Bitnami saved my life but does it have prospects for enterprise?

Hello world. This is a quick 10 minute braindump on Bitnami.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Bitnami, it’s a neat resource for people that don’t want to hassle of configuring and deploying web applications or don’t know how. You set up an a WordPress installation that’s fully featured and reasonably secure and reliable in minutes, and you can do it on your own terms – no awful hosted WordPress services that make setup easy but prevent any meaningful customisation.

And it got the attention of hyperscale cloud providers. You can spin up Bitnami WordPress natively within Amazon Lightsail (the AWS for dummies alternative to EC2) with a couple of clicks, map your domain to it and you’ve got a blog on your domain, on a server you own, with software that’s open source and fully customisable. The reason is that Bitnami’s expert team package up all the bits of the stack you need – the operating system, web server, database, software and throw in some nice pre-made setup configurations and tools that make tricky tasks like dns and installing an SSL certificate easy for a relative novice with a command line. And excellent documentation.

Cloud is a great use case, but Bitnami also provides ready-made images that you can test out as a virtual machine on your workstation using VirtualBox or VMware (yes, more on that later).

What it doesn’t do is provide is any sort of ongoing maintenance. If you want to update your stack, you spin up a new instance and transfer your application data over. In the age of virtualisation and cloud, this isn’t such a bad discipline : I find I have a more robust server and much less maintenance to do if I simply kill off an old server and port my data across. But that’s a simple WordPress (or equally simple PHP site), with less than half a Gigabyte of data.

If you want to be able to backup and manage applications ie. at the application level, then can you move to Bitnami Cloud. This is Bitnami’s proprietary value-add, providing a console for application management at the VM / stack level. You can deploy ready-configured applications directly to major cloud providers from Bitnami, migrate and backup instances and more without lock-in, or at least to a big nasty cloud provider.

OK, so here’s where we get enterprise-y. If you’re a business of any size it’s attractive to manage popular applications hosted on multiple cloud infrastructures from a single console. It’s easier for IT / web devs, makes deployment faster (especially for test and development) and there are data protection features and templates to make that easier. It’s multi-cloud, yes, but it doesn’t mean you can seamless drag and drop workloads from Google Cloud Platform to AWS if they offer you better rates.

Bitnami has come on alot since I first discovered it, but careful injection of capital and IP from – let’s say – a virtualisation pioneer would help that vendor build a uniquely interoperable multi-cloud ecosystem for virtualised workloads, and help Bitnami manifest its vision and become much more than it has been able to so far from it’s open source web app roots. Of course, containerisation is the elephant in the room here – why bother with virtualisation servers when you can deploy a portable Docker image and even Kubernetes orchestration given it’s growing popularity to achieve multi-cloud flexibility?

Where would the eponymous VM|ware like to stick Bitnami’s Docker vision, I wonder?



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