What is Platform as a Service (PaaS)?

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a solution for building, testing, deploying and managing custom-built applications in the cloud. This vertical of cloud computing is gaining momentum because it allows developers to focus solely on application development. With PaaS, there is no need to buy, configure, or manage the underlying infrastructure; PaaS providers often partner with IaaS providers to host their platform(s) on the infrastructure backbone from development to deployment.

Different PaaS solutions use different languages and frameworks for development, which leads to the problem of vendor “lock-in” and the lack of portability. Vendor “lock-in” is when a developer has trouble switching from one service to another, mostly because of the high costs associated with switching. This has a lot to do with the proprietary software; developers are locked into specific PaaS software systems that solely operate under the support and discretion of the PaaS provider. Businesses would have to scrap their entire project on the platform if they wanted to switch. We see more open-source PaaS solutions being developed in the market as a result. This prevents “lock-in” and gives developers more options in choosing their solution stack, development language, framework, operating system, type of cloud and cloud provider. The adoption rate of PaaS currently lags behind that of IaaS and SaaS, but as more open-source solutions become available, developers will become more comfortable.

The bottom line is that PaaS has several advantages. It allows developers to focus on developing the application, rather than investing effort on system administration or infrastructure. Platform as a Service allows geographically dispersed teams to work together on the same piece of software, while also allowing applications to be upgraded quickly and frequently. The adoption rate of PaaS is projected to increase significantly in 2012.

History & Trending

PaaS has addressed the fundamental problem that most developers have faced for years: the slow process and enormous costs of testing and deploying an application to make it publicly available. Now, instead of spending millions on networking infrastructure to begin their development, developers can use a pay-as-you-go approach with PaaS.

In mid-2009, Forrester Research predicted that the Platform as a Service market would grow to €11.3 billion ($15 billion) over the following eight years. Many PaaS solutions are now catering to business users with limited IT knowledge and resources, providing simple, code-free programming environments where consumers can create or modify applications. This aspect of PaaS will gain significant traction with the emergence of open source platforms, along with the development of computing technology.