Product, Use Cases

Yelp open sources its PaaSTA platform, powered by Mesos and Marathon

Nov 10, 2015



3 min read

We're always happy when someone does something truly interesting with the technology Mesosphere has created—something like releasing an open source Platform as a Service (PaaS) framework, for example. Which is exactly what Yelp did on Tuesday by open sourcing PaaSTA, its internal platform for automating the deployment and management of services running inside Docker containers.
In order to work its magic, PaaSTA relies on three core components of Mesosphere's Datacenter Operating System, all of which are open source: Apache Mesos, Marathon and Chronos. Mesos handles the work of actually deploying container onto servers, while Marathon (which was developed by Mesosphere) makes sure long-running PaaSta services relaunch ASAP should something crash. Chronos schedules containers to launch at preordained times for recurring tasks or batch processing.
Essentially, the PaaSTA user experience boils down to this: Developers create a Docker image and then declare where it should run (i.e., locally or in the cloud) and and what resources it needs. PaaSTA communicates with the Mesos, Marathon and Chronos APIs, which take care of the rest. PaaSTA uses SmartStack for service registration and discovery, Sensu for monitoring/alerting, and supports Jenkins for continuous delivery. (Speaking of Jenkins, we just released a new Jenkins framework for the DCOS if you want to give it a spin.)
PaaSTA has been operating at Yelp for 1.5 years, and now hosts more than 100 applications total, including about two dozen production applications. In June, we published a case study detailing how PaaSTA (and a CI/CD system called Seagull) came to be at Yelp, as well as some of its early successes. Among them is a single, simple deployment experience across both local servers and Amazon Web Services, which has saved both developers and operations staff a lot of time and energy.
You can learn more about PaaSTA and all its components by checking out Yelp's blog on the technology, and by visiting its GitHub repo.
Looking beyond PaaSTA, though, one starts to see a broader trend in the world of PaaS and developer productivity in general. The trend is that rather than opting for opinionated application platforms that were often developed for other use cases and can lock users into specific cloud platforms, smart companies are opting to just build their own PaaS layers. This is possible today because, as PaaSTA illustrates, open source technologies such as Mesos and Marathon exist to handle a lot of the heavy lifting that—on traditional form factors such as single servers or mobile phones—would be handled by the operating system.

Autodesk's Ochothon system. Credit: Olivier Paugam /
When companies have an OS designed for datacenter-scale applications, they don't need to recreate the wheel with regard to hard distributed computing problems such as scheduling, orchestration and high availability, they can focus their energy on creating scalable developer experiences that suit their particular needs. Beside Yelp, other companies that have built their own PaaS-like system on top of Mesos and/or Marathon include Apple, Twitter, HubSpot, Autodesk and Ericsson.
Mesosphere is thrilled to be part of an ecosystem that is creating so much value to so many users, and is proud to be creating and contributing to technologies such as Mesos, Marathon, Chronos and our Datacenter Operating System that help make platforms such as PaaSTA possible. We can't wait to see how the PaaS space evolves, and how users take advantage of it, as more companies realize the value of leveraging a datacenter-scale operating system in order to build and deploy datacenter-scale applications.

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