Both Heroku and AWS have become great examples of a rapidly developing and highly demanded area of technologies called cloud computing. To ensure that, let's bring the statistics: the global cloud computing market grew from USD 145 billion in 2017 to USD 371.4 billion in 2020, experiencing a 255.8% growth in value.
It is also expected to reach USD 832.1 billion by 2025 and USD 1 251.09 billion by 2028. Thus, the market size has already almost tripled during 4 years, and the forecasts promise we will see further market growth above the 300% mark.
Sounds impressive, right? But let’s get back to the Heroku vs AWS comparison.
AWS (or Amazon Web Services) is one of the key players in the IaaS and PaaS public cloud service market. A large number of PaaS and IaaS cloud technologies are built on top of Amazon Web Services. An example of a top AWS-based PaaS provider is Heroku. Just because of that, Heroku and AWS aren’t direct competitors in the same market space since Heroku is dependent upon AWS. So let’s find out the difference between them. In this article we cover several topics :
- What is AWS
- What is Heroku
- Heroku vs AWS comparison
- When to use AWS
- When to use Heroku
What is AWS
AWS or Amazon Web Services is the most broadly used cloud platform that offers a massive collection of fully-featured services globally. Amazon offers all types of cloud computing models: PaaS, SaaS, IaaS.
Its services help developers to deal with databases, analytics, deployment, the powerhouse of storage, networking and enable customers to build more resilient, secure, and complex systems on top of AWS.
The most popular AWS services are:
- Amazon Simple Storage Service (or Amazon S3)
- Elastic Compute Cloud (or EC2)
- AWS Lambda
These services are a part of the AWS IaaS platform, which is a subject of comparison in this article.
What is Heroku
Heroku is a container-based cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) built on top of AWS that developers use to build, deploy, and scale applications. If you use Heroku, your apps run in Linux containers from Heroku called dynos.
Heroku takes a carefully selected set of AWS services and packages them into an easy-to-use platform for app development. It is much more user-friendly compared to EC2, for example. Developers do not need to worry about setting up the infrastructure or managing the AWS environment because Heroku has already taken care of it.
Heroku's bottom line is to get the environment for deploying and developing processes without the hassle of machine setup.
As a part of the Heroku experience, you get more than 100 add-ons that serve a variety of purposes, like content management, notifications, alerts, monitoring, security, and others.
Criteria of comparison
- Platform background - choosing a platform that will become the basis for the future app, take into account its development history and vendor that updates, supports, and improves that platform.
- Supported regions - geographic availability of services around the world.
- Community and popularity - it’s always great when technology has a large community of developers and a large set of already solved issues.
- Features - some facts about platforms and opportunities developers get using a platform.
- Addons and services - since both platforms are packed with additional services that empower developers and facilitate fast and effective building, deploying, and scaling of web applications, they are worth mentioning.
- Pricing - the cost of using services always stays a topic for discussion, regardless of the size of a customer company and project budget.
- Ease of use - more complex platforms require skilled developers and their time to configure the platform. Their working hours are also to pay so that criteria can become an additional latent expense.
- Deployment speed and flexibility - the balance between opportunities for manual configuration and the speed of deploying a ready-to-use environment can be crucial for some types of projects.
As all criteria are defined, let’s jump to the comparison itself. We prepared a short, convenient table where you can find the whole point of the Heroku vs AWS comparison.
Heroku vs AWS comparison
Comparing the AWS IaaS platform and Heroku as a PaaS, it’s good to highlight a difference between these two cloud models:
IaaS provides developers with the products they need to build a development environment on top of it. PaaS gives a ready-to-use environment where developers can push code, make some basic configurations, and run applications. Now go to the comparison table:
Heroku vs AWS: key differences
- Heroku is a cloud Platform as a Service built on top of AWS, while AWS is a cloud services provider of a massive collection of solutions that includes PaaS, SaaS, IaaS.
- Heroku was acquired by Salesforce after its commercial success, while AWS was developed and owned by Amazon.
- AWS offers support for a wider range of geographical zones than Heroku (25 regions around the world with AWS vs some states in the United States, Europe, Ireland, Australia, Japan with Heroku).
- Amazon Web Services have a very huge community of software developers who actively use them. Amazon holds the first position on the huge cloud computing market as a cloud service provider. Heroku, for its part, earned a reputation as a cloud platform in a certain niche of rapid app development.
- Both Heroku and AWS offer a wide range of addons and services for various purposes. Heroku offers addons for the PaaS model, while AWS offers services for IaaS, PaaS, SaaS models.
- Heroku has 4 different service plans, one of which is a free plan for non-commercial apps with limited up to 1000 free hours of computing capacity containers called “dynos”. AWS offers free tiers for every service and 750 free hours of computing capacity per month for EC2 instances.
- AWS is cheaper than Heroku. One compute capacity with 512MB RAM costs 3$ per month for an AWS instance and 25$ per month for a Heroku dyno.
- Heroku is known for the simplicity of its use. The efforts required to get the app running on the settled environment are maybe a few lines of code and a git push with no prior setup of any kind in place.
- Heroku offers less flexibility and control over the computing infrastructure, but a high deployment speed. AWS provides great flexibility but requires a skilled specialist to manage the computing infrastructure.
Heroku vs AWS - winner
Heroku and AWS serve similar goals but should be used in different use cases.
Use AWS if:
• You need full control over the server and environment configurations
• Your app requires much more than 14GB RAM dynos
• You don’t want to be confined by a PaaS platform and its way of doing things
• You need auto-scaling
Use Heroku if:
• You have no desire and opportunities to manage computing infrastructure
• You have no time to deploy IT infrastructure by yourself
• You want a clearly defined expenditure on infrastructure for every used dyno (AWS requires a skilled specialist and time to deploy the infrastructure)
• You like Git
If there are any questions left on Heroku vs AWS comparison, feel free to contact us.