Platform As a Service (PaaS) – Pros and cons


Platform As a Service (PaaS) plays a major role in the cloud as it provides necessary operating platforms, tools, and resources to the users by thrid party providers to develop, deploy, manage, test, and run applications hosted in a cloud environment.

PaaS is primarily concerned with developing, deploying, and operating customer applications, although other capabilities may be involved, such as processing, storage, and network resources.

Traditionally, applications are developed or deployed in an on-premises environment, where the customer is responsible for acquiring, installing, configuring, and operating all the ecosystem elements required to run the applications. PaaS, on the other hand, provides a fundamental cloud environment for application development, in which the users or developers can develop their applications on virtualized development platform provided by the PaaS provider.

Developers can build their applications online using programming languages supported on the provider platform and deploy their applications using testing tools supporting the same platform.

The essence of a PaaS system is that the cloud service provider takes responsibility for the installation, configuration, and operation of the application infrastructure, leaving only the application code itself to the cloud service customer.

PaaS offerings also often expand on the platform capabilities of middleware by offering application developers a diverse and growing set of services and APIs that provide specific functionality in a managed, continuously available fashion. This approach aims to obscure the fact that middleware is present, enabling immediate productivity for developers.

In addition, PaaS offerings provide their capabilities in a way that enables the applications to take advantage of the native characteristics of cloud systems, often without the application developer having to add special code to the application itself. This provides a route to building “born on the cloud” applications without requiring specialized skills.

Although the users don’t have control over the development platform and underlying infrastructure like servers, storage, network, and operating system, they control the deployed applications and data related to those applications.

PaaS services include a wide range of software development and deployment capabilities, such as:

  1. Programming languages: PaaS providers offer scope for multiple languages where users can develop their applications. Some examples of languages are python, java, Scala, PHP, Go, etc.
  2. Application platforms: PaaS providers offer various application platforms used to develop applications. Popular examples of platforms are Joomla, Node.js, Drupal, WordPress, Django, and Rails
  3. Database: Applications need a backend for storing data. The database is always associated with frontend applications to access data. PaaS providers provide databases as part of their PaaS platforms. Some prominent databases offered by PaaS vendors are Redis, MongoDB, ClearDB, Membase, PostgreSQL, and Cloudant.
  4. Testing tools: Testing tools are provided by PaaS providers as part of their PaaS platforms. Testing tools are required to test applications after development.

Advantages of PaaS

When compared to the traditional development environment, PaaS offers several advantages to developers. The PaaS provider manages the complexity of the platform and underlying infrastructure maintenance. This allows developers to concentrate more on application development. Other advantages are as follows:

  • App development and deployment: PaaS provides all the necessary development and testing tools in one place, allowing you to build, test, and deploy software quickly. After the developer completes the development process, most PaaS services automate the testing and deployment process. This is faster than conventional development platforms in developing and deploying applications.
  • Reduces investment cost: Most conventional development platforms need high-end infrastructure leading to an increase in the investment cost for application development. Using PaaS services eliminates the requirement for developers to purchase licensed development and testing tools. On the other side, PaaS lets programmers rent everything they need to create, test and deploy their applications. The total investment cost for the application development is reduced because expensive infrastructure is not required.
  • Team collaboration: Traditional development platforms do not offer much in the way of collaborative development. PaaS allows developers from multiple locations to collaborate on a single project. The online shared development platform supplied by PaaS providers makes this feasible.
  • Produces scalable applications: Applications need to scale up or down the resources based on their load. In case of scale-up, companies must keep an additional server to handle the increased traffic. New start-up companies have a tough time expanding their server infrastructure in response to rising demand. On the other hand, PaaS services provide built-in scalability to applications produced on the PaaS platform.

Disadvantages of PaaS

On the other side, PaaS has several disadvantages, which are listed below:

  • Vendor lock-in: Vendor lock-in is a key disadvantage of PaaS providers. Lack of standards is the primary cause of vendor lock-in. PaaS providers do not adhere to any common standards for providing services. The adoption of proprietary technology by PaaS providers is another factor for vendor lock-in. The majority of PaaS companies employ proprietary technologies that are incompatible with those offered by other PaaS providers. PaaS services have a vendor lock-in issue that prevents applications from being transferred from one provider to another.
  • Security problems: Security is a big concern with PaaS services. Many developers are hesitant to use PaaS services since their data is stored on third-party servers off-site. Many PaaS providers have their security mechanism to prevent user data from security breaches, but feeling the safety of on-premise deployment is not the same as off-premise deployment. When choosing a PaaS provider, developers should compare its regulatory, compliance, and security standards to their security needs.
  • Less flexibility: PaaS limits developers’ ability to create their application stack. Most PaaS providers give access to a wide range of programming languages, database software, and testing tools, but the user doesn’t have control over the platform. Developers can only customize or build new programming languages for the PaaS platform from a few providers. The majority of PaaS vendors still do not give developers enough flexibility.
  • Depends on Internet connection: Developers must have an internet connection to utilize PaaS services. Most PaaS providers do not provide offline access, but very few can. The PaaS platform’s usability will not meet the developer’s expectations with a poor Internet connection.