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PHP Fog to be discontinued on December 21st (appfog.com)
32 points by ianpri on Nov 13, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments



This sucks.

But actually, I'm glad to hear it. Over the past 2 weeks (since we upgraded matchist to a PHP Fog dedicated server), their support team has basically dropped off the face of the earth.

Their support live chat disappeared. Their phone number goes to voicemail. And there's no way to get a hold of them other than their ticketing system (which they respond to every few days if you're lucky).

I loved PHP Fog when I first heard of it and started using it 6 months ago. But honestly, I'm not sure we're going to switch to AppFog since it's the same team. Not sure I want that level (lack) of service.


I'm very sorry to hear about your experience with our support team over the past few weeks. While there have been some changes to live chat we are still available via phone during business hours depending on volume and are highly responsive with tickets (hours turnaround if not quicker on average).

Was there a particular ticket I can review for you to see what happened? I want to make sure we don't drop the ball here.


What are business hours when you are a developer platform used by developers globally?


The ball has already been dropped unfortunately.


Just got the email:

Dear Fogger,

It is with a heavy heart that I let you know that the PHP Fog service will be discontinued in December in favor of AppFog, which is PHP Fog 2.0. I am incredibly sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Creating PHP Fog has been an amazing experience for us and it could not have happened without you––thank you for your support. With your help, we’ve built an amazing PaaS for PHP developers. And along the way, we’ve applied what we’ve learned to creating our new product, AppFog.

AppFog is the future of our business, and we very strongly believe it is also the future of PaaS. So, in order to focus our team and efforts on continuing to build a better solution for developers, we will be shutting down the PHP Fog platform this coming January and focusing solely on AppFog.

We have considered this change very, very carefully because we understand that this could present challenges for some of our users. But in the end, we are confident that moving to AppFog will give you additional flexibility, additional languages, additional infrastructures, and the ability to deploy your apps to private cloud infrastructure as well as leverage the strengths of the OpenStack and Cloud Foundry ecosystems.

To help in the migration, we will do be doing everything we can to help this be as easy and painless as possible: 2GB of RAM in our Free Plan We will be releasing a series of blog posts that walk you through the migration to AppFog. We will also be publishing documentation of the migration path as well as solutions for some of the edge-case differences between the platforms. To start with, we have created a migration FAQ that should help you begin the migration process.

I am committed to making AppFog a product that will make you look back at PHP Fog and think, “I’m really happy I switched.”


Here's it is as markdown, with the bullets preserved:

https://gist.github.com/4067487

The subject "Urgent News about PHP Fog" rubbed me the wrong way. I think "PHP Fog is Shutting Down" would have been better.


Same here.

PHP Fog had its share of problems, but AppFog doesn't support Git.


Purely informative but it seems you can add commit hooks to your version control to connect to theirs: http://blog.appfog.com/553/

Seems pretty stupid to drop support of git in favor of their own product.


I only used them for development but at least I never had to worry about the application server and the git workflow worked perfectly. Didn't use their shared database, which didn't support stored procedures etc, but it was easy to connect RDS. They came out with their own "dedicated DB" product but it was just RDS with a 100% markup and no other advantage. Not that I blame them for trying to monetize since it sounds like it they weren't making money off the basic stuff.


I had the worst experience with appfog/phpfog. They ignore emails and state things on their hp that are clearly not true (like they would support .NET which they are not).

Should have been warned whem some time ago a 15year old hacked their system and controlled all their servers.


As a current customer since 7/11 (over a year) I am SHOCKED they aren't working on automating a process to migrate over to AppFog. I guess they don't want my business - off to heroku and/or ec2.


John,

I am so sorry for the inconvenience, we are working on some tools to make the process easier, but for now here is a tutorial:

http://blog.phpfog.com/2012/11/12/migrating-your-php-apps-fr...


That doesn't really seem to be about migrating, but about setting up an arbitrary php app with AppFog. Here's a few things that are wrong with it:

* It assumes you have the directory locally. Can't it be downloaded from phpfog?

* It doesn't say anything about copying environment variables.

* It doesn't talk about making sure you have at least as much system resources. It should say how to find how much memory you had with phpfog to make sure you have enough with appfog.

* It doesn't cover data migration.

* Even without covering data migration, it could at least have covered migrating the database configuration, but it doesn't.

* It leaves with an appfog domain name. It should say how to switch them.

* Too much of the post is devoted to going through AppFog's features.

* It has some cheesy marketing for AppFog like "af-plus-php-equals-win" and "Lots more functionality where that came from".

I don't think I could bring myself to call it a migration tutorial.


Please note: this is the first in a series of tutorials. This tutorial in particular is devoted solely to migrating application code. Tomorrow, we will post the first of two data migration tutorials that will walk users through the data migration process.


I know, I know. It's all that was available at the time this was announced, a little over a month before free accounts are scheduled to be shut down. Some people are probably already migrating.

Is it true that appfog's filesystem is volatile? Does this mean that it could be wiped without a system fault or a user shutting down the system? If so, there doesn't seem to be a clear migration path to appfog for PHP users that are using the writable directory support. If not, it should probably be documented that writes will only go to the one instance and that if you're using multiple app server instances you need to set something up.


I appreciate the help, but ... "you need to install Ruby and RubyGems..." I find it funny that you are asking all these PHP people to setup/install ruby just to migrate their PHP application.

You have my cc on file, a semi-happy customer and now you want me to do all this work? YOU should be doing all the work for the migration - think of it as a way to maintain revenue!!!!


A bit of a positive note here, I found that PHP Fog was more difficult to use than AppFog. I had some higher-level issues with Apache on the PHP version of AppFog that I brought up and were quickly addressed.

It might sting now, but those that used PHPFog might like AppFog more.


You're right. I think people need to give AppFog a chance.

Once they do something like, for example, cloning an app in Singapore and re-deploying it in Ireland in less than a minute, they'll see the value in what we've built.


Well done, a lot of people are going to be unhappy about this. I think it takes courage to take the pain upfront and concentrate on doing one thing really well.


Which has a pretty low limit on the database (100mb), no dedicated database, no persistent file system (there goes a large portion of PHP downloadable software), no monitoring and you have to retool the way your database works, using json, in a way that no other hosting service does.


Personally I will give AppFog a try. If you're the sort of person who liked PHP Fog, the alternatives are not THAT great. Here's a good roundup from last month:

But regarding the business transition over at App Fog, you know what's really strange: Why does the 'dead simple' migration process start with creating a new account? Isn't it the same company? At the very least, if I were in charge of AppFog I wouldn't make everyone sign up again. Just saying.

Signing up for AppFog

First things first: score yourself a free AppFog account at console.appfog.com. It’s the same thing we’ve all done a million times: e-mail, password, and then e-mail verification.



Other than dotCloud, what are some other PHP as a platform competitors?


dotcloud seems about as close a match as you could get, including the PaaS pricing which seems expensive to people who are comfortable setting up their own server. I have seen Heroku working for PHP but it needs a certain type of application that doesn't need to write files and uses postgres. WordPress can actually live within these requirements, with a plugin that rewrites mysql queries as postgres, but it isn't easy.

There are more options if all you need is WordPress. ZippyKid and page.ly both seem to be high quality and economical.


AppFog is PHP Fog 2.0, it does PHP and has way more functionality


AppFog is also run by the same team as PHP Fog, which in my experience in the past few weeks, cares very little about customer support. I'd like to see what else is out there.


are you looking for PHP only platforms, or platforms that support PHP along with other languages?


We're PHP/MySQL now, so anything that supports PHP/MySQL (whether solely or as part of a larger offering).


They you've pretty much got unlimited choices. AppFog, Heroku, you name it. Everyone supports PHP and MySQL these days.


I'd prefer something with the simplicity and ease of setup/maintenance as PHP Fog.


I really like PagodaBox.


How long have you been using them? Browsing their site, this looks pretty sweet.


I've only used them for a couple non-professional sites, so I can't really say much for their performance. But they pretty much sold me on their admin interface and design.


Which should be getting a nice upgrade pretty soon.


Orchestra.io, Heroku, PagodaBox


We have plenty of PHP users on BitNami Cloud bitnami.org/cloud


The problem with BitNami Cloud is that they are AWS only and the pricing model is highly opaque. You pay once for Bitnami and then AGAIN for AWS. According to AppFog's pricing you pay only one source, namely us and never Amazon or Rackspace or HP or anyone else, and pricing is solely RAM-based, which means that it's next to impossible to incur costs that you don't actively choose.


I don't get why you claim the pricing is opaque. If anything, it is completely transparent because we do not add any markup whatsoever to the AWS charges, so in most cases it will result in a much lower monthly bill. Regarding it being AWS-specific, Bitnami Cloud Hosting is, but the rest of the BitNami offering and images is available for other clouds such as Azure and HP. We also integrate well with the rest of the AWS infrastructure: CloudWatch, CloudFormation, Beanstalk, etc.


I totally get that, and no markup above and beyond AWS pricing seems like the way to go.

But the problem is that AWS pricing itself is not completely transparent. It's based on usage, which means that the bill at the end of the month can end up being an unpleasant surprise, as it has been for lots and lots of AWS users over the years. Who can know in advance what their usage figures will be?

RAM-based pricing means that the bill at the end of the month literally cannot be a surprise. We have four available plans, and monthly bills map directly and seamlessly onto those plans.

We run on AWS (among others) but WE pay AWS, not our customers, because we think that part of the mission of PaaS is to shield customers from the many disparate pricing models on different IaaS providers. Want to run on Rackspace via AppFog? Same price. Want to run on HP? Same price. Azure? Same price.

PaaS needs to abstract hardware away completely, even monetarily. Paying IaaS providers directly is not the way to do that.


It seems we have different customer feedback. Our offerings are different, so we may be targeting different segments as well. What we get is that many of our customers (specially the bigger ones that run dozens / hundreds of machines) want to deal directly with the underlying vendor and do not want to be shielded from that. Having a predictable bill and dealing with a single vendor is convenient (specially when starting out) but the economics do not scale up as well for the customer as dealing with the IaaS vendor directly is always going to be cheaper, specially as they grow. It also moves the customer lock-in from the IaaS provider to your platform, which many customers are wary of. With BitNami, they can cancel the subscription and still keep managing their infrastructure through the regular AWS console or Rightscale. In any case, not arguing that a single, predictable bill is not appealing, just that it is not as appealing as what you would give up in exchange for that (at least for our current customer base, I am guessing yours is different in that respect)


EngineYard's Orchestra is one, though I'm not sure how far along they are with integrating it into their standard offerings.


I think the solution is to find another service. How can I trust appfog after this terrible surprise? Tomorrow I will receive an email. We are very sorry but appfog will be dicontinued.


AppFog is absolutely NOT being discontinued! We are incredibly proud of what we accomplished with PHP Fog, but we think that the AppFog is the true future of PaaS: polyglot and poly-infrastructure. We simply don't think that single-language PaaS on a single infrastructure is the future, and we're working on rolling all of the functionality from PHP Fog into AppFog, where you'll be able to deploy Node, Java, Python, Ruby, and other runtimes and deploy to a variety of infras.

AppFog is absolutely thriving right now and will be around for quite some time, we assure you.


Sure it is. And I'll bet if you look through your archives you'll find that you made the same assurances about PHPFOG...


I feel sorry for all the small businesses relying on PHP Fog who maybe don't have an in-house IT team and will really struggle to meet this very short deadline. I'm talking about the kind of business, who may have hired someone to build a small app for them on PHP Fog, and to do anything with IT they have to hire an outside IT consultant by the hour.

I would encourage App Fog to offer a "fully managed" migration option, even if it's for a token fee.


Just to clarify, all free tier services are being shut down in late December and paid (dedicated) services in late January.


What kind of migration support are you providing if we decide to switch to AppFog? Your support quality and service level has dropped off a cliff in the past 2-3 weeks, in my experience.


You could always migrate to https://pagodabox.com/


Argh.

PHPFog was my goto place for self-hosting Wordpress blogs, is AppFog as simple?


Another alternative might be Wordpress+Heroku:

https://github.com/mhoofman/wordpress-heroku

I've used it for a few projects and it works reasonably well.


AppFog is just as simple and way more powerful too.


But will WP work without a persistent file system? Doesn't that mean you can't upload pictures to your posts?


AppFog does not currently support persistent file systems, but we're working hard on adding this feature. In the meantime, we strongly recommend Amazon S3 as a persistent file store.


Why wouldn't you want to host your WordPress blog at a Managed WordPress Host like ZippyKid, Web Synthesis or WP Engine?


Give OpenShift a try. It has a free tier and it is backed by Red Hat. https://github.com/openshift/wordpress-example


I'm using pagodabox.com it works great for me.




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