What is Heroku? Getting Started with PaaS Development

So just what is Heroku? It’s a service for developers eager to get their applications online without having to worry about infrastructure details.

Metered, pay-as-you-go Cloud Computing services come in all kinds of flavors. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings like AWS allow enterprises to shift their entire operations away from traditional data centers. The downside is that you’ll have to manage networking and provisioning yourself. On the other hand, Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers like Heroku, offer abstracted environments into which developers can simply drop their code and let the platform take care of the provisioning details. You’ll give up some control, but gain simplicity and speed in exchange.

Heroku itself, by the way, is built entirely on AWS cloud servers.

It uses Git (a distributed version control system for code management) to manage application deployments. All you’ll need to do to deploy your application on Heroku is push your Git repository to their servers.

What is Heroku and why are its application deployments so simple

Heroku…

  • Runs your application across a preset number of virtual servers.
  • Manages releases by rolling out your application to different environments.
  • Ensures your application automatically recovers from server failures.
  • Handles load balancing across many application instances, allowing you to instantly scale your application to support millions of users.
  • Allows you to quickly add and remove infrastructure blocks like caching servers and database servers.

Heroku supports the Ruby, Node.js, Python, Java, Go, PHP, and Scala programming languages. This provides easy deployment of existing technologies on Heroku with minimum modifications needed.

Building Blocks of Heroku

Dynos

Dynos, like AWS instances or Azure virtual machines, are individual virtual servers built on Ubuntu images. If your application runs on Ubuntu, it’ll be fine on Heroku. There are three types:

  • Web dynos: web instances running HTTP services.
  • Worker dynos: instances launched to process asynchronous jobs.
  • One-off dynos: temporary instances that can be loaded with your latest code release and run detached, or with their input/output attached to your local terminal. They can be used to handle administrative tasks like database migrations.

As of now, you can choose from these dyno sizes:
Heroku Dyno types and sizes
Heroku is particularly well known for being able to instantly scale the number of dynos up or down, but they also provide automated load balancing for incoming HTTP requests and failover between hosts. You don’t even have to know there was a problem.

Add-ons

Heroku supports a very large collection of third-party add-ons for users to instantly provision as attachable resources for their applications. Provisioning an add-on (the Papertrail application logger, in this case) is no more complicated than running a single command from your command line interface (CLI):

heroku addons:create papertrail

Each time you add an add-on to one of your applications, your application will automatically be assigned one or more environment variables, which specify any credentials you may need to interact with your new tool. In the case of Papertrail, you will have full access to your logs through the Heroku apps web interface.

Heroku database service

Heroku PostgreSQL, Heroku’s hosted, vertically scalable, database service that’s available in the cloud or on your local workstation, is similarly provisioned using:

heroku addons:create heroku-postgresql

But of course, being a database, the Heroku PostgreSQL is significantly more complicated to configure.

Heroku also offers High Availability and Automatic Failover with its DB.

Heroku architectural principles

Based on Heroku founder Adam Wiggen’s Twelve Factor App, you should ideally keep these considerations in mind when designing your Heroku deployments (or, for that matter, any deployments):

  • Version control and store your application in Git.
  • Declare and isolate dependencies.
  • Store your application configuration profile data in environment variables.
  • Design infrastructure elements to work as attachable modular resources.
  • Separate your build and run stages.
  • Design your application to be stateless so it can be easily reused.
  • Export services via port bindings
  • Scale-out your application using concurrency
  • Keep your development, staging, and production images as similar as possible.
  • Think of your logs as event streams.
  • Run admin processes as one-off tasks.

How Heroku Pricing Works

One of the benefits of using a cloud provider like Heroku in the first place is that you pay only for what you use. In the case of Heroku, since they bill in increments of seconds, that’s pretty much exactly what you use.

Quick-start Demo

Create your own free Heroku account. You will get 512 MB RAM, 1 web/1 worker, which is enough to get started deploying prototype applications.

We’ll work with a Rails application. Refer to this link for help setting up Rails on your workstation.

Download and install the Heroku ToolKit. This will create a local Heroku CLI client for creating and managing your Heroku applications and Git.

Login using the email and password you used for your Heroku account:

Heroku login

Clone your application from git:

Heroku clone application from Github

Now create an application on Heroku that will receive your Git source code:

Create Heroku application

Once complete, push your code:

git push "heroku master"

Each Heroku application is assigned a unique URL that automatically routes incoming HTTP requests to your application. Get your application using:

heroku open
Avatar

Written by

Nitheesh Poojary

My professional IT career began nine years back when I was just out of my college. I worked with a great team as an infrastructure management engineer, managing hundreds of enterprise application servers. I found my passion when I got the opportunity to work with Cloud technologies: I'm addicted to AWS Cloud Services, DevOps engineering, and all the cloud tools and technologies that make engineers' lives easier. Currently, I am working as a Solution Architect in SixNines IT. We are an experienced team of engineers that have helped hundreds of customers move to the cloud responsibly. I have achieved 5 AWS certifications, happily helping fellow engineers across the globe through my blogs and answering questions in various forums.

Related Posts

Avatar
Jeremy Cook
— September 17, 2019

Cloud Migration Risks & Benefits

If you’re like most businesses, you already have at least one workload running in the cloud. However, that doesn’t mean that cloud migration is right for everyone. While cloud environments are generally scalable, reliable, and highly available, those won’t be the only considerations dri...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Cloud Migration
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 6, 2019

Google Cloud Functions vs. AWS Lambda: The Fight for Serverless Cloud Domination

Serverless computing: What is it and why is it important? A quick background The general concept of serverless computing was introduced to the market by Amazon Web Services (AWS) around 2014 with the release of AWS Lambda. As we know, cloud computing has made it possible for users to ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 30, 2019

New on Cloud Academy: CISSP, AWS, Azure, & DevOps Labs, Python for Beginners, and more…

As Hurricane Dorian intensifies, it looks like Floridians across the entire state might have to hunker down for another big one. If you've gone through a hurricane, you know that preparing for one is no joke. You'll need a survival kit with plenty of water, flashlights, batteries, and n...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • New content
  • Product Feature
  • Python programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 22, 2019

How to Unlock Complimentary Access to Cloud Academy

Are you looking to get trained or certified on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DevOps, Cloud Security, Python, Java, or another technical skill? Then you'll want to mark your calendars for August 23, 2019. Starting Friday at 12:00 a.m. PDT (3:00 a.m. EDT), Cloud Academy is offering c...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloud academy content
  • complimentary access
  • GCP
  • on the house
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 13, 2019

Content Roadmap: AZ-500, ITIL 4, MS-100, Google Cloud Associate Engineer, and More

Last month, Cloud Academy joined forces with QA, the UK’s largest B2B skills provider, and it put us in an excellent position to solve a massive skills gap problem. As a result of this collaboration, you will see our training library grow with additions from QA’s massive catalog of 500+...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Google Cloud Platform
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 7, 2019

Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

If you want to deliver digital services of any kind, you’ll need to estimate all types of resources, not the least of which are CPU, memory, storage, and network connectivity. Which resources you choose for your delivery —  cloud-based or local — is up to you. But you’ll definitely want...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Orion Withrow
Orion Withrow
— July 24, 2019

How to Effectively Use Azure Management Groups, Subscriptions, and Resource Groups

When used individually, Azure Management Groups, Subscriptions, and Resource Groups are very powerful. But when used together, they can establish the entire organizational structure of Azure. In this article, I will explain Azure Resource Manager, Management Groups, Subscriptions an...

Read more
  • Azure
  • azure management groups
  • azure resource groups
  • azure subscriptions
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 22, 2019

Cloud Academy’s Blog Digest: July 2019

July has been a very exciting month for us at Cloud Academy. On July 10, we officially joined forces with QA, the UK’s largest B2B skills provider (read the announcement). Over the coming weeks, you will see additions from QA’s massive catalog of 500+ certification courses and 1500+ ins...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Cloud Academy
  • Cybersecurity
  • DevOps
  • Kubernetes
Avatar
Paola Di Pietro
— July 19, 2019

Top 10 Things Cybersecurity Professionals Need to Know

There has been an increase in data breaches over the recent years. With almost 143 million Americans who have had their data compromised in data breaches. These breaches include all sorts of sensitive data, including financial information, election controversies, social security, just t...

Read more
  • Azure
  • cyber security
  • Security
Avatar
Guy Hummel
— June 26, 2019

Running Apache Spark on Azure Databricks

In this article, we’ll cover how to set up an Azure Databricks cluster and how to run queries in an interactive notebook. However, this article only scratches the surface of what you can do with Azure Databricks. If you would like to learn more, including how to create graphs, run sched...

Read more
  • Azure
Avatar
Thomas Mitchell
— June 25, 2019

Understanding the Core Azure Architectural Components

Microsoft Azure relies on a few key architectural components to provide redundancy and high availability. Core Azure architectural components include Azure regions, Azure Availability Zones, resource groups, and the Azure Resource Manager. In this article, we’ll discuss the basics ab...

Read more
  • Azure
Avatar
Guy Hummel
— June 6, 2019

How to Become a Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator

Microsoft Azure is one of the hottest cloud services on the planet, and it’s growing at a phenomenal rate. This rapid growth has created a huge demand for people who know how to administer and manage Azure implementations. To make it easier for employers to verify the skills of Azure...

Read more
  • Azure
  • exam