Common Industry Terms

Common Industry Terms

What is a PaaS?

A PaaS (Platform as a Service), also known as the platform layer and it's sometimes referred to as middleware, delivers solutions that can build, deploy and test applications without having to directly manage the underlying infrastructure.

PaaS, Visual Pyramid

Typically, platforms are categorized in two ways: public (or open) and private. A public or open PaaS refers to an open source platform, like Cloud Foundry. This means the code base is free and available for developers and business to customize the platform. While open platforms can be very customizable, they generally require a lot of resources to implement and maintain. The alternative, a private PaaS, is a platform that is architected and maintained by a vendor. While these platforms have costs associated with them for use, they generally are much easier to implement and maintain. The Apcera Cloud Platform offers private PaaS functionality along with container management and cloud management functionality.

Pros & Cons of PaaS:

The advantages of PaaS are primarily that it allows for higher-level programming with dramatically reduced complexity.1 One possible disadvantage is that some PaaS vendors have vendor lock-in where you are restricted to a particular platform.

When selecting a PaaS, it is most important to understand the limitations and requirements of the platform. For instance, some platforms operate within a single datacenter or cloud. Other platforms can operate across two similar data centers (e.g. VMware/VMware or OpenStack/OpenStack, but VMware/OpenStack). Finally, platforms like Apcera, can operate across any infrastructure—private, public or hybrid.

Beyond where the platform can run, many platforms have opinions about how they operate and what types of applications you can run. Platforms that are flexible and support a broad array of applications should be considered best-in-class. It’s best practice to identify the needs of your IT organization before selecting a PaaS.

Click here to learn about the history and evolution of paas, iaas, and saas.


  1. “Platform as a service,” Wikipedia (2016), accessed August 22, 2016.