PaaS in Cloud Computing – Platform as a Service

What is PaaS?

PaaS stands for Platform as a Service. It enables software developers to build and run applications on the cloud instead of directly buying and managing software/hardware resources. It is a leading cloud computing service model that helps you address modern business requirements better.

The first ever PaaS known as Zimki was created by a company called Fotango in 2005. Some popular PaaS providers are AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, Heroku, and Engine Yard.

How does PaaS Works?

PaaS does not replace a company’s IT infrastructure fully. In fact, in PaaS service model, you only need to manage the applications you developed, and the PaaS provider manages everything else.

The cloud platform provided by the PaaS provider can be used for development, testing, and deployment of the applications. Furthermore, PaaS solutions enable collaboration between development teams. The PaaS provider (also known as the PaaS vendor) hosts the software and hardware resources on its own servers. Users only need a browser and the Internet to access them.

PaaS vendors may provide services based on the Service Level Agreement (SLA). Most PaaS vendors offer a pay-as-you-go pricing structure where you only pay for the resources you used, while some PaaS vendors charge a flat fee.

PaaS solutions often support the entire software development lifecycle. PaaS can be delivered as public PaaS, private PaaS or hybrid PaaS.

Components of PaaS

PaaS software and hardware resources may include the following components.

Types of PaaS

Operating systems:

PaaS providers will offer an operating system to run your applications.

Databases/Database management systems:

Databases for the applications are another important component. Sometimes they will provide a database management system (DBMS) also.

Infrastructure:

Cloud infrastructure includes servers, storage, data centers, and networking. It is not uncommon for PaaS providers to buy infrastructure from IaaS providers.

Development tools:

Development tools include an IDE, a compiler, a debugger, etc.

Middleware:

Middleware bridges the gap between the operating systems and end-user applications.

Types of PaaS

There are three important types of PaaS. They are:

Types of PaaS

Public Platform as a Service (Public PaaS)

PaaS was first started as a Public Platform as a Service. It runs on a shared infrastructure. Public PaaS providers offer infrastructure such as servers, storage, networking, etc. It allows users to configure and manage resources without worrying about infrastructure management. However, it may lead to non-negotiable terms as the PaaS provider manages the cloud infrastructure.

Examples: Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, Salesforce Heroku, and Engine Yard

Private Platform as a Service (Private PaaS)

Private PaaS help to deploy and manage applications on private infrastructure. It provides high security and enables companies to host critical data and applications.

Consider the case of a company that wants to maintain some of its own infrastructure. In such situations, Private PaaS is the best solution. Usually, a private PaaS can be installed in a company’s on-premises data center or a public cloud. Companies in Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance sector usually opt for a Private PaaS

Examples: Red Hat OpenShift, Apprenda, and CloudBees

Hybrid Platform as a Service (Hybrid PaaS)

Hybrid Platform as a Service or Hybrid PaaS is a combination of public and private PaaS. It is more flexible than public and private PaaS as they contain a mix of public and private PaaS features.

In hybrid PaaS, companies can manage a private PaaS while utilizing the benefits of public PaaS as needed.

Examples: AWS Outposts and Azure Stack

Other Types of PaaS

In addition to the three types above, there are some other PaaS types as below:

Types of PaaS

Artificial Intelligence Platform as a Service (AIPaaS)

AIPaaS is the abbreviation for Artificial Intelligence Platform as a Service. It enables the development of artificial intelligence (AI) applications.

Some AIPaaS providers offer AI-driven services such as:

  • Speech-to-text conversion
  • Voice recognition
  • Face recognition
  • Identifying objects in a video

These services can be used with your existing applications or new applications.

Examples: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)

iPaaS, the abbreviation for Integration Platform as a Service, is a cloud-based solution for integrating applications. You can deploy integration between your cloud and on-premises applications.

It can be used to exchange, transfer, replicate, and integrate external data. Furthermore, iPaaS accelerates your data integration process and saves time.

Examples: Zapier, Dell Boomi and Mulesoft

Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS)

CPaaS is the abbreviation for Communication Platform as a Service. It enables development teams to add real-time communication capabilities to applications. These capabilities are delivered via APIs.

Some of the communication capabilities offered by CPaaS are:

  • Short message service (SMS)
  • Multimedia message service (MMS)
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • Teleconferencing
  • Social channels (WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, etc.)
  • Rich communication services (RCS)

Examples: Twilio, Avaya, MessageBird, and Bandwidth

Mobile Platform as a Service (mPaaS)

mPaaS is the abbreviation for mobile Platform as a Service. It is used to develop high-quality mobile applications. Usually, mPaaS eliminate the need for coding.

Some of the typical features and benefits offered by mPaaS are:

  • Automated code generation
  • Drag-and-drop interfaces
  • Message push service
  • Optimized performance
  • High stability
  • Mobile security
  • Support for multiple mobile operating systems
  • Mobile application development with single-click

Examples: Alibaba Cloud, Microsoft Power Apps, and Quickbase

Open Platform as a Service (Open PaaS)

Open PaaS stands for “Open Platform as a Service” or “Open-source Platform as a Service”. It provides an open-source platform to run your software applications. It also facilitates developers to share source codes. One disadvantage of Open PaaS is that it does not provide hosting facilities. Thus, you may have to pay more for hosting.

Examples: Cloud Foundry and OpenShift

Advantages of PaaS

Here are some benefits/pros of PaaS:

  • Less coding time: PaaS dev tools provide access to various pre-built components such as code libraries and frameworks. These reusable code components help to build applications with minimal coding.
  • Faster delivery to market: Developers can focus on coding and testing the application, and the vendor handles the rest. As a result, they can release the application to the market as early as possible.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Developers do not need to buy expensive hardware and other resources.
  • Flexible pricing: Many PaaS providers offer a pay-as-you-go pricing option. It allows you to pay only for the resources you used.
  • Development for multi-platforms: Most vendors provide options for multi-platforms (mobile devices and desktops).
  • Scalability: Resources can be scaled according to demand.
  • Save time and effort: The PaaS provider takes care of software maintenance and patching. You can focus on developing your application.
  • Easy to get started: No upfront investment in hardware or software. Just a PC and an internet connection are needed to get started.
  • Supports remote working: Development resources are accessible over the Internet. Thus, distributed employees or teams can access them and work together.
  • Experimental opportunities: Some vendors provide opportunities to experiment with new technologies without investing.

Disadvantages of PaaS

Here are some drawbacks/cons of PaaS:

Vendor lock-in: PaaS vendors use custom integration processes. If you want to change the vendor, resolving integration issues is not an easy task. Switching to a new vendor may need rebuilding or modifying the application to suit the new platform.

Infrastructure challenges: Some of your company’s infrastructure may not be cloud-enabled. In such cases, you need to search out alternatives.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a PaaS Provider

There are several factors to consider when choosing a PaaS cloud service provider for your business. Some of these factors are:

Trustworthiness of PaaS provider: It is necessary to select a trustworthy PaaS Provider for several reasons. You may read previous reviews and forums to get an idea about the cloud provider.

Support level: You need to ensure that the PaaS provider will be around when you need their support.

Data security: Sensitive information may be stored on the cloud server. So, the information could be at risk if the PaaS provider does not take the necessary steps to secure information. Therefore, the PaaS provider must take the necessary steps to secure information.

Included features: You need to look at what features are included. Also, ensure that offered cloud computing services are enough to achieve your business goals.

Compatibility of technologies: Make sure programming languages and frameworks are fully compatible.

Storage space: You need to decide how much storage space is required. Do not only consider the current developments when deciding on the storage space.

Use Cases for PaaS

There are several use cases for PaaS. Some of the popular use cases for PaaS are:

Secure API development and management:

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are a common feature in modern software development. PaaS allows software developers to build, run and manage secure APIs. These APIs enable communication between application software.

Mobile development:

The development of mobile applications is increasing. PaaS helps to speed up the development of mobile applications. Developers will be provided with drag-and-drop interfaces to develop mobile applications.

Cross-platform development:

PaaS facilitates the development of cross-platform software applications. These apps are compatible with many platforms (operating systems). PaaS provides a single development environment instead of different environments for different platforms.

Internet of Things (IoT):

PaaS plays a key role on the Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. It supports a wide range of programming languages, application environments, and various tools used in IoT.

Agile development and DevOps:

PaaS provides a well-configured environment for software development, testing, and deployment. It helps to make software applications agile and automated. Furthermore, PaaS supports a full DevOps release cycle.

Cloud migration and cloud-native development:

PaaS simplifies the migration process of existing applications to the cloud. Usually, it is achieved by re-platforming and/or refactoring methods. Re-platforming is moving an application to the cloud with some changes. Refactoring is changing one or more components of an application using cloud-native technologies.

Communication and collaboration:

Communication and collaboration are essential factors in modern-day applications. PaaS provides various communication features like audio/voice, video, chat, SMS, and email. They can be added to applications to enable communication facilities.

COVID-19 Impact on Global PaaS Market and Future of PaaS

COVID-19 has significantly influenced the PaaS market. It has a positive influence on the growth of the Global PaaS market. It is mainly due to the demand for cloud-based solutions that enable remote working.

Many companies have moved to cloud-based solutions even before the pandemic. Some companies were forced to move to cloud-based solutions to survive during the pandemic. Moreover, most companies will likely continue with cloud-based solutions due to their advantages.

The future of the PaaS market is bright, as there is a very high demand for PaaS solutions. The “marketsandmarkets” report predicts that the Global PaaS market size will grow from 56.2 billion USD in 2020 to 164.3 billion USD by 2026. The expected growth rate or the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the period is 19.6%. The main reason for the high growth rate is that companies remodel their business activities to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Summary

  • PaaS can be defined as a cloud computing is a platform that enables software developers to build and run applications instead of directly buying and managing software and hardware resources.
  • In the PaaS service model, you can manage the applications you developed
  • The main types of PaaS are Public PaaS, Private PaaS and Hybrid PaaS.
  • Some of the advantages of PaaS are less coding time, faster delivery to market, low cost, flexible pricing, and scalability.
  • COVID-19 has a positive influence on the growth of the Global PaaS market.