Heroku Open Source Alternatives

Heroku is one of the leading Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider. PaaS is a type of service that brings value to talented developers who lack the capital to establish high-end infrastructure projects. 

Lack of financial resources is a limiting factor for many developers because server infrastructure is capital intensive. However, with PaaS, developers can lease the infrastructure required for a development project. 

Heroku is arguably the pioneer for PaaS; the company provides cloud infrastructure and other resources required for app development projects.  Heroku’s offering is a significant breakthrough for developers as it allows them to engage in app development projects despite limited resources.  

However, many developers continue to migrate to Heroku open-source alternatives. 

Why Search for Heroku Alternatives?

Some obvious shortcomings of Heroku are driving developers to search for Heroku alternatives.  Here are some of the reasons. 

High Costs:  Challenges relating to high costs is one of the most pressing concerns for Heroku developers. The high price makes hosting apps on the platform impractical for most developers because the allocated server resources get exhausted quickly as scale, and they are compelled to incur additional costs. Therefore, developers are searching for Heroku alternatives that are more cost-efficient. 

Sleeping Apps Issue: Apps hosted on Heroku with only one dyno are compelled to “sleep” when there is no request from users over an hour. In such instances, the app becomes unavailable. However, when there is a request from users, the dyno wakes up and serves the request after a short delay. The subsequent requests for the app respond optimally. The “sleeping app” feature is a source of concern for many developers searching for Heroku alternatives that offer better performance. 

Latency Challenges: Heroku servers hosted on AWS infrastructure only support availability in two regions, which are Europe and USA.  Therefore, it is challenging to scale Heroku apps globally to other areas such as Australia, Africa, Asia or South America without experiencing latency drawbacks. 

The Benefits of Open-Source Heroku Alternatives

Factors like access to the source code, enhanced security, freedom, transparency, and reliability make it preferable to select opensource Heroku alternative.  

The ability to inspect the processes running within the framework enhances transparency which many developers desire. Open-source platforms also offer unfettered access to the history of improvements and system patches. In essence, developers understand how the opensource platforms work.

Community-driven platforms foster reliability because the entire community is involved in bug detection, fixes, and improvements. A flaw on the platform detected by a single user can be fixed quickly by the developer community before it becomes a widespread challenge. 

The fact that the entire community has unfettered access to review the framework enhances the security of opensource frameworks. The community members are always on par with the latest security technology and promptly call for updates whenever a beneficial security feature is available. 

Developers on proprietary platforms are compelled to put up with the platform vendors’ whims and caprices, knowing that they cannot change from such without redeveloping their app from scratch.  

The cost and waste of time required to change from proprietary platform drive developers to seek opensource alternatives. With open-source technologies, developers cannot be locked-in on a vendor platform. This is the type of freedom developers want in an app development platform. 

The Top Heroku Open-Source Alternatives

Are you searching for the most reliable Heroku alternatives in 2021? Here is the list below:


This Backend as a Service provider is one of the top alternatives for Heroku in 2021. Aside from providing top-notch server infrastructure, it also offers many other features that are missing in Heroku.  

Besides, Back4app has a value-packed free tier, and the costs of premium plans start from $5 only.  These are the reasons why many Heroku developers prefer to migrate to Back4app.

A cross-section of Back4app features include authentication, push notifications, cloud code, REST API, GraphQL API, and a scalable database.  See Back4app Features for details


Dokku is a simple platform that is also a viable alternative to Heroku.  It offers many of the features found in Heroku without the restrictions and heavy financial investment required to keep an app running on Heroku.

Hosting Dokku on Digital Ocean servers starts from $5 per month. In other words, it is simpler and more cost-efficient compared to Heroku. 

Some of the benefits of Dokku include the availability of massive plugins, it can be deployed easily through Git, it can be hosted on multiple cloud platform, and it powered by the well-established Docker.


Facebook bought over Parse and later made the framework opensource in 2016. Parse adoption continued to grow exponentially among developers and became one of the favourite app development frameworks. 

While Parse lacks Machine Learning capabilities, it offers comprehensive cloud development features such as social sign-in, push notifications, database, hosting, storage and much more. The support for many third-party integrations, adapters and plugins is another desirable feature of Parse. 

However, developers can take advantage of tons of libraries and client-side SDK to make Parse more convenient to use.  The Parse Dashboard also provides a GUI interface for managing the development tasks from the backend.

A Final Note

All the Heroku alternatives mentioned in this article are viable for cloud development projects. So, if you are fed up with Heroku shortfalls, you can try any of them.


Can you tell me more Heroku?

Heroku is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) that Salesforce bought over in 2010.

Why are developers seeking Heroku alternatives?

Challenges related to costs and sleeping apps are compelling developers to seek viable alternatives. 

What are the top open source Heroku alternatives?

The top open-source alternatives for Heroku are Parse, Back4apps and Dokku.

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