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PaaS – RedHat OpenShift or Pivotal One?

March 1, 2014 1 comment

Metaphor for PaaSIf you want to write applications but your IT staff isn’t equipped to handle maintenance of the underlying stack comprising Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python or Perl then Platform as a Service (PaaS) may be right for you.  For instance, you may be tasked by your employer with developing web applications involving ecommerce shopping carts and you may choose to use a tool like Ruby on Rails, in such cases you’re likely to gravitate to PaaS platforms like that of Heroku (now owned by salesforce.com)

If you are an application developer who prefers to develop applications in Node.js, Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl or Java but don’t want to manage the LAMP stack on your own, you might consider RedHat OpenShift Online PaaS.  OpenShift PaaS is built on OpenShift Origin (which is open source), Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and JBoss using the KVM hypervisor all hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS). Unlike hardware-only bundles like the VCE Vblock™ or the Netapp FlexPod which combine compute, storage and networking into one product SKU, the PaaS service RedHat OpenShift Online adds the OS and middleware to the afore mentioned combination of compute, storage and networking.  However instead of selling you a hardware/software product to install/use at your site, OpenShift Online offers it all as a cloud service or PaaS.  If you like the PaaS concept but prefer to run it within your own datacenter RedHat offers you OpenShift Enterprise which is software designed for on-premise use.

Another option Pivotal One appears to enable development of web applications on scale but using a big data back-end.  Pivotal One uses the Spring framework and Cloud Foundry (an open source PaaS) as building blocks.  It offers many services including a Hadoop (HD) service, an analytics service and a MySQL service.  If you want to develop Hadoop applications but don’t want to deal with issues like deployment, security and networking then a managed service like HD Service might be right for you.  In addition you get the option to use familiar SQL queries to analyze petabytes size data sets stored in the HDFS layer of Hadoop.  Potentially, a big manufacturer like General Electric may decide that it wants a cloud based big data analytics platform to ingest data from sensors in millions of GE consumer devices (say microwave ovens, refrigerators, washing machines) deployed world-wide.  The idea being to ingest then analyze this sensor data (big data) in the cloud to give consumers advance warning of potential failures (microwave leaks?) or even entice consumers with an upgrade offer for the latest GE model.  Not so far-fetched considering that GE is an investor in Pivotal

What about the downside to PivotalOne?  In my mind it would be potential for vendor lock-in.  After all Pivotal is a spin-off of VMware and VMware’s parent EMC has had a death grip on proprietary storage over the years despite grudgingly paying lip service to new concepts like software defined storage (SDS) via projects like ViPR.  Are RedHat and Pivotal the only PaaS options out there?  Definitely not, other vendors like InfoChimps, Apprenda, CloudBees are also worth evaluating. So what do you think? Is PaaS in your cards?

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