Platform as a service
Platform as a service (PaaS) is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud. With PaaS, you can build and deploy everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications. You purchase the resources from a cloud service provider on a pay-as-you-go basis and access them over a secure Internet connection. Like IaaS, PaaS includes infrastructure such as servers, storage, and networking. In addition, it also includes middleware, development tools, and other services. PaaS supports the complete web-application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating. PaaS removes the need to manage software licenses, middleware, and infrastructure of the services. You manage the applications and services you develop, and the cloud service provider typically manages everything else.
Let's imagine your healthcare company needs a website to describe a product. Your developers want to use PHP. Using PaaS, your developers have the option to create a web app. The infrastructure details such as creating a virtual machine, installing a web server, and installing middleware are abstracted away. You don't need to care on what operating system it runs or what physical hardware is required. Your developers deploy the website files to the cloud, and your website is available on the Internet.
Let's imagine another scenario. Your company needs a SQL database to support data analysts for a special project. You don't have infrastructure to accommodate the request. You can quickly provision a SQL Server in the cloud that meets the project's needs. The data analysts can connect to the server. The SQL Server database is provided as a service. Therefore, you don't worry about updates, security patches, or optimizing physical storage for reads and writes.
Some other common scenarios include:
Development framework: PaaS provides a framework upon which developers can build to develop or customize cloud-based applications. Similar to the way you create an Excel macro, PaaS lets developers create applications using built-in software components. Cloud features such as scalability, high availability, and multi-tenant capability are included, reducing the amount of coding that developers must do.
Analytics or business intelligence: Analysis tools provided as a service allows you to analyze and mine data. Organizations can find insights and patterns to predict outcomes to improve forecasting, product-design decisions, investment returns, and other business decisions.
By delivering infrastructure as a service, PaaS has similar advantages as IaaS. But its additional features including middleware, development tools, and other business tools provide additional advantages:
Reduced development time: PaaS development tools can reduce development time for new applications. Developers can use pre-coded application components built into the platform, such as workflow, directory services, security features, and search. Platform as a service components can give your development team new capabilities without you needing to add staff with the required skills.
Develop for multiple platforms: Some service providers give you development options for multiple platforms, such as desktop, mobile devices, and browsers making cross-platform apps quicker and easier to develop.
Use sophisticated tools affordably: A pay-as-you-go model makes it possible for individuals or organizations to use sophisticated development software and business intelligence and analytics tools that they could not afford to purchase outright.
Support geographically distributed development teams: Because the development environment is accessed over the Internet, development teams can work together on projects even when team members are at remote locations.
Efficiently manage the application lifecycle: PaaS provides all of the capabilities that you need to support the complete web application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating within the same integrated environment.