Deis and Flynn, open source PaaS platform contenders

For those of you who have followed some of my earlier posts, deployment of online applications is something that interests me.  And doing this in a cost effective, lightweight and efficient manner is also something that seems like a good approach to take.  I suppose the ideal situation that I would be after would be the ability to host a 100 concurrent user multiplayer Unity game / virtual interactive environment on a small amazon ec2 instance, with the freedom to scale if I so chose to.  Of course, the technology is already at the point where it is feasible to do this.  The key roadblocks for me are knowledge based, and also affordability / practicality of implementation.

Time, of course, should see improvements in the latter, but in regards to the knowledge barriers I’m currently facing, there are several areas I still need to make progress on that, due to my other commitments, are on my ‘todo hiatus list’.  One is using an appropriate subversion or git setup for source control of my Unity game data.  Another is completely refactoring and sorting through my code for the 3D world I’m looking into.  Still another is starting to obtain some familiarity and knowledge in communicating between SFS2X and a MySQL server instance.

And once these are solved, there is the issue of deployment.  There are two choices here – a personal server, or a cloud server.  For the sake of elegance, cloud deployment seems like a good approach in this respect, and I know that it is in principle possible to host a Unity-SFS2X-MySQL stack on a rightscale template interacting with Amazon EC2.

But what if one wanted to run additional software on a rightscale machine?  Or circumvent rightscale entirely?  In other words, what if one wanted to run a private PaaS server, to run not only heavy duty apps such as my ongoing explorations with Unity, but very lightweight applications such as a personal website, personal blog, or low intensity data driven applications (such as data miners / web strippers to collate and organise information, eg train timetables, weather data, social network feeds, rss data, etc.) of an experimental nature?  In fact, the great advantage of a PaaS server is the control one has over being able to deploy many apps in different containers on the same virtual server, so that they don’t interfere with one another – and, of course, make more efficient use of the virtual resources!

Basically, anything that lets me have my own “personal app lab” on the net in an elegant and compact manner is something that interests me.

It turns out that there has been a bit more activity in the area since I last wrote on the subject in June.  In particular, the creator of Dokku and webhooks has teamed up with an architect of the Tent protocol to start working on “Super Dokku”, otherwise known by its project name Flynn which builds upon Docker.  Flynn is currently, however, still in development mode, and, as of the time I write this post, it appears the key developers are currently looking for donations / sponsors to support their open source project.

Another project that is quite a recent newcomer to the scene, in terms of complete functional PaaS solutions is Deis.  Deis is built upon Heroku, Docker and Chef.  The project seems to be quite well documented, and even though I’d admittedly be loath to install so many packages and potentially mess up my PC configuration, it seems that there is a clear way to get started deploying to a personal Amazon EC2 instance.  I’m not sure how one would go through RightScale, ie deploy such to RightScale, however – I did try working with Dokku a couple of months back on such and did not have much success.

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