Editor's Note: This article is part of our PaaS Provider Comparison Guide series which examines key considerations when evaluating and choosing a PaaS vendor.
Maintaining development and production environments will rarely provide for a competitive advantage. Software development firms are known more for their products than their development and operations management procedures. Similarly, enterprise developers are typically judged on how well they deliver quality solutions on time and on budget. It’s no surprise that some developers are willing to turn over responsibility for platform management to someone else.
Engine Yard is a Platform-as-a-Service designed for Web application developers using Ruby on Rails, PHP and Node.js who want the advantages of cloud computing without all the operations management responsibility.
Engine Yard provides a set of services on top of Amazon AWS. Engine Yard runs its platform in the Amazon cloud and manages the application stack for you. Engine Yard customers can deploy instances in eight Amazon regions using normal, high memory and high CPU instances. When a customers start an instance in Engine Yard, multiple software components are configured and started according to their particular needs. Engine Yard has a non-proprietary approach to their stack which builds on their version of Gentoo Linux. In addition to Ruby, PHP, and Node.js, the stack includes HAProxy load balancer, Ngnix and Rack Web servers, Passenger and Unicorn app servers, as well as MySQL and PostgreSQL relational databases.
Developers have the option of running these same components in the Amazon cloud themselves so the value of Engine Yard rests more with orchestration and management than with providing software components. The value add services start with VM configuration and imaging, configuration management, resource optimization and automated scaling. Once systems are configured and deployed, we need to perform standard operations management procedures. Engine Yard takes care of key operations tasks such as performing backups, managing snapshots, managing clusters, administering databases and load balancing. Best practices in IT management require procedures in addition to these day to day management tasks. For example, operating systems should be hardened and software components should be scanned for vulnerabilities. These kinds of operations are managed by Engine Yard as well.
Dan Sullivan is an author, systems architect, and consultant with over 20 years of IT experience with engagements in systems architecture, enterprise security, advanced analytics and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail, gas and oil production, power generation, life sciences, and education. Dan has written 16 books and numerous articles and white papers about topics ranging from data warehousing, cloud computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration, and text mining.
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