Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a form of cloud computing where hardware and 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.
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 example, let’s say you’ve got an idea for the next big thing—you’ve written code for an application that will make life easier and get stuff done. You’re excited about it, what it can do, and where it could go from here. To avoid the added stress of installing on-premises hardware, maintaining servers, keeping infrastructure software updated, and having to set up a custom platform upon which to build your app, you turn to a PaaS provider who will host the platform and provide the environment you need to get your code running.
"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 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 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.
For developers and programmers who have ideas and write the code to make those ideas reality—but who don’t have or want the equipment and the hassle of maintaining that equipment in their own facilities—PaaS is a great option.
They can sync their code with a PaaS and run their app using the provider’s hardware and software—the maintenance and upkeep of which are handled for them. 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.
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.
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