The Pros and Cons of PaaS

Platform as a Service, or PaaS, are cloud services and solutions that offer compelling opportunities, streamlining the process of application development. For companies without access to the significant resources required to facilitate on-site development, PaaS eliminates many of the complex infrastructure necessities, reducing costs and improving outcomes.

However, as with all technological resources, PaaS isn’t right for everyone. Take these pros and cons into consideration when evaluating PaaS platforms.

What is Platform as a Service?

Platform as a Service, or PaaS, provides a platform for custom application developing using resources hosted in a cloud infrastructure. Rather than conventional software development, which require on-site servers with adequate storage space, infrastructure and data center management, consistent software and hardware updates, and security resources to protect information and in-progress work, PaaS provides a service in which all aspects are managed remotely by a provider.

For businesses with significant custom development needs, making the move to PaaS can be a wise business decision. With opportunities that are fast, flexible, and can improve the development process, moving to one of the cloud service providers businesses can experience unparalleled opportunity to improve results their cloud functions.

Examples of PaaS

For those used to working with in-house resources, conceptualizing PaaS products or services may not be as easy as it sounds. However, there are many examples of popular Platform as a Service products offered by leading names in the business.

Microsoft Azure’s cloud-based services are among the popular PaaS products. Produced by Microsoft, Azure cloud services can be a flexible, enterprise-grade cloud computing solution that can be employed in a PaaS capacity. Like its IaaS opportunities, Azure cloud PaaS functionality also offers BI tools, database management, development tools, and middleware. This can be employed in conjunction with other cloud computing solutions or used as a standalone development base to complement the use of in-house traditional servers.

There are many other avenues for PaaS products; options like Apache Stratos, OpenShift, and Magento Commerce Cloud are also popular choices depending on business needs. Further, many private cloud providers can offer both limited and expansive PaaS options to ensure app development works seamlessly with IaaS products for a cohesive and comprehensive approach to computing.

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Pros and Cons of Existing PaaS Products

As outlined above, PaaS opportunities exist in many shapes and sizes for companies to consider. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to current PaaS products on the market. While many are sophisticated enough to meet most basic needs, there are certainly things companies should include in the evaluation process before moving forward with a mass market product.
The advantages of current PaaS opportunities align with the concept of Platform as a Service on the whole:

  • Cost savings
  • Streamline production
  • Fast and flexible tools
  • Access from anywhere
  • Reduction of in-house IT resources

The drawbacks are a little less clear cut, however, and generally are specific from one product to another based on the perspective of individual companies and their respective needs. For those weighing multiple options, the following issues may come to light:

  • Incompatibilities with current systems
  • Poor access to support
  • Necessary third-party services incongruous with current business model
  • No way to manage security in-house
  • Limitations based on product functionality
  • Challenges in transitioning from one platform to another

The Advantages and Disadvantages of PaaS

PaaS has a lot to offer to companies in need of significant application development throughout the course of business. Some businesses may only really need one of the IaaS providers, some SaaS applications, just another service provider. However, there are many factors to consider when considering implementing a PaaS model to business.

Pros of PaaS

As with other cloud computing solutions, like the SaaS and IaaS model, there’s a lot to love about PaaS opportunities for companies in need.

  • Faster Development: In many cases, speed is an important part of coding and development. When products need to be rolled out quickly, managing in-house resources can be a drain on productivity, leading to corner cutting or delays. Due to the ease of use of PaaS solutions, projects can be completed on an accelerated timeline without compromising quality.
  • Easier Training: With one platform that can cater to many jobs, it’s easy to get staff members up and running without significant training requirements. This can ensure all developers and coders are on the same page throughout all projects.
  • Multi-platform capabilities: As PaaS solutions aren’t specific to one device or network, like many on-site development platforms are, companies can design applications and programs across operating systems and devices, like desktop computers and mobile phones. This can also ensure compatibility.
  • Sophisticated Abilities: In many cases, on-site development platforms are limited based on the in-house technology available. This can mean out of date tools that require significant workarounds to achieve the right results. Due to the web-based nature of PaaS options, updates and upgrades are rolled out automatically to provide access to the best tools at all times.
  • Remote Work: Due to the web-based nature of cloud solutions and cloud hosting, designers are no longer limited to on-site technology. PaaS products can be accessed anywhere at any time on any device, making it easy for team members to collaborate from anywhere in the world.
  • Comprehensive Experience: PaaS products are designed to offer comprehensive and complete solutions, from brainstorming to implementation. Due to the ease of use and available opportunities, companies taking advantage of PaaS are guaranteed support that can make managing the application lifecycle fast and easy.

Cons of PaaS

Despite the advantages, PaaS products aren’t right for everyone. Before moving forward, be sure to take these potential downsides into consideration. Be aware that some of these challenges are related to particular PaaS providers versus all PaaS providers and thus may not apply universally.

  • Security: Security is up to the cloud provider, leaving businesses essentially vulnerable to the whims of others. While this can be fine for those who choose a private cloud experience with customized security protocols, those who use public cloud PaaS products, like those hosted through Microsoft Azure, in conjunction with a public cloud infrastructure must settle with whatever security policies are in place with no opportunity to upgrade or enhance offerings.
  • Infrastructure Challenges: As PaaS is not an infrastructure function, performance often depends on a company’s own infrastructure. If the available options cannot meet the demands of a PaaS solution or are otherwise unsuitable for cloud computing, other issues may arise. This can mean an investment in updating on-site infrastructure or switching to an IaaS product.
  • Compatibility Issues: While cloud computing opportunities are intended to be as user-friendly and compatible as possible, if a company’s existing operations aren’t compatible with current hardware, traditional software, or cloud-based software, users may run into challenges. In general, PaaS products are customized by the provider, not the user, so users must accept whatever defaults a provider chooses, regardless of potential incompatibilities, whether technological or operational.
  • Lack of Scalability: All cloud solutions are scalable to some degree, but PaaS options are less flexible than, say, IaaS solutions. The overall technology is a little more rigid, making use challenging for those who see big growth on the horizon. This can also be problematic for companies that see significant seasonality and experience periods of unusually high demand throughout the year.

Implementing PaaS

Implementing a Platform as a Service product can be a big benefit for companies with sights set on effective, efficient application development, but there are certainly challenges to consider. Before going live with a particular PaaS product, be sure to spend time considering the potential drawbacks of doing so.

The benefits of PaaS will apply under virtually all circumstances, particularly if proper attention is given to the available products and due diligence is involved in the decision-making process. If the wrong product is selected, of course, issues may arise, but by and large, a thoughtful implementation process can save time, money, and improve development abilities.

However, the potential consequences should always be evaluated, particularly in light of an implementation timeline. These include:

  • Interruption to existing projects: If you are partially finished with an important project, implementing a PaaS solution may result in a delayed timeline or the need to balance a new system and an existing system simultaneously. Instead, it’s best to make a switch in between major deadlines.
  • Startup costs: As with any software or hardware upgrade or switch, the initial costs will be higher. These can be recouped down the road due to the potential for future savings but at the start, companies will need to be able to cover the costs of implementation without doing significant harm to the bottom line.
  • Adjustments to business practices: In some cases, switching to a new platform for application development can lead to a change in the way the development process is managed. This can extend from responsibilities held to point of contact for IT personnel. At least initially, this can slow the process of producing new applications.
  • Onboarding requirements: Many developers are highly skilled professionals who understand the principles of development irrespective of the platform in use. However, this does not negate the need for some form of onboarding in the process of adopting a new system. Development staff will need to be trained to be expert users of an PaaS option.
  • Third-party resources: With many PaaS products, particularly those hosted through a public cloud, users are at the mercy of third-party resources to manage things like security and upgrades. Partnering with new supporting staff can be a challenge, particularly if new practices do not align with preferred methodology.

PaaS options can be a great fit for many businesses, but there’s no one right product or service for everyone. If you are considering Platform as a Service opportunities, be sure to speak to your private cloud provider or service provider to learn more about finding the right fit for your existing infrastructure.

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