A quick introductory tour of OpenShift

I’d had  a play with the pre-beta of what is now know as OpenShift  when it was called Makara cloud but it was very much a  pre-beta .  With my Significant other needing to look at  OpenShift & the need to use ec2 for the flavour of OpenShift  he wanted to look at  another visit was in order. So the first of my visits was just to see how the getting started experience has evolved from those early pre-beta days

OpenShift comes in a number of flavours Express,Flex and power. In this post we are  looking  at Flex .

Express  The free shared model  for PHP, Ruby and python apps

Flex For Java EE and PHP apps that make use of middle ware components like Jboss & tomcat

Power – Basically you write  custom apps for the underlying instance in say C

The faq provides info on the differences . The only one you need an AWS account for is flex.

After signing up you get a confirmation email and off you go. Using Flex requires that you provide the portal with your cloud details


This is tied into using  Amazon ec2 instances. I’m assuming that more cloud providers will be available at some point. ec2 suits me fine though so onwards with the tour.

After entering your credentials  you get informative messages telling you what’s happening  as it connects your cloud account with flex.



You then need to define your server cluster


But at last a cloud solution that on release is available  in the eu-west region now . Nice not to be a second class citizen for a change just because I’m based in Europe

While it creates the cluster RedHat have taken he opportunity to sneak in a survey

stopmegetting bored

Well why not I guess stops me getting bored anyway.

For this post I was trying to get handle on the initial sign up experience my Significant other will be using JBoss on it so hopefully I can entice some feedback about what it’s like to use it  in anger in another post.

Anyway the next step is to either deploy your own application or try one of the  demo applications. I opted to try the demo  spring & hibernate autoInsurance application autotrack. I clicked the submit button and off it went.

Behind the scenes  it created a large  EBS backed  instance and loadbalancer against my   our AWS account. It wasn’t obvious where I could change the instance size .

Once the app is deployed you get access to the application dashboard . Now this is neat and I cannot do it justice in this brief intro but her are a few screenshots so you can see the sort of info you can get from the dashboard


I’m very interested in Deployment processes so the Deploy changes tab is pretty cool to me anyway.


The performance tab provides transactional as well as instance metrics in an easily personalised dashboard.


The logs tab provides a view of the application server logs.

The initial verdict:

If you use OpenShift flex you do  still need to understand the underlying IaaS platform it will be deployed to. This isn’t an Azure type PaaS  mode but a bring your own PaaS container and you need somewhere to deploy the PaaS container to . I would like to see more flexibility around the cluster( underlying IaaS ) set up . How easy is it to move from IaaS to IaaS ? I don’t know difficult to assess with only AWS ec2  being an option. if it isn’t that easy then why not make use of some of the services that made you select a particular cloud vendor in the first place? RDS as an option would be nice.

The console is nice and friendly though and it was a painless experience to sign up and get my first OpenShift demo application up and running.  Express is the free shared model where RedHat have abstracted the IaaS but its target market Ruby, python, php   have a lot of choice already what with Heroku, CloudFoundry and numerous other players who offer to run apps like Drupal . I think that if you are developing Java EE applications and really do not want to worry about the underlying IaaS then this and CloudFoundry may well be your first port of call.

I’ll revisit for a deeper dive soon though as I have number of unanswered questions I need to explore and My Significant Other has yet to start exploring this which should provide a good test .



  1. James Saull · May 11, 2011

    Goodness know what dinner time conversation is like in your house 🙂

  2. Ludovic Havet · June 16, 2011

    Do you know if elastic load balancing from AWS is integrated with openshift flex?

    • Grace Mollison · June 16, 2011

      Yes it is my other post on openshift had a peek behind the scenes and an Elastic Load Balancer is created

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