Laravel Forge - first impressions

On Monday Taylor Otwell launched Laravel Forge, Forge is a service which manages hosting services such as Amazon EC2 and Rackspace servers.

I have played around with Amazon's services and considered using EC2 servers in the past but the reason I never have is the management, I might be able to get a server setup and running once but a couple of months down the line I will have forgotten how it works or even worse if there is a problem I might not be able to fix it.

Laravel Forge works by connecting to your AWS account and setting up and managing servers on your behalf. It can create and setup a new instance, including the security groups, SSL certificates, firewall permissions and various services. It also configures virtual server and will deploy your code from a service such as GitHub, even redeploying when you commit code changes.

I have played around with this service and its great but Forge currently doesn't handle failures and when your using a service like EC2 it is something you have to plan for. An EC2 instance can fail or be stopped at any time, currently Forge doesn't pick up on this requiring you to log in, delete the server, recreate it and then setup the sites again, as well as potentially having to update DNS servers. This can mean a lot of downtime especially if you can't get to a computer to start fixing things.

In addition to server failures things can just go wrong, on Tuesday a site I was running suddenly failed, it was as if the virtual hosts had been deleted. I had no insight into why this had happened and no way to fix it, I had to delete everything and start again.

It will be interesting to see how Laravel Forge develops over time, it will need enough features to provide a reliable service but as soon as you have reached that stage you're a long way down the road to providing a complete service like Fortrabbit or AppFog.

I think Laravel Forge is brilliant and hopefully over time it will become even better.