Cloud computing is changing the way we do business today. It takes away the cost and headache of building, hosting and/or maintaining software solutions on site. However, there is a range of different service offerings when it comes to cloud computing, the three main categories being Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS – closely examined in a previous post) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). PaaS sits between IaaS and SaaS in terms of what it offers. It is a cloud computing environment equipped with a solution stack to create your own applications. Whereas IaaS concerns infrastructure (servers, databases, etc.) and SaaS are fully developed solutions, PaaS enables users to build their own software with tools and libraries from the provider.
With PaaS, you don’t have to worry about running software applications in-house. Traditionally, in-house software tends to be expensive and time-consuming to install and maintain. PaaS delivers a ready-made environment that you are not logistically responsible for. You access it through the internet (there are various security features available to make sure your data is protected) and can get to work instantly. Consequently, PaaS frees up resources in the IT department, allowing your technical team to focus on innovation and keeping your business competitive rather than supporting on-premise solutions that can be rigid and outdated, requiring frequent patching and upgrades.
PaaS efforts are also expensed differently. Since there is no physical product involved, PaaS costs are typically included in operational expenses, which means businesses can redirect their budgets. PaaS providers generally charge by usage – you only pay for what you need – making PaaS extremely affordable and scalable. Businesses can start with a small project and increase their usage (and cost) as needed.
There are a handful of key reasons why PaaS is considered to be a disrupter in the business world:
PaaS is a rapidly expanding market. New vendors are joining the fold every day, while established vendors like Salesforce and VMware roll out their offerings as well. Just recently, VMware launched Cloud Foundry, which they tout as the industry’s first open source PaaS. Google, however, currently leads the market with their Apps Engine, a solid platform to build and host business apps. Salesforce.com’s Force.com and Heroku are both emerging as big players, as well as Azure, Engine Yard, and Amazon Elastic Beanstalk (with Amazon already being a major player in the IaaS market with Amazon Web Services).
Join us next week, for a closer look at these leading PaaS players and what makes each of them unique. Meanwhile, if you’d like to catch up on our editorial series on cloud computing, you can start with our introduction to the cloud