An arguably ailing Engine Yard introduces commercial support for Deis Docker PaaS

Engine Yard looks to Docker support to try to rebound.

You have to feel a certain sympathy for Engine Yard. A few years ago, the company was one of the original platform-as-a-service (PaaS) vendors. Alongside Heroku (later acquired by Salesforce in a high-profile deal), Engine Yard introduced the world to what cloud computing could look like if you offered broad deployment and scaling functionality on top of raw infrastructure.

But the last few years have seen a dual blow to Engine Yard. On the one hand, heavy-hitting open source PaaS offering Cloud Foundry has sucked up the majority of the attention in the PaaS space. Indeed, Cloud Foundry seems to have the lion's share of large enterprise vendors on its side; HP and IBM, in particular, have strong Cloud Foundry-based offerings. Add to that the rise and rise of Docker, an initiative which threatens to reduce the necessity for a full-blown PaaS, and you have something of a conundrum for Engine Yard - how can it maintain relevancy in this rapidly changing world?

Which is why earlier this year Engine Yard announced that it was acquiring OpDemand. OpDemand is the company that developed Deis, itself an application platform that is specifically built for Docker. With the acquisition, Engine Yard aimed to offer full-stack support for not only traditional application architectures but also Docker-based ones.

Deis builds upon not only Docker but also CoreOS and provides a PaaS that runs on public clouds, private clouds, or bare metal. Deis is designed to run microservices, service-oriented architectures, and other applications. Deis curates applications as Docker images and then manages the orchestration of containers across a cluster of CoreOS machines.

Engine Yard is today announcing commercial support for its Deis Docker PaaS. The new site features Deis PRO, a streamlined Web-based interface for provisioning and managing Deis clusters on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The company notes the importance of Docker.

"Docker has changed the way we build, ship and run applications. Yet some companies still struggle to orchestrate Docker in a way that's suitable for production workloads," said Gabriel Monroy, CTO of Engine Yard. "Deis has helped a number of companies put Docker into production, as evidenced by the large community of users and contributors. With Deis PRO, it's now easier than ever to spin up a Deis cluster that can manage Docker across a distributed system."

In terms of what it does, Deis runs on any environment – public cloud, private cloud or bare metal – developers can use Deis PRO to provision a Deis cluster on AWS using Engine Yard's automated provisioning system. Developers can deploy applications with "git push" or directly from Docker images, and scale, manage, and push updates to applications without downtime. Deis PRO uses the same open source version of Deis but adds faster cluster provisioning, AWS best practice configuration, and a simple way to scale-out cluster capacity.

And Deis is certainly a thing. There are just under a million copies of Deis downloaded to date, with a rate of 1,000 new downloads per day. Of course, downloads of an open source product and commercial revenue from those downloads are two different things, and this is the nut that Engine Yard is trying to crack with this announcement.

The question here is whether Deis is really offering something significantly different from the other existing Docker management and automation platforms or the PaaS offerings that have already announced support for Docker. It's hard to really say that it does, and Engine Yard obviously has a hard road to hoe in terms of rebuilding industry credibility.

Deis is a great little tool, but the question for Engine Yard isn't so much about the quality of the Deis offering and more about the commercialization opportunity that is in front of them. The jury is very much out on that count.

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