How does PaaS work? 3 main advantages of using PaaS
Cloud computing made application deployment hassle-free. With just virtual machines, you get IaaS. There are many providers who offer IaaS but there is a drawback, because a huge share of responsibility falls on your shoulders: applications installation, middleware, application server, databases.
PaaS, for example, allows you to just click several options in the interface and have your application up and running.
Are you still at a choice of PaaS or IaaS? In this case, this article will help you to understand how PaaS works and how it can be helpful for you.
Let’s go? Simply imagine PaaS as four main elements.
Every application consists of and depends on a variety of components. These components may include libraries, frameworks, application servers, databases, caching servers, message queues, etc.
One of the main PaaS advantages, unlike IaaS, is that it provides properly configured and optimized templates on software stacks, which are available in a runtime for any application. Good PaaS solutions provide support for different programming languages and databases. For instance, you may find support of Tomcat web server to run your Java application, or Nginx for PHP-based application.
All stacks that you select, need to be run somewhere. Typically cloud environment is used by multiple users and cloud provider require to isolate applications of different users from each other. As the majority of PaaS providers run on top of IaaS layer, usually stacks are isolated using virtual machines or containers.
Virtual machines are good because they allow you to isolate the components of some users from the components of other users, as well as independently scale and run on different physical servers in different data centers. Virtual containers are more lightweight if compared to VMs and more cost effective.
Usually it is not enough to have a stack template to deploy PaaS service because there are a lot of other tasks except of deployment. For example, when you need to scale and correctly add new web servers to the load balancer or carry out horizontal scaling, and configure the correct configuration of the application servers to work with server caching.
There are many things that you need to automate: backups, managing configurations of databases or application servers, and the most important upgrade from version to version and patch components. Remain on the old version puts application security and success of business at a risk.
To prevent security vulnerabilities, PaaS providers issue patches for components that were vulnerable and apply these security patches to all users.
This automation greatly simplifies the work of developers and significantly reduces risks of businesses.
One of the main PaaS features is providing automation of application deployment. It really depends on the case, but many PaaS provides offer both deployment of source code via Git/SVN, or binary application distribution.
This feature significantly reduces time of development and may include such options as rolling upgrade to minimize application downtime during version upgrade.
The UI provides you the flexibility to manage all the necessary services. The UI includes not only a web interface, but also an API and CLI.
Good PaaS providers offer a user-friendly interface that helps reduce the percentage of human errors. Due to the fact that the interface is a part of automation and many things do not have to be done manually, all deployments and updates can be performed much faster.
3 Main Advantages of Using PaaS
Scalability of PaaS involves the automatic allocation and release of the necessary resources depending on the number of users served by the application.
Typically PaaS solutions support horizontal scaling across multiple physical servers, but some PaaS platforms support automatic vertical scaling that makes easy to handle more users’ requests by the same number of instances.
“During the sales day of Black Friday 2017 we’ve received a huge spike of 300K visits including organic and paid sources from all over Switzerland. We had a lot of front and back office activity at this time and the infrastructure coped without any trouble, the spikes were absorbed without reducing response time.”
#2 Fast Development. Faster time-to-market.
PaaS mainly helps developers speed up application development, thereby saving money and, most importantly, reducing time to market by allowing to concentrate on what they do best: application development, not configuring and managing things servers and databases.
Other features that purchase the use of PaaS are streamline application deployment process, built-in high availability, monitoring, which result in reduced development costs and time.
“In simple terms, git is keeping the source code and the CI/CD system is helping to pick up new releases automatically. When the developer checks his code into the git repository, the CI/CD system automatically takes it to Hidora’s environment. In a sustainable way, the CI/CD system makes versions update continually and all the changes developers make are merged automatically.”
#3 Cost-effective pricing
Pay-as-you-use pricing model is able to adapt to your needs. While creating a cloud server you can specify both the amount of resources that will be reserved and/or dynamically allocated to handle all of the incoming requests during load peaks.
Pay-as-you use pricing adopts automatically to your resource usage and allows you to pay less, if compared to traditional pay-as-you-go pricing. For example, if during the night time you have fewer website visitors, you pay less compared to the busier daytime.
“For all applications every spending is important. We paid 5x times more on AWS as we do now on Hidora. The pricing difference is huge and we are very happy with our current hosting bill.”
If you have a small and medium business, PaaS will be the best option for you. Because it offers pay-a- you-use pricing model, doesn’t require big investments to start using it, automates processes, simplifies deployment and reduce time-to-market. PaaS handles automatic scaling up / down, load balancing and disaster recovery, manages all security requirements, reliability, high availability, and many third-party add-ons for you.
Matthieu Robin is CEO at Hidora, an experienced strategic leader, a former system administrator who had managed and configured more environments manually than anyone on the planet and after understanding that it could be done in several clicks established Hidora SA. He regularly speaks at conferences and helps companies to optimize business processes using DevOps. Follow him on Twitter @matthieurobin.