9 Simple Steps to Deploy a Backend Application to Heroku
From Simplicity and Speed, Scalability to Security, discover the benefits and valuable tips on how to deploy your backend applications with PaaS like Heroku.
You’ve coded your back-end application, and now comes the tricky part – deploying it. From configuration issues to version updates and the inherent struggles of dependency management – deployment comes with various challenges that can break your application’s success.
The extended flexibility and reliability of cloud infrastructure make it an attractive place to deploy your application, and 47% of companies agree – stating that they follow a cloud-first policy for application deployment. But budget constraints are putting on-prem IT models back on the map and making businesses wonder whether the cloud really is the best way forward.
Even Heroku, a well-known name in the Platform as a Service (PaaS), has felt this shift, with users citing high costs and subpar user experience as key reasons to consider other PaaS options. This article shows how to simplify your back-end application deployment to Heroku and gives you some valuable tips on deploying with PaaS.
Table of Contents
- Benefits of Deploying with PaaS
- Those Pesky Deployment Challenges
- 9 Simple Steps to Deploy a Backend Application to Heroku
- The X-Factor – Control Plane’s Advantage
Benefits of Deploying with PaaS
Simplicity and Speed
One of the main reasons you might choose PaaS over the other cloud deployment options is the ease of implementation. There’s little to no need to engage DevOps experts, yet you can still achieve full DevOps automation with your deployment. With just a few command-line instructions, you can go from a repository full of code to a fully functioning backend application.
Control Plane lets developers go into production and have a live URL almost instantly. Its region and platform-agnostic layer can seamlessly deploy your app to AWS, GCP, and Azure across any region while ensuring extremely low latency and 99.999% availability. In Heroku, multi-region deployments are only available to enterprise customers.
You may know how much computer power you need now – but what about a few years down the line? No need to bring out your crystal ball – PaaS solutions make it easy to adjust on the fly by adding more containers (horizontal scaling) or beefing up the ones you have (vertical scaling).
But be aware – scaling up like this will increase your costs on Heroku. You’ll be able to adapt to more users or heavier traffic quickly but will want to keep a close eye on their pricing. With Control Plane, app usage is billed by millicores (one-thousandths of CPU core) and megabytes of memory – and that’s all you pay for. You don’t need to provision any infrastructure and can move your workloads anywhere (on-prem included), reducing your cloud costs by more than 70%.
PaaS solutions offer a range of security capabilities to protect your data and ensure that the transition from code to cloud is as smooth as possible. Features such as Identity and Access Management (IAM) help you establish an Identity Governance strategy from the get-go. Control Plane also provides built-in secrets management and a tamper-proof audit trail to help you monitor activity and comply with regulations.
Git integration means you can deploy directly from your codebase, making it incredibly convenient for development teams already accustomed to version control workflows. You can easily roll back to a previous release if something goes wrong in your production environment after a new deployment. You get the entire version history to identify issues and revert to a stable state – an essential in cloud applications security.
Those Pesky PaaS Deployment Challenges
Despite PaaS’s advantages, developers are not entirely insulated from challenges. Here’s a rundown of some common issues that can emerge during deployment:
- Deployment Time – While PaaS aims to simplify deployment, unoptimized code or other factors can slow down the process, delaying time-to-market.
- Configuration Errors – Incorrect environment variables or server settings can result in failed deployments or runtime issues.
- Weak Security – Misconfigurations, lack of access controls, and other code vulnerabilities can all disrupt your deployment. PaaS solutions offer diverse security features, so review these in detail before deploying your app.
- Resource Limitations – Depending on your plan, you might hit limitations regarding concurrent builds, memory, or other resources during deployment.
- Inconsistent Environments – Discrepancies between your local development environment and the PaaS can lead to unexpected behavior or errors post-deployment.
- Dependency Conflicts – If the PaaS has pre-installed packages or services, these could complicate deployment with your application’s dependencies.
- Rollback Complexity – While many PaaS solutions offer easy rollback options, sometimes reverting to a previous version isn’t as straightforward as it should be, especially if database migrations are involved.
- Lack of visibility – The abstraction of underlying infrastructure limits control and visibility, making monitoring and logging challenging. Plus, some PaaS solutions also restrict the multi-cloud monitoring tools you can use.
9 Simple Steps to Deploy a Backend Application to Heroku
This detailed tutorial will help you deploy your backend application to Heroku like a pro. We will use the CLI approach instead of the web app approach.
- Create a free Heroku account. You must set up MFA to finish the setup process and add a payment method before deploying your app.
- If you are on macOS or Linux, install a package manager like Homebrew.
- For this tutorial, we are also going to assume a Node.js project. Ensure that npm and Node.js are installed. You can verify by running npm -v and node -v.
- Git must also be installed.
2. Install Heroku CLI
Download the appropriate CLI installer from this resource if you are on a Windows machine.
If you are on macOS/Linux, open your terminal and enter the following command to install the Heroku CLI:
brew install heroku/brew/heroku
3. Login to Heroku
Run `heroku login` to open a browser and log in to your Heroku account.
4. Clone the App Source Code
Execute the following commands to clone a local version of your completed app:
git clone https://github.com/heroku/example.git cd example
5. Create a Heroku App
Enter the following command, subbing in your app name for our placeholder ‘your-app-name.’ If you don’t provide an app name, Heroku will generate a random name.
heroku create your-app-name
6. Define a Procfile
A Procfile is a text file defining the command to start your app. It has no extension and must be in your app’s root directory. For example, the Procfile for this project could be web: npm start.
7. Add a Database
In this example, we are using Heroku’s Postgres addon. If you connect to an existing database, always back it up first.
heroku addons:create heroku-postgresql:example
8. Deploy the Application
Now, it’s time to push your committed code to Heroku.
git push heroku master
Heroku will detect the type of application you are deploying and build it for you.
9. Open Your App
You can finally visit your app at the URL generated by your app name or use the following command:
Heroku Application Deployment: Quick Tips for Quick Wins
And you’re done – your app is now live! It may seem easy (and it is), but it still requires careful planning and caution.
- Always maintain your codebase under version control. This helps you track changes, revert to previous versions, and work collaboratively with other team members.
- Before deploying your application to the production environment, always test it in a staging environment to weed out any bugs or issues.
- Don’t hardcode sensitive information in your code, such as security credentials and API keys. It’s much safer to store it in environment variables (you can manage this through Heroku’s dashboard).
- Keep an eye on logs and set up monitoring to detect anomalies that might suggest errors or security incidents.
- Documenting any custom configurations or dependencies your application might need can be invaluable for future troubleshooting or updates.
The X-Factor – Control Plane’s Advantage
We walked you through the straightforward yet sometimes expensive route of deploying on Heroku. Heroku makes it easy but at the cost of flexibility and, quite often, your budget. Issues like configuration errors, resource limitations, and expensive scaling options can create problems.
Control Plane may be a good fit for your business if you want more control, flexibility, and seamless deployment. Unlike Heroku, Control Plane allows you complete freedom to deploy and run your applications on any cloud and region, offering you control over configurations at a fraction of the cost. Its multi-region layer and DNS intelligent router also ensure unbreakable app performance 99.999% of the time.