PaaS and Cloud Management Tools

The Platform for the Agile Enterprise

There are a wide variety of tools on the market designed to make deploying your apps to the cloud easier. While they may sound similar, there are some differences between a PaaS and these other tools:

Systems Configuration Tools

While many IT organizations use software like Chef, Puppet, Ansible or Salt to configure their virtual machines, some also use it for configuring their deployment environments. Using system management tools for application deployment is taking the "build the world" approach and requires operations engineers to have scripts written or create scripts in order to deploy each application. This is in contrast to a PaaS that completely automates application deployment and makes it possible for developers to deploy directly without any scripting or IT intervention.

Cloud Management Tools

Cloud management tools, which can work in conjunction with some of the above systems configuration/management tools, let you create a VM according to the API and then load your components, workloads and packages into that machine. While these cloud management tools can assist with deploying your applications, their dynamic nature imposes some complexity and performance issues.

Since there are a few steps required to deploy an application--you have to bring up the VM, load the components, get it up and running, and then join it into the application topology--it may take you anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes to get a new VM into the new environment -- which can be problematic when one considers that many deployment environments consist of 10 to 20 virtual machines spread across three or more tiers. Even though the application operates in a highly dynamic environment, this approach can impose virtual machine deployment delays, making it difficult to respond quickly to dynamically changing application workloads. 

How is Stackato different?

One of the main differences between Stackato and systems configuration/management tools is where the tools focus within the operational environment. Stackato focusses on the application layer, while these other types of tools primarily focus on the infrastructure. Instead of running customized scripts to spin up a VM or dynamically building machines to configure the application environment, Stackato just focuses on deploying your application to your existing infrastructure.

With systems and cloud management tools, IT must take on responsibility for deploying the entire operational stack -- from virtual machine up through system components, middleware, and application code. However, Stackato's approach is to empower developers so they can deploy their applications on their own without needing assistance from IT. Stackato gives developers all of the runtimes, frameworks and languages developers need to correctly configure their application environment. Now developers can automatically provision the environment themselves instead of requiring IT to create and run scripts. By giving developers these application deployment capabilities, it eliminates the need to wait for IT and removes one of the key roadblocks in the application lifecycle. Both developers and IT operations save significant time in the process and can reduce deployment time from weeks down to minutes.

PaaS and Cloud Management Tools

The diagram above shows how the burden of provisioning moves from being a manual process, relying heavily on IT to a more automated process that empowers developers to provision on their own.

While systems and cloud management tools provide assistance in deploying applications, once the application has been deployed, they do not provide tools for the ongoing management and monitoring of the application. Stackato provides this functionality for managing applications, such as dashboards that allow IT to obtain a visual indication of what is happening with applications, placement and availability zones so IT can manage where applications will reside, consolidation of logs from all instances into streams for easier monitoring, and autoscaling functionality so the number of instances will scale up (or down) automatically to meet the demand of users. 

While companies have a number of options to deploy and manage applications, it’s critical to leverage tools that provide the most flexibility and enable the most rapid application deployment timeframes.

System management and cloud management tools provide great flexibility, but impose significant operational complexity; in addition, the process of deploying virtual machines and installing and configuring the application software stack can prevent rapid response to changing application loads.

Stackato provides pre-configured operational environments, simplifying application deployment and configuration processes. In fact, Stackato can even run as a single VM on a developer's computer so they can easily pre-test applications in a PaaS environment locally, prior to deployment to the production system. With Stackato you get an integrated monitoring and management framework, that makes it easy to ensure application robustness and response to changing operational conditions like application load.

With Stackato you can start releasing software more frequently, accelerate your appliation development process and stay ahead of the competition. Get the Stackato micro cloud to try it for yourself, request a customized demonstration for more information or start your POC.