What is PaaS?

PaaS, or Platform as a Service, gives developers and companies the ability to create, host, and deploy applications through the cloud. Both the hardware and the application software platform are provided as part of PaaS, hosted on the PaaS provider’s own platform.

This is cost-effective for programmers, who want to focus on building their app, not on creating and maintaining the infrastructure to run it. It’s also helpful for small businesses and startup companies, who are unlikely to be able to have their own on-premises development environment.

Typically, PaaS software development platforms are accessed via a web browser.

How does PaaS differ from IaaS and SaaS?

PaaS is different from IaaS (infrastructure as a service), which offers the infrastructure to create any type of cloud-based service. You could think of IaaS as a virtual server, where you have greater control and power than over a PaaS service — but where you have to configure most things yourself.

SaaS (software as a service) involves providing a completed application, rather than the resources to develop and deploy an application. You may be able to integrate a SaaS service with other applications, but you don’t have the ability to customize the actual SaaS software yourself.

Advantages of PaaS

Using PaaS in your business has a number of advantages, including:

  • Low upfront costs, as small organizations can use premium resources without a huge cost
  • No need to purchase specialized hardware, as the development environment can be accessed simply through a web browser
  • A faster speed to market, as apps can be developed quickly
  • Flexibility, with the ability to dynamically scale as resources are needed, and with employees able to log in and work on applications remotely at any time

Disadvantages of PaaS

PaaS does have some drawbacks, too. These include:

  • Being locked into an interface or even a development language that you may end up wanting to move on from
  • Potential security risks such as unused accounts (perhaps of employees who are no longer with the company) could open up the possibility of a security breach
  • Potential difficulty in aligning existing infrastructure with the PaaS service

Examples of PaaS in action

Examples of PaaS include:

  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk (for deploying and scaling web applications)
  • Heroku (for data-driven apps)
  • OpenShift (an open source container application platform from Red Hat)
  • Magento Commerce Cloud (now Adobe Commerce, a managed, automated hosting platform for the Magento Commerce software)
  • Microsoft Azure (which can also be used for IaaS and SaaS)

PaaS is a valuable and cost-effective tool for programmers and companies that want to develop and deliver applications without building and maintaining the underlying infrastructure. It’s a popular cloud delivery model that, like IaaS and SaaS models, has both advantages and disadvantages.