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A PaaS Tool on the Google Cloud

PaaS solutions include not only a development environment for web applications, but also the development of mobile apps

PaaS is the acronym for Platform as a Service, a cloud service solution used to provide a development environment through which developers can create web applications, without focusing on what there is behind the scenes: hardware, operating system, development environment or other low-level services already installed and configured. Not working at low level allows you to reduce the costs involved with the development platform, both at the beginning when starting a new development project, and also over time, when maintaining that environment.

The most recent PaaS solutions include not only a development environment for web applications, but also the development of mobile applications. A few of these tools are focused on a specific area, such as collaboration, business process management, content management, data entry, and mobile. Gartner has provided an interesting report about these solutions in its aPaas Magic Quadrant.

The PaaS market is growing and there are several vendors providing a development environment on the cloud. Some of these vendors are specialized in a specific area, such BPM or Database, others provide a multi-purpose environment. According to the choice, license costs change and can increase significantly: the leading vendors are quite expensive, since they provide a complete solution, from many points of view: features, scalability, availability, and security.

Unfortunately, not all organizations can afford the expense required for those tools. Hopefully, there are many other alternatives, no so costly, especially if focused on a specific branch, like data management. In this article one of these tools is described: 4WS.Platform, a PaaS solution for low to mid organizations, having a low pricing policy, specialized in three main areas:

  • Data entry applications, based on a database
  • Collaboration, based on Google Apps
  • Enterprise content management, based on Alfresco ECM

People could start using it on premise, for free, using its installer. That allows technicians to evaluate it and create small and simple applications, not having too complex needs. The PaaS version comes in handy soon, to take advantage of the perks described above: reduced costs with the installation and maintenance tasks, a development environment ready-to-use in a few minutes. Once activated the cloud version, a web browser is the only required application: through it you can access the Web Designer, the web tool used to graphically configure both web and mobile apps, including a WYSIWYG editor which allows to see the preview of forms and to edit them. 4WS.Platform represents a real example of how Google Cloud works: it is based on the cloud services provided by Google, including Google Compute Engine (Application Server) and Google CloudSQL (the MySQL database implementation). Consequently, the infrastructure below 4WS.Platform is managed directly by Google and the developers have only to focus on the configuration of their applications. This task has been significantly simplified, thanks to a series of Wizards used guide the developer during the process of application configuration.

Basically, the skills required to use that platform are based on a low-level knowledge of the SQL language and a little bit of JavaScript. There is no more need for front-end developers or business logic developers. Hints are also available, to guide the developer along the process of developing the application. Not only the evaluation free version can be downloaded and installed, but also a trial version is available on the Internet, without the need for any installation. It is possible to have a look at the Pass trial version for free, through the Offical Web Site of the product.

More Stories By Mauro Carniel

Mauro Carniel is a Software Architect at Sinesy. He has more than 10 years of enterprise software development experience utilizing JEE technologies, including JSP, JSF, Swing, EJB, JPA. He started focusing more on GUI-based client/server Java applications since 1998, then moved to web rich applications, including Sencha ExtJS and recently Mobile applications and Data Integration. He has a MSc in Information Technology from Udine University, Italy.