Sunday, March 18, 2012

OpenShift test drive

I'm looking for an all-in-one PaaS solution. Currently, my little Android app hosts its data on AWS SimpleDB (I need to swap this out with something relational) and uses GAE for authentication services. While it's been interesting to use these systems, I'd like a single solution.

OpenShift had a booth at PyCon 2012 plus they were handing out free tee shirts. Sold! The only code I'm interested in right now is Java and Python which they of course support (among others). OpenShift also comes with MySQL and MongoDB. I don't believe OpenShift is in production status so I don't know what the pricing structure will be. Whatever it is, I'm sure I'll stay firmly in the 'free' range just as with AWS and GAE. Maybe one day I'll code something that does real volume and I'll have to pay! ;-)

Getting started was a snap. Their control panel UI is still pretty new and can use some polish but OpenShift is very straightforward so it wasn't confusing. git does all the heavy lifting in terms of deploying code, at least for an Express app. They provide a very nice Django example which was much appreciated and worked out of the box. I'm interested in checking out Tornado which is easily stood up in OpenShift. I use the requests module all the time (requests is a urllib2 replacement) and bringing it into my OpenShift app took like 10 characters of typing. I can even ssh to my virtual app, write to the filesystem and fire up daemons at will!

I'm leaning towards porting my Android app to run on OpenShift. If I don't, I'm sure I'll find something else to use it for (probably something for my graduate studies). Check it out.

UPDATE 5/5/12: I used OpenShift to host my semester project for a grad school class I'm taking.  It's available (for now, probably not forever) at  The app attempts to process large amounts of Google+ content and rank attached links intelligently.

The only issue I had with OpenShift was a lack of support for python multiprocessing.  The issue is documented here.  When I discovered the problem, I hopped on IRC and was able to immediately talk to an OpenShift rep (on a Saturday, no less).  Talk about customer service!  Hopefully it'll be fixed one day.  I was able to use python threading to do what I needed to do but I can see how this would be a showstopper for some people.

Overall, very impressed with OpenShift.

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