Software development has long required a combination of programming, design and system administration skills. If your project required an integrated development environment, an application server and a database then you, or someone on your team, would have to install, configure and maintain those components. These activities do not provide for distinguishing features of your software: they are simply overhead activities that leave less time for innovative software design and development. What if you could make that overhead go away or at least shift the responsibility to a service provider? That is the promise of Platform as a Service (PaaS).
PaaS is a type of cloud service model that offers developers relief from some aspects of systems management while allowing sufficient flexibility in software development to design and deploy custom applications in the cloud. PaaS services offer a combination of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) features. Like IaaS, PaaS is used to develop Web and mobile applications using a wide array of components, ranging from programming languages and application servers to message queues and databases. Like, SaaS, these components are preconfigured and maintained by the service provider and typically offered as multi-tenancy services.
IaaS providers offer commodity services, such as virtual machines and block storages that are sometimes difficult to differentiate from competitors’ offerings. PaaS vendors offer higher level services and therefore have more opportunity to offers specialized services and focus on a particular type of developer. For example, a Java PaaS provider might offer well integrated Java application server, source code management, and continuous integration tools. Other PaaS providers may target developers using multiple languages by offering support for PHP, Ruby, Python, Perl and other popular Web development languages. The increasing importance of mobile applications presents another area in which PaaS providers can differentiate their product lines from those of other vendors.
This PaaS Provider Comparison series examines several PaaS providers, including:
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This is not a comprehensive list of PaaS providers but it is a sample of different types of PaaS offerings. Some of these vendors specialize in PaaS, such as Engine Yard, Heroku and AppFrog. Some, such as Amazon AWS and Windows Azure, are also IaaS providers. The fact that they have PaaS offerings as well demonstrates the lines between IaaS and PaaS are blurring.
The purpose of this PaaS Provider Comparison Guide is to provide you with an overview of some the PaaS offerings currently available, describe features and costs, and discuss some key considerations when evaluating and choosing a PaaS. Several aspects of PaaS offerings will be covered.
Dan Sullivan is an author, systems architect, and consultant with over 20 years of IT experience with engagements in systems architecture, enterprise security, advanced analytics and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail, gas and oil production, power generation, life sciences, and education. Dan has written 16 books and numerous articles and white papers about topics ranging from data warehousing, cloud computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration, and text mining.
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