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PaaS shoot-out: Cloud Foundry vs. OpenShift

Martin Heller | Aug. 14, 2014
Cloud Foundry shines with broad application support and stellar ease of use, but OpenShift has the edge in management and automation

Similarly, OpenShift automatically detects when an application is not getting any HTTP traffic and will eventually idle the gears without any intervention needed by the developer or operations. At such time as the application is requested again, OpenShift will automatically load it back into memory and handle the HTTP requests. OpenShift will even automatically start and restart misbehaving applications. All of these features reduce the amount of monitoring and operations work required to run an application on OpenShift.

Picking a PaaS

My experience installing OpenShift locally went very smoothly, once I got over my misguided attempt to use an unsupported virtual machine manager. My experience installing Cloud Foundry locally was not smooth, although ActiveState's Stackato variant was easier to install than Cloud Foundry open source. These experiences caused me to rate OpenShift higher than Cloud Foundry for installation. On the other hand, using the online version of each platform was a snap, and enterprises installing a PaaS in their own data center or on a private cloud are likely to use experienced consultants to do the setup.

The biggest pluses I see currently for OpenShift are its gear idling, which allows very high application density, and its automatic application scaling. These two features bring OpenShift up to a 9 on Management. Pivotal CF's lack of these features lower its Management score to 8. I think most enterprise customers will appreciate both gear idling and automatic application scaling. Note that Pivotal CF does have automatic application scaling on its road map.

The biggest pluses I see currently for Cloud Foundry — specifically Pivotal CF — are its integrations with Pivotal's big data and mobile services suites. These two very large feature areas raise Pivotal CF's Breadth of Support score to 9. OpenShift's lack of these integrations lower its Breadth of Support score to 8. You may or may not care about either of these integrations, depending on your plans for deployments.

Which PaaS should you choose? It depends on a lot of factors, and your IT department should do a careful evaluation. If application density is a driving factor for your installation, I would expect your team to wind up favoring OpenShift. Similarly, if your developers use Git heavily, they may favor OpenShift. On the other hand, if integrating your PaaS with big data and mobile services is high on your priority list and you don't already have other solutions for your big data and mobile services needs, then your team may favor Pivotal CF.

  • Wide assortment of languages, Web frameworks, and databases available and supported
  • Easy and fast self-service deployment for developers and cloud operators
  • Application container, service, and node health are all monitored, and automatically restarted if not in the expected state
  • Big data and mobile services are supported in the PaaS
  • Can deploy from the command line, Eclipse, Spring Tools Suite, Maven, and Gradle
  • Wide assortment of languages, Web frameworks, databases, and application stacks available and supported
  • Easy and fast self-service deployment for developers and cloud operators
  • Automatic application scaling
  • Git integration at the source code level, with automatic deployment triggered by a git push
  • Gear idling allows OpenShift to support a very high density of applications
  • Runs on any hardware or cloud or virtual machine that supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • Automatic horizontal scaling is still in beta, but scheduled for Q3 release in Pivotal CF; another PaaS based on Cloud Foundry, ActiveState's Stackato, already has it
  • No downloadable "micro" VM for Cloud Foundry v2 as yet, but you can download Stackato Micro or use one of two Cloud Foundry installers to install Cloud Foundry in a local VM
  • Limited to applications that run on Ubuntu Linux, unless you use the Uhuru Windows version of Cloud Foundry, which we have not reviewed
  • Largely limited to applications and services that run on Red Hat Linux, unless you use the Uhuru OpenShift.Net product, which we have not reviewed


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