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By Russell Rothstein
Choosing the right PaaS cloud for your application can be a confusing process. There are literally dozens of cloud providers, large and small, that offer the basic set of services you need to run your app.
I founded IT Central Station to help enterprise tech users find the best service by offering hands-on reviews by real users of clouds (PaaS, IaaS) and other enterprise software, and I wanted to share some of what we've learned with the readers of Datamation and other QuinStreet Enterprise websites.
IT Central Station is like Yelp or TripAdvisor for enterprise software and services, but all reviewers are strictly validated to ensure that each review is authentic and based on a real user’s experience. All reviewers are validated with their LinkedIn profile to ensure that our posts are authentic. We are an open, vendor-neutral site, and we do not endorse one cloud vendor or another.
So here's a roundup of the latest user reviews and opinions at IT Central Station:
Microsoft Azure: One of our Azure users, the head of infrastructure at a mid-sized tech services company, says Azure is good for running Microsoft Enterprise Applications, although it's a pricey alternative to other cloud service providers in the market. He says Azure provides good support for various platforms such as Java, Ruby, and PHP, and provides APIs built on popular and robust technology like HTML, REST, and XML.
Salesforce Platform: One of our users, a CIO at a large education provider, gives Salesforce Platform five stars, saying it fits the agile development model and is easy to use. However, it is hard to negotiate ability to scale down, its integrations with back-office systems is still complex unless you have robust SOA platform already in place at your organization, it is not a great fit for heavy graphics or multimedia apps, and the service could benefit from other than per-user pricing.
Comparison of Amazon, Google App Engine, Windows Azure, Heroku, and Jelastic: One of our users, an engineer at a software vendor, offers a detailed comparison of these PaaS clouds. While the comparison is too long to summarize in this article, his bottom line is that there's no “winner” – you need to use different options for different scenarios. He details the limitations imposed by each cloud service, along with the approach and general mindset. He says that, especially with platforms like Heroku and GAE, you need to change the way you think about deployment.
Engine Yard: One of our reviewers says, "Engine Yard is the middle ground between black box cloud hosting like Heroku and vanilla Amazon EC2. They give you a tested and scalable Rails stack with a web UI for management, but under the hood you still have root access and the AWS keys, so the billing is transparent, and you can install whatever software and use whatever instance types you like."
Appfog vs. Heroku: One of our users recommends Appfog over Heroku. He provides an in-depth comparison of the 2 PaaS clouds on the basis of memory management, pricing, data store, data centers and deployment. He prefers Appfog due to its strengths in the areas of memory management and data centers.
Google App Engine: One of our users gives App Engine 3 stars out of five. He says it is overall a good and cheap platform with scalability support that is good for individuals and startups, but not suitable for heavy/large applications. He explains that since the backend is handled by Google, you get a scalable app platform, but at the cost of losing control over the backend environment. You cannot tweak the backend and you just have to use whatever Google has to offer.
Russell Rothstein is founder and CEO of IT Central Station. He has spent more than two decades in the enterprise technology industry at the crossroads of technology and business. Before founding IT Central Station, he worked at enterprise tech vendors including OPNET (acquired by Riverbed) and Oracle. Russell was co-founder of Zettapoint (acquired by EMC) and Open Sesame (acquired by Bowne/RR Donnelley). He received a BA in computer science from Harvard University, an MS in technology and policy from MIT and an MS in management from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Follow Russell on Twitter @RussRothsteinIT.