Software teams want to use Platform-as-a-Service for development in the cloud, but find that they struggle to do their own provisioning due to a lack of technical skills in the area of IT. So, organizations will use their best software engineers to work on the operations side of things to get these PaaS platforms up and running, which is not an ideal use of their time and skill.
This, at least, is what Gabriel Monroy and Joshua Schnell—cofounders of a company called OpDemand—said they have seen in organizations looking to work in public clouds. This too is what the company is targeting with its proprietary orchestration technology for creating development platforms in the cloud. With the company’s software, developers can manage both the development and production environments from within a single console.
“This stuff is hard,” Monroy said. “The market makes it seem like it’s all rainbows and ponies. But developers lack a repeatable system for provisioning workloads, and they lack automated configuration management, which forces them into an ad hoc approach.”
OpDemand has a deep integration with GitHub, and users open the OpDemand interface and choose the GitHub repository and data center (called “region”) they want to utilize. After the SSH keys are selected, the “finish” button triggers the OpDemand orchestration process, with customizable settings for security, network and service tiers.
“That’s three separate bits of cloud infrastructure you would have to set up on their own,” Monroy said. “What would that take to do manually? You would have to set up each bit of infrastructure manually and then wire it all up. It would take more than a day. We can get an environment up and running in 10 minutes.”
The interface into the production environment gives developers five different controls: Start the app, stop it, deploy it, clone it, and destroy it. The deploy feature, Monroy explained, updates all configurations with the application changes. “People are looking for PaaS offerings, and we do it in an IT-friendly way,” he said.
“You can customize every bit of build and deploy automation. We’re providing a PaaS experience built atop raw [Infrastructure-as-a-Service] to give the benefits of PaaS while allowing IT and ops teams to retain control over the infrastructure that powers this stuff.”
OpDemand offers developers templates as easy starting points, or users can start with a blank slate of build and deploy scripts, Monroy said.
Other Platforms-as-a-Service, such as Heroku, don’t yield control over the cloud or region you’re deploying to, Monroy said. Nor, he added, are developers bound by libraries or a set of languages and frameworks like other PaaSes provide. “It’s a level of flexibility you don’t get from other solutions,” he said. “Developers trade ease of use for flexibility; they have to conform to the PaaS vendors’ requirements, which can be quite restrictive.”
Schnell, a former investment banker, explained that OpDemand works on a freemium model: One platform is free, or users can pay 10 cents per hour for each running platform. Or, organizations can set up a metered account that charges on a utility basis, such as what Amazon does for its cloud.
OpDemand has been available since mid-April.