More on PaaS: new dotCloud pricing and services

I have had a dotCloud account for a while, but so far only to experiment with. dotCloud has announced new pricing models that look very developer friendly with free lower performance sandbox support and "live" support for production. They may have hit the sweet spot for supporting free development while nudging developers to not deploy small demo apps using their free sandbox model. I would love to see Heroku's and dotCloud's customer stats on free versus paid hosted web apps.

The basic idea is that as you add services you may by the amount of memory that those services use. I like their handling of horizontal and vertical scaling. I have not tried it yet, but from the documentation it looks like when you horizontally scale a persistent service like PostgreSQL, MongoDB, MySQL, etc. they automatically set up master/slave, replica sets, etc. as appropriate. You can also vertically scale any service by adding memory.

Another interesting PaaS that I have experimented with is Cloud Foundry that is, like Redhat's OpenShift, an open source stack that you can also install on your company's private servers.

Managing servers is a form of technical debt. Using PaaS costs a lot more for raw resources but "set and forget" web apps deployed to PaaS can end up being a lot cheaper to deploy over long term.


  1. Hi Mark, thanks for your feedback! As you guessed, our new pricing model wants to address the needs of developers who need to experiment, test, develop, etc., without breaking the bank. Before that move, we got a lot of people complaining about the free plan: "What? Two services? What do you want me to do with that!" and we heard them :-)

    I confirm what you said about horizontal scaling: for web apps, it means "add more web frontends, and automatically put them behind an HTTP load balancer", and for databases, it means "setup replication and automatically failover when the master is in trouble".

    Something worth mentioning about PAAS pricing: even if the "price per gigabyte of RAM / per CPU core / per your favorite unit of compute power" of PAAS is typically higher than IAAS, some PAAS (like dotCloud) let you fine tune the amount of resources that you use (and that you pay for); so instead of deploying e.g. EC2 m1.small instances (which have 1.7 GB of RAM) you can use just those 200 or 300 MB of RAM that your app actually needs. At the end of the day, it means that the bill can even be lower than with IAAS.

    Jérôme, software engineer for dotCloud (and damn happy to work there and make developers lives easier every day ;-))


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