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What is PaaS?

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Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a form of cloud computing where an application software platform is provided by another party. Primarily for developers and programmers, a PaaS allows the user to develop, run, and manage their own apps without having to build and maintain the infrastructure or platform usually associated with the process.

PaaS platforms can run in the cloud or on on-premise infrastructure. For managed offerings, a PaaS provider hosts the hardware and software on its own infrastructure and delivers this platform to the user as an integrated solution, solution stack, or service through an internet connection.

For cloud-native development use cases, a Kubernetes-based PaaS can function as the platform on which container-based applications can run, scale, and be managed. For example, the cloud services editions of Red Hat® OpenShift®  are managed PaaS offerings.

"As-a-service" generally means a service that is provided by a second party so that you can focus on what’s more important to you, like your code and relationships with your customers. Some other as-a-service options are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS

IaaS means a provider manages the infrastructure for you—the actual servers, network, virtualization, and storage—via a cloud. The user has access through an application programming interface (API) or dashboard, and essentially rents the infrastructure. The user manages things like the operating system, apps, and middleware while the provider takes care of any hardware, networking, hard drives, storage, and servers, and has the responsibility of taking care of outages, repairs, and hardware issues

SaaS is when a provider manages an app for you. The provider handles software updates, bug fixes, and other general software maintenance and you connect to it via a web browser or API. This also eliminates the need to have an app installed locally on each individual computer.

Benefits of using a PaaS environment include offloading the responsibilities of maintaining servers, keeping infrastructure software updated, and having to set up a custom platform upon which to build your app. A PaaS provider can host the platform and provide the environment for running applications.
 
Software teams can develop and deploy their apps without having to worry about maintenance and upkeep of the underlying infrastructure. This clears the way for further development and innovation with less distraction, while also reducing the amount of infrastructural setup and coding. PaaS also allows for scalability and easy migration because it exists in a cloud.

Organizations that choose PaaS environments for application development can enjoy a variety of benefits.

  • Use existing skills and investments. Developers can access the operating systems, middleware, frameworks, and other development tools they need, and use the languages they know to code quickly.
  • Reduce costs. PaaS pricing means you pay for what you use, rather than having to invest in large amounts of on premise computing infrastructure that might sit idle most of the time.
  • Shorten application development cycles. PaaS can help development teams speed up application development, and reduce the time it takes to deploy new software.
  • Enable effective DevOps. DevOps strategies bring together developers and IT operations, so you can rapidly develop and deploy apps through continuous delivery.
  • Maintain security measures. Relying on a PaaS provider can help ensure decisions related to security practices are managed in a uniform way. Cloud based services benefit from highly skilled teams who focus exclusively on security.
  • Increase productivity. Developers can quickly get the tools and resources they need through self-service capabilities. Development environments automatically provision, so  teams can focus on work that adds value rather than on routine infrastructure management.

Enterprises that try to adapt to fast business changes have an endless combination of tools and strategies to consider—some of which only make a small impact. At the core, however, a platform ecosystem can be a central tool that supports transformation in meaningful ways.

A platform isn’t just about technology, but also people and processes. A platform ecosystem consists of a digital platform, a platform team that creates and manages

the platform as a product, and a platform community that helps the platform ecosystem thrive and fulfill a sustainable purpose.

The digital platform—which in many cases is a PaaS—becomes a focal point for transformation. A digital platform is a foundation that consists of self-service APIs, tools, services, knowledge, and support that are arranged as a compelling internal product. 

Autonomous development and delivery teams can make use of the platform to deliver business functionality at a higher pace, with reduced coordination. And the enterprise’s digital platform can be used as an interface between different teams to improve communication and collaboration while reducing the need for lock-step coordination. 

Used effectively, it can reduce the cognitive load on technical staff who are overburdened with delivery pressures and mounting technical debt, two of the many impediments to transformation. And it can encourage learning and new behaviors.

A few things to keep in mind when deciding on a PaaS solution:

  • What features are included? Can your app work successfully with them? As your app grows and develops, adding more and more users, you want to make sure you can scale easily with your provider and have the options you need available.
  • Is it optimized for the language and framework you’re using? If not, runtimes could be an issue.
  • Will the provider be around as long as you need them? You want to make sure your provider has a history of trust and reliability with its customers so you know they’ll be there for you.
  • How many users do you anticipate will be using your app? The more users, and the more specific the code, the slower your application could run and the more difficult it will be to migrate from one service provider to another, should you need to.

Red Hat solutions give you security, community, and decades of experience with flexibility to grow and expand as your ideas do. On-demand app stacks and precreated quickstart app templates allow you to start building your app with a single click.

Red Hat OpenShift’s PaaS offerings include Red Hat OpenShift Service on AWS, Microsoft Azure Red Hat OpenShift, and Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated.

With Red Hat OpenShift, you can automate life-cycle management for increased security, tailored operational solutions, and app portability. You can also standardize developer workflows, streamline delivery, support multiple environments, and enable continuous integration alongside automated release management. Red Hat Marketplace offers automated deployment of certified software on any Red Hat OpenShift cluster.

Red Hat OpenShift is also a security-focused, supported Kubernetes platform, with expert training and consulting for customers needing further support.

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