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application platform as a service (aPaaS)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Application platform as a service (aPaaS) is a cloud service that provides environments for the development and running of software applications. APaaS allows developers to create large scale applications that would otherwise exceed their own hardware’s capacity or that they lack the tools to develop. This enables startups and less seasoned developers to create apps with little coding and without the large initial investment required for the alternative of on-premise cloud. APaaS also saves the ongoing costs of employing skilled workers to build and maintain the environment and infrastructure

APaaS provides the environment for applications to run in by way of a combination of services in the anything as a service (XaaS) family: platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). These services provide the operating system, the software development tools, and the hardware, such as networking, computers and storage that the running or developed applications require. Tools for analytics and database management are also included.

Other definitive features of in aPaaS include:

  • Low code/no code (LCNC) development tools - allow less experienced developers to build and test applications quickly
  • Rapid application development (RAD) – includes using strategies such as iterative development, prototyping, time boxing and re-use of existing software

Some examples of aPaaS vendors include Mendix, Salesforce and OutSystems. End users are advised to consider terms when choosing a service and whether the service requires exclusive interfaces or only supports specific languages. These factors may indicate an increased risk of being locked into a platform for a given app, an inherent risk of aPaaS.

This was last updated in June 2019

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