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Red Hat parachutes into crowded PaaS market

OpenShift jostles with Azure, GAE, Heroku, Elastic Beanstalk, for developers

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After an extended beta, Red Hat's OpenShift PaaS is ready for general consumption, pitting the Linux company's platform cloud against similar products from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others.

OpenShift was launched two years ago, and only now is it being commercialized: the OpenShift Online Silver Plan starts from $20 per month, which gets developers three small application containers ("gears" in Red Hat parlance), the company announced on Monday. There's also a free plan.

Along with this they get access to Red Hat technical support and 6GB of storage per gear. Additional app containers are charged at $0.04 per hour for a small gear with 512MB RAM, $0.10 per hour for a Medium gear with 1GB of RAM, and running JBOSS EAP costs an additional $0.03 per hour on the basic gear price.

This compares with a base price of $0.05 per hour for 512MB app containers in PaaS leader Heroku, or $.10 for 1024MB ones.

"We will make a commitment to be value competitive," Red Hat's cloud general manager Ashesh Badani told The Register when asked if OpenShift prices would be pegged to other PaaS leaders.

The release gives developers another choice in an already crowded market, and one of the ways in which Red Hat is trying to assure adoption is through a simplified pricing structure.

Unlike traditional infrastructure-as-a-service clouds, platform clouds bundle in middleware, automation, provisioning and dependencies, so developers can concentrate on their apps, rather than the infrastructure for them.

This comes with a tradeoff, which is that PaaS's are more proprietary than IaaS's and represent a greater commitment to any one company's solution, and therefore pose a great opportunity for PaaS companies to lock-in developers. Though many companies offer platform-as-a-service clouds, much of the money in rentable cloud resources lies in low-end infrastructure-as-a-service technologies.

This is part of the reason why Amazon Web Services' cloud is so large relative to rivals Google and Microsoft – both of these companies launched their cloud technologies as PaaS's, and only recently got into IaaS.

Red Hat has put a lot more emphasis on its locally deployable version of OpenShift, OpenShift Enterprise, and the open source version OpenShift Origin, than OpenShift Online.

When we asked Red Hat about the hype that PaaS's have received versus their adoption, Badani, said: "It's hard for me to say exactly where we are on the hype cycle because I'm in the tornado. [PaaS] sounds fantastic... it seems like a natural thing to do, but that being said you've got to say, that's interesting, but i need to stand up my apps and see if its actually for me". ®

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