What Is Platform as a Service (PaaS)? Definition, Examples, Components, and Best Practices | Spiceworks 1

Platform as a service (PaaS) is defined as a cloud computing platform where a third party offers the necessary software and hardware resources. PaaS solutions cope with modern business requirements while considerably reducing costs and complexities of buying, installing, and managing in-house hardware and software. This article explains the basics of PaaS, along with some examples and the 10 best practices to implement PaaS in 2021.

Table of Contents

    • What Is Platform as a Service (PaaS)?
    • Examples of a PaaS
    • Key Components of Platform as a Service
    • Top 10 Best Practices for Implementing PaaS in 2021

What Is Platform as a Service (PaaS)?

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a cloud computing platform where a third party offers the necessary software and hardware resources. These offerings enable clients to develop, run, and manage business applications without maintaining the infrastructure required for such software development processes.

Today’s digital world is constantly bombarding organizations with newer technologies and data. This large volume of information is making it difficult for legacy environments to keep up. Owing to the data explosion, businesses are shifting to cloud infrastructure as a feasible option. PaaS solutions cope with modern business requirements while considerably reducing costs and complexities of buying, installing, and managing in-house hardware and software.

How PaaS Works

SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS

A typical PaaS model encompasses the physical infrastructure, cloud applications, and a graphic user interface (GUI). PaaS architectures are similar to serverless computing or function-as-a-service (FaaS) models. In such models, the operating infrastructure is not in sight of the developers and users. This compels the cloud service provider to control the operations of underlying servers and resources. The PaaS framework uses a dynamic financial model. The computing services are priced based on computations, storage space, and network resources.

According to the Platform as a service (PaaS) Global Market Report 2021: COVID 19 Impact and Recovery to 2030 by Reportlinker, the global PaaS market was valued at $47.29 billion in 2020. It is expected to grow 14.4% in 2021. This high growth rate is mainly due to companies restructuring their business operations to recover from the pandemic and tackle operational challenges due to closed commercial activities. The market is projected to reach $88.11 billion by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 13% over the forecast period.

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Examples of PaaS

The cloud services offered by today’s leading PaaS providers are equipped to operate across languages, libraries, containers, and equivalent tools. These include computing, storage, databases, developer and management tools, and security.

Let’s look at some of the leading providers of PaaS.

1. SAP Cloud

SAP offers cloud PaaS as an open business platform. The platform has been developed for the smooth and seamless deployment of applications. Besides, its PaaS service integrates cloud and on-premise apps and offers many supporting services. This includes a library of over 1,300 apps built on the same PaaS platform.

2. Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is a development environment that harnesses the properties of PaaS. It supports the entire web app development lifecycle, from building to deploying and managing the app thereafter. Additionally, Azure is compatible with a wide range of languages, libraries, and frameworks. This allows developers to access multiple associated cloud computing services offered by Microsoft. Owing to the size of Azure, it covers all three cloud models—SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.

3. Salesforce Lightning

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Lightning is Salesforce’s next-generation PaaS platform. It is a component-based framework meant for app development. It provides a user-friendly user interface (UI) with advanced features that boost the experience of both business users and IT teams. The platform offers a rapid application development feature that includes the use of reusable building blocks.

Also Read: What Is Software as a Service (SaaS)? Definition, Examples, Types, and Trends

4. AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a part of Amazon Cloud and supports the effective management of Amazon Web Services (AWS) resources. This implies that users can run code without provisioning the resources or managing the server. This PaaS environment is multi-code capable, and therefore, enables any kind of software development. The serverless architecture of the platform allows it to handle micro-service architecture quite easily and, as such, has garnered the attention of numerous enterprises worldwide.

5. Google App Engine

Google App Engine is a part of the Google Cloud ecosystem. It is a scalable serverless PaaS platform meant for rapid deployment. Google generally provides a set of highly capable servers that can cope with growing volumes of queries. Developers, however, have raised concerns regarding Google App Engine’s services. Some of the prominent issues include lack of support in some language environments, inadequate development tools, and failure to plug-and-play some applications, besides many others.

6. Pivotal Cloud Foundry

Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) is a PaaS platform managed by the Cloud Foundry Foundation. It is open-source, user-friendly, and can be deployed on IaaS platforms such as vSphere. Cloud Foundry is used to execute container-based applications via Kubernetes. PCF allows quick and efficient application deployment and maintenance. It can also streamline app updates.

Also Read: What Is Cloud Storage? Definition, Types, Benefits, and Best Practices

7. AWS Elastic Beanstalk

AWS Elastic Beanstalk allows enterprises to quickly deploy and manage applications within the AWS cloud infrastructure without having to know the fundamentals of the underlying infrastructure. The platform dynamically handles the details of resource provisioning, load balancing, and application health monitoring.

8. IBM Cloud Foundry

IBM Cloud Foundry is an open-source version of IBM’s PaaS, which is powerful as well as agile. Cloud Foundry allows coordinated linkage of coding parameters (related to building and deployment) to associated cloud services. As a consequence, applications are deployed quickly and consistently.

9. Red Hat OpenShift

Red Hat’s OpenShift offers users a seamless way to build and deploy applications. It also provides extensive API support, thereby extending its capability beyond the platform itself. OpenShift is also known to be an incredibly secure platform. Multiple layers integrated within the environment come into action if users try to perform unexpected actions or operations, such as running containers without proper user permissions.

10. Oracle Cloud Platform

Oracle is an industry that has high expertise in all aspects of the cloud. PaaS service is one of the leading products among those offered by the company. The platform was initially designed to work with Oracle SaaS applications, but it also works with other apps. Despite the wide offerings, users have raised concerns over the inadequacies of the control panel, high complexity, and increased time taken, for instance, provisioning.

Read More: Top 10 Best Practices to Manage Hybrid Cloud Security Challenges in 2021

Key Components of Platform as a Service

Different PaaS vendors offer different types of services. The core components of these services are listed below.

    1. Development tools: The most important component of platform as a service is the tools required by engineers for software development purposes. These include a source code editor, debugger, compiler, and other essential tools that assist in writing, deploying, debugging, and managing code. These developmental tools may be offered together as a framework. Depending on clients’ needs, vendors offer specific tools, but a PaaS model should essentially include everything that a developer would require to build an application.
    2. Middleware: Middleware is similar to an invisible entity (i.e., software) that allows users to interact with the software. It acts as an intermediate bridge between user-facing applications and machine operating systems. Middleware enables applications to understand keyboard entries or mouse clicks that are input by a user.
    3. Operating system (OS): PaaS provides any or all operating systems that developers need to work on and on which applications run. The developer, however, need not worry about using the latest version of the OS or updating it for security patches. Hence, the OS is a fundamental component provided by PaaS vendors.
    4. Databases: PaaS allows developers to create, query, and maintain databases needed to develop and deploy applications.
    5. Infrastructure: In PaaS, all infrastructure components, including storage and servers, are taken care of while developing and deploying applications. A PaaS vendor either manages servers, storage, and physical data centers or purchases them from a third-party provider. This allows development teams to focus on application-building rather than worrying about the infrastructure itself.

Read More: What Is Cloud Data Protection? Definition, Importance, and Best Practices

Top 10 Best Practices for Implementing PaaS in 2021

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While implementing PaaS, designing an architecture for each environment (development, testing, staging, and production) per the organizational workflow and applications is vital. Enterprises should be well-aware of their applications to plan for an architecture that suits the type of applications that are intended for deployment.

Although an individual PaaS setup may vary depending on the number of clusters that the enterprise requires, considering the right architecture is an important step in successfully implementing PaaS. Let’s look at the top 10 best practices to help you plan successful PaaS implementation in 2021.

PaaS Implementation Best Practices

PaaS Implementation Best Practices

1. Define a business goal

While businesses try to adopt PaaS, it is important to bear in mind the reason for this change at every stage of the project. The reason could be for greater cloud efficiency, agility, or even to lower the cost of on-premise infrastructure and maintenance. Determining the goal in advance allows the enterprise to monitor if the project is on track at each step of the way.

Several businesses decide to move to the cloud by following the route taken by their peers without any concrete reason or goal in mind. This can harm business output. Hence, defining a compelling business goal to go down the PaaS path is inevitable for its successful implementation.

2. Develop a roadmap

Once you align PaaS with your business goals, you will need to chalk out a plan about the process. Organizations should analyze whether all applications need to be migrated to the cloud or whether they can be reworked instead. They also need to have an idea about how PaaS adoption or implementation by workload migration will impact other operations and, if the impact is huge, how they can minimize disruption.

This also calls for developing a leadership team that includes executives from the business and IT to handle the primary lines of business while the organization undergoes the necessary change. Additionally, businesses can also look at incorporating public, private, multi-cloud, or a hybrid combination of cloud and on-premise processes per its need.

3. Run a pilot project

After developing a strategy, businesses can verify and validate the migration and new system by running a pilot. This allows them to fail and re-align their issues at the initial stages rather than undertaking full-scale migration that risks failure later on. Besides, while running the pilot, enterprises can keep track of application flexibility among public, private, and hybrid cloud, and on-premise environments, for better PaaS performance.

Also Read: What Is Cloud Computing? Definition, Benefits, Types and Trends

4. Work out the budget

Results of the implemented pilot will allow businesses to forecast and predict the total cost. Otherwise, parameters such as incorrect autoscaling, failure in accurate forecasts leading to buying on-demand capacity, and automatic turning on certain services can lead to higher expenditure. Hence, working out the exact picture related to the cost and how to operate the PaaS platform is important.

5. Orchestrate backups

Once the decision is made to adopt PaaS, organizations should ensure that all data is backed up before the actual migration. This allows the enterprise to continue to meet its recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs), so that operations are carried out without any disruption in the future.

6. Ensure effective communication

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For successful PaaS implementation, it’s important to involve all the stakeholders (CEO, CTO, COO, and CIO) and keep them well-informed on the PaaS adoption plans, migration schedule, and important milestones in the entire process. Communication allows the business and service owners to forecast when and which resources are required (stages) for complete PaaS adoption.

It also provides owners a chance to give feedback on the roadmap of the PaaS implementation, such as technical requirement changes, modernization requirements, and many others. As such, organizing a monthly or quarterly discussion forum with the stakeholders and replaying roadmap status and current activities can boost the success of PaaS implementation.

Also Read: What Is Cloud Computing Security? Definition, Risks, and Security Best Practices

7. Test the PaaS solution

While performing PaaS migration, organizations need to test their platform to ensure success. They also need to check if users can access the required data and systems. Also, the smooth functioning of the software and hardware integrations under the PaaS platform needs to be checked and verified.

8. Ensure platform security

Cyberattack vulnerability exposes the risk of data loss. Hence, PaaS adoption calls for making security a priority. Organizations need to be aware of the PaaS provider’s security measures to ensure that the systems and data are not vulnerable to an attack, even for a few minutes. Additionally, security during cloud migration should also be considered.

9. Address compliance requirements

While leveraging PaaS, cloud usage and storage regulations should be addressed simultaneously. Cloud services should be in line with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry (PCI), the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or other applicable laws or guidelines to ensure that all the necessary compliance requirements are fulfilled.

10. Leverage the experts

To successfully deploy PaaS architecture, understanding the above points related to cloud migration is vital. This calls for knowledge, skill, and probably, some experience on a few cloud migrations. Hence, being an experienced CIO, seasoned IT professional, or software developer alone won’t serve the purpose.

Working with experts will make it easier to choose the right kind of products, tools, and security solutions for your organization. It will also help regulate the costs of the deployed cloud computing model. Besides, a cloud expert can also ensure increased user adoption, which will most likely garner a greater return on investment.

Read More: 5 Tips for Hosting Applications in an On-Prem, Cloud or Hybrid Cloud Environment In conclusion

Modern businesses are driven by fast-paced and highly agile environments that can adapt to real-time scenarios and bring about change immediately. Platform as a service fits into such a framework. It allows organizations to build customized applications and solutions with the aid of advanced tools and software machinery. Fundamentally, PaaS adoption avoids the reinvention of the cartwheel and reuses existing processes. This implies that developers need not code everything from scratch. Instead, they can just plug and play the pre-built reusable blocks provided by the PaaS provider. This eventually helps in rapid app development and deployment.

Leveraging PaaS can have many benefits for an organization; however, cloud migration has to be done correctly. This is because migrating to the cloud means managing movement while avoiding data loss, operational disruptions, or high-cost models. Therefore, one needs to proceed cautiously and reach out for help whenever needed.

Did this article help you understand the basics of platform as a service? Comment below or let us know on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. We’d love to hear from you!


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Content Creator Zaid Butt joined Silsala-e-Azeemia in 2004 as student of spirituality. Mr. Zahid Butt is an IT professional, his expertise include “Web/Graphic Designer, GUI, Visualizer and Web Developer” PH: +92-3217244554

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