It looks like 2011 is shaping up as the year of PaaS, and the notion of what a PaaS is is starting to stretch out a bit. I used to think of PaaS as being what Heroku or Google App engine offer: a full compute service based around a language framework (or several) to which developers upload code for deployment. It is becoming clear that the "as a Service" aspect can take on a number of flavors. It may be a third-party company that offers the service. Or it may be in-house IT at the corporate level or at the departmental level. Or you may offer the service to yourself, so to speak, simply as way to make it easier to deploy your own apps. In the end, PaaS to me means two main benefits: a standardized deployment model that implies a standardized language framework and resource sharing. The standardization reduces the friction between development and operation. The resource sharing can reduce costs. In the big picture, this is what cloud computing is about: commoditization, for which standardization is an essential prerequisite, and resource sharing. PaaS is one way to standardize, our ServerTemplates are another one at a slightly different level.
We've been working with Zend for a long time and it's gratifying to see the Zend PHP Solution Pack offered on RightScale graduate to a full Zend PHP PaaS offering. Zend PHP is important to us because 37% of our customers use PHP, which is to be expected given that apparently roughly a third of the web runs on PHP and there are 4 million PHP developers! We're also seeing our customers combine IaaS and PaaS, basically some portion of their overall system runs within a PaaS framework and then "punches out" to or combines with other services that don't fit the PaaS mold. We believe this is where RightScale can really shine: provide the flexibility to deploy and operate a wide variety of services in the cloud.
The Zend PHP Solution Pack is a PaaS offering that consists of a multi-server cluster that includes a number of Zend application servers, a Zend cluster manager, load balancers and a MySQL master/slave pair. This configuration – runnable today on Amazon Web Services and in the future on other clouds, including private clouds – provides a production-ready high availability environment that will auto-scale up and down as required. We worked with Zend to make it easy for you to stand up a standardized PaaS environment on whatever cloud you choose then deploy PHP applications to your heart's content! The solution pack includes RightScale’s premium onboarding service – a step-by-step coaching program to deploying on the cloud using best practices backed by RightScale and Zend. Find out more on our website. Also, Andi Gutmans, Zend's CEO, wrote a nice blog post on our joint offering.