SaaS on PaaS: Openshift Online from Red Hat Enables Cloud9 IDE to Offer an IDE with Runtime-Enabled 'Workspaces’

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January 29, 2013

Cloud9 IDE wanted to offer its users the capability to develop and deploy applications to OpenShift Online, Red Hat’s hosted PaaS offering, using the same runtime environment. By integrating OpenShift Online into its product, Cloud9 IDE helps developers collaborate from anywhere, at any time.

Customer: Cloud9 IDE

“Once we really understood what OpenShift Online was capable of from a technical point of view, we realized we could integrate it to support a better workflow for our users to easily build apps. ” Ruben Daniels, CEO and founder, Cloud9 IDE

Industry: Tech Online
Geography: North America
Country: United States

Business Challenge:

Cloud9 IDE wanted to offer its users the capability to develop and deploy applications to OpenShift Online, Red Hat’s hosted PaaS offering, using the same runtime environment.


Red Hat ® Enterprise Linux®, OpenShift Online by Red Hat


By integrating OpenShift Online into its product, Cloud9 IDE helps developers collaborate from anywhere in the world, at any time.


About Cloud9 IDE Cloud9 IDE is a leading cloud-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that enables web and mobile developers to work together and collaborate in remote teams anywhere, anytime. Cloud9 IDE is an online development platform for JavaScript, Node.js, Ruby, PHP, and Python applications, which offers syntax highlighting support for HTML, CSS, and 37 additional programming languages. Cloud9 IDE is open source, enabling developers to freely customize their environment according to their preferences. Founded in 2010 and based in San Francisco and Amsterdam, Cloud9 IDE is a privately held company backed by Accel Partners and Atlassian.

Business Challenge:

After a Successful Launch, Cloud9 IDE Sought To Offer New Capabilities

Launched in March 2011, Cloud9 IDE made a big splash in the industry with its online development environment that allows teams of developers to collaborate from anywhere at any time. More than 30,000 developers around the world were using the cloud-based platform within just three months. However, with a much larger vision to scale, Cloud9 IDE aggressively took steps to expand the functionality it offered developers.

“We were actively looking for technology partners to integrate with so that we could offer our users new workflows,” said Ruben Daniels, CEO and founder of Cloud9 IDE. One of those workflows was the ability to develop and deploy runtime code from the same online platform on which it had been developed.


OpenShift Online Enables the Creation of Fully Functional Online Workspaces

Cloud9 IDE discovered OpenShift Online, Red Hat’s hosted PaaS cloud offering application developers and teams use to build, test, deploy, and run their applications in public clouds. “Our first conversation involved talks about making the process of deploying applications to OpenShift Online easier,” said Daniels. “The goal was to give developers a robust IDE, the editing tools, and the runtime environment on a single platform, all within the cloud.”

The fact that OpenShift Online ran on Red Hat Enterprise Linux made a difference to Cloud9 IDE as well. “At the time, our system ran on different solutions and we were having difficulties finding the right people to hire, and locating adequate documentation and tools,” said Daniels. “Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the dominant distribution of Linux, and so it was easier to find good people, as well as the documentation and tooling.” Red Hat Enterprise Linux also possesses a level of trust in the industry that Daniels found extremely valuable, especially since Cloud9 IDE has a leading enterprise offering. “Having a high degree of security is increasingly important to us,” he said.


Giving Developers the Full Capabilities of Their Desktops, in the Cloud

Cloud9 IDE introduced a new concept in June 2012 called ’workspaces.’ By leveraging OpenShift Online containers, Cloud9 IDE workspaces provide developers with a single online place to store, run, and configure their files. “Our users have access to their databases, runtime code, and all their utilities living in one container,” said Daniels.

The workspace itself offers a full terminal and full shell access into the container. “A user can go onto Cloud9 IDE, open a terminal, and do whatever he would do normally on his desktop or laptop machine,” said Daniels.

With workspaces, a team of developers scattered around the world can now use Cloud9 IDE to collaborate on applications. “It completely solves the issue of getting help with a problem,” said Daniels. “You just share the URL to your workspace with a colleague, and he or she can log in and see your workspace, and your files, and help you out by running the code. It’s equivalent to someone in your office walking over to your desk and using your computer.”

Daniels said OpenShift Online made it very cost-effective for Cloud9 IDE to offer the workspace feature. “Because OpenShift Online offers a multi-tenant model very similar to Linux containers, we can run multiple workspaces on the same virtual machine, and turn them on and off depending on which user is active,” he said. “This allows us to offer our service very inexpensively — something that’s very important to our business model.”

OpenShift Online also allows Cloud9 IDE users to run any executable. “Previously, we only had NodeJS support, and had to limit the use of nodes because of security concerns,” said Daniels. “We also couldn’t run binary modules and had no process control. We couldn’t do much with the network, but all those limitations were removed when we moved to OpenShift Online and workspaces.”

In addition, users can now run Ruby, PHP, or even C++ applications–-either compiled or in batch groups. “The entire ecosystem of runtimes that Red Hat Enterprise Linux supports is now available to our users, making Cloud9 available for many, many more use cases,” said Daniels.

The integration of OpenShift Online with Cloud9 IDE took “just a few weeks,” said Daniels, who estimates that there are now close to 100,000 different workspaces in use.

Currently, most Cloud9 IDE developers are from start-up companies, work for independent software vendors (ISVs), or are freelance developers. ”But increasingly, individual developers inside larger companies are taking advantage of it,” said Daniels. “We have enterprises contacting us asking if Cloud9 IDE can run on their infrastructures, or if we can offer it in a private cloud so they have security under their control.”

Daniels is extremely positive about the help and collaboration he received from Red Hat. “The integration with OpenShift Online required a lot of communication and knowledge transfer, and Red Hat was terrific about it all,” he said. “Of course, challenges arise during the process, but the response times were amazing. Often we’d get responses within minutes, and the issues were always resolved very quickly.”

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