Hosting PHP and PHP applications on Amazon Web Services EC2 requires a non-beginner’s knowledge of the command line. However, there is now an increasing choice of PHP-specific Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) providers which ease the deployment and management of PHP applications onto EC2, such as Orchestra.io, cloudControl and, probably the most high-profile, PHP Fog.
PHP Fog has moved from its beta stage into general availability so sign up should be near-instantaneous. Once registered and logged in, PHP Fog provides easy deployment of custom PHP applications via the Git version control system but it’s easier still to deploy one of the popular PHP applications: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or SugarCRM.
To deploy WordPress, click “My Apps” then “Create a new app”, click “WordPress”, click “Free” (as opposed to a paid-for plan), supply a user name, password and application name and click “Create App”. After a short while the WordPress installation is available at http://appname.phpfogapp.com or via the “View your app” link. The admin interface can be accessed by clicking the “WordPress Admin Interface” link and the underlying database can be accessed via phpMyAdmin – the phpMyAdmin interface looks very dated compared to the thoroughly modern Heroku-like look-and-feel of PHP Fog.
As well as PHP applications, PHP Fog also provides a number of the most common PHP frameworks for quick installation: CakePHP, Zend Framework and CodeIgniter.
Deploying a custom PHP application, or downloading the source code for one of the pre-configured applications, requires the use of the Git and the creation of SSH keys. An initial cloning of the PHP Fog hosted Git repository grabs the code from PHP Fog or PHP Fog can be set as a remote on an existing Git repository.
It’s not recommended to use PHP Fog to handle static assets, such as images and video, rather a third-party service such as Amazon S3. The WordPress installation comes with the Amazon S3 for WordPress plugin already installed but not activated.
Whereas Orchestra.io and cloudControl are hosted in Europe, PHP Fog is hosted primarily in Amazon’s US east coast data centre. Large-scale customers can deploy in Amazon’s European data centre upon application but data centre selection will be added in the future.
As with any service outside direct control, security is a concern. In March PHP Fog openly admitted that it had been hacked and detailed the steps it had taken to prevent a recurrence.
Pricing ranges from a free shared memory, shared CPU plan through a $249/month/server plan and beyond to an enterprise offering.
The look and feel of PHP Fog is very similar to the highly successful Heroku. By allowing rapid deployment of the most common PHP applications, PHP Fog makes it incredibly easy to get started and is sure to entice a wide-range of abilities to the PaaS concept. All-in-all, PHP Fog appears to be the slickest PHP deployment platform to date.