The Rain and The Shade

September 2, 2011

AppHarbor: Azure done Right(Simple)

Filed under: Cloud Computing — ovaisakhter @ 4:42 pm

Recently my boss heard something about a new cloud solution for Microsoft .Net applications. His description was “these guys I know have shifted from Azure to this new platform AppHarbor, they say it is much better and cheaper also, I think we should look into it”.

So I looked for the name and found the website www.appHarbor.com and the first thing that caught my attention was the slogan “Azure done right”, a pretty hefty claim I must say.

Development & Deployment

When you start looking into the platform the first thing you will observe is that the platform is very developer centric (which kind of makes sense). Startup time or learning curve to host your first application can be from little to almost none. Small if you have not used git(www.github.com), and none if you have used it.

So the idea is that you create an application on appharbor website, create a solution in visual studio, map these two things with git commands, push your code using Git , appharbor compiles it and executes the unit tests and deploys it. You can read more on

http://support.appharbor.com/kb/getting-started/deploying-your-first-application

and yes there is not additional requirements like you have in Azure. No special Apis, no special project types.

Scalability

By default you have one instance of an application and you can simply scale by providing the number of instances you want to run. The traffic will be routed between these instances by a load balancer.

Storage

appharbor provides an option to have SQL server or MySql database, database is free till 20 MB.  You can use the file storage on the servers but this storage is considered temporary and can be reset at anytime so do not get comfy Smile. appharbor recommends to you use some service like Amazon S3 for durable file storage.

Add-Ons

AppHarbor integrates with some service providers to provide you with an option to get additional services in your application, these services are called Add-Ons. These services mainly include NoSQL databases and caching solutions. You can get details from the following link

https://appharbor.com/addon

Mind you that these applications are not hosted at AppHarbor (That’s what I assume at least) which means they are not inside the same network, so Add-Ons like caching solutions seems to loose purpose for me.

Pricing 

AppHarbor provides extremely simple pricing model and enough free offers to help you to play to your hearts desire. You can have multiple applications  and pay nothing if you are using only one instance per application. You start paying 0.05 USD per hour for every additional instance of an application. Database is free till 20MB and you pay 10 USD for 10 GB SQL Server, and everything else is included in the price. More information at

https://appharbor.com/page/pricing 

Conclusion

I think that appharbor is a great offering for the very basic reason that it is good to have a choice. I believe this offering will be more exciting for startups, individuals and small organizations. I can almost say that this is a poor man’s (or a developers Smile) cloud.

As a software developer the working experience with appharbor is much better than Azure and in this sense they really are right in saying that “Azure made right” Smile

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