An initial Mosso foray

I had an hour to kill today after a client didn’t show for a call… everyone’s taken off for T-day, I guess.

Since Rackspace has a 30-day money-back guarantee on Mosso at the moment, along with a nice Thanksgiving discount making the first month just $20, I decided to sign up for an actual account, on my personal dime. It allows me to offer guilt-free commentary based on real experience, and the freedom to bug customer support for things with the recognition that I am actually giving the company my money, and am therefore entitled to ask whatever questions I want, without giving Analyst Relations a headache. So here’s a little ramble of liveblogging my Mosso experience.

The first hurdle I ran into is that there’s no easy way to take your Cloud Files account and sign up for Cloud Sites (i.e., the main Mosso service). After a bit of a chat with their live online sales, and a few minutes of waiting while the guy checked around (during which I started writing this blog entry). After a while, I was informed I could put in a support ticket and they’d take care of it on the back end. I decided to save them some trouble and just get another account (thus allowing me to do some future playing about with copying things between Cloud Files accounts, in my desire to create parallel cloud utilities to sftp and scp), but it was a bit of an oddity — Sites is a logical upsell from Files, so I presume that functionality is probably coming eventually.

Next, I went to look for a way to change my initial sign-up password. Nothing obvious in the interface, nothing on the knowledge base… I shrugged and provisioned myself a site. On the site’s config, I found the way to change the password — and also discovered, to my horror, that the password shows up in cleartext. That certainly prompted me to change my password immediately.

I did not want to transfer my domain, but the site info page shows what Mosso wants the DNS records to be; I adjusted the DNS records on my end for what I needed, no problem. I also provisioned a second site with a non-www hostname (note that Mosso automatically turns into, which worked fine and intelligently (a recent change, I guess, because when I tried a demo account last week, it insisted on spewing full DNS info, rather than just an A record, for that).

I looked at what was available for PHP, and realized that if I wanted a framework like Zend, I’d have to install it myself, and without SSH access, that looked like it was going to be a festival of non-fun, if not flat-out impossible.

So, I turned on CGI support, which seemed to take two rounds of saving my settings, on both sites I tried it on. But CGI support does not seem to actually work for me — it’s returning 404 errors on my uploaded test scripts. Perhaps this is part of the “you may need to wait two hours” warning message given on the change-config page, but it sure would be nice if it said “pending” if that were the case, or otherwise gave some hint as to what requires a wait and what doesn’t.

I’m going to wait and see, but it’s become clear that I can’t actually do what I want with Mosso, because of the following: If you’re not running a directly supported environment (PHP, Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET), you are stuck with shoving your code, in the form of scripts, into the cgi-bin directory and that’s that. The perl and python support is just generic CGI script support. So there’s no support for mod_python, and therefore you can’t run Django.

The Mosso “Is it a fit?” page implies too much, I think. The page lists “application frameworks”, and should probably more properly say “CGI scripts (Perl, Python)” rather than the implication that the perl and python support is in the form of actual application frameworks, which you’d normally expect to be something like Catalyst for perl, or Django for python.

It’s making me think about the very, very fuzzy definition for what it means to be an application platform as a service (APaaS) vendor.

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Posted on November 26, 2008, in Infrastructure and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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