Heroku vs AWS: Who Sits on the Cloud Hosting Throne?


As you know, launching any web-based project or startup, be it a massive application or a small API solution, requires setting up a cloud environment – one that allows you to monitor and scale your apps easily whenever the need arises. Although the WWW is full of cloud hosting services, each of which claiming to be the best, there are some names that outshine the rest, namely Heroku vs AWS.

The Heroku vs AWS debate has been going on for years, as both companies are well established and have thousands of users from all over the world. If you’re new to the cloud hosting scene, you must also be confused because of the massive number of services and products that Amazon Web Services has.

Worry not, though, as I’ve already done the heavy lifting and dived into the ins and outs of each service so that you don’t have to. By the end of this Heroku vs AWS comparison, you’ll know exactly which service is the best for your project.

Without further ado, let’s get to the Heroku vs AWS comparison.

Before Comparing Heroku vs AWS: Why You Should Use Cloud Hosting

Before settling the Heroku vs AWS debate once and for all, we must go over the reasons why you should move to cloud computing and hosting in the first place.

Cloud computing has been a hot topic in the IT industry for quite some time now as a solution for software deployment, file storage, and smooth migration.

Here are the top five advantages of cloud hosting over local hosting:

When using cloud hosting, you don’t need to worry about software updates, security patches, hardware maintenance, etc.

You don’t need to upgrade your physical infrastructure whenever you scale your application. Thanks to cloud hosting, you can easily upgrade your resources as you grow.

Although expensive, Backup and Recovery Solutions are an excellent way to safeguard your application or data from any harm.

You can easily access your data and backend from anywhere, which enhances team collaboration and boosts productivity.

When using a reputable company such as AWS, Heroku, or Google Cloud, you get access to world-class technologies that can facilitate your workflow and make the development process easier.

Are you sold on cloud hosting? Here’s my breakdown of the Heroku vs AWS debate.

Heroku vs AWS: The Basics

Amazon Web Services

Simply put, AWS, or Amazon Web Services, is a vast collection of cloud computing services, which includes everything you need to deploy and manage databases, storage, networking, management, delivery options, analytics, and everything in between. It’s basically the developer’s heaven for cloud services.

Amazon’s flagship service is Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which is an IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service product. To set up a web application on AWS, you’ll have to develop and tweak your server infrastructure according to your needs.

Basically, through AWS EC2, Amazon offers developers the building blocks for their applications, and they need to configure everything to their liking and need, including the virtual server, storage capacity, database instances, load balancer, CPU, RAM, etc.

That said, when we compare Heroku vs AWS, we need to talk about Heroku’s counterpart service from AWS: Elastic Beanstalk. Elastic Beanstalk is a user-friendly PaaS that allows for easy deployment, management, and scaling of web apps and services that are developed with Java, .NET, Node.js, Python, PHP, Ruby, Docker, and Go on different servers like Nginx, Apache, IIS, and Passenger.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk takes care of all the elbow grease of infrastructure management, from capacity and auto-scaling to load balancing and health monitoring, so that you can focus on developing your app.

Heroku is a PaaS, or Platform as a Service, that’s based on AWS. It’s essential to understand the difference between a PaaS and an IaaS product. Being a Platform as a Service product, Heroku offers developers a simpler cloud hosting solution, with an immediate runtime environment and application servers.

Using this platform, you won’t need to worry about infrastructure management, and you’ll be able to benefit from redundant servers, an established integration with various development instruments, and a pre-installed OS for your application.

Heroku vs AWS: Comparison


PaaS (Elastic Beanstalk)

IaaS (Elastic Compute Cloud)



Elastic Beanstalk

Rapid app deployment

Elastic Compute Cloud


Rapid app deployment

Main Features

Elastic Beanstalk

  • Ability to roll back to the previous version rapidly.
  • Quick restart when needed.
  • Automatic scaling.
  • Capacity provisioning.

Elastic Compute Cloud

  • A plethora of deployment options, settings, and templates.
  • Full control over the infrastructure.
  • Smart containers system.
  • Manual scaling.
  • Ability to roll back the database of code rapidly.
  • App monitoring system.
  • Ready GitHub integration.


Web server/load balancer


Operating System

Application Tier

Database Tier

Web server/load balancer


Operating System

Application Tier

Database Tier

When Should You Use AWS Elastic Compute Cloud?

Here’s when you should go with Elastic Compute Cloud:

  • You can afford a DevOps engineer to manage the infrastructure of your app.
  • You need plenty of flexibility when it comes to the infrastructure.
  • Your project is resource-demanding.

When Should You Use a PaaS Solution Such as Heroku?

Here’s when you should opt for a PaaS Solution such as Heroku:

  • You need to roll out new versions frequently and get feedback as you go.
  • You cannot afford a DevOps engineer to manage the infrastructure.
  • Your project is not resource-demanding.

So, Which Is Better; Heroku vs AWS in 2019?

Honestly, there isn’t a real winner here in the Heroku vs AWS debate. It all boils down to your budget. Going with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud costs less, but it means that you’ll have to take care of everything when it comes to the infrastructure in-house.

Elastic Beanstalk is a viable option, and it does make the deployment process easier, but it still comes with the bells and whistles of infrastructure management.

Heroku, on the other hand, is probably all you need for quick deployment, but it’s more expensive, and scaling can set you back a pretty penny.


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