AWS Lambda vs Heroku

Developing applications entirely on the cloud is extremely beneficial for developers in high-traffic and live production environments. Serverless cloud computing implementations bring advanced processing power and scalability that physical hardware cannot keep up with during higher demands.

Two of the most popular implementations are AWS Lambda and Heroku, which allow developers to develop highly scalable and dynamic apps quickly, therefore boosting their productivity.

Continue reading as we compare these two platforms to find out their features and advantages in order to decode which production environments will be better suited for them.

Key Takeaways

  • Lambda is a serverless platform from AWS
  • Heroku is a platform as a service from Salesforce
  • Both solutions are free to start and accelerate app development

What AWS Lambda? 

AWS Lambda is one of the top three public cloud computing platforms designed specifically for creating and deploying server-side apps based on serverless architecture.

It is an event-driven platform implemented as a Function as a Service (FaaS) that runs your code in response to events and manages the computing resources required to run that code.

With AWS Lambda, you do not need to worry about provisioning or managing servers, allowing you to run code for any type of app or service. As a developer, you simply upload your code and Lambda takes care of managing the backend and scaling it for high availability.

While it cannot handle full-blown applications, Lambda can serve as the background for any other app running on the AWS ecosystem. 

AWS Lambda Core Features 

  • Easy to implement

With AWS Lambda, developers do not need to learn how to code in a new language or implement tools and frameworks as they can use native or third-party libraries to import codes. Any code dependencies can be packaged as a separate lambda layer and managed and shared across multiple functions.

  • Completely automated administration

AWS Lambda manages the entire backend administration for your code, leaving your development team to worry only about building differentiated backend services. It handles updating the underlying OS, resizes and adds new servers, deploys your code, and provides built-in monitoring and logging.

  • Container images deployment

The service also supports function packaging and deploying code as container images, allowing developers to build Lambda based apps using their preferred container image tooling and workflows. With built-in fault tolerance, there is no maintenance windows or downtimes.

AWS Lambda Advantages

  • Extend other AWS services

As part of the AWS package, Lambda allows you to extend and add custom logic to other AWS resources, like DynamoDB tables and S3 Buckets, facilitating easy data computation as it moves through the cloud. Simply upload your code to create a function, choose the memory, timeout, and AWS IAM role, and specify the trigger. When the trigger resource changes, Lambda will execute your code and manage the infrastructure on your behalf.

  • Integrated security models

Lambda features a built-in SDK that integrates with the Identity and Access Management (IAM), which ensures secure code access to other AWS services. By default, the code is run on a virtual private cloud (VPC), and you can configure the AWS Lambda resource access to leverage custom network access control lists. Custom security groups ensure that the Lambda function access within a VPC is secured.

  • Automatic scaling

Your code on AWS Lambda is only executed in response to a defined trigger event. The platform will automatically scale the code and the backend serverless infrastructure to support the rate of incoming requests without the need for your developers to configure it manually. Moreover, there is no limit to the number of requests it can manage, meaning that the performance remains consistent throughout.

What is Heroku? 

Heroku is a fully manages Platform as a Service (PaaS) implementation that facilitates the building, deploying, and managing cloud services and server applications.

Being one of the oldest PaaS services in existence, it was originally meant to work only with Ruby, but now supports several languages including C#, Node.js, Python, etc.

Heroku also entirely manages operations and handling the server infrastructure, providing your development team more flexibility in getting the code out of the production machine and onto the cloud. It automatically scales the resources in addition to providing the tools and workflows, reducing the effective time to market.

Heroku Core Features 

  • Containerization runtime

Heroku apps are deployed and managed in containers called Dynos, which comes with a fully managed runtime environment that supports a wide variety of programming languages. Developers can also access buttons, add-ons, etc., from Heroku Elements, the official marketplace.

  • APIs for added functionality

One of the most beneficial features of Heroku is the ability to expand the functionality of a full-blown server app using addons, like Apache Kafka, Postgres SQL, and Redis, without bloating the core code of the app. These extra features can include direct notifications, multi-factor authentication, storage, etc.

  • Security compliance

Heroku takes special pride in its security compliance commitment for the sensitive data on the platform. The entire service regularly undergoes security audits for compliance under HIPAA, PCI, SOC, and ISO. It also offers various features like SSL and authentication, among others.

Heroku Advantages 

  • Horizontal and Vertical scaling

Heroku supports seamless horizontal and vertical scaling to handle any kind of project with ease. Dynos are isolated containers with a copy of the app code, and Heroku handles scalability for traffic surges by automatically adding more dynos to the app stack during peak time. 

  • Developer friendly

While Heroku is definitely more robust, the complex infrastructure is neatly hidden behind an intuitive user interface that lays all the controls for the architecture in an easy to access dashboard. From pushing official buildpacks to A/B testing and deploying, everything can be achieved using the click of a single button.

Heroku vs AWS Lambda Comparison

AWS LambdaHeroku
DescriptionServerless platformPlatform as a service
Parent CompanyAWSSalesforce
Start Date20142007
Featured CustomersNielsen
Coca Cola
Free TierYesYes
Pricing$0.2 for each 1M requests. For more information, please refer to the Pricing Page.Starts at $7/mo
For more information, please refer to the Pricing Page.
Pricing StructureCharges based on the total requests and GB-second. Works under the Pay as you go model. Charges based on the provisioned capacity of hardware. The $7/mo covers 512MB of RAM.
DatacentersWorldwide USA / Europe


When comparing Lambda and Heroku, developers will have to consider the pricing, functionality, and integrations, depending on the requirements of their project.

If you cannot make an informed decision based on the features and advantages mentioned above, do not hesitate to contact a leading app hosting company for detailed insights into the matter.

Did you like this article? If so, you may enjoy reading AWS Lambda vs Azure Functions or Firebase vs Netlify.


What is AWS Lambda?

Lambda is a serverless platform from AWS

What is Heroku?

Heroku is a platform as a service from Salesforce

What are the differences and similarities between Lambda and Heroku?

– Both solutions are free to start
– Both solutions are scalable
– AWS Lambda has a broader geographical coverage
– Heroku is available in the USA and Europe
– Heroku charges based on the provisioned capacity
– Lambda charges based on total requests and GB-sec

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