PTaaS, or Platform as a Service, is a cloud computing model that allows customers to access a vendor’s cloud-based platform and use its resources to build, run, and manage applications without having to build and maintain the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching apps and services.
What is PTaaS?
Platform as a Service (PTaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides customers with a platform to develop, run, and manage applications without the need to build and maintain the infrastructure required for application development and delivery. With PTaaS, the service provider hosts the hardware and software on its own infrastructure and makes those resources available to customers over the internet.
Some key characteristics of PTaaS include:
- Automated infrastructure – Resources like servers, storage, and networking are automatically provisioned and managed by the provider.
- Developer services – Services like SDKs, APIs, monitoring tools, and more assist developers in building and deploying applications.
- Scalability – Resources can scale up or down automatically to match application demand.
- Multi-tenant architecture – Customers share computing resources so costs are lower compared to dedicated infrastructure.
- Consumption-based billing – Customers only pay for the resources they use, often calculated per second/minute of usage.
By providing a platform to build and deploy apps without managing underlying infrastructure, PTaaS enables faster development while reducing costs compared to owning and operating your own data centers and servers.
How does PTaaS work?
At a high level, here is how PTaaS services function:
- The provider operates data centers with huge amounts of computing power, storage, and network bandwidth to deliver scalable resources.
- Resources are provided to customers via the internet, usually through a self-service portal.
- Customers deploy applications on the vendor’s infrastructure and use built-in tools to scale and manage apps.
- Services automatically scale up or down based on workload demands.
- Usage is metered and customers are billed based on resources consumed.
- The provider manages maintenance, updates, security patches, and hardware failures.
The provider takes care of all infrastructure management so customers can focus on application code and front-end logic. Developers can access a wide array of services via APIs and SDKs to build apps quickly without starting from scratch.
Key components of a PTaaS platform
Here are some of the major components and services included in a typical PTaaS offering:
- Cloud infrastructure – The underlying computing resources like servers, storage, and networking that applications run on top of. Automatically scalable.
- Operating system – PTaaS platforms provide the OS, often Linux, that applications will run in.
- Runtime environments – Services to run different apps like Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python, Ruby etc. Providers maintain and patch these runtimes.
- Data services – Databases, data warehouses, caching, and storage services such as SQL, NoSQL, object storage, etc.
- Analytics – Tools for reporting, visualization, predictions, recommendations, and more based on app data.
- Integration – Pre-built connectors and APIs to integrate with external apps, on-prem systems, payment platforms, etc.
- Developer tools – SDKs, IDE plugins, templates, debugging utilities, version control, CI/CD automation.
- Security services – Identity management, access controls, data encryption, VPN, firewalls, malware detection, etc.
- Monitoring – Tools to track performance metrics, logs, user activity, app crashes, resource usage, and more.
- Load balancing – Automatically distribute network traffic across computing resources for optimal performance.
- Auto scaling – Increase or decrease resources based on configurable rules and workload demands.
By providing all these services, PTaaS platforms allow teams to get apps to market quickly by eliminating time-consuming infrastructure management.
Types of PTaaS services
There are a few broad categories of PTaaS offerings:
Development PTaaS focuses on providing tools and environments for building, testing and deploying applications. Example services include:
- IDEs and SDKs for creating apps
- Source code repositories and version control
- CI/CD automation tools
- Debugging and performance testing
- Code editors and collaboration tools
- API gateways and app backend services
- Container deployment platforms
Heroku, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure DevOps, and GitLab are examples of dev-focused PTaaS solutions.
Database PTaaS provides fully managed database engines without having to set up the underlying infrastructure. This includes relational and NoSQL databases like:
- Amazon Aurora
- Azure CosmosDB
Vendors handle database administration, optimization, high availability, backups, scaling, security patches, and more. Database PTaaS offerings include managed offerings from AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.
Storage PTaaS provides scalable storage for unstructured data like documents, images, videos, logs, etc. without having to manage storage hardware. Examples include:
- Object storage
- File storage
- Block storage
- Cold storage
- Data archiving
- Backup services
Major cloud providers like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure offer managed storage platform services.
Integration PTaaS helps connect apps and data across platforms through prebuilt connectors and APIs. This allows combining disparate systems like on-prem software, SaaS apps, and mobile/web apps.
Examples include integration platforms like MuleSoft, Workato, and Dell Boomi which provide easy integration without complex middleware.
Beyond the basic platform categories above, there are many niche PTaaS solutions for specific functions like:
- AI and machine learning
- IoT connectivity
- Real-time data streaming
- Geospatial services
- Media transcoding
- Gaming backends
- Payment processing
These provide ready-made services to add advanced capabilities without building from scratch.
Benefits of using PTaaS
Here are some of the main benefits of using a Platform as a Service approach:
Reduced time to market
PTaaS speeds up application development by providing ready-to-use services. Developers don’t have to reinvent the wheel for common functionality.
No need to purchase, configure and manage underlying infrastructure which reduces capital expenditure. Pay-as-you-go pricing optimizes costs.
Applications can scale up and down automatically based on demand. PTaaS platforms provide near infinite scale.
Focus on innovation
Frees up developers from infrastructure tasks so they can focus on creating differentiated apps vs commodity plumbing.
Access to advanced tech
Get the latest tech like AI, ML, blockchain, AR/VR, IoT etc. without having to build it.
Leading platforms provide enterprise-grade security, compliance and governance built in.
Self-service, automation and abundant resources accelerate developer productivity.
Agility and innovation
Easy experimentation, minimal tech debt, and easy composability fosters innovation.
Platform vendors provide redundancy, failover capabilities, and resilience against outages.
Challenges with PTaaS
While PTaaS provides many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to weigh:
Once you build on a specific platform, it can be difficult to migrate. Apps may leverage proprietary services.
Cloud platform downtimes, while rare, can disrupt business. Multi-cloud can help mitigate.
Heavily regulated industries may have concerns over data control, privacy and jurisdiction.
Developers may lack experience building robust, scalable cloud apps and microservices.
Cost at scale
Costs can be unpredictable at high scale and affect margins. Monitoring and optimizations are key.
Bleeding edge PaaS services may have stability, security, functional gaps.
Who uses PTaaS?
Here are some of the most common adopters of the PTaaS model:
- Startups – Get to market quickly with minimal upfront capex.
- SMEs – Access enterprise-grade tech previously only accessible to large corps.
- Enterprise IT – Accelerate app dev and shift focus to business logic vs infrastructure.
- Software vendors – Embed third-party platform services into apps via APIs.
- Agencies – Improve developer productivity and deliver client projects faster.
- Research labs – Prototype and validate new ideas quickly by composing platform services.
The flexibility and agility of PTaaS is appealing to organizations across the spectrum.
Examples of leading PTaaS vendors
Some top PTaaS solutions include:
AWS Elastic Beanstalk
AWS Elastic Beanstalk is a developer-centric PTaaS that provides preconfigured environments to deploy applications on AWS quickly. It automates infrastructure provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling and application health monitoring.
Microsoft Azure App Service
Azure App Service lets developers rapidly build, deploy and scale web, mobile and API apps on Microsoft’s cloud. It provides prebuilt deployment templates and built-in autoscaling.
Google App Engine
Google App Engine is a fully managed serverless application platform. It auto-scales apps and services built in languages like Java, Python, PHP, Node.js and more.
Heroku is a container-based, developer-focused PTaaS. It allows teams to build and deliver apps using languages and frameworks like Ruby, Java, Node.js, Python and more.
Engine Yard provides a cloud app management platform on AWS and Google Cloud. It supports popular languages like Ruby, Python, PHP and Node.js.
An open source, multi-cloud application platform, Cloud Foundry enables organizations to build, test, deploy and scale apps rapidly on public and private clouds.
Red Hat OpenShift
Red Hat OpenShift is an open source container application platform based on Docker and Kubernetes. It provides development and CI/CD tooling for cloud-native apps.
How to choose a PTaaS platform
Key criteria to evaluate when selecting a PTaaS vendor:
- Supported programming languages and frameworks
- Tooling for development, debugging, monitoring
- Degree of vendor lock-in
- Available ecosystem of third-party integrations
- Scalability limits
- Management and automation capabilities
- Deployment flexibility – public cloud, private cloud, hybrid, etc.
- Security and compliance certifications
- Cost structure
- Technical support and SLAs
It’s also ideal if the platform supports open standards to prevent excessive lock-in. Assess options via free trials to determine the best technical and business fit.
PTaaS brings the power and flexibility of cloud platforms within reach of any organization to accelerate building modern applications. By providing on-demand access to computing resources and supporting services to develop, run and manage apps without managing infrastructure, PTaaS enables innovation and speed-to-market advantages. Leading solutions like AWS, Azure, GCP combined with Heroku and Cloud Foundry provide versatile options to evaluate. For technology leaders ready to transform their application portfolio, PTaaS presents an appealing approach to leapfrog traditional models.