Top 3 Open Source PaaS solutions

April 14th, 2021 8 min read

Open source technology is often associated with free-to-use, highly available tools, so it might seem strange for an “as a service” tool to be open source. All open source really means is that the source code of the solution is available openly online. Open-source PaaS solutions have freely available codebases, but businesses will still have to pay for hosting or self-host the solution.  This is the “as a service” part of PaaS.

If you need a refresher on how PaaS solutions work, check out this video from IBM:

The Software discussed in this piece are:

Almost all PaaS solutions are either hybrid cloud-based or entirely cloud-based, enabling businesses to host using cloud services instead of servers on-premise. This is also true of open source PaaS solutions.  Most open source PaaS options either offer to hosting and support services or are easy to implement for businesses that want to self-host.

Unlike most open source tools, the main benefit of open source PaaS tools is not that they are free. Open source PaaS solutions allow for self hosting, and the availability of the code makes them highly customizable. 

 Open-source options are a strong choice whether you need a PaaS solution to complement your infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), or an application platform for PHP or .net apps. Here are the 3 best open sources PaaS options that might be right for your organization.

Lowest Demand PaaS Option

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Dokku is an open-source solution that offers a lightweight, high-performance cloud platform. When businesses want to self-host their PaaS solution, a big concern is the size of the solution and how demanding it is on the IT infrastructure.  Dokku can be deployed through inexpensive cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud Platform. This makes Dokku one of the most affordable PaaS options. Dokku is supported on most popular operating systems, including Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Debian, and has minimal storage requirements. 

Dokku doesn’t come with a lot of baggage, so it’s highly extensible.  Developers can add functionality to Dokku to meet the needs of their organization, without breaking preexisting code. Dokku also supports Git, so once developers are done coding they can push changes from the command line to the cloud. 

Businesses without skilled developers may want to look elsewhere. The downside of such a highly extensible solution is that it may not meet your organization’s needs out of the box.  If you have a niche use case, or are using less popular server software or databases, you’ll have to put in some work to make Dokku work for you. 

Dokku is ideal for deployments where performance and customizability are chief concerns. It also works well with popular server software like Microsoft Azure, or popular databases like MongoDB and MySQL

Best Hosting Options

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While many businesses use open source PaaS to self-host or host through an inexpensive cloud provider, Red Hat OpenShift provides hosting and support options.  OpenShift is a great choice for organizations that want the customizability of open-source software, but not the hassle of hosting. 

OpenShift is  great for businesses with limited development resources. Red Hat not only handles hosting, but includes in depth support options.  Red Hat employees are experienced developers and some of the most common contributors to Kubernetes.  Businesses can count on Red Hat to help them get their implementation of OpenShift right. OpenShift also supports a variety of programming languages including Python, Ruby, and Java.  These languages are extremely popular, so businesses with existing development teams may already have an expert. 

The main drawback of OpenShift is that support and hosting through Red Hat is more expensive than managing hosting on your own.  For businesses that don’t need additional support, it may be better to pick a different PaaS solution, and manage hosting yourself. 

Most Flexible Implementation

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When choosing a PaaS solution, businesses need to pick a tool that works with their cloud infrastructure and has all the integrations for all their existing IT components.  This can mean spending time working on configuration for things like servers and kubernetes.  

CloudFoundry is an open-source tool that supports a wide variety of cloud providers out of the box, from IBM Cloud to AWS. Developers using CloudFoundry can focus on their code instead of getting their PaaS tool working. 

CloudFoundry also provides a wide variety of tutorials and video trainings that make it perfect for businesses that want to self-host but are inexperienced in that area.  Whether you want to host on a private cloud or public cloud, there is content designed to help you get off to a great start. 

The main downside of CloudFoundry is that it is a heavier solution than something like Dokku, due to its additional out-of-the-box features.  If you want a more bare-bones code base for your developers to build on, other options may be preferred. 

Not Sure Which is Right For You?

If you aren’t sure which of these PaaS solutions is the right choice for your business, consider checking out reviews for these and other PaaS solutions on TrustRadius. 

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