PaaS or Platform-as-a-Service is a type of cloud computing that offers a completely cloud-based development and deployment environment. This has a ton of advantages, and can save businesses time and money through reduced development time. PaaS allows businesses of all sizes to deliver everything from simple applications to sophisticated, complex enterprise-level solutions. We're going to dive into what PaaS is, how it works, how PaaS differs from other forms of cloud computing, and how PaaS can help your business thrive.

What is PaaS in cloud computing?

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a type of cloud computing used for the development and deployment of cloud-based applications. PaaS is used throughout the whole web app cycle, including builds, tests, deployments, and managing and updating the app, all hosted on cloud servers.

Just like SaaS, PaaS includes all the infrastructure you need, such as storage, additional servers and networking tools, but also things like database management and additional services you can add on with your provider.

With PaaS, you don't have to worry about spending a lot of money and time on buying and managing software licenses, infrastructure, container orchestrators, development tools and the like. Instead, you can just focus on managing the applications and services that you decide to develop for your business. The public cloud service provider typically takes care of everything else, so you can save yourself some hassle.

How does PaaS work?

A PaaS typically works by combining various elements such as a graphic user interface (GUI), cloud infrastructure and software. Bear in mind that this is how it works in its most basic form – some businesses may purchase additional services with their PaaS to make it more bespoke.

The software element is responsible for all of your developing needs, including builds, deployments and general management of your application. However, it’s the GUI that ties everything together, as this is where your dev will do most of their work. Lastly, the cloud infrastructure is responsible for your operating system, storage, networking, firewalls and virtual machines (VMs).

While a PaaS doesn’t totally eliminate the need for an IT department, it can help tie those responsible for dev work together, particularly if they work far apart. With a PaaS, you can help teams work together, even if they are in different places, by allowing them to use the same development environment.

PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS – what’s the difference?

So we know what a PaaS is, but how does it differ from other cloud computing solutions?


A SaaS works as a cloud solution where applications are typically delivered to users over the internet by a third-party vendor, and can run right through your web browser for easy access, without the need to install another client (though there can be the option to).

As it’s a web delivery-based model, it can eliminate the need for IT staff and the SaaS provider will manage and fix issues reported on the user’s end. But what differentiates PaaS from SaaS?

As mentioned previously, a PaaS is a cloud solution that allows devs to program apps, including a SaaS if they wanted to. The provider, like a SaaS will host all hardware and software in their own infrastructure though, so this is where PaaS and SaaS house some similarities.


An IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service, is a cloud computing solution that provides users with CPU, storage and networking on demand to manage their own infrastructure. It allows you to manage things like software, operating system, middleware, and applications. However, unlike PaaS and SaaS, IaaS typically offers the lowest level of resources on the cloud. It’s a favoured solution by many businesses because it allows them to take advantage of computing resources and apps without having to invest in hardware to build their own infrastructure.

So what differentiates PaaS from IaaS? An IaaS can be thought of as the building blocks for allowing a developer to create a cloud-based application. The PaaS is where the dev work actually takes place, and can also be seen as the layer between SaaS and IaaS.

Three types of PaaS

A public PaaS isn’t the only form of PaaS out there. In fact, there are three types: public, private and hybrid.


A public PaaS solution allows users to develop and deploy applications, while the provider manages the all the major infrastructure of the cloud solution. This includes components like operating systems, databases, storage and much more.

One interesting thing about public PaaS is that it works in conjunction with IaaS. PaaS vendors provide middleware that lets users manage resources like servers and databases without having to create the infrastructure themselves. So, PaaS runs on top of the vendor’s IaaS in the public cloud.

However, there is a downside to public PaaS. Users are limited to the public cloud provider that their PaaS vendor uses, which is one of the main reasons why many large enterprises are hesitant to adopt a public PaaS solution. We’ll dive into more of these advantages (and disadvantages) later.


As the name suggests, a private PaaS is a service within a business’s own IT infrastructure. It’s a preferred choice by devs who want to develop apps behind a firewall for additional security (and to build within an on-premise infrastructure). It’s especially favoured by businesses who have particularly sensitive data to handle and need to meet further compliance checks.

Learn more: What is Private Cloud?


A hybrid PaaS combines public and private cloud deployments for businesses to reap the benefits of them. It’s especially useful if a business prefers to use their own infrastructure, but wants to enlist a public cloud provider to support other areas of infrastructure that aren’t built into their own private cloud solution.

Learn more: Why Hybrid Cloud?

When to use a PaaS?

In what instances would a business use a PaaS to begin with? We know development is one of them, but there’s far more to it. Let’s explore them:

1. API development

API (application programming interface) is a fantastic way for various tools and software to share functionality and standardise various processes. A PaaS makes the development for API much more streamlined due to its built-in frameworks, which speeds up the process for developing them too.

2. IoT

PaaS can support a wide range of programming languages, app environments and tools. This is beneficial for dev teams who need to use a variety of applications with thanks to the Internet of Things. PaaS providers are aware of this, and update their infrastructure accordingly to accommodate for these new technologies.

3. Consolidating current systems

It’s not uncommon for businesses to have a variety of systems or apps over the span of many years. Naturally, this can cause inefficiency in business function. A PaaS to streamline workflow (through developing software and integrated APIs), can speed up workflow as well as reduce costs.

4. Comms

PaaS can be used to develop other internal tools such as messaging systems for internal and client use. This allows businesses to develop a bespoke solution that caters to their way of communicating.

5. Database management

Companies may enlist the help of a PaaS so that they don’t have to worry about managing their own data centre. Instead, they can just focus on developing, deploying, and managing their applications on a third-party platform that already has all the necessary hardware and software components in place. Alternatively, devs can use a PaaS to custom-build their own databases if they find their systems to be more beneficial in the long run.

Advantages of PaaS

PaaS works really well for businesses of all sizes. However, they’re typically favoured by SMEs and startups who perhaps don’t have the budget or staff for a more tailored solution. Let’s dive into all of the advantages a PaaS can provide:

1. Multi-language development

Having a PaaS means you can get multiple devs to work on it at the same time. Some devs may know programming languages that others don’t, but it also means those very devs can work on the same project without having to enlist the help of another server. Some public PaaS clouds can handle different types of development languages more than others, so it’s worth shopping around to find the right solution for your business.

2. Rich development environments

PaaS come with their own infrastructure, meaning the PaaS solution you choose can come with everything you need to develop apps, as well as make instantaneous changes to them ready for deployment. This can remove a lot of hassle for businesses, as the built-in infrastructure means you won’t have to worry about configuring it yourself. With everything sorted, you can take full advantage (and control) of your dev environment.

3. Can be used by all

You don’t necessarily need an app developer or dedicated IT personnel to build an app solution on your public PaaS. Modern day PaaS solutions have user-friendly GUI that empower businesses to build solutions without code at all, including drag-and-drops, intuitive layouts and much more.

4. Cheaper to run

You won’t have to build any infrastructure for your dev environment, meaning you already cut costs before you begin developing. You’ll have all of your software and add-ons configured before you begin the work required, and can scale these up or down depending on your needs. This brings us on to our next point…

5. They’re scalable

Add more capacity during peak periods, or scale down resources during quiet ones. This can be done quickly with your provider, so that you experience little to no downtime.

6. Speed

This is not only isolated to the speed of development time, but also marketing your business. With faster dev times, you can deploy and run apps much faster than with a physical structure that requires provisioning yourself. This means you can develop and update apps as and when needed.

Disadvantages of PaaS

Like any solution, a PaaS also has a few disadvantages to be aware of. Here are a few to look out for:

1. Less control over infrastructure

A PaaS’s infrastructure is managed by your cloud hosting provider. However, if you require something a bit more bespoke, you may need to consider what can (and can’t) be tailored. This is why some businesses prefer private clouds, or an IaaS that can allow you to build it yourself.

2. Can be more expensive than an IaaS

Every public cloud provider has a service fee, including IaaS. However, because a PaaS’s infrastructure is handled by the cloud provider, there may be additional or higher fees as a result. By having an IaaS, you can build your own infrastructure and integrate the tools you need without having to incur additional fees, or moving to a different PaaS provider altogether.

3. Cloud vendor lock-in

Relying on any public cloud solution, including a PaaS, may result in vendor-lock in and over-dependency. It’s important to back-up your work regularly, and ensure if the worst happens with your PaaS that you can easily move to another provider or invest in a private PaaS instead.

4. Security concerns

Any type of public cloud, including PaaS, is managed by the provider – including the security of the cloud solution. However, while PaaS providers take necessary precautions to secure their platform, businesses will need to have robust security measures around the apps they build. Plus, there’s the added issue of being on a public cloud solution to begin with, which is shared by other users on their own VMs. If you work with sensitive data or solutions for your business, then you’ll need to consider the security risks associated with this.

5. Integration issues

Leading back to our vendor lock-in issue somewhat, usually, running multiple PaaS or merging them together can present some issues. Switching PaaS providers isn’t as simple as it sounds either, as the infrastructure has to be able to support the languages used to develop your apps, as well as provide the service needed to run your business specifically.

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Still hungry for more cloud knowledge? Read about the advantages of cloud computing.