Platform-as-a-service providers, such as Salesforce.com, Amazon.com and Google, offer developers a means of coding their applications and allowing a provider in the cloud to not only handle the details of hosting and scaling these works, but make them available for sale as well.
Etelos is a PAAS provider with a familiar twist. Where other frameworks require developers to code parts of their applications to work with the cloud service in question, Etelos’ development environments enable software makers to bring their standard LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP/Python/Perl)-type applications to the cloud with little or no modification required.
What sets Etelos apart from a traditional LAMP hosting service, such as DreamHost, are the services that the firm wraps around LAMP for selling, managing licensing and accounting for scalability of Web applications. In addition, Etelos has some interesting services in the works (which I did not test) for sharing data between separate applications and for enabling applications to run offline.
Based on the time I spent with Etelos’ platform, I can suggest that companies or departments seeking no-hassle, flexible hosting of common open-source or built-in-house Web applications take a closer look at what Etelos has to offer.
Taking Etelos for a spin
As a means of demonstrating its platform, Etelos sells on-demand versions of a few popular open-source Web applications, including MediaWiki, WordPress and Sugar CRM community edition. I opted to take Etelos’ MediaWiki offering for a spin to get a feel for the platform and perhaps move a MediaWiki instance I currently host in our lab out into the cloud.
Etelos’ MediaWiki to Go, which is priced at $4.95 per month and includes 5GB of storage (additional storage costs 34 cents per gigabyte per month), was as easy to set up as its “on-demand” label would suggest. I created a user account at Etelos’ Web site and selected the MediaWiki service from the firm’s applications marketplace, and within a couple of minutes I received a welcome message in my e-mail with my new wiki site’s address and log-on information.
Using MediaWiki to Go
Among those details was a pointer to my own Etelos Development Environment, a Web-based console for accessing and editing the files and folders that comprised my MediaWiki installation, for administering my database instance and for accessing other Etelos functionality.
My on-demand MediaWiki installation came with a PostgreSQL database, which I could administer with the popular Web-based phpPgAdmin tool. The folder that housed my project code was deployed by default in a Subversion repository, which kept track of my files’ versions whether I edited them using the Web interface, the provided WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) interface or a standard Subversion client on my local computer.
Due to a bug, Ubuntu Linux annoyingly lacks support for SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) WebDAV folders right now, so I opted for a local Subversion client to manage my code. I checked out the remote files to my notebook computer using a Subversion client and set about making my modifications locally, before committing them back into my site hosted at Etelos.
I ran into a software snag when I set out to install the Semantic MediaWiki extension on my Etelos-hosted instance, since the latest version of SMW does not support PostgreSQL.
Since MySQL is the primary database for MediaWiki, and most deployments and development are tied to MySQL, MySQL would have been a better choice for the on-demand service.
However, this incompatibility gave me a good reason to try the MySQL flavor of Etelos’ developer kit-currently free to use.
Spawning myself a developer kit account was as easy as ordering up the MediaWiki service had been, and my new developer kit greeted me with all the same access options and Web-based tools that came with the MediaWiki service.
For a flash demo of Etelos’ developer kit, go here.
Part of the Etelos pitch is that LAMP applications install on the platform with little or no code changes, and this was certainly my experience installing MediaWiki. To install the application, I committed the MediaWiki code into my development account with Subversion, visited the Web address of my new account and set about configuring my new instance through the software’s Web setup interface.
I grabbed the database name, user name and password for my MySQL instance from the “info” tab of the EDE, and adjusted the permissions on MediaWiki’s config directory to allow the setup script to do its work.
From here, I was able to install my desired Semantic MediaWiki extension without issues.
eWEEK Labs Executive Editor Jason Brooks can be reached at [email protected]