Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.
This article is part of our Buyer's Guide: Choose the best PaaS tool for your app dev needs

Assess the pros and cons of leading PaaS tools

Unsure which PaaS provider will best meet your development needs? Dive in to this roundup of common vendor options and the features they offer to simplify that decision.

PaaS is a particularly unique segment of the overall cloud market, as offerings vary greatly from one provider to another. From cost to target market to supported technology stacks, selecting the right PaaS provider can be a challenge.

And while lock-in is a risk in any major IT purchasing decision, that risk is heightened with PaaS tools, as migrating to a new provider might be especially costly. This makes it vital to carefully weigh the pros and cons of potential PaaS offerings to ensure they not only meet your current needs, but also your future requirements.

To help guide these decisions, here's an overview of some of the leading PaaS tools and vendors in the market today.

AWS

Cost: Variable

License: Commercial

Market: Startup / SMB / Enterprise

Supported programming languages: .NET, Go, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby

Amazon's primary PaaS offering, Elastic Beanstalk, offers direct integration into the vast AWS ecosystem. With automated deployments, capacity provisioning, load balancing, autoscaling and application monitoring, this is a formidable PaaS product.

Targeted toward both startups and enterprises, Elastic Beanstalk is a free platform but does enforce a pay-as-you-go model for any underlying AWS offerings developers use to build and run their applications. While slow deployments and rollbacks are common complaints surrounding Elastic Beanstalk, its native support for popular programming languages, such as PHP and Ruby, Docker support and the ability to directly access other AWS tools give organizations the ability to fine-tune their application infrastructure as needed.

Microsoft

Cost: Variable

License: Commercial

Market: Startup / SMB / Enterprise

Supported programming languages: .NET, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby

While lock-in is a risk in any major IT purchasing decision, that risk is heightened with PaaS tools.

Billed in the same style as Elastic Beanstalk's pay-what-you-use model, Microsoft Azure App Service is another PaaS system from a major cloud provider. Users can deploy Azure App Service both on premises or in the cloud, and it offers functionality such as automated scaling, managed OS patching, capacity provisioning and load balancing.

Azure App Service offers native support for a handful of popular programming languages in both Windows and Linux environments, and users can extend that support through custom container configurations. Like Elastic Beanstalk has with the broader AWS ecosystem, App Service also offers direct integration into the greater Microsoft Azure cloud, enabling users to integrate additional features, such as content management system frameworks and continuous integration (CI) pipelines.

As a Microsoft product, Azure App Service is particularly well-suited to applications hosted in a Microsoft Server environment. However, buyers should note that some more prominent features are not available -- namely, remote desktop and the ability to freely install third-party software. While there are workarounds for these activities, IT admins should anticipate a bit of a learning curve.

Google

Cost: Variable

License: Commercial

Market: Startup / SMB / Enterprise

Supported programming languages: C#, Go, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby

App Engine is Google's PaaS offering within its broader Google Cloud Platform (GCP). The service supports containers, along with a wide range of popular modern languages, and is priced in a pay-as-you-go manner, making a scalable platform for organizations of any size -- similar to Elastic Beanstealk and Azure App Service.

Also in a similar fashion to the AWS and Azure PaaS offerings, Google App Engine offers direct integration with the rest of the GCP ecosystem, in addition to the standard infrastructure management features that most PaaS tools offer. Its standout feature is built-in traffic splitting, which enables low-effort application versioning, built-in A/B testing and even incremental feature rollouts.

While Google App Engine is backed by the power of Google, the unique features offered by this cloud provider can put a company in a vendor lock-in dilemma. Google Cloud Datastore, for example, is a proprietary NoSQL tool that is not easily replaceable if it becomes necessary to migrate to a new service.

Engine Yard

Cost: Starting at $25 per month

License: Commercial

Market: Startup / SMB

Supported programming languages: Node.js, PHP, Ruby

Engine Yard is a Ruby-centric PaaS product with a service-focused tilt. Built on AWS and paired with DevOps consulting services, Engine Yard is suitable for startups and SMBs looking to rapidly expand the stability and support of a production application without the high costs or growing pains associated with team expansion.

While Engine Yard's programming language support is relatively limited compared to other products, it claims to offer solid usability, stability and support capabilities. With managed network security, application stack patching, collaborative access controls, environmental isolation, and horizontal and vertical scaling, as well as DevOps support, Engine Yard could be a good option to keep app development overhead as low as possible.

Red Hat

Cost: Starting at $0 per month

License: Apache License 2.0, Commercial

Market: Startup / SMB / Enterprise

Supported programming languages: .NET, Java, Node.js, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby

Powered by OpenShift Origin, an open source container application platform, Red Hat OpenShift Online is one of the few PaaS tools with an open source core. While OpenShift Online supports both containers and a handful of popular programming languages, it is also the only PaaS offering detailed here with native support for the Perl programming language.

With built-in CI, Git-based deployment and release management functionality, OpenShift Online is a self-service PaaS offering that is well-suited for both startups and enterprises.

That said, the true value of OpenShift Online is the targeted support for Red Hat's JBoss Application Server. Because of this integration and narrower focus, organizations that are already invested in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux ecosystem will get the most value out of OpenShift Online.

Heroku

Cost: Starting at $0 per month

License: Commercial

Market: Startup / SMB / Enterprise

Supported programming languages: Clojure, Go, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby, Scala

Heroku is one of the more popular PaaS tools with an emphasis on ease of use and scalability. While commonly utilized by startups and SMBs, Heroku also has an enterprise-level offering that adds more fine-grained security and access controls. With native support for Clojure and Scala, in addition to other popular web languages, automated scalability and application version management, Heroku is a low-overhead system that reduces vendor lock-in risks, thanks to its extensive third-party add-on marketplace.

One of the most impressive features of Heroku, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2011, is its advanced CI platform. While testing and deployment are par for the course in CI, Heroku takes it one step further with its Review Apps feature. Here, short-term application instances tied directly to version control branches enable users to review and test new features prior to integration into the upstream code base.

With Heroku’s high level of usability, its configurability is much more limited, which can introduce challenges in more complex applications.

Pivotal

Cost: Variable

License: Apache License 2.0 / Commercial

Market: Startup / SMB / Enterprise

Supported programming languages: .NET, Go, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby

Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) is Pivotal's commercial PaaS offering powered by the open source Cloud Foundry cloud application platform. With or without Pivotal's application, container and serverless offerings, PCF is a scalable platform designed for both on-premises and multi-cloud deployment.

While PCF could be a fit for organizations of any size, its eye for privacy and security make it a candidate for applications that deal with highly sensitive data. With in-transit data encryption, managed OS patching, secure credential management and zero-downtime deployments, PCF provides a suite of powerful security tools and processes.

It is important to note that, while Pivotal is one of the more targeted PaaS tools, it may not provide as much flexibility as the larger cloud providers. Applications that require a large number of related services may be better suited to a Microsoft Azure App Service or Oracle Cloud Platform implementation.

Oracle

Cost: Variable

License: Commercial

Market: Enterprise

Supported programming languages: .NET, Go, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby

Oracle Cloud Platform is Oracle's enterprise-leaning PaaS product, optimized for both on-premises and cloud environments. While Oracle Cloud Platform offers native support for both containers and the standard list of programming languages, its true value comes from its intelligent automation.

Supported by AI and machine learning processes, Oracle Cloud Platform offers automated security and scalability, freeing users from mundane infrastructure management tasks. With direct access to the rest of the Oracle Cloud portfolio, Oracle Cloud Platform is a solid option for enterprises already invested in Oracle or considering their first jump into the cloud.

The scope of Oracle’s cloud offering can make vendor lock-in difficult to avoid. There are approximately 50 separate products available within Oracle Cloud, and if you depend on a lot of them, it might be difficult to move off of the platform in the future.

IBM

Cost: Variable

License: Apache License 2.0 / Commercial

Market: Startup / SMB / Enterprise

Supported programming languages: Go, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby, Swift

Powered by the same open source core as PCF, IBM's PaaS offering pairs Cloud Foundry with IBM's own extensive suite of cloud services, and while it is lacking in support for Windows-based languages, like .NET and C#, it is a powerful platform backed by a widely accepted open source PaaS platform.

IBM Cloud Foundry is also the only service on this list that offers native support for the Swift programming language, in addition to other popular programming languages, and container support. It's a fault-tolerant platform that facilitates the development of applications as stateless processes, enabling both horizontal and vertical scaling with minimal overhead.

While IBM Cloud Foundry is a suitable PaaS option on its own, its true power stems from streamlined access to IBM's Watson AI. From natural language processing to object recognition support, integration with Watson APIs gives organizations the ability to add AI functions to their applications with no additional infrastructure.

Jelastic

Cost: Variable

License: Commercial

Market: Startup / SMB / Enterprise

Supported programming languages: .NET, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby

Jelastic is one of the more unique PaaS tools that is fit for deployment to any cloud provider, or even locally, rather than its own infrastructure. This means that Jelastic is particularly resistant to vendor lock-in, enabling failure-resistant deployments across providers and regions without a single-platform bottleneck.

While Jelastic is cloud provider-agnostic, the list of available hosting partners is far from all-inclusive. This may be a particularly challenging roadblock if a preferred vendor is not available.

With an intuitive UI and a powerful command-line utility, deploying to one cloud or many is a straightforward and scalable process, and while Jelastic is built for organizations of all sizes, it is an especially powerful platform for startups and smaller organizations that are looking to diversify their hosting options.

Editor's note

With extensive research into the PaaS market, TechTarget editors have focused this series of articles on public cloud-based PaaS environments for application development. Our research included Gartner, Forrester and TechTarget surveys.

This was last published in July 2018

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Which PaaS provider did your company choose, and why?
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

SearchServerVirtualization

SearchVMware

SearchVirtualDesktop

SearchAWS

SearchDataCenter

SearchWindowsServer

SearchCRM

Close