If you want to get access to top-notch cloud infrastructure, you’ll have to spend tons of money. Nowadays both huge enterprises and small startups strive to find the best cloud solution for storing and managing their projects.
The appropriate cloud technology service also allows businesses to deploy, control, and scale all the steps of mobile or web development without extra efforts. It allows companies to focus on business strategy and other essential processes instead of technical stuff.
There are many smart solutions designed to cover these goals, but the most popular ones are Heroku and AWS. They both perfectly fit for storing your projects. Both have their obvious benefits and pitfalls. In this post, we are going to compare them and find out the leader in the dispute “AWS vs Heroku”.
Before we start the comparison, let’s highlight the key advantages of cloud technologies in general.
Why are cloud services popular?
There are three main factors worth to be considered:
- Safety and data backup. Cloud technology platforms guarantee the safety of your data since they stored on well-protected servers, so you can restore them if something went wrong.
- Flexibility. Cloud technologies provide high flexibility of operations and give the ability to manage data in multiple ways.
- Collective data usage. Such services are designed to provide permanent access to the data. You are able to edit and change files from anywhere. The services look extremely convenient when developers and customers are located in different parts of the world.
Now let’s dive deeper into the essence of two platforms.
What should you know about AWS?
AWS is an Amazon web service. This is an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) platform that proposes its users reliable, flexible, easy-to-use, and scalable cloud computing solutions.
It includes numerous useful services with different goals and facilitates dealing with databases, management, deployment, analytics, etc. Among the most popular services on this platform, we can highlight S3 and EC2 (Amazon Simple Storage Service and Elastic Compute Cloud).
What do we know about Heroku?
Heroku is a cloud service provider and software development tool that provides efficient and fast creating, deploying and scaling of web applications. This AWS PaaS solution (Platform as a Service) differs a lot from the Amazon proposition. It has over 140 add-ons aimed to cover various targets from notifications to security services. In fact, Heroku is an easy-to-use platform that allows increasing the productivity of your team by creating an appropriate environment for development processes. The platform is owned by Salesforce.
IaaS vs PaaS: Key Difference
The IaaS solution requires manual configuration of the server infrastructure and app, while the PaaS service provides tools ready-made for work which you cannot manage.
Small business owners should consider the PaaS option, as it will allow choosing the settings they need and avoiding lots of things that their project simply doesn’t require.
Comparing the platform’s model
You remember that AWS is an IaaS platform, while Heroku represents a PaaS.
Using Heroku, you will get a limited set of languages, databases, and environments (Linux operating system, Java, Ruby, Node.js, Scala, Clojure, PHP, Cloudant, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL). All work well within that limited set, especially for Ruby-based applications and platforms.
The real drawback is that your choice is objectively limited and you are locked into Heroku’s proprietary file system. It means that the files you store on your server will disappear after the server shuts down. Moreover, there is no guarantee that on other servers, your app is running on, and no other service can be run on dynos (except those on the Heroku list).
The AWS solution looks like a much more powerful setup, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you will likely to mess things up. It will require advanced skills to set up and administer the OS and deploy your own applications. However, everything will be easier thanks to the huge number of preconfigured machine images of effective platform combos: Windows Server SQL Server, Linux Apache MySQL, etc.
Unlike Heroku, Amazon supports Windows and other Unix flavors. However, the AWS system cannot scale horizontally as easily as its opponent can.
Comparing ease of use
Well, Heroku loses out to AWS in data storage options and popularity and, but when it comes to ease-of-use, it has the edge. You are able to deploy Heroku from zero to begin work within just a few minutes with no prior setup (depending on your app). This platform has everything for automating a lot of the server setup and provisioning you would need to do if you were deploying your apps on AWS.
Heroku will abstract away from the infrastructure management to let you focus on deploying your app and auto-scaling it in real-time. Even small under-resourced teams can use Heroku without spending precious time managing their IT infrastructure.
Heroku also wins in terms of easiness because of Github integration, smart containers, and scaling. It is rather important for product-focused startups where infrastructure is not the differentiating factor, and it makes sense to apply Heroku over AWS just to move faster.
AWS has realized that its large ecosystem can get unwieldy, so Amazon has sought to make its interface manageable. As a result, AWS remains one of the most complex but most flexible cloud platforms.
AWS is famous for its sheer size and the number of popular websites with huge user bases it hosts (Reddit, GitHub, Reddit, Pinterest, Netflix, etc). The platform downtime makes the news, meaning mainstream news, not only tech ones.
The interface of AWS is quite intuitive and easy to use. It offers a handy GUI management console for setup and monitoring and a CLI for advanced configurations. Its community support looks excellent.
Heroku seems better in the service outage department. Because it is Git-based, deployments are simple to realize, and the community is really active.
Popularity is an area in which Amazon Web Services certainly wins. It came to this market with a confident determination at a time when the market was new. AWS has made its cloud services available in regions all over the world.
Nowadays Amazon Web Services can meet the needs of the widest range of computing businesses, considering the depth of their investment into this market. More than 9 million websites live on the internet with AWS providing cloud hosting services or some other part of the stack, so you can imagine how impressive its user base is.
Heroku looks appealing and strong for its particular target market. However, it remains quite selective, making this platform less of a direct competitor for AWS EC2 than would be the case with cloud providers like Microsoft Azure. There are over 100K websites that use Heroku.
These numbers give a valuable vision of the magnitudes of difference in the user bases of these two cloud computing technologies. The difference in usage numbers also bears clues to the AWS win.
Pricing is the area where it is not easy to make a direct comparison Moreover, the cloud pricing battles have been continuing for years, with instances of price reductions being announced by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.
Both platforms propose a free virtual server for basic setups. AWS attracts clients with a free micro instance for the first year that costs above $15 per month.
Dyno is a Heroku’s server and the first dyno is free for perpetuity. However, the basic dyno can not do very much, so if your app has a larger memory footprint – you will need additional ones. Additional dynos cost $25-$50 per month.
Heroku vs AWS: How to Make the Right Choice for Your Business?
After reviewing these cloud solutions and defining their key differences, you can pick the one that will work for your project better.
Apply AWS in case:
- Your project requires huge computing power
- You are looking for a flexible infrastructure
- You have not deployed your application yet
- You can provide the work of DevOps engineers
- You have time to deploy the new app’s version
Choose Heroku if:
- Your project doesn’t require vast computing power
- Your aim is to build, deploy and test an MVP app
- You are going to use customer reviews for improving your app
- You don’t have DevOps engineers
After all, do not hesitate that AWS and Heroku are both reliable cloud-based solutions trusted by millions of users. You may switch between them any time in case your app demands a custom infrastructure or you want to change a hosting plan.