PaaS stands for Platform-as-a-Service model.
It is a cloud service model where developers rent all-powerful components required to build an application, thereby relying on cloud providers for infrastructure, operating systems and development tools. This model greatly simplifies your entire process of web application development, especially for developers as it reduces the complexity of backend management.
PaaS consists of a set of deployment and scaling automation, DevOps and application management tools that can operate On-Prem or even on shared infrastructure.
But know that, there cannot be one fixed PaaS model for all enterprises.
To understand it better, let’s see what exactly PaaS solution is and its characteristics:
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Types of PaaS models:
Based upon the technologies it supports and specific use cases, PaaS solutions can be divided into three main categories
- Purpose-Driven PaaS
Nowadays, PaaS model providers are embracing modern approaches to application development and cloud hosting by leveraging tools specifically built for a particular service. Looking at the use cases hosted through PaaS solutions, we can break down its purpose into 3 types viz. General, Emerging and Specialized.
- General-purpose PaaS platforms offer a “lift and shift” approach to migrate your existing workloads. This type of platform is widely used for N-tier and traditional stateful web applications. Moreover, this general-purpose PaaS solution is now leveraging modern technologies to expand and meet the needs of stateless cloud-native apps and micro-services. With this approach, you can develop new fault-tolerant and scalable services.
- Emerging PaaS platforms drive new opportunities in the industry. With different approaches, PaaS models can be used to develop individual services based on emerging technologies such as machine learning frameworks, server-less, distributed event processing and so on.
- Specialized PaaS platforms narrow down on unique use cases which still have high demand in the market. These are extremely beneficial in different niches such as business applications, big data processing and e-commerce. Often, these specialized platforms are divided further into subcategories such as ecommerce-as-a-Service, CMSaaS, BPaaS, DBaaS, and more.
- Abstraction Levels
PaaS solutions are evolving rapidly to focus on full-cycle automation of application deployment and delivery pipeline. This approach boosts developers’ productivity, so they can focus on application design and implementation, rather than engaging in time-consuming repetitive tasks such as storage and server configuration, infrastructure and application security, load balancing, auto-scaling, and so on.
Following are the three different PaaS abstraction levels:
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- Low abstraction level PaaS platforms, specifically CaaS (Container-as-a-Service) solutions, provide in-depth access to the DevOps teams into the infrastructure configurations along with granular control over numerous platform services and containers including security, service discovery, logging, load balancing, etc.
- Mid abstraction level PaaS platforms have the main objective of letting the developers design the code without worrying about infrastructure configuration and management. These types of platforms provide developers with seamless access to wide-ranging integrated development frameworks, APIs, middleware software stacks, and other services abstracted entirely from IaaS and CaaS deployment features. Most commonly, such PaaS solutions offer load balancing, auto-scaling, backup, high-availability, CI/CD, disaster recovery, and other such product lifecycle management features right out of the box.
- High abstraction PaaS solutions allow you to abstract the entire coding process to boost your application delivery speed, whilst reducing the innovation costs. In this circumstance, developers receive the ready-to-use technology stack with full abstraction of infrastructure, platform and application levels. These solutions boost team productivity, performance, as it reduces the need to learn technical skills.
- Functionalities Integrated into PaaS
To fully automate the product lifecycle management process, the PaaS solutions integrate a set of configuration tools, connectors, plugins to popular IDEs and CI/CD tools.
In this category, following are the three main approaches:
- Deployment Automation: These PaaS models focus on offering tools and services especially for deployment automation. Often, it has “git-push” or “one-click” functionality along with pre-determined environments for CI (Continuous Integration), code building and project management tools.
- Infrastructure Management: This type of PaaS cloud platforms focus on infrastructure configuration, performance checks, security checks, health and availability monitoring, cost optimizations. Moreover, it also offers services and automation related to maintenance and upgrades.
- Container Orchestration: Container management platforms offer services and functionalities to resolve issues related to containerization procedure and implementation of cloud-native techniques for new and existing applications. Myriads of PaaS vendors often provide CaaS as an integral part of their products, which again proves that PaaS can be a well-integrated set of different DevOps tools.
How PaaS compares to the internally hosted development environments?
PaaS allows access to any internet connection, making it possible to develop an entire application in a web browser. Since the development environment is not hosted locally, developers are able to access and manage the application from anywhere in the world. Hence, enterprise teams that are spread across different geographical locations can collaborate seamlessly. This also means that developers have lesser command over the development environment, but it has far less overhead.
Why choose PaaS cloud for your business?
The fact remains – this cloud-provided application development platform will bring in benefits in any IT company, such as more flexibility and automated management, so developers can focus more on coding instead of administrative tasks. Of course, before choosing a PaaS for your enterprise, you need to consider and analyze various significant factors.
Most importantly, see whether your chosen PaaS supports the programming languages, technologies, middleware stacks used by your development teams currently or at least planning to be used in the future.
The next thing to look at is data and vendor lock-in. Although PaaS solutions have numerous benefits, the accessibility to the application and usable middleware stacks can have limits due to the proprietary nature of services and tools. This approach affects the application portability. Hence, embracing a multi-cloud interoperability approach or migrating to other cloud platforms can be quite challenging. The same problem arises when it comes to stored data. PaaS providers must allow you to import/export your data easily without any lock-ins.
As mentioned above, there cannot be a “one size fits all” approach, when it comes to PaaS. But in today’s rapidly evolving cloud world, all interconnections and integrations are readily available thus bridging the gaps between the products.