Platform as a Service

 

Platform-as-a-Service abbreviated to “PaaS” is where a cloud computing provider manages all aspects of the computing infrastructure up to and including the Operating System (OS).

Platform-as-a-Service is commonly confused with IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-Service).  The main difference is that PaaS includes the Operating System (OS) whereas IaaS does not.

There are a number of distinct advantages in terms of familiarity – an example being that a PaaS subscriber has a choice of operating systems which presents a more direct and obvious option for seamless migration of both applications and data.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

For example – A business’s CRM software which currently runs locally on a Windows Server platform can be easily migrated to a Windows PaaS solution, all you would need to do is a typical installation create access / security roles and publish to your staff.

Common Uses

It is the key building block for services such as – Virtual Servers, Virtual Databases, Virtual Private Data Centres and less obvious solutions such as Content Delivery Networks (CDN). 

Like IaaS, PaaS solutions will employ server virtualisation technologies which allow providers to build a computing resource that lends itself to uses that require maximum flexibility, accessibility and resilience. 

 

 

 

  • Direct and Indirect Costs of owning Servers and Operating Systems

PaaS allows your business to rent access to managed server hardware and operating systems rather than procuring and managing it internally.  This allows your business to shift expenditure on IT equipment from Capital expense (CapEx) to monthly operating expense (OpEx), but it also negates the need for your company to pay for management and maintenance of that hardware and operating software, including patches and updates.

  • Reliability and Availability

By passing responsibility for the platform upon which your business applications are running to your provider, you are subscribing to your provider’s ability and expertise in managing the computing infrastructure environment.  Since your provider is an expert in their field and has invested substantially in Data Centres, Backup and failover facilities, network, servers and virtualisation technology, and their staff, facilities and resources are committed to the task of keeping their platform up-to-date , your provider is therefore in the very best possible position to ensure and deliver maximum uptime and availability for your company’s IT operations.

  • Future Proofing

Your PaaS provider has made a substantial investment in virtualisation technologies which give them the ability to upgrade specific hardware resources without necessarily affecting the service provided to their customers.  The burden of investing in new hardware and OS updates and upgrades also moves from your company to your provider.

  • Contractual Freedom

Like IaaS, SaaS and CaaS, PaaS is an “on demand” service – i.e. you can purchase access to as much or as little computing platform resources as and when you need it.  This allows you to keep costs in line with business demands and buy what you need when you need it.  It can be purchased on reserved or unreserved resource-based billing, hourly, daily or monthly contracts.

  • Scalability

PaaS allows you to build your IT operations in the same way you would in your office or on a purchased server – with the exception that the virtual system you see if actually built on a vast resource of computing power.  This computing power is the basis for delivering the PaaS service to all the PaaS providers clients, but the upshot is that you can tap into the scale of the computing behemoth quickly and easily without any disruption to service.  Need some more RAM for that latest application?  No problem Mr Customer!  This allows your computing to grow seamlessly with the growth and demands of your business, expanding and contracting with the peaks and troughs of demand.

  • Accessibility

PaaS is a cloud computing service – and like other forms of cloud computing it exists “in the cloud” and is accessible via the Internet.  This means that PaaS is available from wherever you have an Internet connection.  This makes it a highly effective tool for the centralisation of computing resources which are equally as accessible for all areas of your business, irrespective of location.

  • Replications and Hybrid Solutions

Because PaaS includes familiar operating system environments, it is the most obvious option for server replication and hybrid solutions.  Server replication using PaaS can form a highly effective and cost efficient basis for your backup and Disaster Recovery solutions.  In the event of distaster for your primary server facilities, PaaS can allow you to have a fully operational server up and running in minutes.  This fact alone, is a good reason for businesses to take a serious look at solutions for their business.

 

 

PaaS is undoubtedly a great option for many businesses seeking to run their central IT systems in whole or in part in a more flexible environment.   Nonetheless it pays to be aware of the requirements, limitations and scope of the service you purchase.  Here are some of the main things to take into account:

  • Data regulations

Increasingly, laws and regulations governing the protection of data are coming into effect and affecting businesses of all types.  Compliance with such regulations can often only be achieved through having full control, responsibility and accountability for the data your business holds.  Using a PaaS service can make this accountability and control harder to demonstrate – but it doesn’t have to.  It is worth researching your PaaS provider’s server, data storage and security methodology and options for 3rd party auditing for compliance.

  • Recovery from Disaster

By outsourcing the supply of your computing platform to an PaaS provider you are placing a lot of trust in your provider.  Any provider worth their salt will have their own system in place for Disaster Recovery (DR), but does it comply with with the demands of your business?  We recommend taking time to ask and understand how your provider approaches DR and whether they can meet your business requirements.  And keep in mind that your disaster recovery planning should also include the recovery of your data in the unlikely but possible event that your PaaS provider themselves for any reason becomes unable to continue providing the service.

  • Performance

PaaS will give your business access to a computing infrastructure with superior performance capabilities and the potential for greater returns on investment.  No two providers are the same, so it is strongly advised to fully understand the performance which you’ll be guaranteed and how that is backed up with both a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and penalty clauses for failure.  No less important is the level of support you can expect to be offered – again governed by an SLA.  This needs to match or exceed what you would expect by operating these services internally within your organisation, and you need to establish firmly the demarcations of responsibility.

  • Connectivity

As with all cloud-based services, connectivity to the cloud (Internet) and the PaaS service is an essential piece of the puzzle.  This connectivity will determine performance and uptime, needs to meet your peak business demands, and be sufficiently resilient to ensure availability.  Evaluate the bandwidth and network performance between your primary sites and your PaaS solution, and deploy a network solution suitable to catering for your levels of usage.

 

There are a multitude of PaaS providers offering services competing for your business, the key to choosing the right partner is different for many organisations. At Compare the Cloud we offer a free tool to benchmark your needs and find a provider which is free of charge to use.

 

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