By 2024, the majority of enterprises worldwide plan to spend 80% of their total IT budget on the cloud. As many legacy software became resilient in the past decade, enterprises adopted the cloud to address future challenges. However, even after a decade, enterprises do not know what a “successful cloud implementation” means. What would help an enterprise unlock the true value of the cloud? The answer is straightforward: firms should focus on building a cloud-ready business model.
Covid-19 accelerated the pace of digitisation worldwide, with work from home becoming the norm. Even in a post-pandemic world, this trend is likely to continue. Therefore, the need for uninterrupted access to work applications. This is where PaaS steps in to help businesses sustain in a digital world.
In this blog, we answer a few questions about the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud computing model:
What is a PaaS?
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a type of cloud computing service that offers a computing platform to build and manage applications. It is a comprehensive solution stack that includes services and tools designed to improve the efficiency of coding and deployment. PaaS offers a cloud-based environment to develop and deploy scalable applications. It reduces the time-to-market and programming efforts of an application.
PaaS supports the complete lifecycle of web application development: building, testing, deployment, and management. It helps an organisation avoid the expenditure and complexity of purchasing and managing software licenses. In essence, an organization manages the services and applications it develops. The PaaS vendor manages the rest on behalf of the organization.
The difference between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS
The three prominent cloud computing models are:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
IaaS: A complete solution that provides IT computing services such as hardware, software, platforms, and databases. It primarily works with pay-as-you-go services like networking, virtualization, and storage.
SaaS: A solution capability that is available on-demand through third-party managed applications. Third-party cloud service providers host software applications and provide them on-demand to companies worldwide.
PaaS: The solution stack allows the software developers of an organisation to create as well as manage bespoke applications. Here, third parties manage access to resources and IT infrastructure.
|User||Network architects, infrastructure architects||Software developers||End-users|
|Access||It provides access to infrastructure resources such as virtual storage and machines||It offers access to development tools for applications||It provides solution capability to end users|
|Model||A service model for providing virtualized computing resources via Internet||A cloud computing model is used for delivering tools used for application development||The cloud computing service model is made available to the client by host software|
Organisational benefits with cloud PaaS
Collaborating on the cloud allows businesses the flexibility to build a virtual office. This helps employees connect anytime and anywhere.
With cloud PaaS, businesses have the following benefits:
Leverage the investments made in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other advanced capabilities by the cloud service providers to spur the development of innovative business capabilities and offerings.
Reduction in IT costs
Cloud PaaS reduces the cost of maintenance and management of IT systems as it allows a pay-as-you-go model for use of services without purchase. This helps an enterprise avoid expenditure on software purchases, development resources, and energy consumption costs.
A business can scale its operations at anytime depending on the requirements or situation. This enhances the flexibility of a business and helps focus on critical activities rather than taking decisions related to the purchase and installation of software.
Business continuity planning
Protection of data is critical for business continuity planning. With cloud PaaS, the storage and availability of data in the cloud ensures its safety and backup. The ability to access data quickly helps an organisation minimise downtime and conduct business as usual.
Leverage efficiency of collaboration
The cloud provides an environment where a business can share information easily beyond traditional methods. For instance, employees in different geographies can easily access the same information on the cloud. In addition, the cloud also helps them share useful information with each other.
Flexibility of work
The availability of data on cloud PaaS helps businesses become flexible in their day-to-day work. For example, an employee who is on a holiday in a different location can connect to his virtual office in case of an urgent requirement.
Who are the current PaaS providers?
At present, many providers offer PaaS services. However, they may differ from each other in terms of offerings, unique features, pricing, and limitations.
Below are a few providers to choose from:
- Elastic Beanstalk: It is a native component of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud utilised for the deployment of web applications. The platform supports.NET, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, Node.js, Go, and Docker. It acts as a managed service but can be manually controlled too.
- Google Cloud: It supports Ruby, Python, PHP, Go, Node.js, and C#. The cloud is completely managed and allows scaling up or down as per the need.
- IBM Cloud: It provides both IaaS and PaaS services. The cloud offers solutions that enable high compliance, management, and security with established architecture patterns.
- Microsoft Azure App Service: Build and host enterprise-ready web and mobile apps. The platform supports .NET, .NET Core, Node.js, Java, Python and PHP running on containers.
- Red Hat OpenShift: It is a Kubernetes distribution platform focused on application security and developer experience. The platform helps in the development and deployment of both backend and web applications on multiple hosts.
Why might PaaS be a good option for Enterprise?
PaaS makes for a good option for enterprises because:
- The use of ready to consume application components such as directory services, workflow, search, and security features reduces the time taken to code new applications.
- PaaS providers offer development options for various user interfaces like mobile devices, tablets, and laptops. This enables quick development and integration of cross-platform applications.
- Pay-as-you-go model used by PaaS platforms helps organisations utilise sophisticated business intelligence, software development and analytics tools without making heavy up-front investments.
- Since PaaS helps access development environments via the Internet, all the members of a development team can collaborate remotely.
- PaaS offers the capabilities needed to support the complete life cycle of an application in cloud environments.
Deciding on whether PaaS is the right way forward
Organizations today have begun to opt for as-a-service models. By leveraging PaaS, an enterprise can focus more on the important aspects of business. Simultaneously, the developers are also free from the limitations of a legacy system. This creates the ‘way forward’ for the digital future of an agile enterprise.
The Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of an organization should evaluate the following aspects of business before shifting to PaaS.
Analyse how the adoption of PaaS would impact the organization as compared to their current approach.
Evaluate different PaaS offerings
The scope, functionality, features, and performance of a given PaaS product can be different from another PaaS product. Investing time and effort in evaluating PaaS offerings helps choose the “right fit” for business.
Ensure that the return on investment (ROI) justifies the transition to PaaS. Also, carefully determine the strategic implications of PaaS adoption.
Security is a major concern to investigate before moving a business to PaaS. It is imperative to determine the present and future security requirements of an organization before considering PaaS.
Testing and deployment
Leveraging PaaS is a technical decision. This implies that one should ensure that automation of deployment and testing adds value to a business.
Monitoring and management
Prepare a broad plan for the monitoring and management of cloud operations. Real-time and event-driven monitoring is preferred. However, one needs to analyze the performance, security, and configurations from the management’s perspective.
Uses of PaaS
Below are the uses of PaaS for an organization:
- Simplification and automation of repetitive IT activities help IT personnel focus on important activities. This drives organizational efficiencies at various levels.
- With PaaS, non-technical users can utilise visual tools for building functional business applications without writing software codes.
- Application platform as a service (aPaaS) simplifies the development of business applications while eliminating the need for specialised software development skills.
- PaaS solutions enable integration of different data sources into a single, complete source. This also facilitates quicker access to analytics for real-time adjustments.
- PaaS enables a hybrid approach which lets organisations access the cloud without completely discontinuing their legacy systems.
- PaaS helps streamline the use of new and emerging technologies. For instance, AI-enabled PaaS systems can notify the IT team of a security breach before it becomes a crisis.
What role will PaaS play in digital transformation?
Irrespective of their size or market share, organisations in various industries are compelled to embrace digital transformation. The cloud is the cornerstone of building a “digital first” organization. However, the extent of digital transformation is no longer limited to replacing physical records with digital files.
An increase in cloud-based as-a-service models has put companies in a dilemma. It is difficult for them to decide which best suits their business requirements. The 3 widely used as-a-service platforms are: IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS. In the digital transformation journey of an organization, it is important to determine whether to build applications to run on PaaS or IaaS services or procure SaaS offerings. However, amongst the three, PaaS exercises the maximum influence when it comes to determining the success of a company’s digital transformation journey.
What is the future of PaaS?
As per Gartner’s forecast, the global end-user expenditure on public cloud services will increase to US$494.7 billion in 2022. In 2019, the global PaaS market had over 360 vendors offering 550+ services in 21 different categories. According to Gartner, the market size will double during 2018-2022 and in the future, PaaS will be the dominant platform delivery model. Most web applications will run on PaaS soon or later.
The increase in demand for PaaS is also driven by the need for remote employees. In a post pandemic world, most employees working virtually or as part of a hybrid work culture need continuous access to scalable, high-performing infrastructure through cloud-native applications.
PaaS is increasingly looking like the future of cloud services. Organizations that do not give weightage to PaaS may be at a disadvantage as compared to their competitors who do.