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Following on the heels of SaaS, Platform as a Service (PaaS) is another application delivery model. PaaS supplies all the resources required to build applications and services completely from the Internet, without having to download or install software.

PaaS is also known as cloudware.

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PaaS allows clients to access a computing platform over a cloud computing solution.

PaaS services include application design, development, testing, deployment, and hosting. Other services include team collaboration, web service integration, database integration, security, scalability, storage, state management, and versioning.

A downfall to PaaS is a lack of interoperability and portability among providers. That is, if you create an application with one cloud provider and decide to move to another provider, you may not be able to do so—or you’ll have to pay a high price. Also, if the provider goes out of business, your applications and your data will be lost.


This was the case with the provider Zimki. The company started in 2006 and by mid-2007 was out of business, causing applications and client data they hosted to be lost.

PaaS generally offers some support to help the creation of user interfaces, and is normally based on HTML or JavaScript.

Because PaaS is expected to be used by many users simultaneously, it is designed with that sort of use in mind, and generally provides automatic facilities for concurrency management, scalability, failover, and security.

PaaS also supports web development interfaces such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Representational State Transfer (REST), which allow the construction of multiple web services, sometimes called mashups. The interfaces are also able to access databases and reuse services that are within a private network.

PaaS Options

PaaS is found in one of three different types of systems:

  • Add-on development facilities These allow existing SaaS applications to be customized. Often, PaaS developers and users are required to purchase subscriptions to the add-on SaaS application.

  • Stand-alone environments These environments do not include licensing, technical, or financial dependencies on specific SaaS applications and are used for general developments.

  • Application delivery-only environments These environments support hosting-level services, like security and on-demand scalability. They do not include development, debugging, and test capabilities.

Trends Toward Adoption

PaaS faces the same sorts of factors in its adoption as SaaS did, as it is in its early phase. Some other factors influencing adoption include

  • The ability of geographically isolated development teams to work together

  • The ability to merge web services from multiple sources

  • The ability to realize cost savings from using built-in infrastructure services for security, scalability, and failover, rather than having to obtain and test them separately

  • The ability to realize cost savings from using higher-level programming abstractions


There are two main obstacles that developers face when considering PaaS.

Because vendors use proprietary services or development languages, some developers are afraid of being locked into a single provider. The vendor may allow the application to be brought to a different provider; however, the costs are typically higher as compared to moving applications between conventional hosts.

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