DigitalOcean vs. Heroku | Secrets Unlocked

DigitalOcean vs. Heroku | Secrets Unlocked

Application development has come a long way. Most apps created before the turn of the century are standalone programs that only work on a single system. Subsequently, developers started creating client-server apps when the network-enabled operating system became more accessible to businesses.  Today, the cloud has evolved as the dominant platform for app development because it supports the requirement of modern agile companies. 

However, the challenge of creating a cloud app are numerous. It requires the acquisition of server infrastructure and the service of developers and engineers to cater for the continuous management and scaling of the cloud service.  The cost of establishing such a platform is out of reach for most businesses.

Cloud service providers such as DigitalOcean and Heroku emerged to provide a viable solution for cloud hosting. Companies and developers can access top-notch server infrastructure and backend resources without the need for substantial investments or technical expertise. 

This article takes an in-depth overview of DigitalOcean and Heroku so you can compare platforms and select the one that serves your app development objectives. 

DigitalOcean vs. Heroku:  The differences

This section outlines the main differences between DigitalOcean and Heroku.

The Type of Cloud Service: Heroku’s cloud solution takes the form of a Platform as a Service (PaaS) that provides both server resources and software for development and hosting. On the other hand, DigitalOcean works as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) that offers network infrastructure, storage, and virtualization servers. 

Manageability: Heroku offers a complete turnkey server solution by handling the maintenance of servers and databases. On the other hand, developers using DigitalOcean are responsible for backend management.

The Cost: As you would expect, the cost of using Heroku is higher because the platform offers a comprehensive managed solution that covers infrastructure and the database. The service of DigitalOcean is less expensive, but the developer have to manage the hassles of backend development. 

The flexibility of Server Control: DigitalOcean offers a high level of flexibility that allows the developer to create a virtual server with customized options.  This level of flexibility is not available on Heroku.

DigitalOcean vs Heroku Comparison Table

Digital OceanHeroku
Founded 20122007
CategoryInfrastructure as a Service – IaaSPlatform as a Service – PaaS
DescriptionCloud infrastructure provider with headquarters in NYC.Platform as a service provider acquired by Salesforce in 2012
Employees (LinkedIn)565222
RegionsEight locations across the globe: York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Singapore, Bangalore.Heroku runs on top of AWS and you can host apps in North Virginia and Ireland.
AdvantagesLess expensive, more flexibility, more datacenter locationsScalability, managed service, speed to deploy apps

What is DigitalOcean?

Digital Ocean is a Cloud solution provider that offers the infrastructure required to build, deploy, and scale apps without hassles. Client applications can run seamlessly across several servers without degrading the performance of one another. As of 2018, DigitalOcean was the largest cloud hosting company in the world. It continues to be one of the most significant cloud hosting solutions in America.

The Features of Digital Ocean

Below are some of the excellent features of DigitalOcean:

  • The procedure for creating a VPS with the operating system of choice is quick and seamless. 
  • Provide features for backup and monitoring the server. 
  • Offers the option to create a VPS with a pre-configured web app.
  • Developers can use cloud firewalls for server protection.
  • Access to API, Dashboard, and CLI App for managing servers.
  • Collaboration features that allow teams to work together in development projects.
  • Provides load balancers and floating IP addresses for effective traffic management.

The Benefits of DigitalOcean

Below are the benefits of using the Digital Ocean platform.

  • Offers an affordable and easy to use pricing structure.
  • Gives users server-level access with a great level of flexibility.
  • The platform offers an easy to use user interface for configuring and managing server.
  • DigitalOcean offers one of the best oud services with SSD-based virtual hosting machines that use IPv6 technology.
  • The platform provides comprehensive documentation that allows new users to get up and running quickly on the platform.

The Pricing Structure of DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean offers a variety of plans that ranges from $5 for 1Terabyte data transfer and $160 for up to 7terabyte data transfer. There are additional options for hourly plans for developers. 

What is Heroku?

Heroku is a cloud-based Platform as a Service solution that offers developers the infrastructure they need to develop and host their app. The platform takes care of server management and scalability when the need arises. Heroku has evolved extensively after the platform was launched in 2007 when it only supports Ruby programming language.  Today, the frontend technology that works with Heroku includes Scala, PHP, Clojure, Node.js, Python, Go, and Java.

Salesforce acquired Heroku in 2011 and made it an integral part of the Salesforce platform.

The Features of Heroku

Below are the core features available on the Heroku cloud platform.

  • It features support for an extensive array of frontend technologies such as Ruby, Scala, PHP, Clojure, Node.js, Python, Go, and Java.
  • Heroku offers dynos, which are smart containers that handle load balancing, orchestration, logging, security, among many others. 
  • Scalability is not an issue with Heroku. The platform has a reputation for hosting some of the most resource-intensive apps in the world today. 
  • Developers can take advantage of continuous deployment and integration. IT also supports deployment through GitHub, Git, and API.

The benefits of Heroku

Next, in out DigitalOcean vs. Heroku analysis, we shall consider the unique benefits available on Heroku.

  • Developers can deploy apps quickly and without hassles.
  • The platform takes care of app scalability needs.
  • The managed platform allows developers to focus their attention on frontend development.
  • The billing system has plans that support team collaboration.
  • Features support for a wide array of opensource programming languages. 
  • Developers can focus on innovations rather than operations.
  • Access to Command Line Interface and dashboard for express permission and application management.

The Price of Heroku

Heroku offers a free plan limited to 550-1,000 dyno hours per month. The free plan is suitable for personal projects, MVPs, and proof of concepts.  The standard package, which is ideal for production apps, costs $25-$50 per dyno per month. The Performance plan recommended for high traffic apps that needs low latency costs $250-$500 per dyno per month.


Both DigitalOcean and Heroku offer top-notch cloud infrastructure that enhances the process of application development.  Both platforms provide high-performance servers with SSD Hard Drives, options to select server location, and an impressive 99.99% service uptime.

The outstanding features on DigitalOcean are its cost-efficiency, easy to use dashboard and flexibility of server access and configuration.  Heroku excels because the deployment of the platform is straightforward, saves time, and the free plan for personal projects. 

General FAQ

What are the differences between DigitalOcean and Heroku?

– Heroku is a PaaS and DigitalOcean a IaaS
– Pricing structure is difference
– Server level access differ on both platforms

What are the DigitalOcean advantages?

– Affordable pricing
– Server level access
– The ease of use

What are the benefits of Heroku?

– Deploy apps quickly and without hassles
– Managed service
– Scalability

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