InfoWorld review: Engine Yard Cloud

Engine Yard offers fine-grained control over all aspects of the environment, at the cost of speed and ease

Although code deployment might not be as easy with Engine Yard as with Heroku, the Engine Yard platform is dramatically more tunable. In fact, in many ways, Engine Yard is closer to an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) than a platform as a service (PaaS). Engine Yard provides a base infrastructure tuned to run Ruby applications, but the rest is up to you. Engine Yard does offer Git integration; however, deployment is not executed via a push, as in Heroku, but rather via Engine Yard's suite of tools and its extensive dashboard, which can sync with a Git repository.

With Engine Yard, you're given fine-grained access to a scalable cloud infrastructure living on top of Amazon's EC2. For instance, you can deploy an application to a target Amazon global availability zone, and you can schedule backups of an application's data store -- neither of which you can achieve with Heroku. You have full access to the underlying hardware via SSH and root access. With this level of control, you have freedom to tweak various aspects of a Ruby application stack that is not available in Heroku's sandboxlike environment.

By default, an Engine Yard application has a larger capacity to scale when compared to Heroku; an application deployed to Engine Yard lives on a managed EC2 image with a larger memory and storage footprint, while a deployment to Heroku is provisioned to a smaller abstract slice of computing capacity within a managed EC2 cluster. Further, with Engine Yard, you have total control over how much memory or disk space your application has available to it -- details that are hidden in Heroku.

Engine Yard: Under the hood
Getting started with Engine Yard is slightly different than with Heroku. With Engine Yard, there is no free model; instead, there is a trial, limited to 500 hours. As with Heroku, there is a default configuration for a trial account. In Engine Yard's case, trial accounts are provisioned a medium compute instance, which maps to Amazon's High-CPU Medium instance. In essence, this means a trial account receives a dual-core, 32-bit virtual machine that has 1.7GB of memory and 350GB of storage. Data storage is colocated in Amazon EBS.

Engine Yard supports a wide variety of compute options and corresponding pricing other than the standard medium instance. Naturally, the higher the resource specifications (that is, memory and storage), the higher the hourly cost. For instance, on the low end, a small instance -- which is 32-bit, with 1.7GB of memory, 160GB of storage (which isn't backed by EBS), and essentially a single CPU core -- will cost 12 cents per hour. On the high end, a 64-bit instance with 68.4GB of memory, 1,690GB of nonpersistent storage, and 26 CPU cores will cost $2.74 per hour. These instances are Unix-based and specifically tuned to run Ruby applications; thus, the price per hour will be slightly more than if you took the same mapping of a raw AWS EC2 instance.

Scaling up in Engine Yard essentially involves provisioning a cluster of compute instances; however, the platform does allow for custom configurations. Thus, once a trial period completes, running an application on a medium compute instance, for example with a colocated database will run you roughly $180 per month. Prices increase once you begin to provision a cluster or leverage a dedicated database.

Test Center Scorecard
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Engine Yard Cloud 6 9 6 8 8



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