Heroku vs. AWS: Which Cloud Solution Works Best in 2020

Heroku vs. AWS: Introduction

Сloud-based platforms get more and more recognition. According to Statista, just in the third quarter of 2019, cloud market revenues reached $27.5 billionBy moving to the cloud, businesses can focus on their strategy and other processes instead of dealing with the tech stuff. And they don’t need to spend thousands to access the best cloud infrastructure. 

But as cloud services are in demand, there are countless solutions to fill it. Sometimes it gets too hard to pick the best-fitting one. In this article, we’re comparing two popular cloud services: Heroku vs. AWS. We’re going to check their pros and cons, use cases, and pick a solution that suits your project best. 

If you’re new to cloud computing, then check out Stuart Scott’s course, What is Cloud Computing. This course covers a wide range of cloud computing topics areas providing you with a solid foundation of understanding.

"What is cloud computing" course

Why cloud services?

But first, let’s figure out why companies of all sizes choose cloud technologies in general. 

  • Adaptability. Cloud technologies allow you to manage your data in multiple ways and make operations more flexible. 
  • Accessibility. Cloud services ensure that the company’s staff has constant access to the data. They can edit or even change the files from anywhere. Quite convenient if the team members work from different parts of the world.
  • Backup capabilities. If you’re using a cloud platform, you don’t need to worry about data safety. It’s stored on fully-secured servers, and even if something goes wrong, there’s always a restore point. 

What’s AWS?

We’ve figured out why more and more businesses turn to cloud solutions. Now, let’s check what services they prefer. Airbnb, Ubisoft, Spotify, and Foursquare – all these tech giants use Amazon Web Services. 

Here’s why. 

AWS is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform, so it comes with dozens of services that help users to deal with databases, management, analytics, deployment, and tons of other tasks. 

AWS platform is a combination of a few cloud computing infrastructure offering innovative products and services. 

AWS services

The most popular AWS tech services are:

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)
  • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • AWS Lambda

Let’s take a more detailed look at them. 

AWS Elastic Compute Cloud

AWS EC2 is a flexible IaaS service. Still, before you can deploy your app on EC2, you need to create a server infrastructure that fits your project. Put simply, your team needs to manually set up and support virtual servers that launch the app. Plus, add database instances, choose and configure an OS. 

EC2 provides the building blocks, and your job is to configure them and choose the best ones for your app and manage them. In most companies, app deployment control and EC2 infrastructure organization is the job for DevOps engineers. Thus, one of the AWS benefits is its capability of creating infrastructure before the deployment process, which is vital for big-scale projects. Besides, by using AWS, you support the load balancing of the data. The system helps to bypass manual settings with the help of auto-scaling. Finally, you can work with templates and multiple configurations. 

AWS Elastic Beanstalk

AWS Elastic Beanstalk is the PaaS service and the most evident competitor of Heroku. It’s a service that allows deploying apps fast and simple in AWS Cloud using commands. All you need to do is to run commands using the management console or another interface by AWS. Once the deployment finished, the service manages infrastructure without your control. 

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a serverless platform provided as a part of Amazon Web Services. It’s a compute service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. AWS Lambda is great for uploading code packages, but its architecture is closed for devs, and they cannot customize the scale. Instead, Lambda executes the code when needed and scales automatically, from a few requests per day to thousands per second.

What’s Heroku?

Heroku is a container-based cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution. Devs use Heroku to deploy, manage, and scale applications. The platform offers its customers the place where they can build, deploy, and scale their apps. 

What’s more, Heroku supports 175+ add-ons that cover various purposes – from notifications to security. In general, this cloud tech service is more user-friendly compared to EC2 I’ve mentioned. Heroku helps to increase the productivity of your team by creating an environment for rolling-out and development processes. 

Heroku vs. AWS: What’s the difference?

Now, let’s check what’s the main difference between AWS and Heroku solutions. Starting with the programming languages they support. But it doesn’t end up with the programming languages. There are three other things to take into account:

Type of business

If you’re choosing between AWS and Heroku, you’re choosing between IaaS or PaaS. IaaS involves manual configuration of the server and the app, while PaaS provides ready-made tools you can use but not manage. If you own a small business, the best option will be Platform as a Service solution. Just choose the settings, and don’t bother with things your project doesn’t require yet. 

Launching a large-scale app and have access to high-quality app development services? Stop on Infrastructure as a Service! Using it, the dev team manages building blocks of the project as your business grows. 

Budget

If you’re on a tight budget, AWS may be a better choice. The hourly prices start from $0.011/hour. As for Heroku, it offers six dyno types, with the most powerful one offering 14GB of memory ($500 per month). 

Here’s a price comparison of more or less similar instances and the cost per month:

  • AWS: t3.micro (1GiB) – $0.0104 per hour ($7.48 per month)
  • Heroku (Dyno): standard-2x (1024MB) ($50.00 per month)
  • AWS: c5.2xlarge (16GiB) – $0.34 per hour ($244.8 per month)
  • Dyno: performance-l (14GB) ($500.00 per month)

Deployment speed

Both AWS and Heroku make the deployment process lightspeed fast. And they both provide a monitoring option to keep track of your apps workability. Still, Heroku provides a ready-to-use environment where you only need to enter the code, make a few changes, and that’s it – you start running the app. Plus, you can migrate and run apps much faster compared to AWS. So if you need to make changes and fixes based on customers’ reviews – and do it fast – Heroku will be your perfect choice.  

Time to sum everything up. 

Why use AWS?

Advantages of AWS: 

  • Scalability
  • Lots of features
  • Easy to create a new server

Cons of AWS:  

  • You need to know the basics of Unix administration, or
  • You will need to hire a developer experienced with Amazon AWS

Ease of usage: from medium to advanced

Why use Heroku?

Advantages of Heroku:  

  • Create a new server in 10 seconds using Heroku Command Line
  • Deployment is done with Git Push
  • Lots of add-ons

Cons of Heroku:

  • Requires deployment with Git
  • No automated scalability

Ease of usage: for beginners

Heroku vs. AWS: Which is better for your business?

We’ve reviewed both cloud solutions and defined their main differences. Finally, let’s try to pick the one that’ll work for your project. 

Use AWS if: 

  • You need a flexible infrastructure
  • You haven’t deployed the app yet
  • You have DevOps engineers at your service
  • You have time to spend on deploying the new version of your app
  • The project requires vast computing power 

Consider Heroku if: 

  • You want to build an MVP app, deploy, and test it
  • You will continuously improve your app based on customers’ reviews
  • You don’t have DevOps engineers in the team
  • The project doesn’t require huge computing power

That’s it!

As you see, both AWS and Heroku are great cloud-based solutions but different in certain key areas. That’s why it’s essential to understand that each feature matters when it comes to choosing the best cloud platform for your app. 

No worries: you can always switch between AWS or Heroku in case you want to change a hosting plan, or your app demands a custom infrastructure. Still, between Heroku vs. AWS, it’s always best to start with the best-fitting solution right away. 

Vitaly Kuprenko

Written by

Vitaly Kuprenko

Vitaly Kuprenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad, a software development company in Eastern Europe. His mission is to provide people with interesting material about innovations in the world of IT.


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