Battle of the Hosting Titans or A Project That Will Drive Me Crazy…?

Heroku vs Digital Ocean: An Experiment in the Making

I have been a loyal customer of MediaTemple for years. They made my hosting needs extremely easy. I loved the customer service. I hosted sites for friends and family with ease. I just loved it.

However, as I got further into my development career and wanted more, I felt my tier was very lacking. I was paying $20 a month for a GridContainer. While it served my basic needs, it left me with no access to the root where all the fun happens. Being a true tinker, this was unacceptable. At the company I worked at, we use Heroku and DigitalOcean on a few sites. I loved features that came with Heroku but I loved the control that came with DigitalOcean.

Like any great developer, I turned to Google for some good comparisons between DigitalOcean and Heroku. I found a few blog posts and Quora posts but nothing answered my questions exactly. I wanted someone to spell it out for me. You know…make my life easier. Isn’t that what Google is for?? Since I couldn’t find the answers, I figured I’d do a little experiment to answer my own question. Plus it gave me a chance to play with new stuff. (TOYS!!!)

Heroku is a PaaS — i.e. Platform as a service, letting you run apps on their platform their way. Digital Ocean is an IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service, which gives you raw servers to compose as you want to run your app. The differences are mainly around pricing and control vs effort.
— An answer on Quora by Russell Smith

For starters, I am not a DevOps guy. I’m a front-end developer with some backend chops. I have worked in both, DigitalOcean and Heroku, before but it was like someone’s grandmother poking around an iPhone: slow and cautious with lots of questions and fear I would burn the internet down with every click. I do know that Heroku is a PaaS (Platform as a Service) and DigitalOcean is a IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). The comparison between the two only comes up because people rely on both in some capacity for hosting for some sort of site, web app or API. However, because they are basically different, there are less solid answers as to which you should turn to when you’re looking for a new hosting solution.

SO here we are! My goal is to take my portfolio that is ran off of Perch CMS and a legacy WordPress blog, host them on both services for one month each and record my findings. AGAIN…I am by no means a DevOps guy. I will be depending the services’ documentation, customer service reps, StackOverflow and Google for all of my needs. Since I have credits with DigitalOcean (and because my coworker called heads for DigitalOcean on a coin toss), DigitalOcean will be first up.

I’ll simply post findings, frustrations, tip and tricks, rants and raves about my experience for the next person that is looking at Heroku and DigitalOcean for their hosting needs.

Wish me luck. 👍🏾