PaaS : What is it ? What is it for ?

PaaS: What is it ? What is it for ?

In order to fully understand the term platform as a service (PaaS), you first need to know what a cloud is. Cloud computing is a new business model that consists of consuming an IT service in the same way as you would consume water, electricity or gas. 

When the means of production to provide a service are hosted by a supplier, we say that the service is in the cloud.

With a PaaS, you can consume storage space, applications or server power. This is the service for which you pay a subscription. In the age of digitalization, PaaS makes the transition to the internet easier.

In this article, we will explain what cloud computing is so that you can better understand the term PaaS. Afterwards, we will explain the advantages and disadvantages of using a platform as a service.

Cloud computing

A platform as a service is one of the types of cloud computing that is mainly aimed at developers or development companies. Cloud computing is access to computing services that allow the sharing of resources. 

The provider develops and delivers a digital working environment to customers. However, users have full control over the applications developed on the platform, and their databases. 

It should be noted that the cloud is an on-demand service, meaning that the customer can request any resource from the provider at any time. So if you decide to use 20GB of your cloud because you have uploaded files, that resource is available at any time of the day.

Cloud providers can offer different types of services that are more or less comprehensive and can be grouped into 3 categories: Iaas, PaaS and SaaS

Definition of a PaaS

Platform as a service takes care of the technical infrastructure of the cloud, i.e. servers, storage and networks, but also offers a set of tools for application development such as code editors or file managers. PaaS takes care of the middleware instances such as a web server, an application server or a database management system. Developers are the target population for PaaS as this model allows the customer to focus on software development. 

The Platform as a Service provider takes care of the maintenance of the system. The customer’s development teams can focus exclusively on creating applications without worrying about maintaining the infrastructure and IT-related services. It takes care of the hardware, servers, operating system maintenance and infrastructure (network connection, storage and backup).

Teams can also work together since PaaS brings data together on the same network. This feature makes it possible to telework while collaborating with partners.

Difference with IaaS, Saas and PaaS

They are categorised according to the technical layer provided: 

IaaS (Infrastructure as a service)

Located in a data centre, IaaS provides the operating system and the entire IT structure including the server, storage and network connection. In this model, the customer must take care of the installation, configuration, updating of the operating system, middleware and applications. In simple terms, this type of provider only takes care of the infrastructure. The rest is managed by the user. 

SaaS (Software as a service)  

The objective of SaaS is to provide ready-to-use applications that run on the infrastructure of the cloud provider. These applications can be accessed by the customer on the browser. The advantage of SaaS is that you never have to worry about updating the application or the infrastructure because everything is managed and hosted by the provider. All the customer has to do is use the application. 

Comparison table of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS 

Runtime environmentRuntime environmentRuntime environment
Operating systemOperating systemOperating system

The red boxes correspond to what is taken care of by the supplier. Customers only have to manage what is contained in the white boxes.

Advantages of PaaS

PaaS is an asset in the development of a company. Although it does not replace it in its entirety, it will allow it to host many services. 

Saving time and money 

The provider of a platform as a service takes care of all the management of the servers, so you can concentrate on the development of your project. In addition, PaaS provides you with numerous development tools, which gives you the opportunity to increase your growth. 

With a PaaS you will not have to hire a team of IT specialists, take care of maintenance costs and install the infrastructure necessary for the proper development of your application. 

It adapts to your needs

If you have a growing business, you know that you will need additional servers to meet your needs. With this type of cloud hosting you can increase your server capacity instantly. 

A platform as a service fully manages your system and servers. During peak loads, you can easily scale your application to meet your needs. When your users (or usage) grow, PaaS allows you to instantly expand your infrastructure.

You can use a feature called autoscaling. It allows you to automatically scale your PaaS according to your platform usage. Moreover, you will only pay for the resources you have consumed from your provider.

Disadvantages of PaaS

Dependence on the supplier

Choosing a PaaS means committing yourself to a long-term relationship with your provider. This means that the user is dependent on the infrastructure and software of the provider. In addition, possible breakdowns or updates of the PaaS can compromise the users’ projects. 

Programming languages

Some PaaS are sometimes criticised for being limited to certain programming languages that are not necessarily your own. This lack of support can block you in the development of your application. Indeed, users will be obliged to adapt their application to the programming language of your provider. 

Similarly, if a supplier decides to change its programming language during a contract, users will also be forced to change their language, or change suppliers completely.

The final word 

PaaS can become a real asset to your business if you decide to expand into e-commerce. It has many advantages as it will save you time, and money! But take the time to choose your provider carefully, as this will prevent you from encountering many problems.

Photo credit: Oleksandr Mosjichuk


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ECN Team
E-Commerce Nation is The 1st B2B Web Media about E-Commerce in Europe. The team of E-Commerce Explorers help businesses to reach new potential market through delivering useful content. Let us know in comment if you enjoyed this content.