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The 3 Main Types of PaaS

Alan Cooke, Researcher at TrustRadius
Alan Cooke
January 8, 2020
IT & Development

The 3 Main Types of PaaS

PaaS is a development and deployment environment in the cloud that makes coding and deploying applications much more efficient for developers and IT professionals. It is a platform for building scalable software delivered over the web with modest up-front investment. There are three main PaaS platform flavors, and it’s important to understand the difference between them before investigating which product to purchase.

1. PaaS tied to a SaaS product 

These PaaS offerings are tightly connected to commonly-used SaaS platforms like Salesforce, Workday, or Intuit. The purpose of this kind of PaaS is to create a developer ecosystem around a SaaS application. It does this by providing a platform allowing ISVs to create new capabilities that run on the core SaaS platform. Examples of added capabilities might be custom business processes, platform extensibility, data model customization, or a broad range of new functionality. Many of these platforms have low-code/ no-code capabilities, meaning they can be used by less technical resources. 

In this way, new capabilities can be rapidly created to meet market demand and then sold into the customer base directly or via an application marketplace. 

Examples of this kind of PaaS are: 

Most of these PaaS tools are provided to customers or ISVs free of cost by the vendor, although fees may be charged up to a certain level of resources consumed, such as storage, bandwidth, or hours used. 

2. PaaS tied to an Operating Environment 

The most common example of this is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) vendor including PaaS capabilities as part of the IaaS offering and encroaching further up the stack. These offerings may not have the same depth of functionality as standalone PaaS platforms, but they can work well if the customer is committed to running only on one specific IaaS. Some buyers may worry about vendor lock-in. 

Examples of this type of PaaS are:

3. Open-cloud PaaS 

This kind of PaaS is not tied to a SaaS product or operating environment but allows organizations to use a completely separate platform. This provides flexibility, but can also add cost. These platforms are generally suitable for hybrid cloud environments.

Examples of Open-Cloud PaaS include:

Other Vectors or Market Segmentation

This is not the only way to segment PaaS providers. Another way to differentiate between PaaS providers is abstraction level. For example, high abstraction provides high agility and lower configurability. Another differentiation vector is around integrated functionality and services. Examples include the integration of container orchestration, or automated deployment.

Buyer’s Guide

TrustRadius has published a complete Buyer’s Guide to Platform-as-a-Service technology which can be downloaded here.

About the Author

Alan Cooke, Researcher at TrustRadius
Alan Cooke
Alan attended the University College Dublin where he received his BA and MA in English Literature and Philosophy and he received his MBA from HEC Paris. He has held many roles at various companies including Director of Product Management at HP, Dazel, Inquisite, and Convio. His research interests both at work and outside of work include complex, technical topics (ironically).

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