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Open source enthusiast specializing on mobile applications and social application development on top of Facebook app development platform. An amateur photographer and father of two sons. Administrator of phpexperts, the largest php user group in Bangladesh having more than 2900 members. Hasin is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 16 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Developing PHP Applications in the Cloud with These Free Cloud Hosting Providers

10.25.2011
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CPU and Disk-space are cheap these days. And the more cheaper they become, cloud companies are coming with more exciting deals for you. Some of them are offered in “Freemium” model, some of them are free forever and some of them are like trial plans which is free for a certain period of time. I will be focusing on some of these free cloud hosting options available out there. One thing to note before you proceed – these free cloud hosting options are very good to develop and test your applications (in dev+staging environment) and it may not be wise to deploy the production version of your application with any free plan (Except Amazon AWS’s free tier, its production ready).

Amazon AWS: Amazon AWS is not only a cloud hosting provider but there are LOT MORE under the hood. They offer you cloud servers, messaging gateway, payment service, CDN and many more. Now there is a sweet promotion going on for all new AWS customers. Just register a new account and you will be getting the followings for free, for ONE YEAR long. No catch!

  • 750 hours of Amazon EC2 Linux Micro Instance usage (613 MB of memory and 32-bit and 64-bit platform support) – enough hours to run continuously each month*
  • 750 hours of an Elastic Load Balancer plus 15 GB data processing*
  • 10 GB of Amazon Elastic Block Storage, plus 1 million I/Os, 1 GB of snapshot storage, 10,000 snapshot Get Requests and 1,000 snapshot Put Requests*
  • 5 GB of Amazon S3 standard storage, 20,000 Get Requests, and 2,000 Put Requests*
  • 15 GB of bandwidth out aggregated across all AWS services*
  • 25 Amazon SimpleDB Machine Hours and 1 GB of Storage**
  • 100,000 Requests of Amazon Simple Queue Service**
  • 100,000 Requests, 100,000 HTTP notifications and 1,000 email notifications for Amazon Simple Notification Service**
  • 10 Amazon Cloudwatch metrics, 10 alarms, and 1,000,000 API requests**

Now in above list ** means that upto this quota, it will always remain free forever, and * means that this service is free for one full year starting from the day of your registration.

Hosting on Amazon’s EC2 platform might be a little tiresome for completely new-comers who has limited knowledge on Linux, SSH and Private/Public key management but this article will help you to start quickly. This is one of the most lucrative among all others I will be mentioning in this article.

By the way, you need a valid credit card to register in Amazon AWS program.

PHPFog: There is a new kid in town, PHPFog. Though they are actually developed on top of Amazon’s AWS platform to help developers manage scaling, deploying etc in a painless and easy, everything under the hood style and they are doing good. PHPFog offers you 100MB of free hosting, 15 GB of bandwidth with unmentioned RAM and CPU for six months. No credit card is required to start. Moreover, they made it fairly easy for you to deploy any Zend-Framework or Drupal or Joomla or WordPress based application in the cloud with their pre-configured containers. This is really a decent package to kickstart developing an application :)

To start with PHPFog, you need to know git because source code deployment is completely managed using git and git hooks. You may also need to understand how to manage multiple SSH keypair in your machine to get started with PHPFog. Check out PHPFog at http://phpfog.com

PHPCloud This is something VERY new and I heard about it in last week, when one of my colleagues forwarded me the link. At this moment it is invitation based but dont panic, getting invitation will take hardly a day or two. PHPCloud is backed by Zend on top of Zend Application Fabric platform. Once you are done testing your application in phpcloud, you can keep it either here or deploy to other cloud providers like Amazon EC2, Rackspace or Rightscale. The configuration of the free tier is not mentioned but as far as I have heard, the free container will remain free forever. Please check out PHPCloud at http://www.phpcloud.com

Heroku: One of the prominent cloud platform provider for Ruby developers collaborated with Facebook last month and started providing free container to develop Facebook applications using PHP on top of their amazing platform. Heroku is good, reliable and it comes with thousands of add-on which you will need to buy while the core container is free for PHP Developers. Check out Heroku’s offer at devcenter.heroku.com/articles/facebook

I hope you find this article helpful for developing and hosting your php application in the cloud, and in the same time check the service they offered and their quality. Enjoy!

Published at DZone with permission of Hasin Hayder, author and DZone MVB.

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