Cloud Computing Basics—Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Introducing PaaS

Cloud computing is still an evolving paradigm, but it is one of the most disruptive innovations in the past few years. According to the definition from NIST, it is the model to enable convenient and on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources, such as compute, storage and network, that can be provisioned rapidly and released with minimal management effort.

Figure 2. NIST Definition of Cloud Computing

PaaS providers manage underlying infrastructure resources, such as operating systems, virtual servers, networks, Web servers, application servers, databases, backup and disaster recovery.

Cloud computing is composed of three service models: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This article focuses on PaaS.

With PaaS, you can deploy applications into the cloud infrastructure using supported programming languages (such as Java, PHP, Ruby and .Net) and platforms/tools (such as Web servers/application servers and databases). This enables PaaS users or organizations to focus on their business and application maintenance rather than having to worry about managing resources, platforms and software versions.

PaaS resides within the space between SaaS and IaaS. IaaS provides network, storage and compute processing capabilities. Examples of IaaS offerings include Amazon EC2, Windows Azure VM Role and RackSpace Cloud Servers. SaaS delivers business software capabilities, such as CRM.

Figure 3. PaaS

PaaS includes not only the deployment environment, but it also includes repositories, build environments, testing environments, performance management, mail services, log services, database services, big data services, search services, enterprise messaging services and application performance management for modern application architectures and code inspection services.

PaaS is becoming popular because it eliminates the cost and complexity of acquisition, installation, configuration, evaluation, experimentation and management of all the hardware and software resources needed to run business applications. PaaS provides the infrastructure and platform needed to develop and run applications. By using PaaS, organizations can utilize budgets to develop applications that provide real business value.

PaaS is driving a new era of innovation and business agility. Development and IT teams use PaaS to design, experiment, build, test and deliver customized applications. Hence, application developers and IT teams can focus on application and domain expertise for their business, rather than managing complex hardware and software resources.

Benefits of PaaS

Two significant benefits of using PaaS are cost benefits and faster development and deployment cycles. PaaS provides agility, flexibility and faster time to market to the development, testing and deployment cycles and, hence, focus remains on the application and not in managing resources. It ensures access to resources from anywhere in the world. By using PaaS, user satisfaction increases, and at the same time, resource utilization improves. It provides underlying software and hardware resources on a pay-as-you-go billing model, so it reduces the capital expenditure associated with large amounts of server and storage space, power, cooling, management and maintenance of software updates and changes, and skilled personnel. With almost zero capital expenditure, horizontal or vertical scaling features can increase the application's performance. It does not involve local installation, so adoption speed is usually high. The PaaS platform ensures that consumers don't need to keep investing in OS upgrades and maintenance. It is the PaaS provider's responsibility to manage infrastructure and platform resources so organizations don't need to worry about licenses, versions of software, patch management and so on. Furthermore, flexibility and availability of resources improves collaboration between the development and testing teams.

Figure 4. PaaS Benefits

PaaS offers surprising benefits in deployment and management tasks considering the fact that most organizations opt for PaaS solutions based on the environment that is already standardized in their internal environment.

How to Deploy Applications in PaaS

Here are the basic steps:

  • Select the application type, programming language for developing the application, platform to run the application, build environment and so on.

  • Create business or Web applications using an IDE, such as Eclipse, NetBeans or any other IDE.

  • Create a database using available database products.

  • Change the database configuration accordingly in the application.

  • Create an archive file—for example, a WAR or EAR file.

  • Upload the archive file to the PaaS Portal.

  • Configure log, e-mail, backup and scaling services.

  • Access your application.

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Mitesh Soni has been associated with the Cloud Services Team for the past three years, which is a part of the Research and Innovation Group of iGATE. Currently, he is working there in the capacity as Technical Lead. He loves to write on technical and soci

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