Can Private PaaS Save the Internet?
by Ingy döt Net

Ingy döt Net, March 29, 2012

Decentralized Shiny Candy!

I've been using the Internet since the pre-browser times... circa the Gopher protocol. Admittedly, not the earliest of adopters, but still before at least one of my current coworkers was born. I've been active in writing and promoting Open Source since 2000. In that year I went North to help a little Canadian dot-com company who embraced everything Open. I left after less than a year, but ActiveState survived the bust, stabilized into a solid company supporting Open in the Enterprise, and more recently has raised its voice in the Cloud Computing arena.

Dark, Cloudy Skies

I've been watching the Cloud movement for a few years, and to be honest I'm not liking it overall. The Internet was designed to be a decentralized network of peers, where a little glitch (like say a nuclear war on continent X) could be routed around in a few microseconds. It held the promise of connecting every human to all shared knowledge. In those Gopher days (and for years after) monetization was not even on the table. If you have any hopes of the Internet remaining Free, watch this inspiring speech by Eben Moglen.

Cloud computing smacks of power grab. Offer the shiny candy of deployment-in-seconds, and build the biggest centralized user base that you can. Now you have a wealth of information and wallets to tap into. Not only that, so does anyone who attacks your systems. Oops. Not possible on your system? BS. Any server cluster on the Internet can be cracked, and bigger clusters make bigger targets. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. Even more disturbing, thanks to the Patriot Act, any server under American jurisdiction can be accessed (by subpoena) through the front door. We live in scary times.

PaaS it On

Last Summer I ran into an old ActiveState coworker from my past. He gave a short talk on what ActiveState was doing in the Cloud. I tuned out. I was annoyed. ActiveState always did the right things. Why the Cloud nonsense? I found him later in the hallway and tried to poke fun at him for ActiveState jumping on the Cloud bandwagon. When he showed me that they were doing Private PaaS, I saw the light. Decentralized Shiny Candy! I was on-board. I got myself hired back by the end of the day.

Oxymorons (minus the Oxy)

Since returning to ActiveState I have worked hard to help get a solid Enterprise-ready Private PaaS solution out the door. It's called Stackato, and it went 1.0 last month. Yes, you can deploy apps in all the popular languages and frameworks in seconds. The difference is that it can live anywhere you see fit: your laptop, your data center, EC2... It's up to you.

What if you could have all of, say, Heroku running behind your own firewalls and under the control of your own IT dept? That's Stackato. Your company's developers all have the same instant gratification of deployment, but your CTO has the peace of mind that nothing has left the building. This is the future, and I actually want to live in it!

In recent months there has been vocal opposition (albeit without much substance) to Private PaaS. "If it's private then it's not up in the Cloud". Given that "Cloud" seems to mean about anything people want it to, this could be a valid argument, or it could be total BS. Let's try both:

  • If Cloud means that the Internet needs to be hosted in very large, centralized server locations, then sure, Private PaaS is an Oxymoron.

  • If Cloud means the clean abstraction of modern computing into IaaS and PaaS, then asserting that those abstractions must be conflated is simply Moronic.

Now your IT department can click 2 buttons: which PaaS to use and which IaaS it lives on. IT can happily give their users the convenience they deserve, without throwing away every other concern into the vapor.

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Category: open source, stackato
About the Author: RSS

Ingy is a hacker who started programming in Assembler on punchcards, switched over to Perl and has since become enlightened to the goodness of all the OSDC languages (Perl, Python, Ruby, JavsScript) and the people who hack, support and evangelize them. He is one of the creators of YAML, a major CPAN contributor, the father of Acmeism and is drinking a double Americano as you read this. Ingy is a citizen of the Earth who sometimes relaxes in Seattle but more often is headed to a computer conference near you. He loves to make things DRY.


1 comments for Can Private PaaS Save the Internet?

Here at Hyperspire Research Foundation we are currently working on developing a PaaS based server technology at this very moment that addresses these issues. With the firm belief that in order to combat the tyranny and corruption in the world, it is essential to have an uncensored, free and open means of communication with global reach. Until recently, this was referred to as the Internet. Sadly, with current legislation by certain overbearing governments this is no longer the case. This is where we come in to save the day.

Without saying too much about it for valid fears and reasons, I can say that it is a system built on PaaS which doesn't store any data locally, instead encrypts everything, every web page, and scatters it across the globe to servers waiting to receive and rebroadcast the new information to the other servers in a design resembling spread spectrum technology. The servers communicate with each other in a way similar to Cisco's vlan trunking with spanning tree protocol enabled.

Once this is established, we will then begin working on a new version of the internet, one that is simply outside the control of government because it cannot be stopped once it is launched. Instead of a domain name system, it will have a categorical ranking system that takes you to exactly what you are looking for based on specific criteria. Without a domain name, running on servers all over the world , and the ability to allocate ip addresses dynamically through a PaaS architecture, there will be no way to simply turn off a web site, court order, patriot act or no.

Everyone will be required to have a private and public key along with a passport, photo id or notarized documentation in order to authenticate onto this new version of the internet and anyone reported for spamming, phishing or engaging in illegal activities online or other forms of abuse will have their key suspended or permanently revoked and will be stuck using the "old" internet. The new internet will make things like Google and Facebook obsolete because everyone will have their own custom network and profile which allows them to connect directly with others and share however much or little information as they desire.

Instead of web sites, the new internet will have Web Sites as a Service that publish exactly what they have to offer along with any relevant categorical information that will allow them to be discovered and ranked by internet users world wide. Web sites that have been reported for phishing or similar fraudulent activities will simply be dropped from the system by having a negative ranking and nobody will be able to access them.

Eventually anyone still stuck using the "old" internet will be seen as the miscreants of society, who have been reported and revoked for spamming or engaging in illegal activities. If the current trend of employers using people's facebook and social networking accounts as a means for rejecting potential job candidates is allowed to continue, then it would be difficult for anyone not on this new version of the internet to find a job. This is why we should begin petitioning against such immoral behavior by employers now as this is a practice which we would rather not encourage.

This will be the people's internet, an unstoppable force and voice of the world, it will not be censored or silenced. This is the revolution and we the people shall prevail.