Platform as a Service

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Platform as a Service Definition

Platform as a Service (PaaS) refers to a cloud computing model. You may be wondering: “What is platform as a service in cloud computing?” PaaS specifically provides a platform for customers to develop, run, and manage applications without building and maintaining the cloud infrastructure required to develop and launch an app.

PaaS can be delivered in three different formats. First is as a cloud service from the provider. In this configuration, the customer controls software deployment with minimal configuration options. The Platform as a Service provider supplies the networking, servers, storage, operating system (OS), middleware (e.g. Java runtime, .NET runtime, integration, etc.), database and other services to host the consumer’s application. The second PaaS configuration can be run as a private service (software or appliance) behind a firewall. And finally, the third PaaS configuration can be run as software deployed on public infrastructure as a service such as AWS.

Platform as a Service benefits include more efficient application development. Platform as a Service solutions permit the customer to focus on the application itself. With PaaS, the customer manages applications and data. The provider (in public PaaS) or IT department (in private PaaS) manages runtime, middleware, operating system, virtualization, servers, storage and networking. Development tools offered by the provider are customized according to the needs of the customer. The user can choose to maintain the software, or have the provider maintain it.

Diagram depicts the general structure of a platform as a service (PaaS) in regards to end users and applications, service provider (platform) and the hosting thereof.

What is a Platform as a Service (PaaS)?

Platform as a Service (PaaS) refers to a cloud computing configuration that helps enterprises operate with an efficient cloud-based strategy. PaaS provides a platform for customers to develop, run, and manage applications without building and maintaining the cloud infrastructure required to develop and launch applications. PaaS permits more efficient application development since the organization can focus on the application itself.

Users of PaaS may also choose to subscribe to iPaaS, integration platform-as-a-service. This model is a set of automated tools which link applications deployed in different environments. Large business-to-business (B2B) enterprises looking to integrate on-premises applications and data with cloud applications and data, in environments such as hybrid cloud, often use iPaaS to meet this need. Companies who provide iPaaS include MuleSoft, SnapLogic, Dell Boomi, and Informatica. Microsoft and Oracle offer iPaas as well.

How Does Platform as a Service Work?

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a type of cloud computing model in which a service provider delivers a platform to customers. The platform enables the organization to develop, run, and manage business applications without the need to build and maintain the infrastructure such software development processes require.

PaaS is offered via a service provider’s hosted cloud infrastructure. Users typically access PaaS offerings via a web browser. Customers pay for PaaS on a per-use basis. Some providers will charge a flat monthly fee for access to the platform and applications hosted on the platform.

PaaS can be delivered through public, private, or hybrid clouds. With a public cloud PaaS, the customer controls software deployment while the cloud provider delivers all the major IT components needed for running applications. These components can include servers, storage systems, networks, operating systems, and databases. With a private cloud offering, PaaS is delivered as software or an appliance behind a customer’s firewall, typically in its on-premises data center. Hybrid cloud PaaS offers a mix of the two types of cloud service.

Rather than replace an organization’s entire IT infrastructure for software development, PaaS provides key services such as application hosting or Java development. Some PaaS offerings include application design, development, testing, and deployment. PaaS services can also include web service integration, development team collaboration, database integration, and information security. PaaS includes multiple underlying cloud infrastructure components, including servers, networking equipment, operating systems, storage services, middleware, and databases.

All of these technology offerings are owned, operated, configured, and maintained by the service providers. Customers can avoid having to lay out investments in these foundational IT components that they might not be able to use to the fullest extent possible. PaaS also includes widely used resources such as development tools, programming languages, libraries, containers, database management systems, and other tools.

What are the Benefits of a Platform as a Service?

Platform as a Service hardware and software provide benefits like streamlining development tools, reducing infrastructure cost, working on multiple operating systems, and supporting various programming languages.

Platform as a Service benefits outlined by research firm Gartner include:

API development and management – Companies can use PaaS solutions to manage application programming interfaces as well as microservices. This includes security, development, creating new APIs, and end-to-end API management.

Business analytics/intelligence – Some PaaS solutions include tools which empower enterprises to analyze their data for business insights and patterns of behavior. These tools give the organization the required information to make better decisions and more accurately predict things like market demand for products.

Business process management (BPM) – Organizations can access a BPM platform delivered as a service through PaaS solutions. BPM suites integrate IT components needed for process management, including data, business rules, and service-level agreements.

Communications – PaaS can deliver communications platforms. This allows developers to add communication features to applications, such as voice, video, and messaging.

Databases – A PaaS provider can deliver database services to an organization, such as set-up and maintenance. Database PaaS is an on-demand, secure, and scalable self-service database model. Provisioning can be automated, as well as administration of databases, according to analyst firm Forrester Research.

Primary data management (PDM) – Primary data management (MDM/PDM) software tracks the most essential company-wide data points, providing a single point of reference for data. From this point of reference, the software provides insights related to company operations, clients, and goals. Such data might include reference data such as information about customer transactions, and analytical data to support decision making. Users can then implement that data as they see fit, keep records of data history, and make projections based on findings. Operations team, working together with IT teams, can identify the essential metrics across the entire business and pinpoint areas of concern, gauge the success of individual departments, increase productivity, and maximize ROI.

What are some Platform as a Service examples?

Platform as a Service (PaaS), as the name suggests, provides you computing platforms which typically includes operating system, programming language execution environment, database, web server etc. PaaS is more popular among developers as they can put all their concentration on developing their apps and leave the rest of management and execution to the service provider. Many cloud service providers also offer the flexibility to increase or decrease the CPU power depending upon the traffic loads giving developers cost effective and effortless management.

Examples of PaaS may include runtimes such as Java runtimes, databases such as mySQL or Oracle, and web servers such as Tomcat. Another example is Google App Engine, on which one can develop applications and let them execute on Google’s platform. Other commonly-cited examples include AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, Heroku,, and Apache Stratos.

Does Avi Networks, now Part of VMware, offer Platform as a Service?

Yes. Avi (now rebranded to VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer) is purpose-built for the cloud and mobile era using a unique analytics-driven, 100% software approach. It is the first platform to leverage the power of software-defined principles to achieve unprecedented agility, insights, and efficiency in running applications. Users can access services including distributed load balancing, web application firewall, global server load balancing (GSLB), network and application performance management across a multi-cloud environment. It helps ensure fast time-to-value, operational simplicity, and deployment flexibility in a highly secure manner.

For more on the actual implementation of load balancing, security applications and web application firewalls check out our Application Delivery How-To Videos.