Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) fits the profile of modern business – fast paced and highly agile. It offers companies the ability to rapidly build customized solutions with the help of advanced tools. A major benefit lies in the theory of avoiding the reinvention of the wheel.
Rather than code everything from the ground up, PaaS providers often have pre-built blocks that developers can just plug and play to build better apps quickly.
The scalability of the Cloud also means that there isn’t much need for self-provisioning – and all of this at lower prices.
SAP is a really big company, so much so that its offerings span multiple service models. Among them is their Cloud PaaS which is an open business platform. It was designed to help developers build applications more easily, offering both breadth and depth of service.
The platform also opens up the possibility of integrating Cloud and on-premise apps and provides many supporting services. Part of this is thanks to SAP’s immense partner ecosystem which delivers a stunning library of over 1,300 apps built on the same platform.
Microsoft Azure is a deployment and development environment using the PaaS concept. Because of its nature, Azure is able to support the entire web app development life cycle, from build to deploy and thereafter.
Azure also supports a wide range of tools, languages, and frameworks. Developers using on it can access over a hundred associated services a cloud computing service from Microsoft. Because of the sheer size of Azure, it encompasses all three Cloud models – SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.
Heroku now belongs to Salesforce and is an example of PaaS based on the managed container concept. As with many PaaS environments, it is highly self-contained and integrates data services as well as a complete ecosystem of its own.
Because of it’s app-centricity, Heroku has gained a reputation as less of an enterprise solution. Instead, it has gained a following among the hobbyist and production development crowd. It also helps that Heroku is pretty user-friendly, allowing it to offer a more streamlined experience.
For those keen to build on Heroku, I’ve seen apps built on this platform that has managed to go for respectable prices. For example, The Regular, built to sell food and drinks, is being listed on Flippa for around $25,000.
Part of the Amazon Cloud, AWS Lambda is actually intended to work as part of the whole. Essentially, it is meant to support the efficient management of AWS resources. This means that users can run code without the need to provision for resources or server management.
The nature of Lambda makes it good for any kind of development – the environment is multi-code capable since those are provisioned for. Users have lauded it for its serverless architecture and the ability to easily handle micro-service architecture.
Google offers their App Engine as part of the Google Cloud ecosystem. It’s intended to be a highly scalable serverless PaaS used for rapid deployment. Google, being the giant it is, can provision highly capable servers capable of coping with almost any volume of query.
There have, however, been some issues raised by developers about the service. These include slight lack of support on some language environments, shortage of development tools, inability to plug-and-play some applications, plus a lock in to Google as the vendor.
Lauding itself as the “smallest PaaS implementation you've ever seen”, Dokku – a PaaS example that isn’t quite as capable as the big players like AWS. What it lacks for in depth however, it makes up for in cost – Dokku is open source and completely free.
Based on container technology from Docker, this minute PaaS essentially lets you deploy on any infrastructure. The serious advantage of this is that there is a much lower chance of vendor lock-in so you’ll be able to take your business model in any direction you want.
Apprenda considers itself more towards the enterprise scale of the Cloud application building and deployment industry. It’s platform is based on Kubernetes and takes advantage of open source technologies. One of its defining characteristics is the ability to support users in moving legacy dot net applications to a PaaS environment.
Unfortunately, there have been issues raised among Apprenda users that slightly shades its capabilities. For example, some users have reported environments that are not well optimized in efficiency of memory usage.
Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) is the open sourced distribution of the Cloud Foundry platform. It’s slightly enhanced for this purpose, making it a little more user-friendly and includes more features. PCF can be deployed on IaaS platforms such as vSphere.
Like many PaaS deployments it can be used for rapid application deployment and maintenance. It’s able to streamline app updates as well. A strong part of the appeal for it lies in automation and ease of use across almost any Cloud foundation.
Lightning is what Salesforce considers as the next generation of their platform. It’s separate from Salesforce classic (which is SaaS) and will be the target of all future Salesforce developments in future.
Lightning offers a much-improved user interface and has improvements that will boost the experience of both business users as well as on the IT team side. An important part of the rapid development feature is the inclusion of reusable building blocks and a new delivery system.
With most major IT vendors having their own PaaS platforms, it comes as no surprise that IBM has their own version as well. Surprisingly, IBM Cloud opted for an open source version of their PaaS that has proven to be both powerful and agile.
Despite that, it hasn’t been able to resist advertising the platform as a way for businesses to solve complex problems, which is more marketing hype than reality. Still, it has been tested with a wide variety of applications and despite slight underperformance with large deployments, is still scaling up.
OpenShift is in a way similar to Cloudways and offers users an easier way to build and deploy applications on. It also has extensive API support so you aren’t limited only to what the platform has to offer.
Coming from Red Hat, OpenShift has also been known to be incredibly secure. There are multiple safeguards built into the environment which will step in should users try to perform unexpected actions (such as attempting to run containers with incorrect permissions).
Oracle is another of the industry big boys that has a finger in all aspects of the Cloud. Their PaaS offering is one of their four Cloud pillar product lines. It was designed to work primarily with Oracle SaaS applications but does work with others as well.
Having said that, it has gotten somewhat mixed reviews to date, with users finding there seems to be a balance of pros and cons depending on what they use it for. Among issues raised on a more generic level are the inadequacies of the control panel, complexity, and time taken for instance provisioning.
Compared to many enterprise-scale PaaS platforms, Zoho Creator is an incredible simple building-block style offering. It essentially functions like a turbocharged app builder which allows users to simply drag and drop reusable containers to create functionality. It’s able to build for multiple deployment targets as well.
The very low cost of entry makes it a strong choice for smaller organizations looking to build and deliver. Alternatively, larger companies can also take it as a stepping stone towards digitization. Users have commented that using it can be as simple as learning from a Youtube video.
Wasabi may not be the size of Google, Amazon, or Oracle but it is one of the larger independent PaaS providers in the market. Their very impressive pricing has made them popular for a much wider variety of use cases such as Cloud storage.
It has a simple interface and is easy to use and set up as well. This makes it a good choice for both personal use and small to medium sized businesses. The convenience in these situations makes up for those having more limited access to strong technical support teams.
Cloudways is perhaps unique on this list because it is extremely deeply rooted in the web hosting industry. Although it is just like many other PaaS platforms and offers users high configurability for rapid deployment, many have used it to instead build custom virtual servers for hosting.
Part of the reason is its provision for managed hosting, which combines the power of Cloud PaaS without the overly technical portion of environment management. Pricing models are as transparent as many others as well.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.