Dokku vs Google App Engine

Increasing user demands complicates things on the developers’ end as they need to manage multiple tasks within deadlines to keep up with these demands.

These include developing the backend infrastructure, ensuring a seamless connection between the server and the host, optimizing the user interface, etc. A scalable app development platform helps developers improve their productivity by managing some of these tasks and scaling the app instances based on user demand.

Here, we take a look at two of such platforms, Dokku and Google App Engine. Continue reading as we compare their features and advantages to decide which one better suits your needs.

What is Dokku?

Essentially a mini-Heroku, Dokku is an open-source container-based platform as a service (PaaS) software that allows users to build and host server-client applications. It is open-source software that supports Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS, and runs Docker under the hood to push applications and run them in isolated containers.

Dokku works by building and packaging “apps” using the official Heroku build packs into a docker container and then managing the development lifetime of that container on your behalf. If you do not like the buildpacks, you can provide your own docker files to customize the build process.

Dokku manages the server configuration so that developers can spend more time improving the user experience.

Dokku Core Features

  • Simple server deployment

Dokku is designed specifically to work with Git, it allows developers to push applications, where it will be built and packaged into isolated containers on your behalf. Dokku will also manage the container lifetime and automatically configure Nginx so that users can reach your application with its virtual hostname.

  • Buildpacks

Building “apps” with Dokku is essentially done using the official Heroku buildpacks, and all you need to do is create another remote on your development environment.

Dokku builds the apps using the deployed buildpacks by automatically detecting the node applications. You can also customize the process with a custom buildpack if you want specific exposed nodes, install specific dependencies, or need to download or move certain files around.

  • Nginx and Instant Subdomains

Dokku runs multiple apps on the same server, meaning that it needs to manage different domains for each server to ensure that users can reach your application using the hostname.

It manages the Nginx config on the server and automatically assigns a subdomain when you build the app and routes the traffic to its appropriate docker container.

Dokku Advantages 

  • Free and Open Source

Dokku provides one of the best combinations of price and functionality. This feature-packed PaaS is free and open-source software that can be used on top of your preferred app development environment for added functionality and cost-efficiency. 

  • SSL and plugin support

Dokku uses plugn ecosystem that allows developers to add extra functions depending on the app’s requirements. With a single command, it can request an SSL certificate and configure the corresponding Nginx to utilize it for a specific domain. The app itself remains slim and modular and you do not have to compromise on any features. 

  • Rich CLI

Dokku command-line interface allows developers to access everything on the platform with the help of a single command. It has its own set of container-specific, application-specific, environment variable-specific, and proxy commands that allows developers to quickly build and deploy apps.

What is Google App Engine? 

According to the official documentation, Google App Engine is a serverless app development platform that allows developers to build and host scalable web applications. It supports several popular app development languages and frameworks that you can select from, including Go, Ruby, PHP, Java, Python, Node.js, etc. That said, it can also support other languages via custom runtimes.

The resulting applications are sandboxed and can be run across multiple servers. App Engine takes care of provisioning the data servers and scales the application on demand.

Unlike Dokku which is free and open-source, App Engine has a free tier in the standard environment. Beyond the free tier and in flexible environments, charges are incurred based on the number of consumed resources.

Google App Engine Features 

  • Multiple language support

Google App Engine is extremely flexible in the sense that it supports several programming languages, like Ruby, Go, Python, PHP, Java, .NET, C#, Node.js, etc. Moreover, developers can also import libraries and frameworks through their own docker files to customize the build process and develop and test an app using SDKs.

  • SQL and NoSQL services available

Apps developed using App Engine can use the relational Google Cloud SQL database for hosting and storage. In addition, the built-in NoSQL allows you to store thousands of terabytes of data with the advantage of at least 3 independent replication sites. The Engine ensures that your apps are secure and running and enables a firewall to prevent malware and threats.

  • Diagnostic Services

Based on the Cloud technology, developers can use Cloud Logging and Cloud Monitoring to identify bugs and notify developers in real-time. An app reporting SDK automatically notifies the testers who can identify and fix the problems at the earliest.

Google App Engine Advantages 

  • Availability

Using the cloud to develop and manage applications means developers have remote access to the applications. This is extremely beneficial in the era of remote working, as developers can essentially access the applications remotely, while the App Engine cloud service manages the infrastructure and reports the bugs and crashes.

  • Diverse Set of APIs

App Engine also has a diverse set of APIs that allows developers to build robust applications with increased functionality. For instance, these APIs include access to application logs, Cloud Storage, SSL support, Cloud Endpoint, Blobstore, URL fetch, Page Speed services, etc.

  • Increased Scalability

As your app userbase increases, you need a scalable platform to ensure the app’s success and gain a competitive advantage in the market. App Engine is automatically scalable, meaning that it scales the resources up and down automatically based on the user interaction and traffic to the app.

Dokku vs App Engine Comparison

DokkuGoogle App Engine
DescriptionOpen-source container-based PaaSPaaS platform from Google
Managed SolutionNoYes
CloudCan run on any cloudGoogle Cloud


Both Dokku and App Engine have their own set of pros and cons that you as a developer will need to compare thoroughly to make an informed decision.

If you are unsure which one best suits your specific needs, do not hesitate to consult a reliable app hosting company for deeper insights into the topic.


What is Dokku?

Essentially a mini-Heroku, Dokku is an open-source container-based platform as a service (PaaS) software that allows users to build and host server-client applications.

What is Google App Engine?

Google App Engine is a serverless app development platform that allows developers to build and host scalable web applications.

What are the differences between Dokku and Google App Engine?

– Dokuu is open-source
– App Engine is closed-source
– Dokku is downloadable
– App Engine is a managed solution
– Dokku can run on any cloud
– App Engine runs on Google Cloud

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