OpenShift, a platform-as-a-service product from the minds of Red Hat Inc., the open-source-to-enterprise professionals that made Red Hat Linux a major player in the server software market. We were impressed by their entrance into the PaaS vertical and were even more surprised by how flexible and immensely scalable it is.
OpenShift works under the PaaS instance/dyno model, allowing you to deploy your code to a specified number of “gears” or “cartridges.” Each of these gears is dedicated to running the code of a certain portion of your application, whether it’s accessing the attached database, responding to HTTP requests or processing background jobs. You can define your own processes and assign them to gears or cartridges, giving you more granular control over the performance of your application.
The customizable gear model makes OpenShift perfect for introducing specialized tasks through your application. For example, you could dedicate an entire array of gears to media transcoding and build your own media converter on their infrastructure. You can then supercharge your production by allotting more gears to the processes and return converted files in seconds. This level of control and customization is great for applications that may do things requiring more computing power than a traditional website.
OpenShift is compatible with several major web languages, including PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, Node.js and even Perl. They also allow you to use relational databases from the SQL family or NoSQL “flat” databases like MongoDB. Most of the upload and deployment process is handled by a command-line interface backed by Git, the popular source-control software.
We had little trouble getting up and running with OpenShift. Their documentation provides ample instruction for basic processes like uploading and deploying code, as well as managing gears and resources. We had a bit of trouble with the troubleshooting aspect of OpenShift, however. We encountered a snag with our SSL certificate that took a bit of digging to resolve, but we eventually resolved it with a bit of community assistance and the SSL tutorial on OpenShift’s website.
Customer support is the only area where OpenShift fell behind the competition. Like other PaaS products, it provides ample written documentation in the form of tutorials, FAQs and walkthroughs. They rely heavily on their community for answers to questions, listing community-based services like IRC chat and community forums as resources for troubleshooting. As helpful as these communities are when you need help, we would like to see more on-demand support from Red Hat outside of these resources and a difficult-to-find email address.