After an extended beta, Red Hat's OpenShift PaaS is ready for general consumption, pitting the Linux company's platform cloud against similar products from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others. OpenShift was launched two years ago, and only now is it being commercialized: the OpenShift Online Silver Plan starts from $20 per …
>great opportunity for PaaS companies to lock-in developers.
That's why you use only Open Source in your PaaS development. Then you can go to whichever one you want with your code. Sure the interface for deployments etc might be a little different, but your app will run the same.
A Rails app on OpenShift is the same as a Rails app on Heroku is the same as a Rails app on Rackspace is the same as a Rails app on Stackao.
What you don't want to do is go down any vendor specific languages, or databases etc route..then your actually locked in. That is what you get with Microsoft Azure, or Amazon, or Google. You are not locked in if you go with Redhat, Heroku, Rackspace, Stackato etc..
"a tradeoff, which is that PaaS's are more proprietary than IaaS's and represent a greater commitment to any one company's solution, and therefore pose a great opportunity for PaaS companies to lock-in developers."
I would agree that some PaaS solutions represent lock-in - but I would say that it typically is those which tie deeply into the IaaS. Specific examples are AWS (with Beanstalk, etc as the scaling element of a PaaS) and Google App Engine. In both cases the vendors want you to use more and more of their cloud APIs and that makes it very hard to make your applications portable.
An Open PaaS like Cloud Foundry (which you strangely don't mention in this article) is aimed exactly at stopping you from being locked in either from an app perspective, or from the IaaS or OS - and that's unlike Red Hat, Azure, etc. Cloud Foundry can be run across different infrastructures (vSphere, AWS and OpenStack currently - more to come) and requires no code modifications to the majority of well-written cloud aware apps. You're also not limited to running with a specific OS underneath your app.
Avoiding lock in
It is inevitable that coding to any API commits you to some degree of work to use a different API. The key is to value APIs that are open, and to recognzie that otherwise you are actually committing to a single infrastructure vendor.
Writing to OpenShift allows your app to run on a private cloud, on AWS, on RedHat's cloud, and any respectable future infrastructure cloud. Try that with Elastic Beanstalk. For Azure, Microsoft occasionally has promised this, but you can bet they will charge you whatever they can get away with for it.
(Note: I work for Red Hat, but not on Openshift). The story seems to be missing the information that Openshift has a free tier - three small gears with no official support. The $20 tier adds support and more storage (6GB vs 1GB on free), and a few other things. See https://www.openshift.com/products/pricing .
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