Someone told you that you need Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Unfortunately, they weren't more specific. PaaS can mean different things to different people. A Google search for “platform as a service definition” yields 9,220 results.

Consider these three sources: 

Gartner: "Platform as a service is the cloud service rendition of application infrastructure (middleware), the foundation technology for business applications. CIOs, IT planners and architects rely on public, private and hybrid platform as a service (PaaS) in their digital business technology decisions."

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): "A capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly configuration settings for the application-hosting environment."

Wikipedia: "Platform as a service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app."

So, what is PaaS exactly? Let's look at what it is, and what it isn't. 


What PaaS Is Not

It may sound like PaaS is the answer to everything. In reality, it’s not. PaaS isn’t load balancing, storage devices or networking. That’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). We'll address when you need IaaS in a later post.

Moreover, PaaS isn’t a system you must build, you can “rent” PaaS from a provider.


What PaaS Requires

Like its differing definitions PaaS can have different components. At a minimum, however, a good PaaS solution will have directory services, management services, web services, backup services, database services, identity services, configuration control services, automation services, file services, security services, certificate services, auditing services, alerting services and monitoring services.

A good PaaS solution will support multiple operating systems and environments (development, test and production). It may include streaming media services, real time communication services, e-commerce services, mobility services and content management services.


What PaaS Provides

For your developers, PaaS is nirvana.

It gets them out of the IT Operations and Support (O&S) role and lets them write, test, debug and deploy their code or application quickly. PaaS provides required services so your developers can consume them, not develop them, speeding up delivery of mission critical applications. PaaS enables DevOps integration targeting product delivery, quality testing, feature development, and maintenance releases in order to improve reliability and security and provide faster development and deployment cycles.

For your security officers, PaaS provides a set of standard services that have been vetted, reducing the time to authenticate and authorize new applications. PaaS reduces the complexity of multiple security schemas, freeing security to say yes to new applications.

For management, PaaS provides a way to save money on big hardware capital expenses. Companies or agencies can pay-as-you-go instead of paying up front and hoping the hardware is used close to capacity. PaaS provides a level of agility and mission responsiveness that hasn’t previously been available.

For your IT helpdesk, PaaS provides a level of protection of business applications by moving mission critical applications off corporate storage and servers. The helpdesk will manage the services provided by PaaS through the same tools that manage local services. The helpdesk will be freed from spinning up virtual machine after virtual machine as a developer updates an application. PaaS allows the helpdesk to manage PaaS services with more efficient standard processes.


NJVC’s Approach

So, what is PaaS? At NJVC, we define it simply: PaaS is a public, private or hybrid cloud that provides a place to build and run applications without cost of creating, maintaining or supporting hardware.

We help customers find a path to PaaS by understanding customer need. We use PaaS where appropriate to reduce deployment delays, support costs and speed mission responsiveness.

Public, private and hybrid PaaS can all be good options.

NJVC can help you navigate the cloud to increase interoperability and deliver greater resiliency.

What is PaaS? A platform for mission success.

About the Author CJ Johnson, Servicefront Solutions Architect

CJ Johnson is a senior solutions architect at NJVC and is leading NJVC's efforts to reinvent enterprise IT. She has solved IT challenges for the federal government across three continents and in four languages for more than 20 years. She is an ardent hockey fan (and is known to live stream games at 0230).