Jelastic: Java and PHP as a service

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Price Structuring

Jelastic is available from hosting companies worldwide [6] in North and South America, Russia, Japan, various European countries, and so on, with as many pricing models.

For example, dogado, the provider used here, offers several service levels from standard to premium support, with a 24/7 service-level agreement at a surcharge. Dogado is obviously targeting business customers who are looking for a platform for their applications and need support in line with enterprise standards but who are not necessarily IT geeks.

The dogado tariff system treats each computing service as a cloudlet, which is equivalent to 128MB of RAM, 200MHz of CPU, and many multiples of EUR 14 per month. For example, the manufacturer rates the initial application created on first logging in to the web interface system with Tomcat 7 and MySQL as a two-cloudlet setup. As operations then begin, the math becomes more complex, although the dashboard helps you understand how the costs are accruing.

The promise to bill resources exclusively on the basis of actual usage is, in part, eroded by the fact that Jelastic reserves cloudlets for specific services, for which the customer pays regardless. For example, after enabling load balancing, if you enable all the available functions for just one instance, you are practically booking 11 cloudlets, for which you can expect to pay at least EUR 82. Only the cloudlets incurred for the purpose of automatic vertical scaling are actually billed dynamically by the provider.

To prevent your setup from turning into a cash sink, you can define an upper limit in the dashboard that Jelastic's automatic scaling feature will not exceed. The complete setup described in this article will cost about EUR 340 gross (about US$ 470). However, this includes fixed charges for the IPv4 addresses used in the setup, which are charged a flat rate once the IPs are in use.

The question of whether Jelastic is worthwhile for a company depends on the expected load, but if the Jelastic application is not working continuously at full load, using it for a Java or PHP site could well be worth your while compared with maintaining your own server. This assumes that a standard web hosting service does not offer the functionality you need.

Conclusions

The services that Jelastic hosts could be run on your own server, whether physical or virtualized, but the use options would not be anywhere near as flexible. Additionally, you would have those unpleasant system maintenance tasks to take handle. People who rely on PaaS services typically want a system that "just works," and Jelastic is hugely flexible.

Just as important, Jelastic scales automatically when faced with unexpected peak loads within user-specified limits. Anyone who operates a website or an online store that is featured on TV one day and then overrun by customers the next, would probably fare much better with such automatic scaling than they would with their own dedicated system.

The technical implementation of the solution proved to be almost flawless. Everything worked as expected right off the shelf. The PaaS cloudlet setups for PHP and Java were easy to configure and expanded quickly and simply to include public IPv4 addresses, high availability, or load balancing at the press of a button. The exhaustive documentation round off the overall technical impression.

Less impressive was the pricing policy. Despite the discounts on offer, anyone who uses the smart environment seriously will rapidly reach financial regions in which leasing one or two managed servers could be a cheaper option.

The Author

Martin Gerhard Loschwitz is Principal Consultant at hastexo, where he is intensively involved with high-availability solutions. In his spare time, he maintains the Linux cluster stack for Debian GNU/Linux.

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