Developing and deploying commercial-grade applications depends on having the resources to build, test, and update your product quickly and cost-effectively. That’s where aPaaS comes in.
From Software as a Service (SaaS) to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), the rise of cloud computing has enabled a proliferation of Anything as a Service (XaaS) models that are allowing organizations to streamline their operations and bring their own services to scale.
Although it’s probably the least well-known of these models, application Platform as a Service (aPaaS) is generating increasing interest from companies still seeking the elusive balance between customization and cost-efficiency in their enterprise applications. With the aPaaS market expected to grow from nearly $9 billion in 2018 to approximately $11.7 billion in 2023, businesses will likely witness an expansion of aPaaS offerings as they evaluate and reevaluate the efficacy of their application development and deployment platforms in the continual (and somewhat counterintuitive) effort to achieve both ease/speed/cost-efficiency and flexibility/customization/power.
For enterprise-level applications, aPaaS has emerged as the closest thing to that dual directive — enabling businesses to deploy powerful purpose-built applications which leverage microservices and ready-made components to cut costs and improve delivery times. No matter how you’re currently running internal app development, now is the time to familiarize yourself with aPaaS, its place within the XaaS ecosystem, and its optimal use cases.
What is application Platform as a Service (aPaaS)?
aPaaS provides enterprises with a cloud environment that they can use to develop, deploy, and manage applications. Businesses purchase these services from providers, access them over the cloud, and take advantage of their functions without having to build the necessary infrastructure in-house.
Within this cloud environment, developers can create apps that sit on top of a Platform as a Service–hence the aPaaS name. Within the aPaaS space there are two main approaches to creating apps. Low-code providers supply drag-and-drop functions that don’t require time-intensive coding — concepts known as rapid application development (RAD) to create apps. This approach allows for quick deployment but may limit app capabilities–due to lack of control of the code.
The high-control approach to aPaaS is considered “pro-code” where app developers can code apps with traditional coding methods. Pro-code providers may leverage features like provider-supplied microservices or pre-coded modules to expedite the app development process. High-control apps require a higher level of coding skills to build apps, which may slow app deployment vs. their low-code counterparts.
The platform also helps teams deliver their apps to the public and private cloud or within their own networks from their aPaaS. This enables developers to test compatibility on various devices and systems so there aren’t any surprises.
How is it Different from PaaS, SaaS, or IaaS?
Before the rise of cloud computing and XaaS, the software and hardware used to develop applications, manage proprietary data, and improve communication were known as middleware. When those services are combined and delivered over the cloud, they’re called a PaaS, or Platform as a Service. PaaS differs from aPaaS in that the latter includes these functions but for the specific purpose of developing and deploying applications, while the former can be applied to services outside of application development.
Similarly, SaaS and IaaS share the underlying cloud-based convenience of aPaaS, but with broader or different applicability. For instance, SaaS can be thought of as any software that is purchased, delivered, and managed over the cloud, with Salesforce or Adobe’s Creative Suite as common examples. IaaS, such as Amazon Web Services, provides virtualized compute resources over the cloud that developers can use to build environments of any kind.
aPaaS occupies something of a middle ground here. It’s a flexible service delivered over the cloud, but it provides ready-made environments immediately available for application development and deployment.
What Are the Benefits of aPaaS?
By unifying each stage of an application’s development under a single platform, aPaaS can improve the speed at which apps are brought to market, make it easier for developers to work together, and offer more intuitive control over the product as it’s preparing to launch. This is important for teams that may not have a lot of experience in advanced coding or those that don’t have the time to spend on building applications completely from scratch.
aPaaS also offers easier management of applications once they’ve been released. You can make updates available across different types of devices as soon as changes are made, streamline ongoing integration with web services, and scale conveniently as your business and/or services expand.
aPaaS solutions can help organizations take powerful applications from concept to finished product — far quicker than if they were to develop on PaaS or IaaS solutions. For organizations struggling to balance time and budgetary constraints with the need to deploy purpose-built applications that set them apart from the competition, aPaaS offers a compelling use case.