At the time of its inception, cloud computing was merely thought of as an extension to the on-premises servers. For the customers, the cost savings on CapEx was huge and for operators, it created a revenue stream by offering computing power as a service over the internet. Over the last decade or so, the idea of having a cloud server has been extended well beyond its original intent. Along with that, the idea of offering it as a service has also expanded.
While you can still hire a bare-metal server on the cloud and then build up your own stack as your application demands, you can as well hire a built-up server which already has the stack preloaded as per your application needs. In the former case, you can envisage an IT engineer setting up the OS, installing software packages from scratch and then configuring the application specific settings. In the latter case, an application developer can just pick the right stack configuration from the service catalog and launch the server.
If you pay close attention to the two scenarios then you will notice a shift in the service offering. Instead of offering the bare-metal server infrastructure as a service, a fully loaded server, with the right mix of platform and application components can also be offered as a service. This shift in service offerings has rendered the traditional cloud service obsolete. And why not? After all, there is a clear way for the service providers to offer more value-added services in the form of an application platform on top of the bare metal, instead of the bare metal itself. This is what we call as the PaaS a.k.a. Platform as a Service.
But, what’s in it for you as the customer. Apart from the guaranteed savings in CapEx, there are a few more advantages
Reduced Time to Develop & Market
If you are building the next game-changing application then you cannot undermine this. Factors such as time to develop and time to market are very critical for your success. Hence you cannot waste that time building and configuring servers. Opting for a PaaS based cloud hosting allows you to focus only on building your application, instead of the nitty gritty of server and OS setup.
With PaaS, your application development & deployment time gets reduced significantly
Expedite Development Workflows
PaaS comes with a suite of tools and utilities that enables you to launch your software development setup faster. For application developers, this is a boon since they can easily spawn off additional servers with their preferred setup & configuration within seconds. Such features make the transition from development to testing to staging and production setup seamless and really quick.
Leveraging PaaS for application development results in quicker turnaround from development to production
A Leaner Team
Instead of hiring IT and operation engineers to set up and provision servers, you can have a leaner team where application developers can provision the servers. All the boring stuff around setup and provisioning is relegated to the cloud hosting provider so that you as a customer can reduce the IT support staff and focus more on development and release.
Choosing a PaaS cloud service puts your developers in charge and reduces your IT support overheads
Maintenance Free Service
Your PaaS cloud provider is also responsible for all future maintenance, upgrades, migrations and security-related patch fixes. This means that everything that you need to run the platform smoothly is managed by the service provider. Effectively, this reduces your burden of dealing with this mundane yet important stuff and affords you further savings both in terms of time and cost.
By opting for PaaS, your system administration and maintenance chores are a thing of the past
A Truly Scalable & Elastic Cloud
Most of us think of the cloud as a way of scaling up operations virtually instead of managing the hassles of physical data center expansion. However, the true essence of a cloud service lies in elasticity and not in scalability. That is, the ability to grow or shrink the resources as per the application needs. This means that your infrastructure should be elastic in its ability to scale up or down based on user demand. A PaaS based service delivers such an elastic cloud deployment in a matter of a few seconds which the traditional cloud service can never match.
PaaS gives you fine-grained control over how much cloud computing resources you want to consume
Overall Cost Savings
If you think of a leaner team and minimal system administration & support overheads then there is a direct impact on your bottom line savings which is linked to your OpEx. Further, PaaS based cloud hosting offers flexible billing options based on a pay as you go pricing model. This has the potential to reduce your usage costs even further in comparison to the traditional cloud hosting services which are typically based on a fixed rental model.
A PaaS cloud subscription is the most affordable way to monetize your application
Give PaaS a Chance
Whether you want to launch an application such as the popular WordPress CMS or a programming environment based on Node.js, Java or Python, a PaaS cloud service will ensure that you get everything bundled up. Coupled with the flexibility to choose your own resource limits in terms of CPU, RAM and networking options, you always get a tailor-made server configuration which grows as your application goes viral.
Of course, going the PaaS way locks you in with your PaaS vendor. However, if you are just starting out or have a small to medium sized application footprint, then deploying on PaaS far outweighs the vendor lock-in problem. Once you scale up at a global level, you can decide to build your own infrastructure. So next time you are thinking of launching a new application on the cloud, think PaaS and it will make a world of difference to your approach to building apps.