Heroku Alternatives for Deploying Your Web Apps

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Until a few years ago, Heroku was one of the biggest and best PAASs for web developers looking to deploy all kinds of web applications.

Its popularity came from its ability to host diverse projects, extensive support, and ease of use through useful integrations. Recently, however, things seem to have changed for Heroku. Developers are slowly opting out of using this platform and considering other options.

If you are a developer looking for better options, this article will explore why Heroku is no longer the developers’ favorite and 5 alternatives for deploying your next web app.

Why Change From Heroku? 

Firstly, the Heroku app was a favorite among developers because it came with a wide range of benefits. These benefits allowed developers to deploy their websites faster without having to worry about the accompanying infrastructure. 

Some of these benefits include: 

  • It supports different languages and frameworks. For example, Heroku supports Django apps.
  • The Heroku CLI is designed for better management of your web apps.
  • It has different payment tiers including a free plan that allows developers to use the platform as a staging area for their ideas.
  • An assortment of Add-ons and build packs that make the deployment management and scaling of web apps easier. 
  • Easy integration with platforms such as GitHub.  

Even now you can still enjoy most of these benefits on the platform as not much has changed over the years. 

There are a few things, however, that are making developers look elsewhere when deploying their web apps. These include:

It Can Get Expensive

If you happen to visit Heroku’s pricing page, you might think it offers rather cheap services. For example, its Production package, which you get when you start moving up from the Free and Hobby package, starts at $25 a month. 

However, note the language, the pricing starts from $25

Heroku works with Dynos which are priced differently and are needed to support your website. Thus, the price will start increasing drastically once you move from the free plan. 

Deployments Get Slower as You Scale 

The initial deployment to Heroku is rather swift. This will continue with subsequent upgrades until your application gets too big. From then on, and as you scale, every deployment will take more time depending on your web app. 

This can hurt your business. 

There’s an Add-On Limitation 

Heroku has a rich add-on system that allows you to integrate thousands of add-ons to your website However, there is still a limitation on the kind of add-ons you can use on your web app. 

Unless your preferred add-ons have a Heroku plugin, it is going to be impossible to use your favorite add-ons. 

It’s Not Accessible to Everyone 

Heroku’s accessibility issues stem from it running on AWS and only being accessible to US and Europe users. 

Therefore, if your web app has customers from other regions, you might face some increased load times or latency. This might hurt user experience and affect your business on a larger scale. 

The only counter to this problem is to pay more and even then it only works in some regions. 

What Are the Heroku Alternatives for Deploying Your Web Apps?

Azure 

Made by Microsoft, Azure is a public cloud computing platform offering cloud services such as Infrastructure as a service, Platform as a service, Software as a service, and Serverless

As a Platform as a service solution, Azure is designed to help developers quickly deploy and scale their web apps to the cloud. 

It supports a wide range of popular programming languages and frameworks and has an extensive CI/CD integration system with services such as the Azure Container Registry, Git, Bitbucket, and Docker. 

Pros  Cons
  • It has a free tier package that offers you $200 worth of credit to use in 30 days.
  • It supports a wide range of popular programming languages and frameworks.
  • Its free option comes with services such as Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, and Azure DevOps.
  • It supports different databases and database infrastructures such as PostgreSQL and MySQL. 
  • It has a steep learning curve
  • Some payment packages are priced on a per-hour basis which can get confusing. 
Netlify 

Netlify is a cloud hosting provider and one of the most popular options for developers looking to deploy both secure and scalable websites and apps.

If you are interested in a serverless backend service for your static website, then Netlify is a clear answer.

It is a simple-to-use product with access to GitHub so that users can connect to their repositories and source their code. Other services it is able to seamlessly connect to include GitLab AND Bitbucket for continuous deployment of your website. 

Some of Netlify’s best features include

  • Advanced integration features that allow you to connect to any framework, data source, and tool. 
  • One-click community plugins with the option of building your own for enhanced performance. 
  • Monorepo support so you can deploy code from one repository into multiple Netlify websites. 
  • Global distribution across multiple clouds for easier access to anyone around the world. 
Pros  Cons
  • It has a free tier.
  • Netlify is easy to use.
  • It has a built-in DNS management solution
  • Its form submissions feature makes it easy to collect user information for your business
  • It has advanced integration features that make it easy to work with. 
  • The deployment process is simple enough so that you don’t have to waste a lot of time. 
  • The cost of running your web app might increase significantly as you scale your business because they charge on a per-member basis.  
Firebase

Made by Google, Firebase is a backend cloud service platform designed to help developers build useful apps, release them, monitor, and engage users for growth.

 On the face of it, Firebase looks like a mobile app hosting service, especially since it is what you see on the main page. 

However, it is possible to handle your web development services through their advanced service that provides you with features such as hosting, file storage, an easy-to-use database, and authentication. Also, you get the advantage of integrating your web app with tons of Google services. 

Pros  Cons
  • Firebase comes with a secure authentication system. 
  • It has great integration features with access to Google services. 
  • It has a free tier
  • It supports multiple languages such as Java, JavaScript, C++, and Objective-C. 
  • It can get quite expensive as your user base grows. 
  • The database setup is quite complex and might take some time to set up. 
AWS Elastic Beanstalk 

AWS Beanstalk is a PAAS built to help you deploy and scale web applications by providing you with all the resources that make it to run a fully functional web app. 

Elastic Beanstalk works by providing you with the resources you need to run a fully functional web app. They will not charge you to deploy your website but you will have to pay for these resources. 

So for example, depending on your web app or service, you can get resources such as S3 buckets, database instances, backup storage, and data transfer.

With AWS, you don’t have to worry about configuring operating systems, web servers, or other resources. This gives you more time to focus on your code. 

AWS Elastic Beanstalk will also patch and manage all security updates for your web app. 

Pros  Cons
  • They do most of the work for you.
  • You only pay for the resources you need for your web app. 
  • They have an auto-scaling feature that allows your business to grow with demand. 
  • They support more than 10 programming languages. 
  • There is a steep learning curve, especially for beginners. 
  • Deployments can be slow based on the kind of application you want to launch. 
Google App Engine 

As a web developer looking at Google App Engine, the biggest and perhaps the best benefit of using this service is that your app will run on the same system that powers Google applications. So you should expect reliability and a performance-driven infrastructure already set up for you to use. 

Some of the features you can expect from Google App Engine include application security that safeguards your app, a fully managed environment to handle your underlying infrastructure, application versioning that hosts all the different versions of your app, and much more. 

Pros  Cons
  • You’ll enjoy an already set up and optimized infrastructure that supports Google apps. 
  • It supports all the popular languages such as Python, JavaScript, and PHP. 
  • The underlying infrastructure is already set up so you only have to focus on your code. 
  • It comes with extensive documentation 
  • Your app will benefit from powerful application diagnostics. 
  • It can get costly as you scale. 
  • There is a steep learning curve, especially for beginners. 
Kubernetes 

Kubernetes is yet another option for developers looking to deploy web applications. Also known as ‘K8s’, Kubernetes is an open-source system for containers. 

It was developed by Google and comes with the added benefit of automating tasks such as deployment and scaling of your app that are otherwise time-consuming and sometimes complicated. 

Some of the features you should expect to see when using this system include

  • Stability due to different factors including rolling updates which reduce downtime. 
  • A variety of cloud-native software tools to boost productivity.
  • Dynamic infrastructure that allows you to move and manage your workloads depending on your needs. 
Pros  Cons
  • It comes with automated rollout and rollbacks. 
  • It is a popular technology so there’s plenty of documentation and help when earning it. 
  • It boosts an efficient workflow with other cloud-native tools. 
  • It is a cheaper solution than most products in the market. 
  • Its steep learning curve can affect productivity. 
  • It might not be suitable for small projects such as MVPs. 

Should I Abandon Heroku?

It depends. 

As a beginner, Heroku is among the best products to use to learn the ropes on deployment for your web applications. Having been around for years, there is enough documentation that allows you to deploy projects on your own. 

Ultimately though, the deciding factor on whether you want to jump from Heroku or not lies in the kind of projects you are handling. If you wish to stick to Heroku and maybe learn the ropes, stick around as I take you through deploying your first website on Heroku using a live website. 

Conclusion

If you wish to move on from Heroku, it helps to pick a service depending on the project at hand. This ensures better use of resources and helps you avoid some of the costs that are associated with some services. 

For example, if you simply want to build small MVPs, Firebase is a great option. However, if you are going for larger applications, Kubernetes is a safe option. 


Don is a freelance content writer and web developer. When he is not writing content or code, he is building or dismantling things with his hands... or taking a nap.


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