Heroku Alternatives — Top 5 Picks

Heroku Alternatives

There’s no denying that leveraging a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) like Heroku is a great way to develop and deploy a wide range of web-based projects with minimal fuss. This cloud platform has a wide appeal and provides tremendous value for millions of developers and IT professionals. But here’s something you must know: Heroku is not always the best bet and it is important to understand when to employ another approach.

Simply put, there are a few concerns with Heroku, which include exorbitant cost, unorganized documentation, unintuitive CLI design, lack of language support, non-flexible pricing tiers, vendor lock-in with AWS, relatively short stack life cycle, and many other technical limitations. Based on latest research, more than 10,000 users each month search for “Heroku alternatives” on Google.

So, if you’re one of them and looking for a more stable backend platform for your app, then this article is specifically meant for you. Luckily, there are numerous alternatives to Heroku, but only a handful of them are genuinely useful. Below we have discussed five of the best Heroku alternatives along with their pros and cons.

1. Back4App

Back4App Logo

Back4App is a BaaS with the same flexibility of a PaaS like Heroku. Being one of the most powerful and popular BaaS solutions available today, Back4App is the perfect replacement for Heroku, thanks to its flexible pricing tiers, faster deployment speed, and many other distinctive features. Unlike Back4App, Heroku gets really expensive once you leave its free tier. It’s not just the Heroku service that is costly, the add-ons as well are pretty steep.

Moreover, in case of Heroku, larger applications tend to have slower deployments, however, Back4App has no such technical glitches. Developers can make use of this powerful platform to create and deploy scalable and extensive mobile applications at a lightning pace without boilerplate code, infrastructure hassles, and technical locks.

Pros:

· No vendor lock-in;

· Flexible pricing plans;

· Easy & smooth migration from Parse;

· Parse hosting in any cloud environment;

· Open source with a large developer community;

· An automated backup system that keeps your data secure and accessible;

· More than 40k happy customers worldwide and over 500 million connected devices;

· A dedicated team of engineers working on product improvement and support;

· A meticulously-designed architecture that helps you to improve your app’s performance and maximize productivity.

Cons:

· Lack of Documentation;

· Non-standardized UI inside the docs’ page;

2. Firebase

Firebase Logo

Firebase is another viable alternative to Heroku, and for good reason. Just like Heroku, Firebase has great CLIs which make deployment possible in just a few commands. It provides SSL encryption, custom domains, backend storage (which is a simple NoSQL database with a supporting GUI for manual entries), and everything else you would want for your app.

One of its key facets is its low price (the cost per GB of real-time data is relatively low), which gives Firebase an upper hand over Heroku and other app platforms. Also, it takes a huge burden off developers from the server viewpoint.

Pros:

· Fast and real-time updates;

· Google Analytics and AdSense support;

· Cross-platform API, cross-device support;

· Free tier up to 100 simultaneous connections;

· Robust APIs for JavaScript (including several frameworks like Angular).

Cons:

· Vendor lock-in;

· No simple way to add “Cloud Code”;

· Not possible to set custom permissions;

· Not designed for collaborative workflows;

· Only support static files (such as HTML, JavaScript, images);

· Developers can’t run any server-side node scripts inside their own server instance.

3. Google App Engine (GAE)

Another suitable alternative to Heroku is Google App Engine (GAE), which is a free tool for mounting and hosting web applications in Google-managed data centers. In technical terms, GAE is an online cloud platform which allows you to build scalable web applications and mobile backends leveraging built-in tools and API, including NoSQL datastore, user authentication API, and Memcache.

Both Heroku and GAE are logically similar as they both are PaaS solutions. Like Heroku, Google’s Cloud Platform provides you with a ready-made environment in which you can deploy your code and apps. However, it has a different pricing model and interface. Simply put, Google’s Cloud Platform interface is extremely intuitive and easy to use. It scales your apps based on traffic so that you only pay for the resources you use. With App Engine, you can take advantage of Google’s immense knowledge of running massively scalable, performance-driven systems.

Pros:

· Flexible pricing;

· Cloud-based RESTful APIs;

· Much easier to run asynchronous tasks;

· Access to big data resources for reporting and analytics;

· GAE apps are easy to create, easy to maintain, and easy to scale.

Cons:

· Platform tie-in;

· No standard SQL DB;

· Sudden downtime and task queue failures;

· Logging in is recorded and accessible through a web console;

· If you want to try GAE for free, you’ll be forced to use Cloud Datastore, which is a NoSQL database;

· The migration is almost impossible as you’re technically married to Google and its future decisions.

4. Kubernetes

kubernetes logo

Kubernetes is a Google-backed open-source container storage program for managing containerized applications in a clustered environment. It is a portable, powerful, and useful tool which can handle containers and offer immense scalability and automation at the same time. From a developer’s standpoint, it provides a robust mechanism to easily deploy and manage applications (just like Heroku), but without the constraints and vendor lock-in of an actual PaaS. This is why it is considered a good replacement for Heroku.

One of its major concerns is that it is difficult to use and is despised by most developers. Having said that, it is widely accepted by the community of developers, despite the hard installation process. One of last year’s biggest hits in the gaming industry, Pokemon Go, also used Kubernetes to manage their product and scale rapidly. The main reason behind its popularity is the amount of flexibility it offers and also the fact that it has the support of Google, one of the leading tech giants.

Pros:

· Backed by Google (GKE) and RedHat (OpenShift);

· Eliminates infrastructure lock-in by providing core capabilities for containers without imposing restrictions;

· Offers inbuilt logging and monitoring tools;

· Supports a diverse range of workloads, which include stateless, stateful, and data-processing workloads;

· Auto-scaling based on factors such as CPU utilization;

· Largest community among container orchestration tools (over 50k commits and 1,200 contributors).

Cons:

· Hard to set up and configure;

· DIY installation can be complex;

5. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

Amazon — EC2

Like Heroku, AWS is another commonly used cloud service that lets you deploy, monitor, and scale web and mobile applications. It provides you with cloud computing resources and is great for hosting applications. Two of its major offerings include Elastic Beanstalk (which is PaaS) and Elastic Compute Cloud (which is IaaS).

Heroku’s platform provides abstract computing environments known as dynos, which are strictly confined to application processes. That is to say, no other services can run on dynos. Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is the closest equivalent to Heroku’s dynos. With EC2, developers can rapidly convey and oversee applications (both web and mobile) in the Amazon Web Services Cloud without agonizing over the framework that runs those apps. EC2 is much cheaper than Heroku (one of its biggest advantage) and provides more RAM, Swap space, Storage space, and Compute power in its comparison.

Pros:

· It lets businesses distribute storage volumes independent of its computing system;

· Leveraging EC2, an enterprise can expand or reduce its capacity in just a few minutes instead of hours or days;

· Instant provisioning of new servers;

· Multiple geographic areas to run servers with a standard interface;

· Entire AWS ecosystem of services and support and community to build on.

Cons:

· Instance types are rigid;

· All servers are virtual;

· It does not include enterprise-grade support by default;

· Billing is extremely confusing;

· The learning curve is sometimes steep for larger companies;

· Cross-region communication is not available natively;

· No VPN Network to the internal network.

Still Not Able to Decide? Let Us Help!

All of the above-mentioned platforms are considered excellent as far as developing and deploying your application is concerned. However, the choice depends on a plethora of factors, including the size of your app, your financial constraints, availability of resources, and also the level of customization you need. All of these platforms differ each other in terms of user engagement, pricing, deployment, functionality, and features. Also, each of them has its own benefits and drawbacks, so a thorough knowledge of what each platform offers is essential in making the right choice. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Being a hardcore app developer, I’d personally recommend you to use Back4App for your next app project. I’ve been using it for a while now, and I must say the experience has been wonderful and trouble-free. Thanks to their serverless architecture, you don’t have to worry about managing servers and backend infrastructures. Plus, the freemium package they offer is beyond words. It allows you to run multiple apps comfortably without upgrading to a paid subscription.

If you’re ready to give Back4App a try, then don’t wait any longer. Sign up here for free today and cut your platform costs by 4X.

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Tech addicted and Software Architect

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