What is PaaS? Platform-as-a-Service 101

A tech professional uses a PaaS solution (platform-as-a-service) platform.

In this piece:

What is PaaS?

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model in which a vendor supplies a development and deployment environment for building and deploying software applications.

Put simply, you “rent” a platform that has everything you need for creating cloud-based applications. Developers can use PaaS to build anything from lightweight mobile apps to powerful, complex enterprise applications.

Like other “-as-a-Service” models, you buy PaaS on an as-needed, on-demand basis and access it over the internet. The PaaS vendor owns the hardware, a combination of infrastructure, operational capabilities, security monitoring and governance — and handles upkeep and maintenance.

How does PaaS work?

PaaS works by supplying everything developers need to build, test, deliver and manage software applications across the software development lifecycle.

PaaS supplies essential computing infrastructure as a traditional data center does, but adds a development framework, application infrastructure, middleware, container systems like Kubernetes, and other prebuilt components as well as development tools and resources.

Compared with a traditional programming environment, these features dramatically reduce the amount of coding required. PaaS also makes it easier to build sophisticated applications that incorporate advanced technology like analytics or business intelligence.

What’s the difference between PaaS and SaaS?

The primary difference between PaaS and SaaS is right in the name:  Platform-as-a-Service delivers a platform for building software, while Software-as-a-Service delivers, well … software.

What PaaS and SaaS have in common: a vendor owns and has responsibility for the computing infrastructure, operations and maintenance; both use subscription-style or “pay as you go” pricing, and both deliver the service via the Internet.

> Learn more | IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS

What are some examples of PaaS?

Here are some examples of PaaS solutions alongside SaaS examples, for context.

Examples of SaaS and PaaS

CLOUD MODEL EXAMPLES
PaaS Force.com, Google App Engine, Hyland’s Alfresco Digital Business Platform, SAP Business Technology Platform, Adobe Experience Platform
SaaS Hyland’s OnBase Platform, Salesforce, Gmail, Concur, Photoshop, Office 365

What are the benefits of PaaS?

Some benefits of a PaaS solution are that PaaS:

  1. Frees up infrastructure resources
  2. Provides faster application development
  3. Allows easier innovation
  4. Helps overcome talent shortages
  5. Drives efficiency

PaaS boosts an organization’s ability to create advanced applications quickly and easily. It includes the cloud infrastructure advantages of IaaS, with added advantages for application developers.

Here is some more detail:

PaaS frees up infrastructure resources

PaaS frees up infrastructure resources because the PaaS vendor takes on the costs and complexity of supporting on-premises applications, and your staff can devote their time and budget to important business projects.

Speeds application development

The prebuilt frameworks, components, tools and automation supplied in a PaaS environment help developers create applications faster than they could in a traditional development environment. PaaS also supports faster deployment, without waiting to provision applications to datacenters.

Enables innovation

With PaaS, developers can access new features as soon as they become available. They also gain access to advanced, powerful technologies to incorporate into their applications. As a result, organizations can create and deliver innovative, advanced software quickly and easily.

Helps overcome talent shortages

Lack of appropriately skilled talent is among the top challenges facing organizations today as they aim to deliver digital transformation projects. The pre-built tools and services in a PaaS solution can make it easier for less skilled developers to build and deploy applications — while more skilled developers can focus on projects that require their expertise. It’s a benefit across nearly any vertical, from cloud computing in healthcare to financial services.

PaaS also gets your team out of datacenter operations and upgrades and puts it back where it belongs — delivering business value.

Drives efficiency

A PaaS vendor ensures the platform stays current with the most recent versions, patches and fixes, which strengthens cloud security and ensures access to the most current features. Upgrades don’t interrupt work as they do in a traditional environment, and PaaS vendors often manage environments for hundreds of organizations across many industries, so they can bring their experiences, best practices and proven processes to your solution.

> Learn more | How to build a successful cloud enablement strategy

What are the drawbacks of PaaS?

Compared with a traditional development environment, PaaS may offer less flexibility and a narrower set of use cases, so it may not suit all needs. A PaaS solution may support only specific approaches to application development.

Think of PaaS like a model airplane kit.

The kit provides the framework, tools, materials and components for building your aircraft of choice. You can build an entire fleet of amazing aircraft using kits, if you wish, so long as a kit exists.

If you require high levels of unique customization, say, your plane must look like a yacht, be built only with plastic spoons, make toast on Sundays and integrate with your VCR and analog movie cameras, you may need to maintain your own development environment if those options aren’t available in a kit.

What’s important in a PaaS vendor?

The right PaaS vendor for you will depend on your organization’s unique business and technical needs. If your organization is considering a PaaS solution, here are some things to keep in mind:

Commitment to the cloud

When considering a migration to the cloud, be sure to see if the vendor’s roadmap shows a significant, ongoing investment in cloud services. Find out if they have technology partnerships with leading cloud providers and whether you’ll be able to use the latest cloud services to enhance your applications.

Industrial-grade cloud enablement

Can the vendor give you benchmarks for processing documents at speed and scale on a cloud technology stack? This is especially important for moving high-throughput workloads to the cloud — like insurance claims administration or mortgage origination.

Integration capabilities with cloud AI services

Access to cloud AI and machine learning —and other services — can be game changers that let you extract insights and infuse advanced technology into your solutions with unprecedented speed and scale.

Accelerated cloud deployment options

Look for automated deployment options that let you put code into production faster. Also, pre-built structures and integrations (“reference architecture”) with built-in cloud best practices will make it faster and easier to adapt the deployment to your use case or development needs.

Open technology

A platform built on open technologies and open APIs lets you customize, integrate and extend your cloud solutions quickly and cost-effectively. Plus, you can tap into innovations contributed by the open source community.

Hyland and PaaS

No matter what the future has in store for technology and beyond, Hyland wants you to be ready to thrive in it. As a leading content services provider, we offer dynamic cloud offerings to help your organization deliver better experiences to the people they serve.

> Big news! | Hyland was named a Leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Cloud Content SErvices 2022 Vendor Assessment

Hyland and cloud computing

Learn more about Hyland in the cloud:

Hyland on AWS

Hyland is listed on the AWS Marketplace. Learn more about the benefits of purchasing there, including the ability to:

  • Streamline procurement
  • Implement controls and automate provisioning
  • Manage software budgets with cost transparency

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Steven Wyant is a senior solutions engineer and business continuity manager for Hyland’s Global Cloud Services Team. He has been working on Hyland’s cloud team for more than 14 years, including managing technical teams like cloud Installations and cloud support.
Steven Wyant

Steven Wyant

Steven Wyant is a senior solutions engineer and business continuity manager for Hyland’s Global Cloud Services Team. He has been working on Hyland’s cloud team for more than 14 years,... read more about: Steven Wyant