Virtualization and Cloud

Jonathan Gershater

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Related Topics: Cloud Computing, Infrastructure On Demand, Platform as a Service

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Cloud Computing Easily Understood - PaaS

Platform as a Service for newbies

In a previous post, I described Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). In essence, if I use the service of an Infrastructure provider, who provides hardware: servers, networking, storage and firewalls, it is then incumbent upon me to install and maintain my own applications. However, I don't incur the capital and operating costs of maintaing the hardware and datacenters.

To install and maintain web applications in an IaaS model, I typically need to:

  1. Install databases, web servers and application servers onto the (virtual) servers provided by the IaaS provider
  2. Write or purchase an application
  3. Deploy and maintain the application

These applications are thus platform specific. An application written/purchased to run on Windows, Unix or Linux, within the IaaS environment, is dependent on the platform. If an operating system is patched or modified, the IaaS customer's applications may need to be re-tested or modified. Furthermore, suppose I would like to host a Unix based application at "Tom's IaaS Company" . If "Tom's IaaS Company" does not offer Unix servers, then I cannot be his customer.

Platform as a Service is a cloud offering one level higher (see graphic in my first post). No longer am I dependent on the platform offered by an IaaS. I am not required to install databases, web and application servers. Instead I use developer tools provided by the PaaS company to to build applications. These developer tools could be JAVA, .NET, Python, Ruby or several other languages or tools. In my above example,  if Tom instead offered Platform as a Service, it would be immaterial to me what server, application and database platform Tom offers. All I need are the development tools offered by Tom, so that I can then build applications, host them at "Tom's PaaS Company" and then offer them to my customers.

Some PaaS providers are:


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Jonathan Gershater has lived and worked in Silicon Valley since 1996, primarily doing system and sales engineering specializing in: Web Applications, Identity and Security. At Red Hat, he provides Technical Marketing for Virtualization and Cloud. Prior to joining Red Hat, Jonathan worked at 3Com, Entrust (by acquisition) two startups, Sun Microsystems and Trend Micro.

(The views expressed in this blog are entirely mine and do not represent my employer - Jonathan).