Heroku vs AWS: Which Cloud Platform to Choose in 2018?

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22 Jan 2018
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Vitaly K.
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In our time, it's not necessary to spend tons of money to get the access to top-notch cloud infrastructure. So, not only huge enterprises but small startups can afford themselves to use cloud solutions for storing and managing their projects. Adaptation of cloud technology services also allows companies to deploy, control and scale all the stages of mobile or web development. In other words, companies may focus on business strategy and other processes instead of technical stuff.  

Nowadays, there is a myriad of solutions designed to cover these purposes but still, the most popular ones are Amazon Web Services along with the service called Heroku. Both of them fit well for storing your projects. However, it may be hard to see all the pros and cons of these services in case you haven't much experience. That's why we decided to compare them and find out advantages of using AWS, as well as advantages of Heroku.

Why use cloud services?

Before we start Heroku vs Amazon AWS comparison, let's consider the main advantages of cloud technologies in general.

Flexibility

First of all, cloud technologies bring the flexibility of operations and the capacity to manage your data in multiple ways.  

Data backup

Using cloud technology platform you shouldn't worry about the safety of your data since it's stored on well-protected servers and you can restore it in case something went wrong.

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Collective data usage

Cloud technology services are also aimed at providing you and your team with the permanent access to the data. So, you can edit and even change files from anywhere in the world. Besides, it's extremely convenient solution if a customer and team of developers are situated in different parts of the world. 

What is AWS?

Companies using AWS: Airbnb, Foursquare, Spotify, Ubisoft

AWS is primarily an Infrastructure as a Service platform. It includes dozens of services with various 'mission' and facilitates dealing with databases, management, as well as analytics, deployment etc. Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), as well as Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) are the most popular cloud technology services on this platform.

What is AWS: List of services

What is Amazon Web Services: Their types

AWS Elastic Compute Cloud

AWS Elastic Compute Cloud is a flexible computing IaaS service. However, before you'll be able to deploy your application on EC2, you need to develop a server infrastructure fitting your project. In other words, you or your team should manually set up and support virtual servers that launch the app. Also, you should add database instances, as well as choose and configure an operating system.

EC2 provides you with building blocks and your task isn't only to configure these blocks, but to choose the best ones for your app and manage them. In most companies that specialize in web development, such responsibilities as app deployment control and organization of EC2 infrastructure are borne on DevOps engineers.

So, one of AWS benefits is that it's capable of creating infrastructure ahead of the deployment process. It can be the vital factor for big projects. Except for these, by using Amazon Web Services you're also able to support the load balancing of your data and help you to bypass manual settings with the help of auto-scaling. Besides, you can work with ready-made templates and several configurations.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk

If you run into the comparison of Heroku and AWS, it's most likely about the direct competitor of Heroku -- AWS Elastic Beanstalk which is the PaaS service. In short, this service allows deploying applications with ease in AWS Cloud by means of commands. You can run commands by using the Management Console or another interface provided by AWS. After the deployment, this service can manage infrastructure without your control.

Talking about the main AWS advantages, we can point out the level of control, analytics, helpful insights, as well as the access to the internal 'mechanism' of your app.

What companies use Amazon Web Services

Companies that use Amazon Web Services

What is Heroku?

Companies that use Heroku: Product Hunt, Toyota, Unsplash, Facebook

It is the AWS-based Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution that differs a lot from the one proposed by Amazon. This cloud-based platform offers its customers the place where they can build, deploy and scale their applications. Heroku has add-ons (over 140) intended to cover different purposes from notifications to security services.

In general, this cloud technology service is more easy-to-use if compared to Elastic Compute Cloud and allows to increase the productivity of your team creating the convenient environment for rolling-out and development processes.

Remember that you should know the IaaS and PaaS difference in order to deploy and manage your apps.

Why use Heroku: Companies that use it

Companies that use Heroku

Main difference between AWS and Heroku

Now, let's consider the main differences between Heroku and AWS in order to detect their weak and strong sides. Talking about programming languages that are supported by these platforms -- you can see them underneath.

Advantages of cloud technology: Languages AWS and Heroku support

Languages that are supported by Heroku and AWS cloud-based services

IaaS or PaaS?

Infrastructure as a Service implies manual configuration of the server infrastructure and app, while Platform as a Service provides ready-made for work tools that you cannot manage.

If you're the owner of small business, you should consider the variant of Platform as a Service that'll allow you to choose the settings you need and don't bother with lots of things that your project simply doesn't require.

However, if you're intended to launch a big project -- consider Infrastructure as a Service. With its help, you will have the opportunity to manage building blocks of your project as it scales.

AWS vs Heroku pricing

Probably, one of the biggest Amazon Web Services advantages is pricing. Nowadays, the prices start from $0,013 per hour and that's one of the lowest prices in this sphere. Talking about Heroku, it costs $0,05 per hour. So, if you are on a tight budget AWS can be a better choice for you.

Fast deployment of apps in AWS and Heroku

These cloud-based solutions were created to make the deployment process as fast as possible and both of them give you an opportunity to monitor the workability of your apps. However, Heroku provides a ready-to-use environment where you can just enter your code, make a few changes to the configuration, and voila -- you can run your application. In addition, you can perform the migration and run apps much faster if compared to AWS. Such a rapid deployment process makes Heroku a perfect choice for apps in which some changes or improvements based on customers' reviews are needed.

Why use Amazon Web Services

AWS advantages:

  • Scalability
  • Many features
  • Easy to create a new server 

Additional requirements: You should know the basics of Unix administration to have an opportunity to work with this cloud-based platform. So it usually demands to hire a developer that has some experience with Amazon AWS.

Pricing: AWS has the lowest prices in this sphere, but its price policy is quite variable.

Ease of usage: From medium to advanced.

Why use Heroku

Heroku advantages:

  • You can create a new server in just 10 seconds by using the interface of Heroku Command Line. 
  • Deployment is done with the help of Git Push.
  • Add-ons facilitate dealing with additional resources (e.g. Redis, Solr) and make easier the log analysis.
  • Free if you're using one web stream, without bandwidth limitations. 

Additional requirements: You should deploy with Git and scalability isn't automated.

Pricing: Costs a bit more if compared to AWS, but you won't have to do manually lots of functions.

Ease of usage: Appropriate for beginners.

What to choose for a startup: Heroku vs AWS

So, we have already considered both cloud technology solutions and tried to figure out their main differences. Let's now define which of them you should choose for your project.

You should use AWS if:

  • You haven't deployed your app yet and you need a flexible infrastructure.
  • You have one or more DevOps engineers who can configure and manage the infrastructure.
  • You have some time to spend it on the deployment of the new version of your web or mobile application.
  • Your project requires huge computing power. 

You should use Heroku if:

  • You need to deploy and test the minimum viable product (MVP).
  • You have the constant need for improving your app based on the reviews of users.
  • You cannot afford to hire one or several DevOps engineers.
  • Your project doesn't require huge computing power.   

Minimum Viable Product. What is the use of a MVP?

Both Heroku and AWS are great cloud-based platforms to use. At the same time, they are completely different in certain key areas. That's why it's important to understand that each feature matters when it comes to choosing the right platform for your app. There is no clear winner.

The most important thing is to contact professionals with the experience of working with these services that can consult you concerning which one is a better choice for your project.

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