23 Jul 2015
I was one of the original developers on Orchestra, the PHP PaaS that Engine Yard acquired in 2011. Many of our customers were using PaaS for the first time, having come from very traditional hosting backgrounds. They were used to uploading things to FTP servers and editing config files remotely — a practice that is still widespread, despite the popularity of Git and sites like The Twelve-Factor App. It is made all the more prevalent by the fact that many off-the-shelf PHP apps are quite old, and still assume this sort of deployment scenario.
Now, this isn’t to be scoffed at. Traditional system administration is based around the notion of physical machines. To add a new machine to a cluster, you might have to purchase it up front, configure it in your offices, and then drive it to your colocation data centre to install it. That could easily take a few weeks. And if that machine later develops a problem, you do your best to fix the issue via SSH. And if that’s not possible, you might have to drive back out to your colocation data centre to fix it or replace it.