PaaS is a set of services to build and manage modern applications in the digital era—on-premises or in the cloud.
PaaS delivers the infrastructure and middleware components that enable developers, IT administrators, and end users to build, integrate, migrate, deploy, secure, and manage mobile and web applications.
To aid productivity, PaaS offers ready-to-use programming components that allow developers to build new capabilities into their applications, including innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT). This also includes suites of application development tools, including cloud native services, Kubernetes, Docker and container engines, and more.
PaaS services also include solutions for analysts, end users, and professional IT administrators, including big data analytics, content management, database and data management, systems management, and cloud security.
PaaS provides all the fundamental benefits of cloud computing, from transparent pricing and turnkey provisioning to on-demand scalability and disaster recovery—all managed in a consistent manner via easy-to-use dashboards. As a result, businesses can:
Until the advent of PaaS, IT often had to evaluate, purchase, assemble, deploy, patch, upgrade, and maintain individually licensed products. Frequently, they were sourced from multiple vendors, each with their own approach to licensing, installation, configuration, security, and integration. This made the business, management, and integration process that much more complex.
As the marketplace matured, so did the abundance of middleware components. In response, providers attempted to simplify the complexity by creating preintegrated middleware suites. However, for organizations that didn’t standardize on a single-vendor platform, cross-vendor management and integration remained a burden. Both developers and DevOps groups have the ongoing responsibility to manage this complexity.
|Application development||Business solutions|
|Development tools and processes||Business intelligence|
|Artificial intelligence and machine learning||IoT applications|
|IoT components||Content management|
The emergence of cloud computing changed the applications equation, and application development platforms became ideal candidates to simplify this complexity. In the mid-2000s, providers began offering an integrated set of middleware cloud services delivered via standardized APIs: PaaS was born. However, in those pioneering days, providers essentially provided only server, storage, and network services, and PaaS solutions were suited only to low-risk, low-requirement development environments.
With application development success, use cases evolved to lightweight production workloads, and with that transition, enterprise requirements increased. This in turn increased demand for proven enterprise middleware. As a result, modern PaaS solutions grew to include robust enterprise middleware capabilities.
For enterprises, predictable and consistent performance that ensures business continuity is one of the most important production workload requirements. These capabilities are backed by explicit commitments to service-level agreements (SLAs). To be truly effective, both the PaaS and information-as-a-service (IaaS) layers must work together. Good examples include scalability and fault tolerance without system shutdown and restart.
Enterprises also have a higher standard for exerting governance. Across PaaS, it’s not enough to prevent threats; it’s also necessary to demonstrate that the threats were thwarted. As cloud usage expands, configurations in both production and development drift from standards and vulnerabilities emerge. Enterprise PaaS provides comprehensive and consistent logging and audit tools.
All developers are challenged to increase productivity and quality. Yet, as enterprise organizations scale and innovate, development processes falter due to assemble-it-yourself continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) environments. Enterprise PaaS development needs to rely on prebuilt yet open integrated development environments.
The digital age has only increased the demand for PaaS. As the middleware layer grows more complex, the business demands application delivery at an ever-faster pace. Not surprisingly, the adoption of PaaS—including both public and private PaaS solutions—continues to accelerate.
Most IT decisions are justified according to three principles—efficiency, effectiveness, and risk reduction. Here’s how PaaS solutions deliver on each of those principles:
|Key objectives||How PaaS supports|
As PaaS solutions evolve, they will continue to offer innovation and eliminate administrative and management complexity for everything from installation, setup, and configuration to management, maintenance, and auditing. They will achieve this through:
In evaluating PaaS solutions, it is vital to consider how your own organization will evolve over time. At the rate of change in technology today, solutions that support maximum flexibility are at an advantage. In other words, it is important to consider whether a PaaS provider has a true enterprise strategy.
For example, one key consideration is multicloud support. According to IDC, 75 percent of enterprise IT organizations were using multicloud solutions in 2017. The percentage of multicloud usage will increase to 85 percent in 2018. The flexibility to move workloads across on-premises, public, and private cloud environments enables businesses to mitigate risk, dynamically leverage optimal pricing, and meet evolving regulatory and governance requirements.
To ensure you can take full advantage of the promises of PaaS as your strategy evolves, consider workload and development options that
There are many PaaS use cases and configurations. In some cases, developers assemble solutions from components, and in others, the solution is simply provisioned and ready to use. Here is a list of popular PaaS use cases and their key features:
|PaaS use cases||Key features|
|Connects and extends your applications||
|Supports modern application development||
|Supports migration of workloads to the cloud||
|Supports business analytics||
|Supports modern security and compliance||