Differences between public and private PaaS

4 min reading
Differences between public and private PaaS
Differences between public and private PaaS


The new digital era has brought new ways of managing large volumes of data, and hence new ways of doing business and obtaining revenues. One such is the use of the cloud for storing and managing information –which is in many cases highly sensitive–, and the capacity to share hardware and software with the business units in the companies that pay for it. This is known as Platform as a Service (PaaS).

In cases such as banking, where the raw material of its business is spectacularly sensitive (money, and the details of financial services linked to customers), the use of the cloud and the development of business as a service platform is a delicate issue. This is why many companies –in the banking industry and elsewhere– have expressed an interest in the private version of the cloud and its extension in the private Platform as a Service as a way of avoiding security risks, as opposed to more open options such as the public cloud. 

This has caused a boom in the market for private PaaS solutions. Some interesting examples are Apprenda, ActiveState’s Stackato, Red Hat OpenShift, CumuLogic and CloudBees. All these services offer everything necessary to provide development technology, from implementation and testing, to operations. The greatest challenge for these providers is to prove their evident security benefits, but without raising the costs too high. One example of the choice of private PaaS for developing apps and providing service to third parties is JPMorgan Chase and their platform with Apprenda.

First, what are PaaS, IaaS and SaaS?

Before we look at the differences between private and public PaaS, it’s a good idea to understand what Platform as a Service actually means, as opposed to other models such as Infrastructure as a Service and (IaaS) Software as a Service (SaaS). One practical way is to determine which IT solutions will be in the hands of third parties in each case:

● IaaS: here both the servers, the storage and the network are in the hands of the provider. The data management, the operating system and the applications remain in the hands of the internal IT team.

● PaaS: here, everything except the data and the apps is relinquished.

● SaaS: everything is in the hands of the IT service provider contracted.  

Private PaaS: towards the hybrid cloud

Two of the evident advantages of private PaaS technology is its capacity for portability towards the public cloud and for evolution towards platforms based on the hybrid cloud. This tends to be fairly normal when an IT team needs more capacity to develop and deploy cloud-based or mobile apps and then test them, or else extend its SaaS (Software as a Service) apps as in the case of an on-demand CRM like Salesforce.

Companies that are starting to use mixed solutions in the hybrid cloud often have their development and testing processes in the public cloud and keep the apps that are already in production in the private cloud. The exception is when there is an interruption in the service or when demand is so high it’s no longer worthwhile.

Public PaaS: maintaining the infrastructure

The great advantage of a public PaaS is that the customer is not responsible for managing the infrastructure (processing capacity or CPU and storage; both services are what is known as IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service), or everything involved in developing an app (such as app servers, databases, and the actual programming language). The company is therefore only in charge of developing the app. This solution improves agility and streamlines the marketing procedure.

Of course this also has one evident drawback: the company is the customer of a public PaaS provider, which in turn has a series of customers that use its app. In many cases the customers for these apps may be reluctant to store and manage their data from the public cloud, even though this may improve the agility of the service and reduce the maintenance costs.

Private PaaS: private data centers

Private PaaS have two main benefits:

● A private Platform as a Service is a good choice for companies that wish to maintain some of their own hardware.

● It’s also a good alternative for companies who wish to maintain part of their information, in some cases sensitive, in their own data centers.

Public PaaS: improvement in the flexibility of the languages

Public cloud-based PaaS services have very important models such as Google or Microsoft. The problem with this type of solution is that because the infrastructure and the development side are managed by the provider, the provider also imposes certain non-negotiable conditions.

One of these is the programming language for doing all the work of developing the apps. This is the case of Google –the syntax used to design the apps in Google App Engine is Python in most cases, and this is then housed in the Google cloud. It is also possible to use Go (experimental language), PHP or Java, although this requires certain additional changes. It also has Node.js and Ruby in its flexible environment.

● Google App Engine para Python

● Google App Engine para Java

In the case of Microsoft’s development in the cloud, Microsoft Azure, normally uses .NET and Visual Studio, although apps can also be developed in Node.js, PHP, Python and Java. In the early days, the platforms based on the public cloud did not have so much flexibility in their programming language, which was evidently a problem for the development teams. This is no longer the case today.  

This is largely due to the service offered by private PaaS providers, who have now gained a better position in the market thanks to the enormous flexibility they offer developers in the use of different programming languages. This has made Google and Microsoft evolve in the same direction. 

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