What is an application platform as a service? (aPaaS)

what is an application platform as a service

In the beginning there was the internet. A medium that accelerated society in a shorter time than any other technology in history. Then there was the cloud. A type of internet-based computing that enables ever-present, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. Now there is aPaaS, or application platform as a service (and sometimes just PaaS). What is it and why should you care?

With aPaaS, the complete web application lifecycle is supported off the shelf: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating.

Because the underlying infrastructure is already written, tested, and optimized, the platform allows for low-code development that doesn’t take a seasoned programmer to create something valuable.

The difference between SaaS, aPaaS, and IaaS

The application platform sits between software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS), as seen below in the visualization by Microsoft.

aPaaS, like IaaS, includes infrastructure – servers, networking, and data center storage – but also operating systems, analytics, database management, and development tools.

SaaS is essentially software that is always available online, easily accessible through subscription and often updated without disturbing the users one bit. Examples of SaaS are Netflix and Spotify, but also Salesforce and Office 365 by Microsoft.

SaaS may be built on top of aPaaS, but this isn’t a requirement. In the case of WorkFlowWise, we build all our apps on our own platform. And you can do this too.

aPaaS visualization by Microsoft

An internet connection is the minimum requirement

Fundamental to the application platform is the inclusion of the required hardware, operating systems, storage and network capacity. Potentially, users can log on from anywhere, using a range of devices to create, test, and use apps. Although there can be differences depending on the company’s wishes and the specific cloud solution offered.

If the apps are scalable and intuitive for mobile, users can perform certain tasks from any place in the world as long as they connect to the worldwide web. Time-saving and genuinely efficient; it is the true digital advantage of using the technological possibilities of contemporary connectivity.

This perspective speaks for both end user and developer, who use and develop apps in the same environment. A developer might have more rights, to enable testing and further enhancing the application, but their experience is otherwise similar.

Private vs public cloud

APaaS is a category of cloud computing services and thus uses the capabilities of the cloud. The most common types of aPaaS are either private or public.

When companies opt for a private cloud the infrastructure is solely build for a single organization – which is why they’re generally more capital intensive. They lack the economic model that makes the cloud so beneficial because of the closed environment and required in-house resources needed for managing and scaling when necessary. This might still be a practical or logical choice for some companies.

We speak of the public cloud when it is rendered over a network that is open for public use, such as the cloud services by Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and Google. This open nature is a concern to some IT Managers, which is understandable yet decreasingly justifiable. Martin Vliem, National Security Officer at Microsoft Netherlands, discussed this during the WorkFlowWise Client Day.

The future with aPaaS

A very interesting characteristic of aPaaS is “that you can do other things with [it] that were not originally envisaged at the time of its initial design”, says Adrian Bridgwater on Forbes.

The first application platform as a service launched in 2005, and much has changed since then. Innovation drives new technologies and discoveries, empowering the cloud and aPaaS solutions with even more possibilities. If you want to be on the forefront of knowledge, sign up to our newsletter and we’ll keep you posted.

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