My honest thoughts on the Jelastic multi-cloud hosting platform.
- What is Jelastic.
- How it’s different from other “elastic hosting” platforms.
- What I like about Jelastic.
- The best clients and use cases for it.
- …and I’ll try to do it all in layman’s English terms! 😉
Deep into the rabbit hole of cloud technology we go!
What is Jelastic?
What the hell is it?
As with many high-tech solutions popping up lately. You never quite fully grasp what things are. And how they work.
- Is it a service?
- Is it a software?
- Is it a software being sold as as a service? (aka SaaS)
- Or is it a software platform sold as a service? (aka PaaS)
- Where can I get it?
- Who uses it?
I know. Many questions. For most people, Jelastic sounds like some super complicated enterprise service. And that it’s unrelated and unnecessary for their use case.
Jelastic is a cloud-based control panel for that lets you integrate multiple-cloud services.
- It’s kind of like WHM/cPanel but hosted on a cloud and can also manage server clusters rather than just one server, and integrate many other cloud services (storage, CDN, DNS, etc).
- Another way you could say it is that Jelastic is like Cloudways but can manage multiple servers and integrate many other cloud services.
- Or you can say also Jelastic is a multi-cloud platform (like AWS) that allows anybody to run or offer multi-cloud services to clients.
- Although your primary service may be webhosting, you can now offer (and easily integrate) so much more than that.
It’s hard to define because Jelastic doesn’t have a limitation. It’s a platform that lets anybody with servers to offer multiple-cloud services, like AWS. You can use your servers to do whatever the heck you want.
Comparing Jelastic to other server control panels or cloud panel software:
- Manage standalone servers like cPanel.
- Sold to datacenters, webhosts, and developers like cPanel.
- Manage multiple servers from the cloud like Cloudways.
- Manage server-clusters like ClusterCS.
- Manage an elastic hosting service like Closte.
- Integrate multiple cloud services like AWS/GCP.
- Charge per resources-used like AWS/GCP.
If you want to know of any other companies more alike to Jelastic, you can check out OpenShift and Pivotal. But those are more for purely enterprise use, whereas Jelastic is more user-friendly for small businesses and end-users, too.
WHY use Jelastic?
Jelastic can set up complex hosting environments in very easy ways.
Quite simply, Jelastic allows users to deploy complex environments using very little technical knowledge and time. Many things that used to require highly-trained admins and dev-ops and took many hours of configuration, can all be done in a few clicks.
Being able to do these things through automated software is not only a matter of ease, but also cost! Lots of time saved and even providing you the joy of having more options available. You can also pass this cost savings down to clients for a truly win-win situation. It is game-changing power to do things this easily.
Sure, there may be other solutions that can do similar things but they don’t offer all of Jelastic’s features, or not as easy, or not as cost-effective.
FEATURE #1 – powerful interface for cloud-service management
Jelastic is a powerful tool that doesn’t just manage and automate cloud services, it manages them all from an easy-to-use GUI panel. Sure, you can set all these things up manually without Jelastic, or you can use some other service or panel. But it won’t be as easy and you won’t have as many configurable options.
FEATURE #2 – set up server clusters
Obvious main use for a panel like this is to configure server-clusters. What’s a server-cluster?
- A server cluster is when you combine multiple servers to allow your environment to handle more load.
- Most people run everything off a single server. One server is used to serve html requests, store the database, store files, receive and send emails, DNS, etc. Basically one server for everything.
- But when your site (or sites) gets too big for one server or maybe you have so much traffic that one server can’t handle it, then it’s time for a server cluster. See image below.
It’s an overly simplified diagram but basically shows how services are split out onto different servers. You have one as the load balancer (like a traffic conductor) deciding which of the 2 web servers to send visitors to. The web servers don’t even hold the database, it’s stored on two separate database servers. Each of them have a copy of the database thereby speeding up the number of requests and database queries they can handle. Not shown in the diagram are the storage servers where the files are stored.
Basically every service is split into other servers and should they get overwhelmed, can be split into more servers again. And it’s nice because you can scale any individual part in any direction that you need. Maybe you need only more space. Or only need more database servers, etc. Automate this scaling feature and you have more or less of what “scalable hosting” is supposed to be.
FEATURE #3 – set up elastic environments
Elastic hosting is the ability to scale your server cluster up and down as needed. Stressed nodes can scale “vertically” (increasing size) or “horizontally” (adding more servers). And it automatically scales as needed. You don’t have to monitor the servers and manually upsize or downsize.
Aside from obvious benefits like always being available and never slowing down, it also offers you the ability to track (and bill clients) by resources used. This is nice since clients can save money paying only for what they use and also allows you to sell many services to clients in a much more affordable way. Clients no longer pay a fixed monthly price to reserve a giant server that’s mostly unused except for a few peak hours here and there.
- You can read my guide on Elastic Hosting for WordPress.
Benefits for PROVIDERS
1. OFFER MORE SOLUTIONS
The first benefit is being able to offer more solutions to webhosting clients. Maybe previously, you were only able to offer shared hosting, and VPS or dedicated hosting. Now with Jelastic, you can (easily) offer HA-hosting solutions. Now you can handle big clients and those needing big server-cluster and high-availability environments.
2. DECREASED COMPLEXITY
All that complicated cluster-setup, with load balancing, configuring each node, maintaining points of failure. You can say goodbye to all of that. Or how about expensive labor costs in dev-ops management? Say goodbye to that, too. You can literally deploy (and configure) a completely elastic server-cluster in just a few clicks. Jelastic truly is easy!
3. BILLING BY RESOURCES USED
This is a modern and different way of offering webhosting to clients. Thanks to the inherent nature of resource-tracking in elastic hosting solutions…you can use that mechanism to bill by resources used. This allows you to attract new customers by letting them pay only for what they use. No more charging by reserved used! They pay only for the traffic they get.
4. STANDARDIZED INTERFACE
I would say up until now, there has never been a standout player in the cluster-server panel market. Jelastic can certainly bring unity and standardization to the entire enterprise hosting industry. Just like WHM/cPanel, many providers out there are offering Jelastic. Having many users breeds familiarity and abundance of documentation. Not only that but providers can also manage both cluster-server and single-server environments from one panel.
5. COMPETE WITH AWS/GCP
This is definitely a massive hurdle for many webhosts and datacenters. AWS and GCP, despite high cost-to-performance ratio, are commonly used by many companies because they have so many services integrated. You can get a web server, database server, CDN, external storage, and API after API…all conveniently in one place. Not only that but they have datacenters all over the world and also in uncommon regions.
Thanks to Jelastic, any datacenter or webhost can easily compete due to the massive amount of integration with external services…and the ease in which they are integrated. Smaller players no longer have to waste time building their own interface. Just install Jelastic or find a datacenter with Jelastic available. I’m so happy AWS has competition now because their prices are quite high since they have little competition (in terms of similar features and name recognition).
Benefits for END CLIENTS
Clients are free to have as much (or as little traffic) as they want. Their hosting environment can scale up to handle thousands of concurrent visitors or scale down during quiet period. This means less worry for websites with irregular traffic, and decreased costs since they don’t have to pay high fixed server costs to account for peak traffic.
People visiting websites hosted on servers managed by Jelastic will experienced solid performance. Assuming the application code is not terribly bloated, the website will always load fast. This speed is solid no matter how many visitors are on the server at the same time. There are virtually no slowdowns, ever.
Websites hosted on Jelastic-managed servers are theoretically always up, and always available. No slowdowns, no service interruptions, no error 500’s…no interruptions at all! By default, Jelastic hosting environments are all high-availability (HA) with load balancers and multiple servers in cluster configuration to handle heavy load.
4. COST SAVINGS
Assuming the savings in cost is passed down from their webhost, clients can save money by paying only for the resources used. It’s also a matter of cost savings since their website is always up and available during peak traffic times.
5. ABUNDANT DOCUMENTATION
Since the Jelastic platform is available across many providers, there are tons of helpful documentation and tutorial videos for it. Clients don’t have to feel like they’re on some obscure panel completely reliant on their provider.
How Jelastic compares to other cloud services
Jelastic is basically a cloud-based panel (like Cloudways) but can manage elastic server-cluster hosting.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Cloudways, GridPane, or RunCloud before. All of them offer a simple cloud platform to help you manage single web servers. Sure, you can deploy multiple servers but they run independently and not connected to each other. Also, you cannot split your site across the multiple servers. Your site sits only on one.
Jelastic is different in that it can deploy your application not only in single (standalone) servers but can also do it in clusters (IMO, it’s main feature). And you can configure each cluster how you want it. How much reserved CPU, ram, storage…and you can also decide how aggressively to scale up when under load. Maybe you want it to upscale at 30%, or at 50%, or at 70%. Your choice.
- The value of this kind of hosting is in the ease at which you can configure servers to scale up and down automatically (basically reducing required sys-admin and dev-ops knowledge).
- Whereas with the typical cloud hosting platforms, their value is in the UI and how easy it is to set up websites, and features for typical end users (basically reducing required web-hosting and sys-admin knowledge).
Jelastic is simpler than using cloud service platforms like AWS/GCP.
Sure, there are other cloud service platforms but they’re not easy to use. AWS is crazy overwhelming. Even just to manage one server makes you feel like you’re doing rocket science. On my first try with Jelastic and not having read much documentation, I was able to create my own elastic server-cluster within minutes. The interface is very friendly and lots of fun.
Mind you, you still need to have some admin knowledge and at least a general understanding of web servers. Most ideal is at least some sys-admin experience and comfortability on the CLI. But regardless, the interface is surprisingly easy to use and just about anything you want to do can be figured out through their intuitive UI and helpful documentation.
What I like about Jelastic
When I say “easy-to-use”, I mean like shockingly stupid dead-simple super mega easy to use. I had no idea what I was doing. Didn’t read any documentation or watched any tutorial videos whatsoever. Fired it up for the first time. And guessed my way around within a few clicks. It is extremely intuitive. And more than anything…I love that the interface makes you feel empowered. Even if you don’t know where things are, you feel like you do. As a UI-fanatic, I can’t say enough about its design.
Many 3rd-party integrations
The integrations are comprehensive and very elegantly organized. You can select them from the clean marketplace panel or deploy using Git/SVN. This is much cleaner than how some other providers have a labyrinth of 3rd-party scripts, many of them only slightly different from another.
Billing by resources-used
Billing by resources-used is personally not my thing. It’s not how I built my service and it’s not how I like to buy my underlying hardware. I also prefer to have every bit of control over the stack to maximize performance as much as possible. BUT…I do appreciate having another option in my toolbox should I ever need it. Jelastic is a lot of fun and a whole lot of power.
Application-based resource management
Man, I had to kick that phrase around in my head several times until it came out right. Jelastic changes the dynamic between sites and servers. Traditionally, we deploy the server and then decide how many sites to put on the server. And it always seems like we are optimizing sites for the server.
But Jelastic flips the script entirely. With Jelastic, you deploy the application and then decide how many servers to support the application. And now, it seems we are truly optimizing the hosting environment for the site!
The traditional server management method is good if you care about high performance AT LOW COST. The application-first management method is good if you care about high performance AT HIGH TRAFFIC. The latter is absolutely superior if you have a large business growing rapidly, handling millions of users, and need absolute 100% uptime. With scalable hosting, your business doesn’t get punished for having high traffic. It allows your essential business applications (and profits) to scale limitlessly!
Best use cases for Jelastic
I would say most Jelastic users are higher-level webhosting providers who manage cloud services for enterprise clients (read “LARGE CLIENTS”). But that doesn’t mean Jelastic can’t be a useful fit for more regular and medium-sized webhosting needs.
Clients with erratic traffic
Any client with highly irregular traffic, peaking and dropping randomly, is a great candidate for an elastic hosting solution.
Clients using awkward balance of resources
Traditional webhosting typically follows a traditional balance of 1:2:40 for CPU-MEM-HD ratio (e.g. 2core CPU, 4GB mem, 80GB storage). But what if you had clients who needed much more CPU or much more storage? Elastic hosting can account for that.
Clients with demanding applications
Maybe they have a ton of traffic (in the tens of millions and more), or a giant database with tons of writes, or need some complicated cluster setup. Or maybe your next client is a bank. Or maybe you have a bloated application and no time or budget to recode it (hahaha). Jelastic easily can manage all this AND track its billing.
Perhaps you need instant server-cluster deployments and don’t want to manually provision and copy-paste scripts and such. Jelastic is really convenient for that. You can fire up entire clusters within a few clicks, can also clone them back and forth. This is really helpful for deploying development or otherwise temporary environments very quickly without any time cost.
Is Jelastic for everyone?
As incredible as Jelastic is, it’s not for everyone. It can feel a bit like selling a Macbook to someone who only needs a stopwatch. Although Jelastic is easy enough for end-users, it is still mostly designed and marketed towards large enterprises or for webhosting businesses, developers, and admins who manage those large enterprises.
Sure, it makes enterprise-grade hosting much more accessible for smaller applications now but that doesn’t mean every application can benefit from it. Either way, I’m excited to see how Jelastic changes the future of webhosting and multi-cloud services.
Simple test to know if Jelastic is for you or not:
- Do you have irregular traffic?
- Do you have over 10 million monthly visitors?
- Do you have many dynamic-uncached visitors?
- Do you have many database transactions? (ecommerce, logged-in users)
- Do you like to work in cloned or container environments?
- Do you need a server-cluster or elastic hosting?
- Do you want to manage enterprise applications, without high dev-ops costs?
- Does your site feel more like a “web application” than a “web site”?
The more you answer YES, the more Jelastic is a good fit for you.
Where to get Jelastic
You can get more info and find providers from the Jelastic website. There 3 Jelastic editions (Business, Enterprise, and Lite)…each with their own licensing structure and distribution channel, and of course different feature sets to fit their use case.
- Business edition – typically sold to large public cloud provider (see the provider directory), which is then resold to developers or hosting companies. You pay by resource usage.
- Enterprise edition – typically sold directly to large companies to use internally on their private server cloud. You pay a fixed license fee based on number of servers, and server size.
- Lite edition – sold directly through automated installations at Digital Ocean and Google Cloud Platform, intended for small companies or individuals looking to deploy Jelastic on their private VPS. You pay a cheaper fixed fee.
Note: Jelastic Lite is currently FREE for Digital Ocean!
- You can install it on your DO droplets at no extra cost! And then yes, use it to deploy clusters and software, auto-scaling. Wow wow wow!!!!!
- You can screw around with containers.
- I can’t wait to play around a little more with this.
I looked at Jelastic in the past and comparing as close as I could vs the AWS infrastructure I use presently the cost was about 2.5 times more. While scaling is great and it’s a big leap forward in manageability for this type of thing, I can get the same full time resource allocation in AWS using a reserved instances for half the monthly cost.. so unless the elastic part is really critical and scaling down significantly for a large portion of the time is anticipated I just couldn’t find any cost savings.
Can you please share more details on your case, Jesse?
What Jelastic service provider did you use?
Did you setup dynamic cloudlets or only reserved? And how much resources you required on hourly basis?
That would be helpful to check out if the situation is the same now or if the setup can be optimized to lower the cost down.
One that I looked at was in comparison to an M5-2XL AWS US West reserved instance setup that I use frequently.. In this case, I looked at US service providers, set the reserved to half the RAM of the M5-2XL instance and set the max to match the RAM.. there is more CPU through Jelastic but thats not where I run into issues with the infrastructure I run, it’s always RAM first.
300GB disk space and 1TB data transfer… this came out to $350 starting and $450 or so Max in Jelastic and that setup runs me $300 per month in AWS per instance so full use of that AWS instance still runs less than scaling down in Jelastic.. unless I missed something, I’m definitely open to anything that will play out better.
The price varies based on service providers, that’s why we extend the partners network to give a wider choice. Currently, there are at least two Jelastic hosting providers with US data centers and lower prices than on AWS – CloudJiffy and MIRhosting. The starting price for the stated resources will be around $170 and the maximum is around $300 (most likely even lower because each provider gives some free amount of disk and traffic per hour). Let me know if you want to test any of them, I can arrange a free trial with extended limits, so you can deploy your application and check the exact cost.
And you will get more flexibility, as you can put every stack in a separate container, get even higher than 32 GB available in total as maximum limit but pay only for the consumed resources based on load. Also, you won’t need to migrate from a smaller instance to a bigger one in case of growth, as the required resources are going to be added instantly.
At the beginning, we recommend not to set up reserved resources at all and run the application several hours with dynamic scaling only in order to see how much resources are permanently consumed. Then you can state this specific amount as reserved. Thus the starting price can be even lower.
While comparing to AWS, we are closer to their onDemand option. Did you reserve the AWS servers for one or three years?
Do you use one M5-2XL or several of them? Because for large-scale projects that are willing to reserve full servers, we also have options of private installation with license-based pricing. So you can have dedicated servers with Jelastic on top and pay a fixed price per instance per month. The price will depend on the server size. For this case, it is more beneficial to go with bare metal, as it gives extra cost efficiency and superior performance.