Thursday, August 11, 2011

OpenShift: Is it really PaaS?

Redhat recently announced an upgraded version of OpenShift with exciting new features including support for Java EE6, Membase, MongoDB and more. See details at:

As I dug through the descriptions, I found myself with more questions than answers. When you say Membase or MongoDB are available as part of the PaaS, what does this really mean? For example:
  • They're pre-installed in clustered or replicated manner?
  • They're monitored out of the box?
  • Will it auto-scale based on the monitoring data and predefined thresholds? (both up and down?)
  • They have a data backup / restore facility as part of the as-a-service offering?
  • The backup / restore are as-a-service?
  • The backup / restore use a job scheduling system that's available as-a-service?
  • The backup / restore use an object storage system that has cross data center replication?
Ok, you get the idea. Let me be clear - I'm not suggesting that OpenShift does or doesn't do these things. Arguments can be made that it in some cases, it doesn't need to do them. My point is that several new "PaaS offerings" are coming to market and they smell like the same-ole-sh!t. If nothing else, the product marketing teams will need to do a better job of explaining what they currently have. Old architects need details.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Amazon's approach of releasing their full API's (AWS Query, WSDL, Java & Ruby API's, etc.) along with some great documentation. They've built a layered architecture whereby the upper layers (PaaS) leverage lower layers (Automation & IaaS) to do things like monitoring, deployment & configuration of both the platforms and the infrastructure elements (block storage, virtual compute, etc.) The bar has been set for what makes something PaaS - and going forward, products will be measure based on this basis. It's ok if your offering doesn't do all they sophisticated things you find in AWS - but it's better to be up front about it. Old architects will understand.

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