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If you read our previous installment in the What is Series – Learn About Cloud and SaaS, your next step in learning about Digital Transformation is to understand Platform as a Service (PaaS). Read on to learn about cloud, and Platform as a Service (PaaS) in this new article in the What is Series.

The basics of Platform as a Service – PaaS

Platforms are those environments that allow you to “avoid reinventing the wheel”. Platforms are systems that help companies start building out from an advanced starting point. They offer some form of building blocks that help take advantage of the existing processes to build more complex ones on top.

Some Examples

Virtual Machines (VMs) are a form of PaaS because once you access a VM, you can use it to setup or create other software (or platforms) on top of them.

Microsoft Windows and Linux systems are also considered platforms. When these systems are up and running, you can use them to build on top of them to create more specific applications. Anyone with access to them can develop software that will take advantage of networking, processing, and other features in these systems.

Database engines are also considered platforms. You don’t need to build the engine that allows you to store and retrieve data in general. Whenever necessary, you can build complex structures to store the data and unique ways to process and retrieve it.

Stacking PaaS leads to better services

Companies can access any combination of PaaS from a number of cloud vendors. VMs are the PaaS offerings for replacing a server running a specific operating system. Accessing a VM saves companies the burden of server maintenance. Network admins sleep better knowing that they will never get a call to replace a hard drive after it fails. They know that part of that VM service means that someone at the cloud vendor is taking care of it. However, a VM that has additional software installed still needs to have its software maintained, updated and patched.

By aggregating several layers of PaaS services; cloud vendors can create more complex platforms. These create new and more complex services that they offer as new PaaS. These PaaS offer more specific services where they charge higher rates. The cloud vendor has to run more maintenance tasks in order to keep them up and running. SQL Azure, and other Database Platforms are PaaS. When cloud vendors offer them as PaaS, the customer doesn’t need to update the database engine software, or the underlying operating system, or even the underlying hardware. The cloud vendor performs all those tasks, saving the customer precious time and effort.