AWS vs Heroku: Cloud Platform Comparison for 2017

When you run a web project, no matter whether it is a small API solution or full-featured web application, you'll reach the point of hosting your service and making it available to the world. Today, there is a great number of options, but we'll drill down our favorites and also mention some alternatives to give you the general idea of the market.

Amazon Web Services

AWS vs Heroku cloud platforms for startups

AWSis a massive collection of cloud-computing services that build up a fully-fledged platform offered by since 2004. In fact, it can be called a powerhouse of databases, storage, management, analytics, networking and deployment/delivery options offered to developers. AWS Cloud is available in 16 geographic regions and it is still growing.

Currently, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) are among the far-famed services, together with ever-expanding database library, load balancing, and ready-to-use deployment configuration. Among the core benefits of Amazon platform: level of control, comprehensive analytics, useful insights and ability to access the inner workings of your application.


  • Unreliable deployment with no error description and manual troubleshooting;
  • Lengthy deployment process that can take up to 15-20 minutes, even for simple website with two front-ends;
  • Lack of transparency with updates and new stack versions.


AWS and Heroku for business

Heroku is a cloud platform that offers an efficient and tuned place for building, deploying and scaling web applications. Its ecosystem is made up of over 140 add-ons, ranging from alerts and notifications to databases, analytics tools or security services to monitoring, caching, mailing or networking add-ons. 

Herokucloud is designed to boost your team's productivity, making the development and rolling-out processes more efficient and convenient. However, in all circumstance, when people compare AWS vs Heroku, they mainly talk about direct Heroku competitor, namely AWS Elastic Beanstalk. Likewise, it allows you to deploy and manage web apps in the AWS Cloud not worrying about the infrastructure.  


  • Lack of control over load balancing and scaling, that can lead to bottlenecks in the long run;
  • Expensive scaling;
  • Good fit for start, but they don't provide with a full server control.

Related article: Tips & Tricks on How to Develop Software for Startups

AWS vs Heroku comparison table:

Amazon Web Services
OwnerAmazon.comSalesforce.comHosted onProprietary serversAmazon's data centersService typeIaaS (Amazon EC2)

PaaS (Amazon Elastic Beanstalk)
PaaSLanguages.NET, Ruby, NodeJS, Go, Docker, PHP, PythonNode.js, Java, Ruby, PHP, Python, Go, Scala, ClojureGeographic regionsUSA, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, ChinaEurope, USA, Australia, JapanKey features
  • Various deployment options and ability to roll back to the previous version;
  • Full control over app health or servers changes with email notifications;

  • Quick restart of all app servers with a single command;
  • Adaptive load balancing spreads out the incoming app traffic across instances automatically;
  • Automatic scaling of your web application based on its particular needs and defined conditions;
  • Fully manageable runtime environment with smart containers (dynos) system;
  • Manual horizontal and vertical scaling;

  • Ability to roll back your database or code in no time;
  • On-board app monitoring system to keep track of metrics, like response time, throughput, memory, etc.
  • Consistent GitHub integration; 
Categories of clientsStartups, Medium Businesses, Large Enterprises;Freelancers, Startups, Medium Businesses, Large Enterprises (Heroku Enterprise);Used by3M Health Information Systems, BMW Group, Airbnb, Coursera, Atlassian, Discovery Communications and others.Product Hunt, Macy's, Toyota, Citrix, Westfield, Carbon Five, Lutron, Yesware, Greystone and many others.

Why the cloud?

Currently, cloud computing is one of the hottest topics in the IT industry. No matter whether you are just migrating to the cloud, storing files there or deploying software, more and more companies are concerning themselves with the benefits that it can offer to the businesses.

Comparison of AWS and Heroku cloud computing

IDC forecasts that international spending on public cloud platforms will increase from about $70 billion in 2015 to over $141 billion in 2019. Why are companies moving to the cloud? Such platforms offer multiple advantages over local hosting and the top 6 benefits are:

  • Operational flexibility is among the core reasons why businesses adopt cloud services: if you need to scale up or down cloud platform scales with you;
  • Cloud-based backup and recovery solutions are a worth investment for businesses of all sizes, as they also help to save time and avoid upfront investment;
  • Cloud vendor takes care of all the software and security updates, together with management of email and file servers, backups control and so on;
  • Ability to access, edit and share files anywhere, anytime and in real time enhances team collaboration, increase employees' productivity and offers more flexibility;
  • All documents are stored centrally, avoiding the mess with formats, versions or titles. Your team doesn't have to send files back and forth for editing or reviewing;
  • Cloud computing provides startups with access to world-class enterprise technologies, ensuring a competitive edge in the global market, ability to act faster and stay nimble.

Related article: To Develop a Web App: How Long & How Much?

Heroku vs AWS 2017: The alternatives

Amazon is definitely among the leading providers of cloud services, but due to its complexity, cost and issues that took place in February 2017 and September 2015 more and more users tend to explore other alternatives. Currently Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are the biggest competitors and main alternatives to Amazon.

The popularity of Azure is still growing, especially since its team-up with Mesosphere and Docker. It offers quick and easy setup of VMs, auto scaling based on live traffic, continuous functioning under maximum loads, support of various programming languages and operating systems, built-in continuous deployment and so on.

Google Cloud is considered as one of the most affordable solutions offering rich toolset for Big Data. It provides developers with live VMs migration, time-proven security system, redundant backup, swift performance and much more.

AWS and Heroku cloud computing

Talking about Heroku alternatives users mainly refer to Digital Ocean.

In 2015 Digital Ocean was named the 2nd largest hosting provider in the world and in 2016 Forbes included it in the world's best 100 cloud companies list. DO focuses on high-level security, rich developer tools, reliable infrastructure, powerful SSD's and comprehensive documentation.  

However, the list isn't complete. There are other hosting providers, like Apache CloudStack, RackSpace, Brightbox, SoftLayer, Codero, Media Temple, Linode, Vultr, and many others. All the solutions can be good choices, depending on your cost expectations, project size and future goals.

Final thoughts

We live in a time when both big established companies and startups can access top-notch enterprise infrastructure for computing, storage, and management of their next innovative online services. Such approach allows organizations to focus on business strategy, improvement of the operational process and so increase performance.

While choosing between Heroku vs AWS vs local machine, initially you should consider the costs and resources availability for machines' administration. Running own datacenters, you take responsibility for getting them up and running, checking, updating and supporting 24/7 at any later dates. With Amazon Web Services and Heroku all the responsibility is shifted on cloud vendors. 
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