A Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a type of cloud computing, similar to Software as a Service (SaaS), where a service provider delivers a platform to clients, enabling them to develop, run, and manage business applications without the need to build and maintain the infrastructure such software development processes typically require. Some widely used PaaS solutions are AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure, Heroku, Force.com, Google App Engine, and OpenShift.
The biggest advantage of the PaaS solution is how much control it provides IT administrators over the platform software and applications are being built upon. The disadvantage of the PaaS solution is you can only control what’s built on the platform. For example, if there is an outage or issue with the hardware or the operating system that platform is built on, it will take your software with them.
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Related Terms: Software as a Service (SaaS)
What does this mean for an SMB?
Advantages of PaaS
A big advantage of using a PaaS solution is that is reduces your cost. When using a PaaS system, you save from not having to hire people to maintain the platform you’re operating on nor do you need to lay out large capital expenditures to purchase that hardware. Your costs move to operating expenses which helps many SMB’s balance sheets. In particular, there is no need to:
- Purchase hardware and independent tools (Capital Expenses)
- Spend time setting up and securing the core platform stack
- Spend additional time maintaining, patching, testing and upgrading the platform stack
- With better redundancy and scalability available in PaaS solutions you’re likely to experience less downtime and better performance
- Increased speed of development and reduced development life cycle times
- Improved security through automated patching, upgrades to the latest versions of software, and the expertise that comes from a professionally managed platform by trained and certified experts.
Potential Disadvantages of PaaS
As with many “as a service” solutions, you are fully dependent on a third party vendor. Your business will be governed by the provider’s functional capabilities, speed and reliability. That’s why it’s important to validate the track record of your chosen PaaS business partner checking on availability metrics (how many 9’s do you need).
Additionally, you should perform your own data backup, for your peace of mind at least a single copy of your most critical data.
PaaS solutions come in multiple flavors. A public cloud solution hosts multiple clients on the same fundamental resources. For applications containing critical or sensitive data or which have strict compliance requirements, public cloud is not appropriate. Instead you should go with a PaaS provider of Private Cloud. In Private cloud solutions the hardware is dedicated to you but maintained by the PaaS provider. You gain the same benefits, but at a higher cost than public cloud solutions.