Delving into cloud systems can feel a lot like learning a foreign language. People who are in the early information-gathering stages often wonder “What is PaaS in cloud computing?” or “How does it compare to SaaS or IaaS?” This page answers those questions and provides some insights that may be beneficial for people deciding which cloud computing options are right for their organization’s needs.
Question: What is PaaS in the Cloud?
Answer: PaaS is short for Platform-as-a-Service. It refers to a virtual environment created expressly for the development of applications.
PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS are often referred to as a stack, because each one builds upon the next, or rather, offers a different level of services.
IaaS is a very basic level of cloud computing. It refers to Infrastructure-as-a-Service, and includes the raw resources an organization might need, like servers. Companies often benefit from this because they can scale anytime they need and purchase the infrastructure as a utility. It also offers versatility, as anything can be stored in infrastructure, whether a company wants to store data off-site or run programs remotely. Because it’s essentially a blank slate, it’s usable for virtually anything and can generally accept any form of programming language.
PaaS is the next level in the stack. When the platform is the service, a service provider usually includes the infrastructure and the base, and perhaps even some of the building blocks necessary for a team to build an application. Because of this, the coding language is determined in advance by the provider, as well as some other details that will vary based on the entity. Google App Engine is one of the most well-known examples.
SaaS is a complete cloud-based application. It’s short for Software-as-a-Service and is the most comprehensive product available on the cloud. With SaaS, users simply log into the application and can use the service; no building is required.
Every organization’s needs are different, and so there are varying levels of cloud privacy available for platform-as-a-service models.
Public: When most people think of a platform-as-a-service, they think of “public” options, like Google App Engine. Anyone who uses it is tapped into Google’s cloud.
Private: A private option could be thought of as using Google App Engine, but without being tapped into Google’s cloud. It’s ideal for IT teams that need to manage their own infrastructure, which many do for security or to ensure regulatory compliance.
Hybrid: In situations where only specific parts of a company’s data needs to be managed on a private cloud, a hybrid setup may be appropriate. In these cases, the applications pull data from multiple clouds, providing the best of both worlds.