PaaS is arguably the least well-understood area of cloud computing (as our own research proves – it has nothing to do with railways). We believe this is for the simple reason that it occupies the smallest niche of all cloud solutions – its target audience is almost exclusively the developer community (individuals and companies). In short, PaaS provides the necessary database, management, development and deployment tools for the creation and delivery of business applications, mobile apps, social apps, microsites, websites, and other software-driven solutions.
Typical PaaS scenarios include:
Whether it is enterprise application software, mobile apps or social apps, increasingly developers are using PaaS technologies for their “dev” environments. This eliminates the need for the developer or agency to buy expensive databases, software tools, etc; instead, they can focus on developing the application using browser-based toolkits and interfaces.
Many SaaS providers, e.g. CRM suppliers like Salesforce, use PaaS tools to create a development environment for application integration, i.e. if they are looking to integrate SaaS applications with on-premise line-of-business software. Without these tools, the SaaS application may not be fit-for-purpose due to lack of customisability.
Whilst mobile apps and social apps are very “de rigueur”, the traditional website is still a mandatory part of a company’s presence. Indeed, very often their developers are looking for an environment where they can build the website and also extend into the mobile and social spheres without a complete rebuild. Many PaaS solutions provide this capability for web development purposes, often with options available for LAMP stack – Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP – web server development or for ASP.NET/SQL Server deployments.
User Interface Portal
Often, an app or web service will require some form of portal (e.g. for payment, registration or other transactional contact). Many PaaS providers include this as part of their toolkit, e.g. once their user has built the app or site, they can provide the portal for the user’s end-customer.
Billing and Management
To complete the picture, PaaS providers typically provide a suite of billing and management tools to allow end-to-end delivery of the app or website. This allows the developer to bill their end-user customer and to manage the ongoing deployment of the service.
A complete PaaS solution will provide precisely what its name implies – a platform environment for cradle-to-grave lifecycle management for application and web service creation, including development, testing, deployment, billing and management.