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What are the pros, cons of PaaS offerings from AWS, Google, Microsoft?

Get started with exploring these PaaS offerings: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure. An IT veteran summarizes their pros and cons.

What are major PaaS offerings' pros and cons for developers?

The comparisons between PaaS offerings could go on for dozens of pages, as there are dozens of PaaS development solutions extant. Instead, let's take a quick look at three PaaS offerings: Amazon's Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine.

What all three have in common is that getting started is relatively easy for anyone with software development skills. Also, all support traditional languages, such as Java, Ruby, PHP, Python and others.

AWS ups and downs

Amazon Web Services Elastic Beanstalk (EB) runs atop AWS Elastic Compute Cloud. Some developers tell me that they opened EB and got code up and running in a secured environment in less than one hour. From my experience, EB has powerful customization abilities, strong automation capabilities and outstanding security. On the downside, AWS EB's bug detection and application performance monitoring systems and documentation are weaker than that of the three competitors in this very brief answer.

Azure as you like it

Ease of application integration is Microsoft Azure's strong point. As you might expect, integration for Microsoft applications, such as Office 365, work well, as do integrations with Microsoft's many third-party services partners.

I've found Azure to be more user-friendly than AWS, thanks to its intuitive interfaces. Also, the uptime service-level agreement is 99.95%, and I don't know any other vendor that offers this type of SLA. The product has been in production for over eight years, and its maturity shows up in its reliability. Also, Azure benefits from the high availability and redundancy that comes with support from many data centers globally.

On track with Google App Engine

Fast, easy and cheap are common adjectives I've heard used to describe developing apps on Google App Engine. The pricing is reasonable, and it does have a free tier, which is great for small projects. It can also auto scale, create new instances as needed and automatically handle high availability. App Engine gets kudos for performance from users I've heard from. Another plus is ease of integration of various Google apps, thanks to Google's Cloud Datastore, which is very tightly integrated with App Engine.

Consider doing a proof of concept with a defined scope of success criteria.

Mostly, I hear that App Engine is the right choice for beginning developers who want to quickly set up their apps.

For enterprises, the consensus I hear from developers is that Google platform as a service (PaaS) capabilities lag behind those of AWS. Most feel that Google is not ready to take on AWS or Azure at this time. It has been in production for six years, but it doesn't have as many regions -- i.e., the geographical support system -- as the other two products.

PaaS pros and cons

It's time for your POC

While I'm not going to recommend one product over another, this article should give you enough preliminary information to start thinking about which PaaS offering to use. If your company is big enough, consider doing a proof of concept, with a defined scope of success criteria. That will help you make that final decision.

Next Steps

SaaS app developers get access to leading PaaS offering

Simplify app development with cloud-based PaaS

Developing apps on PaaS vs. in-house data center

This was last published in August 2017

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