I create mousemade pixel perfection stuffs for the interwebs.

Published: 4 years ago

A mere mortal’s search for a clean cloud host

Update: Pagodabox now supports PHP 5.4. Now this is my “Go to” host for PHP applications.

I want to create a web application. I have two primary choices with respect to to the frameworks I can use. Laravel (PHP 5.4) or Ruby on Rails (Ruby 1.9.3). And the database will be MySQL.


Because I want to “Code Happy”. That is the thing I care the most. Not performance (doesn’t matter to majority websites – most websites don’t serve 1000 simultaneous requests. When they grow, I will rebuild it. Till then – YAGNI).

I also like to maintain Git repo and push it to hosting provider.

Problem is, popular shared hosts don’t support PHP 5.4 or Ruby on Rails. So I have to look at PaaS.

Now, being a CHEAPO, I have a budget of $5/month for hosting. Only two providers – Appfog & Pagodabox fit into this budget.

But both do not support PHP 5.4. And Pagodabox is PHP only. So I am left with Appfog + Ruby on Rails.

While their website looks good, their tools don’t work as fluently. Often there are network errors while deploying (problem isn’t on my end), and too many unknowns.

Next option is Amazon elastic beanstalk. It’s more or less IaaS, not PaaS. First year you get 1 ec2 micro instance free (613 mb ram – Yay!), and essential database + storage. This should be enough for one to run a small but dynamic website for a full year. And within an year, my application will earn enough to host on better options.

However, these micro instances often fail, saying “xxxxxxx instance didn’t respond to commands”. That is because when server load is high, these are *suppressed*. To get it working, you need to shell out ~44 USD every month, on a “small instance”. Way above $5 budget 🙁

Redhat OpenShift to the rescue:

Now there is something called OpenShift by Redhat. It provides 3 gears (which don’t fail like Amazon), and good enough to serve ~50k visitors/month for free.

However, it happens that I also need SSL support, because occasionally someone may buy something on my web app. Shared SSL comes free, but obviously I can’t use them. Branding issues. Next slab is $42, which provides SNI SSL support, but that doesn’t work on many clients. And there is no 3rd party SSL support. Fail.

I am still searching for “the best” solution. But it looks like “Code happy (Git & Modern framework)” + Cheap cloud hosting + SSL = 404 not found.

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