solution on the cloud. Most of all Salesforce’s development will be based on the Lightning platform.

The carefully curated features of Lightning offers better usability in business and IT with an improved user interface. But, Lightning’s greatest advantage is the added CRM tool and its rapid development and deployment speed.

8. Apprenda Cloud Platform

Apprenda cloud application platform enables developers to build, deploy, and manage their own Kubernetes-based cloud-native services or manage an existing app. However, Apprenda is more suited to enterprise IT solutions than SMB-relevant services.

Despite the reported slight inefficiency in storage configurability, Apprenda optimizes the performance of migrated .Net legacy apps. Apprenda has a fondness for open-source technologies.

9. AWS Lambda

Amazon’s Lambda is on this list due to its ability to run development-relevant code testing and deployment. Otherwise, Lambda works better when used as part of Amazon’s cloud package to manage other AWS services.

AWS Lambda allows developers to run codes directly, configure, and test out app functionalities without managing infrastructure components like servers. Users don’t have to worry about managing app development administrations like runtime.

10. Red Hat OpenShift

OpenShift provides a suitable application development environment for any developer’s choice of coding language. The platform is open-source, with unique API integrability, giving developers greater autonomy over their software functionality and development.

However, its coding allows it to audit unpermitted and unexpected processes. The platform is based on Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux and therefore optimizes user security.

OpenShift utilizes one of the advantages of hybrid cloud services: it offers Red Hat’s OpenStack IaaS for managing infrastructure and autoscaling runtime features, so developers can focus on building.

Cost of Platform as a Service

The costs of developing, testing, running, managing, and deploying your apps, software, and services on cloud platforms are considerably lower than on-premise solutions.

More so if you’re going to need the additional infrastructure to host your apps, as PaaS solutions provide.

Most PaaS providers allow you to use their services free of charge for extended periods of time. AWS allots $1,000 credit to new users while allowing you to use their basic cloud features like testing and running lightweight queries for free.

The length of time users can access PaaS services for free extends up to 12 months for some providers. New users get $300 to use on Google’s cloud services, including the app engine, for 90 days.

To access premium features and additional enterprise-level services, you upgrade your account to a paid plan.

The good thing is that PaaS providers only charge you for what you use, and you pay as you go. There’ll be no need to spend on subscriptions you may end up not using.

The actual cost of using PaaS services will depend on how many instance hours you run per time on the platform. Microsoft Azure standard plan with an S1 instance costs about $75 monthly.

Benefits of Using PaaS

Here are seven ways your business can benefit by using the Platform as a Service solution:

1. You don’t have to operate or manage your middleware.

2. Easy cross-platform app development.

3. Cut coding time.

4. Spend less on human resources and physical IT infrastructure.

5. Integrated and efficient app life-cycle management. You don’t have to maintain your platform, so your IT team can focus on more critical tasks.

6. The easy collaboration of remote development teams over the internet because data is accessible globally.

7. Pay-as-you-go, spend less on software maintenance or licenses and only pay for what you need.

Despite these concerns, it is nearly impossible to dominate the PaaS market. Platform as a Service adoption rate increases YoY. By 2026, PaaS is expected to generate a revenue of over $47 billion (6).

In the presence of innovative tech developments, intermingling of technologies, and flexible cloud deployment strategies, the future of PaaS is promising.

Downsides of Using PaaS

Now that you know how your business might grow through Platform as a Service, what are the cons of using PaaS services?

With cloud platforms, adoption will depend on the availability and cost of internet services in any area. Besides that, here are some of the common challenges cited by users and experts:

1. Limited customer control: this is only a challenge when you compare the user autonomy of PaaS to that of cloud infrastructures. Compared to SaaS products, cloud platform users control what they build and how they run or deploy it.

However, you don’t control what middleware is available, or the development framework’s functionality and maintenance.

2. Less flexibility: PaaS, in general, has enhanced flexibility over SaaS products but less when compared to IaaS solutions.

3. Unexpected charges as your app scales: Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers let you pay for what you use. Most platforms offer free migration and deployment. But as your app or custom services begin to scale, you use more of the platform’s microservices and additional features.

The resulting charges for this higher service requirement may be above what you expected from development.

4. Security concern: this is less challenging as platforms improve their service offerings to include aggressive threat assessment and management tactics. However, there’s always the concern about the security of sensitive data in remote access and storage. Besides, new and more hostile malware are deployed every day.

Wrapping Up

PaaS provides a low-cost web service development and deployment framework. It goes beyond offering remote computing and hosting to businesses. With global enterprises emphasizing more remote working strategies, PaaS can provide the technology to achieve complete virtualization.

If you develop apps and software in your business, PaaS can help you cut costs, improve productivity, and scale your business without the burden of managing an on-premise development environment.

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