Platform as a service (PaaS) is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud, with resources that enable you to deliver everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications. You purchase the resources you need from a cloud service provider on a pay-as-you-go basis and access them over a secure Internet connection.

PaaS means the hardware and an application-software platform are provided and managed by an outside cloud service provider, but the user handles the apps running on top of the platform and the data the app relies on. Primarily for developers and programmers, PaaS gives users a shared cloud platform for application development and management (an important DevOps component) without having to build and maintain the infrastructure usually associated with the process.

Like IaaS, PaaS includes infrastructure—servers, storage, and networking—but also middleware, development tools, business intelligence (BI) services, database management systems, and more. PaaS is designed to support the complete web application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating.

PaaS allows you to avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing software licenses, the underlying application infrastructure and middleware, container orchestrators such as Kubernetes, or the development tools and other resources. You manage the applications and services you develop, and the cloud service provider typically manages everything else.