Best Free and Open-Source PaaS Tools for Developers

Cloud platform as a service (PaaS) solutions are great resources for software engineers that provide things like development environments, prebuilt backend infrastructure and deployment capabilities.

They typically offer a reasonable pay-per-use pricing model. But smaller applications and companies using their own infrastructure might not want hosted offerings.

Open-source PaaS tools are common for small-business users but can be applied across company size if you have the proper infrastructure. With open-source PaaS tools, you have all the same development, deployment and management capabilities as proprietary tools, but at a fraction of the price.

Users should consider support and licensing fees when investing in PaaS, but we’d like to point out open-source options for those considering adopting a new PaaS solution. These are the best open-source cloud PaaS solutions based on G2 Crowd’s validated user reviews as of Nov. 1, 2017, ranked by average user satisfaction.


OpenShift Free Paas Tools

Product Name: OpenShift
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars

OpenShift is a PaaS solution developed by the Red Hat community. It was originally launched in 2011 and has quickly become one of the most widely used PaaS solutions on the market.

The self-service solution supports multiple languages, database types, middleware components and container types. The solution also has features to instantly deploy code, develop locally and automate builds.

“I use OpenShift to host pretty much all of my personal sites and blogs,” one OpenShift review on G2 Crowd reads. “It’s a fantastically simple solution with a great command line tool that handles deploys and gear management just like Heroku, AppFog and Elastic Beanstalk. In fact, I switched to the service from one of its competitors and the similarity with how you manage deployments and configuration made it absolutely painless.”

OpenShift averages 4.2 out of 5 stars from 27 user reviews. It was named a Leader in G2 Crowd’s Summer 2017 Cloud PaaS Grid® Report. Users say some of the most beneficial components of OpenShift are source control with Git, application scaling and its command line tool.

“OpenShift is incredibly easy to use,” wrote a user in their OpenShift review. “There are many open source projects backing the instant deploy applications with the most common web frameworks, like Django, Ruby, etc. I like how simple it is to create custom applications from their ‘Do It Yourself’ bare bones application.”


Dokku Free PaaS Tools

Product Name: Dokku
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars

Dokku advertises itself as “The smallest PaaS implementation you’ve ever seen,” but that doesn’t mean it offers few features. The product was launched in 2013 as an open-source project by Docker.

This streamlined version of a PaaS runs on a single designated server. It has deployment features for managing logs and configurations, and making remote commands. Other features include Docker container buildpacks, configuration management tools and network management packages.

“Dokku’s slogan is «Docker powered mini-Heroku»,” reads one Dokku review. “It is true: to everybody who knows Heroku, Dokku will be an easy transition. There’s one difference though: Dokku runs on your own server. This is possible because of Docker, a lightweight container system. One container, one app; it’s that easy.”

The product averages 4.2 out of 5 stars from 55 user reviews. It was named a High Performer in G2 Crowd’s Summer 2017 Cloud PaaS Grid® Report. Users say some of the most beneficial components of Dokku are buildpacks, deployment simplicity and Git hooks.

“I love Dokku’s simplicity,” one Dokku review says. “Dokku allows you to get a simple server up and running in no time, do some configuration and start testing your code! Just the speed and simplicity of Dokku means everything to me.”

READ MORE: What Are Containers?
Deis Free PaaS Tools

Product Name: Deis
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars

Deis is very similar to Dokku in its lightweight nature and the fact it was launched by Kubernetes, another container management platform. This year though, Deis was purchased by Microsoft.

The streamlined PaaS offering has three main components: Workflow, Helm and Steward. Workflow is a DevOps tool for managing deployments. Helm is a package manager for Kubernetes. And Steward is a Kubernetes-native service broker.

“Deis allows your ops team to focus on infrastructure and your developers to focus on their apps,” reads one Deis review. “It’s the satisfying developer experience of Heroku without the pain and cost of Heroku.”

The product averages 4.1 out of 5 stars from 14 user reviews. Only one reviewer graded the product lower than 4 out of 5 stars. Users say some of the most beneficial components of Deis are its deployment simplicity, responsive admin UI and Git hooks.

“It uses the great environment provided by CoreOS and is pretty much the best “light” PaaS solution when you’re running a bunch of servers handling user traffic,” reads another Deis review. “The monitoring is quite nice too and support for Heroku buildpacks provides a solid base for any project, so that you can set the whole thing up in just a few hours.”


Cloud Foundry Free PaaS Tools

Product Name: Cloud Foundry
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars

OpenShift is a PaaS solution developed by the Red Hat community. It was originally launched in 2011 and has quickly become one of the most widely used PaaS solutions on the market.

The self-service solution supports multiple languages, database types, middleware components and container types. The solution also has features to instantly deploy code, develop locally and automate builds.

“I use OpenShift to host pretty much all of my personal sites and blogs,” one OpenShift review on G2 Crowd reads. “It’s a fantastically simple solution with a great command line tool that handles deploys and gear management just like Heroku, AppFog and Elastic Beanstalk. In fact, I switched to the service from one of its competitors and the similarity with how you manage deployments and configuration made it absolutely painless.”

OpenShift averages 4.2 out of 5 stars from 27 user reviews. It was named a Leader in G2 Crowd’s Summer 2017 Cloud PaaS Grid® Report. Users say some of the most beneficial components of OpenShift are source control with Git, application scaling and its command line tool.

“OpenShift is incredibly easy to use,” wrote a user in their OpenShift review. “There are many open source projects backing the instant deploy applications with the most common web frameworks, like Django, Ruby, etc. I like how simple it is to create custom applications from their ‘Do It Yourself’ bare bones application.”


OpenShift Free Paas Tools

Product Name: Flynn
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Flynn is a cloud PaaS and container management solution that’s been around since 2013. The self-hosted tool has built in Postgres, MySQL, and MongoDB databases.

It comes with a web dashboard and tools to monitor logs and automate deployments and scaling. It also offers services to manage clouds and clusters for you if your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to do it themselves.

“Flynn can replace a team of dev-ops at a fraction of the price,” reads a Flynn review. “More importantly, they help avoid the ‘bus problem’ of a person piecing things together unconventionally and then leaving the company.”

The product only has five reviews, so it’s not yet on the PaaS Grid®, but it averages 3.6 out of 5 stars. We don’t have much feature data on Flynn yet, but users have said it’s easy to use and install, and has nice dashboards.

“Essentially, Flynn is a self-hosted Heroku,” reads another Flynn review. “It comes with the same sort of benefits as Heroku, including ‘git push’ to deploy and a quick CLI tool to manage things such as domains and databases in your cluster. The promise of having a single command deploy your application and another to scale it is fantastic.”


Recap of the 5 Best Free PaaS Tools:

  1. OpenShift
  2. Dokku
  3. Deis
  4. Cloud Foundry
  5. Flynn

Proprietary tools will often include support plans, additional plugins, and third-party hosting capabilities. In terms of free and open source tools, each has it’s own pros and cons. Flynn and Dokku may be better for working with containers, while OpenShift and Cloudfoundry may be better for traditional applications. While you’ll have to pay more for hosting and support, experienced developers can use these tools to significantly cut costs.

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