8 Heroku Alternatives for Deploying an App
Discussing deploying applications and exploring Heroku alternatives are important before choosing a deploying platform to understand your project.
In software development, creating the right software for users is important. However, it’s also important to make this software visible and available for users.
Deploying your application to a server solves this issue. When you deploy your application, you make it available on web servers, enabling users to access your application using the internet. Deploying your application comes with its own challenges. For instance, teams have to decide between using physical servers to store all of their software or using cloud computing. If you’ve chosen cloud computing, you still have to decide which cloud computing platform is best for your application.
Teams need to choose a cloud computing platform that has low lag time (wait time), fast synchronization, and strong virtualization. In this article, we’ll explore alternatives to the platform Heroku. We’ll include alternatives for both back-end and front-end applications so you can decide which tool best suits your organization’s needs.
Deploying an Application
Application deployment involves making an application available for users. Therefore, all activities—application testing, installation, monitoring, and release—are part of deployment. For instance, when developers make an application available to users, they version it with the hope of upgrading and releasing new versions in the future.
Hosted Servers vs. Cloud Computing
Before the advent of cloud computing, teams built dedicated physical servers to store all of their software. However, this method increased energy consumption, and teams had to worry about their servers running down and also deal with security risks. This gave rise to utilizing cloud services for deploying applications.
With cloud computing, teams store their data in a shared environment. One advantage of this method is the reduction of energy consumption/carbon imprint. Also, deploying applications with a cloud service is easy to set up and manage.
One advantage of this method is the reduction of energy consumption/carbon imprint.
Heroku was one of the first cloud platforms that enabled developers to build and run applications in the cloud. Over time, developers have sought Heroku alternatives for one reason or the other, including cost. For instance, on November 28, 2022, Heroku ceased to offer free plans for non-enterprise users.
In this section, we’ll explore Heroku alternatives, including their cost and features. We’ll cover static web servers—for deploying applications’ front end—as well as alternatives that support applications’ back-end/database.
Previously known as Zeit, Vercel is a cloud platform as a service, allowing users to build and deploy applications easily. Vercel’s architecture is built around Jamstack applications. This way, front-end applications don’t need to expose their secret keys to the public. For instance, the Jamstack architecture allows users to create serverless functions for an application’s back end.
Vercel provides tools for continuous integration and delivery. For example, Vercel uses code hosting platforms with version control like GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, etc. After releasing with Verbal, teams can collaborate, build their CI/CD pipeline, and monitor their application. This platform provides a free hobby plan, a professional version for $20 for team collaboration with advanced features, and a custom plan for teams with more security, support, and performance needs.
Netlify is similar to Vercel in hosting static websites. For instance, it provides support for version control tools. However, this platform also allows the possibility of setting up server-side analytics without any client-side code. Netlify also provides a vast list of utility tools; for instance, Netlify provides a means to create forms without a back end. You can also perform A/B test deployments.
In addition to continuous integration and delivery, Netlify provides a utility for authentication setup. For most cloud platforms, you need to set up authentication externally, but Netlify provides this functionality. Netlify has a free starter plan, a pro version for $19 per month, a business version for $99 per month, and an enterprise version with a custom plan and features.
GitHub Pages allow users to deploy their static websites from their repository. For example, users can deploy their applications after pushing them to GitHub. Users can add a custom domain to their website in GitHub Pages. The website URL will be github-username.github.io/repository-name. Also, since GitHub supports tasks, users can build a CI/CD pipeline for their application deployment.
GitHub Pages don’t provide all the same services as the other cloud platforms like Vercel and Netlify. For instance, GitHub Pages don’t provide serverless functions, it doesn’t provide version rollback, and it’s limited in its tool/utility provision. But it’s competitive when it comes to cost: GitHub Pages is free for all versions. You do need a GitHub account to use this platform.
Azure Static Web Apps
This cloud platform as a service is developed by Microsoft. For most cloud platforms, hosting and deploying your application occurs in the platform. However, with Azure’s affiliation, GitHub handles deployment while the site is hosted in Azure. Unlike GitHub Pages, Azure provides a means for writing APIs (serverless functions). Azure provides a free plan and a standard plan for $9 per month.
These platforms allow users to deploy their application’s back-end, databases, and APIs. Unlike static website services, these platforms allow hosting for dynamic websites where contents can change according to the user.
Unlike static website services, these platforms allow hosting for dynamic websites where contents can change according to the user.
Azure App Service
Azure app service is a popular public cloud service that provides SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS. Unlike the Azure Static Web Apps platform, Azure App Service allows users to deploy their application’s back end and API. Azure users can also leverage other Microsoft infrastructures, though understanding and setting-up Azure can be complex. Its pricing plan can be complex, too. With Azure, you can pay as you go, use a savings plan, or purchase a reservation.
Google App Engine
Google App Engine allows users to host their applications in Google-managed data centers. Users can deploy an application’s web and mobile back ends in any programming language. These applications are run across multiple servers on a fully managed serverless platform. The advantage of using this platform is that you’ll get access to Google’s other platforms, which makes running asynchronous tasks easier.
However, since App Engine runs in a sandbox, you have to use a supported language or specific versions of a programming language. If you use more than one language or unsupported programming languages, coupling your source code in Docker is your best bet. Google App Engine charges per unit instance with a pricing calculator. Apps in the standard environment have a free tier.
DigitalOcean App Platform
DigitalOcean is a cloud platform that allows you easily build, deploy, manage, and scale your apps. Just like Heroku, this platform allows containerization of applications in which a live runtime instance of the build process runs in a container.
DigitalOcean App Platform is Heroku’s main competitor, offering juicy features like easier migration. Compared to Heroku, which requires you to outsource IaaS solutions, DigitalOcean makes it easy to migrate PaaS to IaaS. Bearing in mind that these plans offer similar features, DigitalOcean also offers competitive pricing at $5 per month for hobby projects compared to $7 per month for Heroku.
AWS Elastic Beanstalk
AWS Elastic Beanstalk allows users to deploy and manage applications in the AWS cloud. It’s useful for deploying applications across various AWS services, like EC2, S3, CloudWatch, and Elastic Load Balancer. The disadvantage of this platform is the limited support it provides for non-AWS services. Also, AWS cloud can be complex to set up and understand. AWS Elastic Beanstalk provides a wide range of payment plans depending on the AWS service you’re using, but the platform itself comes at no additional cost.
Overview of Heroku Alternatives
Here’s a brief overview of Heroku alternatives at a glance, including cost and core features.
|Vercel||Allows users to create serverless functions.Intelligent edge caching.Every Vercel deployment is immutable. Domains act as pointers. Therefore, you can revert and deploy in an atomic swap operation.||Hobby: Free Pro: $20 per month Enterprise: Custom price|
|Netlify||Backups and rollbacks are possible.Allows users to create serverless functions.Automated deployments, shareable previews, and CI/CD.Free SSL certificates, which are automatically renewed.||Starter: Free Pro: $19 per month Business: $99 per month Enterprise: Custom price|
|GitHub Pages||Provision to use Jekyll Theme Chooser for faster deployment.CI/CD with GitHub tasks.||Free for all GitHub plans|
|Azure Static Web Apps||Free SSL certificates, which are automatically renewed.Build applications with GitHub or Ornyx.||Hobby: Free Standard: $9 per app per month. Enterprise: $17.52 per app per month|
|Azure App Service||Automate CI/CD.Easily manage scalability.||Pay as you go: compute capacity by the second Savings plan: commit to a fixed hourly rate|
|Google App Engine||Support for legacy runtimes and managed infrastructures.Manages security features and application monitoring.Traffic splitting improves scalability.||Free plan Unit cost per instance|
|DigitalOcean App Platform||Backups and rollbacks are possible.Built-in security and monitoring systems.Ease of scalability, making it possible to deploy faster.||Starter: Free Basic: $5 per month Professional: $12 per month|
|AWS Elastic Beanstalk||Deploy and manage applications in the cloud (without learning infrastructure and architecture).||Free Plan AWS calculator|
How to Deploy With Multiple Platforms Using Control Plane
Once you’ve chosen your cloud computing platform, deploying your application still may not be as easy as you might expect. This is because the needs of users are complex. For instance, while cloud service providers make it easy to deploy your application using their platform, users may want to combine cloud platforms. For example, large organizations can use AWS and GCP. Combining these platforms is difficult because users need to understand the architecture of these platforms individually.
However, users can utilize Control Plane, a product that allows developers to easily combine and configure public and private clouds by mixing and matching cloud services from AWS, GCP, Azure, or any other cloud to build flexible and unbreakable cloud infrastructure.
With Control Plane, you don’t have to rearchitect your applications to deploy them. Once you sign-up, you can run and deploy your microservice with easy scalability to suit your organization and your users’ needs.
In this article, we’ve discussed deploying applications and explored Heroku alternatives, including static and dynamic web services.
Before choosing a deploying platform, you should first understand the scope of your project. For instance, it’s best to use static web services for static websites because it’s lighter and easier to set up than a PaaS. Once you understand the scope of your deployment needs, consider the features—and budget—your project requires. Then you can choose a plan that fits your needs, including if you’ll need to combine platforms.
If you want to learn more about deploying with cloud platforms and how multi-cloud deployment works, try out Control Plane.