PaaS (Platform as a Service) is a cloud computing model whereby a provider supplies hardware and software to the users over the internet. The provider often offers it based on a usage-based cost basis. In other words, PaaS is a complete, scalable development and deployment environment for a software developer. It provides all elements of what software developers need such as operating systems, middleware, storage, networks, servers, and other tools for building apps to develop and host applications. By using PaaS, the software developers no longer need to purchase, install, and maintain the infrastructure. However, they can build, test, deploy, maintain, update, and scale the applications with PaaS.
For instance, Google App Engine is one of the leading vendors of PaaS in the world today. There is a service-level agreement (SLA) that benefits the application engineers to get 99.95% service availability. They do not need to worry about any unplanned downtime due to data center outages. The other examples of PaaS providers are AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, and Windows Azure.
Here are some use cases of PaaS:
1. Application Development
The PaaS provides essential tools for application developers such as source code editor, compiler and debugger, and other build-in software components. These tools reduce the amount of coding for developers.
2. Business Analytics
The tools in PaaS allows an organisation to manage and analyse their structured or unstructured data. It performs large data optimisations for improved forecasting and better decision making.
3. Application Enhancement
Other than deployment purposes, PaaS also includes some services that help to enhance the developed application. These services possibly are scheduling, directory, security, and workflow, all depending on the providers.
Advantages (Pros) of PaaS
The costs are only charged on the computing resources used in developing the applications. Thus, the customers will be able to cut down other additional costs and unexpected charges. Besides that, the customers can cut down all spending on virtual machines, as well as other unnecessary tools.
PaaS speeds up the application development process. There is no need for developers to build and maintain the hardware and software required. Also, there are some drag-and-drop components in PaaS, which make it easier in accessing the tools in the platform. The pre-coded application components cut down the coding time.
PaaS can simplify the lifestyle of application development. This is because the software developer can execute all the functions in the same integrated environment. The processes included in the lifestyle are building, testing, debugging, deploying, hosting, and updating the applications. It is a must for web applications to function properly before they are being released.
After updating the application, the new data and updates can be directly sent to the employers or managers. The up-to-date information helps them in making better decisions. Moreover, the time taken for approval processes can be shortened if they were included in the application created.
Ease of Maintenance
Since the providers are responsible to look after the platform, the developers can just focus on maintaining the applications themselves. This reduces IT overheads.
Disadvantages (Cons) of PaaS
Each of the tools used in application development is owned by a specific provider. Therefore, there will be some troubles in switching providers. Different providers support different languages, libraries, APIs, architectures, and operating systems. To successfully switch to other providers, the developers will first need to alter the applications heavily, or even rebuild them.
The company may be at risk of their private data being released on the cloud. These data can sometimes be confidential and sensitive. To avoid leakage of such data, the trust in the provider is especially important. They should analyze all possibilities before making decisions.
As mentioned above, the providers are in charge of looking after the platform. This brings benefits and also drawbacks. A few changes made in the internal infrastructure may have a big impact on the application’s performance. Besides, the cost may increase anytime when the providers change the pricing models.