Tuesday, May 05, 2015

PaaS on the Cheap

PaaS stands for "Platform as a Service;" it's one of several classes of cloud computing services. Compare this to Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service), DBaas (Database as a Service) and CFaaS (cluster...well you get the idea).

Here's an update on some PaaS services that have free (as in no money) tiers. I've left off any that are free trial periods. It's annoying to have to keep checking the calendar.  I'm also averse to listing any that require a credit card to get into the door.

This list was thrown together quickly, mostly so I didn't have to bookmark all these and remember the details. I went over some of these when I wrote about cloud services in general last year. 

And now, in no particular order....

My current favorite. You can run up to 3 small applications (they call them "gears") for nothing, nada, zip. You can even set up a custom domain. How cool is that?  The free tier doesn't need a charge card. If you are willing to enter a charge card, you can move to Bronze and still not pay anything - the incentive is your apps don't go to sleep and need to be restarted. RedHat is behind this.

"Tinker App" is the free model; you get 1 minuscule Worker, Web, Cache and DB. And it goes to sleep if you aren't using it. Okay to play with, not sure if you'd use free tier in the real world.

Looks like you can sign up for free and use 1 "dyno" (512 MB ram, 1 vCPU) at no cost. There's a slider that shows how much it would cost as you scale up.  I haven't played with this but it looks interesting. Salesforce.com owns them.

Acquia focuses pretty much exclusively on Drupal CMS support. That's not a bad thing. The free tier is a sandbox for development of Drupal sites. No support for custom names (bummer).

While all the other services listed are Linux-based, App Harbor is Windows/.NET based. Free account ("Canoe") has one "worker." I want to play with this one more since I'm pretty much a dunce when it comes to writing Windows web apps.

Google App Engine's free usage tier quotas are measured on a daily basis, and though they seem small, I have read (i.e. I have no direct experience) they are sufficient to run a small personal site. If you exceed your free quota, visitors will receive a 503 server error. Here's a short guide on hosting a static site on Google App Engine.

Finally, we look at Microsoft's cloud platform. Sign up for the free trial and play all you want - Azure is pretty slick. After the free trial is over, you still get 10 free web apps in their shared environment, which is pretty sweet. The downside : no custom domain for free sites. Still, good for testing, playing...

Updated: here are a couple I missed the first round.

https://console.ng.bluemix.net/pricing/
This is an IBM deal - they are hungry to get into this here cloud stuff.  Not a bad looking offering. They have a handy calculator to let you see how you can slice and dice resources.

http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-56411
SAP (who - I confess - gives me the willies) has a free perpetual developer account which they inform you in BOLD type is Not For Productive Use. I'm not interested, but maybe you are...

https://www.mendix.com/
Rapid Application Development for Enterprises. No experience with this one but it sounds intriguing. No credit card needed so what have you got to lose?


Have fun!

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