BitNami CEO, Erica Brescia was kind enough to allow an interview with Colo & Cloud and answer some questions about their great PaaS open-source cloud software.
How did BitNami come about?
Back in 2005, we started building native ‘stack installers’ for the leading open source companies, such as SugarCRM, Alfresco, MySQL, JasperSoft and many others. As with the BitNami Stacks, these installers contain everything a user needs to run the primary application and completely automate the installation and configuration process. We actually still build and maintain installation packages for the companies I mentioned previously and many others. After developing deep expertise in packaging web applications and building a system that automated the build and test processes across a wide range of operating systems and deployment platforms (native, virtual and cloud), we decided to launch BitNami to offer more applications, as well as value-added services, such as BitNami Cloud Hosting, directly to end users.
BitNami Cloud Hosting provides an automation layer on top of the Amazon cloud that simplifies the process of deploying and managing the BitNami library of applications in the cloud. Rather than launching servers from fixed templates, BitNami Cloud Hosting allows users to select one or more applications from our library and then select from a number of Linux distributions, set the server size, disk space, geographic location and provide other configuration data that will be fed to the applications at launch time. Once an application is launched, users can easily schedule automatic backups and even have the servers automatically turn on and off at certain times. They can also re-size servers in one click, get built-in monitoring data, move servers between AWS and availability zones, change the IP address and more from a simple user interface. You can think of it as a user-friendly, application-centric complement to the AWS management console that
allows a wider audience to use the Amazon Cloud for general hosting.
What makes BitNami so appealing?
The ease of use and flexibility. We strive to provide the most automated, painless deployment process possible, to enable users of any technical skill level to get access to many of the best open source applications available. With a BitNami installer, VM or cloud template, users can have applications for everything from CRM to document management to bug tracking to continuous integration servers up and running in a matter of minutes, without having to know how to install or configure Apache, MySQL or any of the other dependencies an application may have. Our BitNami Cloud Hosting service takes this a step further by not only providing a simple user interface for launching and configuring servers, but by also offering automatic backups, monitoring and the other services I previously mentioned that
simplify the task of running servers in the cloud.
In addition to the ease of use, BitNami offers users a variety of deployment options and makes it easier to move between native, virtual and cloud environments. A user can start using a BitNami stack on their local machine and then have a very straightforward path to moving to a virtual or cloud platform for testing and deployment, as BitNami Stacks are built in a standardized way for every environment.
What differentiates BitNami from other PaaS providers?
Our expertise and focus is really at the application layer, whereas most PaaS services are focused a step below that We developed BitNami Cloud Hosting to help developers and business users that want to either run out-of-the-box applications (CRMs, wikis, etc.) or build their own apps on top of existing frameworks, including CMS tools like Drupal and Joomla!, rather than develop their own applications from scratch. Our users want to be able to have their applications up and running in a few minutes with minimal hassle. Many also appreciate that they have full access to and control over their servers, so they can upgrade their platforms in time with their own requirements.
While the majority of BitNami Cloud Hosting users are either businesses that are running applications in production or developers/solutions providers hosting customized versions of BitNami applications for clients, we also have a significant percentage of users who are using our development environments for Rails, Python, PHP and Java to develop their own applications. As I mentioned previously, these users are looking to have more control over their environment than most PaaS platforms provide.
What features do you have planned to add?
We have quite a few great features in the works! One of them that will be available soon is the ability to import servers launched outside of BitNami Cloud Hosting. We also plan on building out our monitoring to offer notifications and are expanding the library to offer additional applications, including commercial apps. Over time, we will also be adding support for other cloud platforms.
Where do you see BitNami in the next few years?
Our goal with BitNami has always been to provide the easiest way to deploy applications in any environment. Our focus will be on increasing our reach by expanding both our application library and the platforms we support. We recently announced support for HP Cloud Services and Azure and we have multiple others in the works.