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Red Hat touts free beer – and by beer, we mean full-fat OpenShift cloud

If you want more than 1GB of storage per gear, you need to reach for your wallet

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Red Hat is lowering the prices for accessing its publicly hosted OpenShift software as it struggles to come to terms with the brutal economics of the cloud.

The new Bronze pricing scheme for OpenShift was announced by Red Hat in a blog post on Monday. It means developers can now access an off-site version of the OpenShift platform-as-a-service without having to pay a monthly fee, and instead only pay for the storage they use.

"Bronze brings the real power of platform as a service by making it even easier to only pay for the extra resources you want without a monthly platform fee," Red Hat marketing chap John Poelstra, wrote in a blog post announcing the changes.

Before, developers could either opt for a wimpy free version of OpenShift Online with limited amounts of infrastructure and storage, or a $20 a month Silver option. Bronze provides a halfway-point between the two, giving greater infrastructure than "free", but lacking the Red Hat support options of Silver.

"A segment of the users was either self sufficient or comfortable with the community based resources. We wanted to find a way to provide flexibility to developers who want to purchase and consume extra resources while utilizing community based support," explained Red Hat's Director of OpenShift Online, Sathish Balakrishnan, in a statement sent to The Register. "A large percentage of the applications (1.6 million applications deployed to date) we have running on OpenShift Online are found to have require extra storage for both the application and/or database tiers. Add-on storage gives these applications unlimited room to effectively scale and store data."

OpenShift is a hosted platform-as-a-service, competing with other remotely provisioned software like Cloud Foundry, CloudBees, Amazon Elastic Beanstalk, Engine Yard, and others.

The technology is powered by Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and incorporates elements of SELinux and cgroups to provide security and isolation for "gears", the containers in which all OpenShift apps run, and the fundamental unit of currency for sizing an OpenShift installation.

Under the new pricing scheme, developers can access 16 gears of any size within the Bronze tier, and will need to pay $1 per gigabyte per month for all storage they access above the 1GB assigned to each gear.

In addition to this, users of Red Hat's Silver version, which costs from $20 a month, can now access more than 16 gears per OpenShift install.

Like Red Hat, OpenShift is built with a significant emphasis on open source and, because of this, competes with Pivotal's Cloud Foundry project for the attentions of developers.

Pivotal formed the Cloud Foundry Foundation last month, a cross-industry scheme to bring in more companies to work on the technology. Some of the contributors include IBM, HP, SAP, and Rackspace. This puts OpenShift in a slightly awkward position as it has, so far, not gained many contributions from these companies.

One thing that may cause developers to favor OpenShift is the open-source heritage of its creator.

"From a developer trying to extend the platform, the OpenShift codebase provided much better documentation than Cloud Foundry, but was a bit more difficult to understand at first, because it's split into fewer components. As engineers, we like smaller components of code when we can get them," wrote PaaS software consultants Uhuru Software. "OpenShift gives the user a bit more control and more predictability." ®

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