Just a couple weeks ago, we looked at how Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) helps developers rapidly build and deploy applications to the cloud. We also covered a new breed of cloud-based development environments (IDE) that developers can use to create and publish their web applications. Since then, the cloud-based IDE we featured – called Codenvy – has updated their product to support the Tier 3 Web Fabric. In this post, we’ll walk through how to quickly and easily deploy and manage Web Fabric applications from your web browser.
To start with, when users of Codenvy start a new web application project, they are asked which technology they want to use, and then which PaaS to deploy to. At this moment, the Tier 3 Web Fabric is available for Java Web Application (WAR), Java Spring, and Ruby on Rails projects. Note that Web Fabric works with more environments than these three, but these are the technologies supported via Codenvy.
Once the user chooses the technology and corresponding PaaS, they choose a simple project template (if one exists for that technology), and are then asked for the management API endpoint of the Web Fabric environment.
The project framework is then created, and the user is prompted for their Web Fabric credentials. After providing a valid username and password, the application is deployed and Internet-accessible. All of this in matter of seconds! To update the application, developers visit the PaaS menu option and choose Tier 3 Web Fabric.
From the subsequent window, developers can modify the name, URL, and memory allocation of the application. Additionally, the application can be started, stopped, deleted, and updated. It’s also possible to add Web Fabric application services – such as RabbitMQ for messaging or Microsoft SQL Server for relational database storage – to a project.
Codenvy can also be used as a simple management interface for any applications running in Web Fabric. This can come in handy if you’re on a shared machine without the typical Cloud Foundry management tools available!
This interface shows you each application running in your Web Fabric environment, and lets you start, stop, restart, or delete it.
We’re excited to be a supported part of the innovative Codenvy platform and think that this lowers the barrier to entry for our customers while making it simpler for developers to build amazing applications in any language of their choice. Want to try it out? Sign up for a free Codenvy account and then take Web Fabric for a spin!
Web applications are a dominant part of most enterprise IT portfolios and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) products offer a compelling way to easily deploy and manage these applications. However, PaaS have proven tricky for vendors to explain, and therefore difficult for customers to understand. In this post, we’ll discuss the reason you should consider using PaaS products, what Tier 3 has to offer, and how you can deploy a web application to a PaaS in a matter of minutes.
Benefits of PaaS
What exactly is PaaS? Basically, it’s a way of delivering an application platform as a service. Developers don’t interface directly with infrastructure (e.g. servers, networks, load balancers) but rather, focus on building and deployment applications through a set of exposed services in a managed fabric. PaaS simplifies the deployment and management of modern web applications while making those applications more resilient and functional. How can PaaS add value to your organization? Let’s drill into some specifics:
- Reduce server sprawl with a centralized host for web applications. How many web servers are sitting relatively idle in your data center because they are only running a handful of applications? Server sprawl can be a major issue as each IT project requisitions its own hardware for application development/staging/QA/production. What about all your websites for customers and marketing campaigns? It’s possible that you’re using many different servers (and even providers!) to host all of those individual websites. PaaS can offer a centralized fabric that can be sized and optimized for hundreds of internal or external web applications.
- Save money by adding resources only when you need them. Many PaaS products have a concept of automatic scale or user-driven resizing to account for spikes or dips in utilization. Before cloud computing, organizations typically sized their infrastructure for peaks and accepted that their environment would be underutilized the majority of the time. Now, it’s possible to deploy a web application with a 128MB memory allocation, and instantly double it when needed. Need to spread the workload across multiple machines? Simply issue a command to add the application to another node in the PaaS fabric. No calls to the operations team, no formal “deployment” exercises. PaaS makes it possible to size and scale applications on demand, which makes it easier for you to manage the overall environment.
- Focus on your application, and don’t sweat the infrastructure. One of the most important benefits of PaaS is that it abstracts the infrastructure away from the application, and the developer. Developers deploy to a fabric, not a server. There’s no need for the IT project team to provision web or database servers. Simply push applications to the existing PaaS environment. The infrastructure itself is managed closely by an operations team and automation is included at all levels to deliver automatic patching, scaling, monitoring and more.
- Multi-tenancy and high-availability baked in. PaaS products are designed to deliver high-availability to multiple applications (or “tenants”) and are therefore scaled out to provide significant compute capacity. As such, you’ll find many PaaS products with built-in load balancing services, failover when servers fail, concurrency management, and more. All of these features boost reliability and performance for each application hosted in the PaaS. Even applications not specifically designed for PaaS can conceivably be deployed to a PaaS with little to no code refactoring.
- Avoid unnecessary duplication by using consolidated application services. When most people think of PaaS they think of hosting web applications, but some of the best capabilities are those offered by complimentary services. Most PaaS products offer add-on services like databases, storage, identity management, messaging, caching and more. You’ll also find some PaaS products that offer business services such as service catalogs, and API management and monitoring. Developers can use these services when building their web applications and not have to provision or locate hardware to host those services at runtime. These services simply exist inside the PaaS and are available to all applications deployed there.
- Deliver “IT as a Service” through measured usage for easy chargebacks. A core tenet of cloud computing is “pay as you go” and measured usage. A true PaaS is built upon a “cloudy” foundation that tracks utilization and delivers an all-up cost to the user at the end of the month (or whenever the user checks their charges). Because of this cost transparency, it’s easy for organizations to deliver “IT as a service” by offering a PaaS for internal/external websites and passing along the usage-based invoices to each department.
All of this helps developers produce faster deployments while giving system administrators a more streamlined operations responsibility.
Why Tier 3 Web Fabric?
Tier 3 has its own PaaS product – called Web Fabric – that is based on Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry project. We’ve added the open-source Iron Foundry extensions so that we can offer some of the best language and framework support in the industry. Unlike the shared PaaS services offered by others, Web Fabric is provisioned uniquely for each customer. This gives you the isolation you need, while still offering a robust platform for all the custom applications used by your organization. The default Web Fabric environment consists of five total servers and can support dozens of web applications.
Why might you choose to use the Tier 3 Web Fabric to host your modern web applications? We like to point out at least five reasons:
- Support for the programming languages you already use. Most IT shops are heterogeneous and use technologies from multiple vendors. You may have written a number of enterprise-class web applications in .NET or Java, but also have departments that make use of Ruby or PHP. If you’re doing more mobile development, you might have started looking at Node.js for high performing web applications. Tier 3’s Web Fabric supports all those programming languages and more. Instead of using multiple PaaS products or infrastructure clouds to host your diverse application portfolio, use a single fabric for all of them!
- Application services to cover your scenarios. Need a relational database? We offer MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft SQL Server. Looking for a NoSQL repository? Web Fabric has Redis and MongoDB. RabbitMQ is also available when you want to add a durable message queue to your solution. In addition, each Web Fabric comes with New Relic monitoring for web applications. This excellent application performance management tool gives you deep insight that helps identify bottlenecks and monitor application health.
- Cloud Foundry ecosystem. There’s no doubting the impact of Cloud Foundry on the PaaS industry. This open source project was launched in 2010 and has been adopted by multiple PaaS vendors. Not only does this make it straightforward to move applications between Cloud Foundry-compliant clouds, but also means that there are multiple parties creating tools that work for any Cloud Foundry environment. From the Windows-based Cloud Foundry Explorer, to the OSX-friendly Project Thor, to web-based development environments, there’s a growing ecosystem of vendors and tools to help you be successful with Cloud Foundry.
- Enterprise-class infrastructure. Tier 3’s network of highly resilient, globally distributed infrastructure is optimized for performance throughout the stack. And since Web Fabric runs on the Tier 3 enterprise cloud, your applications will be powered by high performing storage, multiple VPN options, security services, and much more.
- IaaS and PaaS, better together. Not all workloads fit into a PaaS platform, and not all applications require dedicated infrastructure. By offering our customers enterprise-class infrastructure in addition to Web Fabric, we’ve provided two useful hosting mechanisms in the same cloud. Keep your PaaS applications geographically close to your IaaS applications and data, and share the same management tools, security profile, and networking configuration.
Deploying to Web Fabric from a Cloud-based Development Environment
Developers can push their application to Web Fabric in a number of ways. While most developers are familiar with command line interfaces and GUI tools that run on their desktop, a new crop of cloud-based integrated development environments (IDEs) can make PaaS deployments even simpler. Cloud IDEs offer excellent collaboration capabilities, easy accessibility, and “no-touch” setup.
One such cloud IDE is Codenvy. This tool works natively with Cloud Foundry, making it easy to build Java/Ruby/Python/PHP applications and then push them to Web Fabric. After signing up for a free account, the developer is presented with the option to link to GitHub or any Git repository.
Codenvy uses a handy “new project” wizard experience to help the developer choose which programming language to use, and then which (supported) PaaS to push to. In the short animation below, observe how I created a new Java Spring project, chose Cloud Foundry (Web Fabric) as a destination, finish the wizard and publish the application to Web Fabric.
The Codenvy IDE includes many developer productivity features including type-ahead coding (i.e. “intellisense”), code generation, formatting tools, and much more. Changing the application code and re-publishing the application to Web Fabric is simple. Notice how easy it is to resize my application (e.g. memory, instance count) at any time!
Besides simply deploying applications, Codenvy supports simple management of existing applications. From the PaaS –> Cloud Foundry –> Applications menu, I can see all the applications that I’ve deployed to Web Fabric and stop/start/restart/delete any of them.
Developers using cloud-based IDEs don’t get all the features of desktop IDEs (like access to local resources, plug-ins), but they are an increasingly viable choice for developers who are trying new technologies or need access to their IDE from any computer.
With our enterprise-class infrastructure and platform cloud, Tier 3 is uniquely positioned to address your cloud needs. Web Fabric is an ideal host for your modern web applications and its Cloud Foundry heritage makes it compatible with a wide array of tools including cloud-based IDEs like Codenvy.
Interested in taking a look at Web Fabric? Contact us for a demonstration and free trial!
We are pleased to announce our new control panel interface with the following new features:
New dashboard page that shows the account billing summary and also overall bandwidth for the account.
Increased logon performance by 10x so that you wont have to wait for the dashboard page to load.
New server list page that shows the CPU, Storage Allocation, and Memory usage.
Server Price calculator now shows the hourly cost of each component of a server before build out.
and much more!
The new interface is part of a big effort to optimize the user experience for all of our customers and increase overall speed in gaining access to critical data. There are over 50 additional bugs fixed in this latest build. Thanks Tier 3 Team