Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a type of offering in which a service provider delivers a platform to clients, enabling them to develop, run, and manage business applications without the need to build and maintain the infrastructure such software development processes typically require.

Because PaaS architectures keep the underlying infrastructure out of sight of developers and other users, the model is similar to the concepts of  and function-as-a-service (FaaS), in which a cloud service provider provisions and runs the server and manages the allocation of resources. 

FaaS is a type of serverless offering that allows companies to develop and run discrete, event-driven functions without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically needed for developing and launching an application.

PaaS and serverless computing services typically charge only for compute, storage, and network resources consumed. FaaS takes that approach to the extreme, charging only when functions are executed, making FaaS a natural choice for intermittent tasks. 

All in the cloud family

As with other cloud services such as and , PaaS is offered via a cloud service provider’s hosted infrastructure. Users typically access PaaS offerings via a web browser.

PaaS can be delivered through public, private, or hybrid clouds. With a public cloud PaaS, the customer controls software deployment while the cloud provider delivers all the major IT components needed to host the applications, including servers, storage systems, networks, operating systems, and databases.

on a foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. 

Pivotal Cloud Foundry 

Cloud Foundry is an open source PaaS governed by the Cloud Foundry Foundation. It was originally developed by VMware and then transferred to Pivotal Software, a joint venture by EMC, VMware, and General Electric. Like OpenShift, Cloud Foundry is designed for building and running container-based applications, using Kubernetes for orchestration. 

PaaS risks

Given that PaaS is a cloud-based service, it comes with many of the same inherent risks that other cloud offerings have, such as information security threats. PaaS is based on the concept of using shared resources such as networks and servers, so the security risks include placing critical data into this environment and having they data stolen due to unauthorized access or attacks by hackers or other bad actors.

On the other hand, the major cloud providers have been more effective at warding off such breaches than the typical enterprise datacenter, so the information security risk has not proven to be what many in IT initially feared.

With PaaS, enterprises are beholden to service providers building appropriate access controls and other security provisions and policies into their infrastructures and operations. Enterprises are also responsible for providing their own security protections for their applications.

Also, because organizations are relying on a particular service provider’s infrastructure and software, there is a potential problem of with PaaS environments. A legitimate question for IT to ask is will the PaaS it chooses interoperate with its current and future IaaS and SaaS deployments?

Another risk with PaaS is when the service provider’s infrastructure experiences downtime for whatever reason, and the impact that might have on services. Also, what if the provider makes changes in its development strategy, programming languages, or in other areas?

Don’t expect these possible hurdles to keep you from taking the plunge into PaaS. It provides more flexibility precisely because the vendor handles the platforms while you handle the programming.

iPaaS

Any discussion of PaaS should include mention of iPaaS, integration platform-as-a-service. iPaaS is a set of automated tools for linking applications deployed in different environments. Leading examples of iPaaS providers include Dell Boomi, Informatica, MuleSoft, and SnapLogic. 

iPaaS makes sense for companies that need to integrate on-premises applications and data with cloud applications and data, which includes a growing number of enterprises leveraging hybrid cloud environments.