The abbreviation PaaS, short for Platform as a Service, describes the middle layer of cloud service models. The main benefits are the simplification of the development and deployment of applications as well as a higher efficiency. In this case, the user has to take the software development into his own hands. At the same time, however, this also means for him that PaaS already brings elements such as runtime or operating system. Nevertheless, all important responsibilities fall at the expense of the provider.

Pros and Cons of PaaS

At the same time, there are some notable advantages and disadvantages in this service model as well. In PaaS, these parameters stand out in particular:

Benefits

  • faster and few complicated development and delivery of the software
  • Development, test phases and operation possible on a uniform platform
  • Software development lifecycle easy to manage
  • many functionalities are directly available, e.g. authentication, security features, database management system, user directories and registration, monitoring, etc.

However, there are also some disadvantages:

Disadvantages

  • High dependence on the cloud provider, especially with regard to vendor lock-in
  • Components cannot be simply taken with you when switching providers
  • Fast-paced market, i.e. many innovations & shut-downs in features
  • Constant price changes, i.e. ongoing costs that are difficult to calculate

Software development in the cloud

In the field of PaaS service model, there are some key software development principles. I would like to discuss the concepts of microservices, containers and orchestration in more detail here

Microservices

Microservices play a role in the context of modern IT architecture and ensure the modularization of software. This involves the interaction of many small microservices, each of which processa task module and then package it into a container. The individual microservices can communicate with each other on the basis of a common network.

Microservices are often used to break down complex software into small parts, making it easier to understand and to expand. This is therefore possible that the applications are made more modular and thus independently of each other throughout the entire process.

Example of microservices:

They want to make a tea. They break these tasks into the microservices to provide tea bags, boil water, fill water into cup and put tea bags in cup, down.

Container

Containers are another element of PaaS. Such a container corresponds to a kind of scalable box around its own application and its dependencies, in which, for example, a microservice is housed (see Fig. 1). Completely independent of its surroundings, it is kept extra small and contains only the most necessary features in order to be able to operate the application reliably. A well-known example of containers is the open source solution “Docker”.

Figure. 1: Use of containers and microservices
(Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

Additional values of containers

  • Usable on any environment and cloud
  • Easy scalability
  • With high resource consumption (e.g. traffic) several containers can act simultaneously and distribute the load
  • Images can be propagated from the development environment to the test environment to production, regardless of hardware
  • Containers are small and can start much faster than large-mesh operating systems

How containers work

Each container is based on an image. An image describes a blueprint from which the containers are created. Images are usually stored at a central point and can be used from all environments.

The single image initially consists of a large layer, called a kernel, on which the various containers can run. Based on this, images in containers can finally be put into operation. In fig. 2, for example, you can recognize a base image on the right stack (here: BusyBox), to which the Python runtime environment is added, in order to be able to create a container from it. On the other hand, however, like on the left, there is also the possibility that an image is based on an operating system (here: Debian), to which in this example the two layers Apache” and “PHP” are assigned.

Figure. 2: Image of an image (Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

These techniques, as well as any addition and modification of layers, can specialize images and display them in many different variations.

Orchestration

The containers mentioned in the section above must also be managed correctly by means of appropriate software for orchestration. Such software serves to monitor and reconcile the interaction of the individual containers like a conductor. For example, to determine the sequence of microservices accurately. A well-known example of such software is Google’s open source project “Kubernetes”.

Google provides users with a portable and infinitely expandable platform for managing services delivered in containers. Added value is not only a significantly better operation, but also a significantly easier scalability. This, in turn, makes both automation and configurations much easier.

Added value and functioning of Kubernetes

In addition, Kubernetes offers the possibility that the user only has to specify the desired state of the application and the software then takes care of the timely realization in the appropriate version.

The smallest unit in Kubernetes is described by the so-called “pod”. This corresponds to a running process in a server and can only contain one or more containers as sputely. Each pod has a unique IP address, a set of deployed network ports, and its own storage space that can be shared with containers. These elements also require the ability of each container to communicate through the shared environment.

As the number of users increases, the number of pods can not only be increased easily, but this can also be done automatically at the same time. In addition, by redirecting traffic to different pods, the program can perform deployments without downtime. In this way, the pods can always be kept up-to-date (see Fig. 3).

Figure. 3: Kubernetes and Docker containers
(Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

Conclusion

Finally, it can be seen that PaaS is a useful service model, especially in the field of application development. Not only does it allow development times to accelerate significantly. At the same time, the complexity of server operation and scaling can be significantly reduced.

When using PaaS, users should always create small task packages for microservices for a flawless monolithic application.

PaaS is therefore particularly suitable for cloud-experienced people, as it can not only offer comparatively low costs, but also rapid development potential. At the same time, however, the disadvantages such as vendor lock-in and data security should also be considered. This can be a key factor in deciding on this cloud service model, for example, in the area of finance.

Tip: Read my new book: The way to the cloud at Springer Gabler or book me for a talk .

Source

Lindner, D., Niebler, P., & Wenzel, M. (2020). The Way to the Cloud – A Guide for Entrepreneurs and Decision Makers. Heidelberg: Springer Gabler.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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