Heroku vs AWS vs DigitalOcean

This article will explore the differences and similarities between Heroku vs AWS vs DigitalOcean. It will cover the features and pricing of each platform.

The cloud is quickly becoming one of the top C-suite agendas as businesses transform digitally in the new age. Organizations that navigate this change rapidly will stay ahead of the competition and explore new opportunities aligned with their capabilities.

That said, there are multiple cloud computing solutions available in the market. Each provider offers a different level of flexibility and is suited for unique workflows. Understanding the difference between various cloud computing solutions will be key to holistic end-to-end digital transformation.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) implementations, as the name suggests, provide a platform to organizations, on which they can build modern, high-performance applications at a much quicker pace. Being a cloud service, businesses do not need to worry about the infrastructure, allowing them to focus on improving the app experience for the end user.

PaaS providers also supply a bunch of tools and services that can be used to enable additional functionalities and improve the productivity of the workflow. Businesses can also leverage design tools and APIs to create customer-friendly applications and services with high-quality support.

On the other hand, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers offer crucial computing, networking, and storage resources on demand, typically on a pay-as-you-go model. IaaS solutions help you reduce the maintenance costs and complexities associated with on-premise computing solutions.

With IaaS, you get the flexibility to scale your resources up and down as per demand, which is an important step in reducing the hardware cost and increasing the reliability of the underlying infrastructure. You can quickly provision new applications without worrying about maintaining on-premises data centers.

In the following post, we take a look at three of the leading cloud computing platforms available for businesses at the moment. Digital Ocean is one of the most popular IaaS solutions mainly popular with open source software developers; Heroku is a unique PaaS solution offering container-based runtime environments, while AWS provides comprehensive cloud computing solutions encompassing all of these.

If you are looking for a cloud computing solution for your upcoming projects, the following list should help you get more information on which solution is better suited for your project.

What is DigitalOcean?

DigitalOcean is a very popular cloud computing provider that competes with AWS in terms of services provided to the developers. It offers a wide range of solutions for deploying and scaling applications that can run simultaneously on multiple computers.

With DigitalOcean, developers get access to a wide range of tools and services, including virtual machines, managed Kubernetes, a platform implementation, a serverless implementation, etc., which can be used to develop and deploy dynamic applications that can run on any environment.

One of the key USPs of DigitalOcean is the fact that it is supported by a very vibrant, enthusiastic community. It runs events in association with GitHub, so developers can share ideas, solutions, innovations, opinions, etc., which can be useful when building complex software.

Since DigitalOcean is always testing new, cutting-edge technologies, the active community support helps developers stay on top of the latest changes and utilize the technologies.

DigitalOcean Features

  • Resizable VMs: Droplets is DigitalOcean’s cloud instance. It is a resizable and scalable compute service that provides developers with additional security, storage, and monitoring capabilities from multiple locations across the world. Droplet distros are pre-built, meaning developers can get their essentials out to the market as quickly as possible.
  • Powerful Dashboard: The clutter-free dashboard is designed with user experience in mind, allowing developers to access all important links quickly and easily. On heavier workloads, a clean UI can work wonders in increasing developer productivity. When you opt for a managed Kubernetes solution on Digital Ocean, you can add the control panel for an affordable cost.
  • Integration: DigitalOcean is among the earliest SSD-based VM providers with servers that run on powerful hexa-core machines. It also provides a great selection of tools for monitoring and managing various DigitalOcean services from a single pane. For instance, you can use the CLI tool to control and manage everything on the Droplets cloud server.

DigitalOcean Pricing

Being an Infrastructure implementation, DigitalOcean charges you for the incremental resources used by you or your organization. It offers predictable pricing for a wide range of products and services, which are discussed in brief below:

  • Droplets: Pricing for virtual machines starts as low as $4 per month and can be used to deploy and scale anything from mission-critical applications to low-traffic websites.
  • Kubernetes: DigitalOcean also offers managed Kubernetes with a free control plane for $12 per month, where you can run your clusters and add a high availability feature for $40 per month.
  • App platform: DigitalOcean also has a platform offering for building and deploying apps using a fully managed solution. It offers a free tier, a Basic tier starting at $5 per month, and a Professional tier starting at $12 per month.
  • Functions: This is a new serverless cloud computing platform that runs on-demand and can be added as a component of applications on any tier of the App Platform. You can start for free, where you get 90,000 GB seconds of computing per month, while additional GB seconds are charged at $0.0000185 pooled at an account level.
  • Services: Load Balancers start at $12 per month, high availability block storage starts at $10 per month, while object storage starts at $5 per month.

What is AWS?

Amazon Web Services is one of the most widely adopted cloud computing solutions, offering developers over 200 unique services through its global data centers.

It is an on-demand service, i.e., developers, whether solo or part of an organization, can get access to any service or infrastructure they need to build, deploy, test, and manage software irrespective of the industry where it will be applied.

One of the main reasons behind the popularity of AWS is the fact that it has services covering all stages of the app development life cycle. All AWS services feature cross-integration with other AWS products, allowing developers to configure the applications with features like hosting, storage, push notifications, storage, backend logic, authentication, content delivery, etc.

AWS Features

  • Ecosystem: As discussed above, AWS offers comprehensive features and services for a wide range of industries, arguably more than any other cloud computing provider in the world. It provides compute resources like EC2 and Lambda, storage like S3 and EBS, database resources like Aurora, RDS, and Redshift, and networking and content delivery resources like VPC, CloudFront, API Gateway, etc.
  • Availability: AWS is as widely adopted as it is due to its constant efforts for maximum availability everywhere in the world. It offers an astounding, robust cloud infrastructure that is available in 25 locations around the world with over 80 availability zones. AWS is constantly on the move to expand to 8 more global locations; such highly redundant networking will ensure proper connectivity and availability at even more locations.
  • VM features: Virtual machine capabilities on AWS are extremely robust as there is essentially no restriction on virtual machine management. You can deploy multiple instances of a VM, and create and terminate instances on stored disk images on demand. Moreover, you can install any OS you want to and then tag it for future references.

AWS Pricing

The pricing model for AWS products is similar to that of an IaaS, i.e., it follows a pay-as-you-go model. It allows organizations to adapt to their changing business needs easily without spending a fortune on resources that they might end up not using, or missing capacity during peak seasons.

For compute and machine learning products, AWS offers a Savings Plan that can be extremely helpful in reducing costs.

Essentially, organizations get a discounted price against the commitment that they will be using a specified amount of resources. It is measured in $/hour and is available for a wide range of AWS products.

AWS also offers several volume-based discounts with tiered pricing for components like S3. For pricing of individual applications offered under the AWS banner, you will need to visit the specific pricing page of that product.

Note that there is a pricing calculator on the AWS website that you can use to get an estimate for your project.

What is Heroku?

Heroku was launched in 2007 and was among the first cloud computing platforms offering a container-based runtime environment.

It can be used to build, deploy, manage, and scale modern applications based on user interaction. Heroku offers a fully managed and easy-to-use platform that, like a serverless implementation, manages the servers on your behalf, allowing you to focus on improving the code and enhancing the experience for the end user.

In addition to its original ecosystem of Ruby, Heroku also supports a wide range of input programming languages, which include Go, Clojure, PHP, Python, etc. If you want to deploy in another language, Heroku offers additional buildpacks that rely on virtual isolation for deploying applications.

Heroku Features

  • Runtime environment: Heroku provides compute elements called “dynos”, which is a fully managed runtime environment with all necessary components to run your applications in any environment. These dynos rely on virtual isolation for software delivery, so developers need to simply upload their code to the platform and Heroku will handle the rest. 
  • Threshold monitoring: Heroku offers a comprehensive set of tools and services that can be used to monitor negative trends and notify the user in real-time. The platform also automatically adjusts dyno resources or moves the deployment to a different dyno if the request time crosses a certain threshold.
  • Ecosystem: Heroku Elements is the official store for the ecosystem of tools and services that can be used to increase the functionality of the final product. Developers can incorporate additional functionality like storage, networking, etc.

Heroku Pricing

Being a Platform implementation, Heroku charges you for the resources used by your software deployment per dyno.

It offers a free tier, which provides enough resources (550-1000 dyno hours a month) to test the platform and develop personal and non-commercial projects. The paid tiers are discussed in brief below.

  • Hobby: Starting at $7 per dyno per month, this tier offers the same features as the free tier with an additional SSL and automated certificate management.
  • Standard: If you need to build lightweight business apps and APIs in production, Standard 1X starts at $25 per dyno per month for apps that can boot with 512 MB RAM, while Standard 2X starts at $50 per dyno for greater web concurrency and 1 GB RAM.
  • Performance: For high-performance applications with low latency, the Performance M tier starts at $250 per month and comes with 2.5 GB RAM, while the Performance L tier starts at $500 per month and comes with 14 GB RAM.
  • Custom: If you need to build apps that meet enterprise-grade compliance requirements, Heroku offers two custom tiers, i.e., Private with full network isolation, and Shield with a dedicated runtime environment for high compliance apps.

Heroku vs AWS vs DigitalOcean

OverviewPaaS platform to create, deploy, and run apps.Largest cloud provider in the world.Developer-centric cloud provider.
CategoryPlatform as a ServiceInfrastructure as a ServiceInfrastructure as a Service
Managed ServiceYesNoNo
Parent CompanySalesforceAmazonIndependent (IPO)
Core FeaturesContainer platform
Managed databases
Virtual Machines
Serverless computing
Virtual Machines
Free TierYesYesFree credits of $100
PricingStarts at $7/monthPay as you goPay as you go
Featured ClientsDriven Data


The choice between various cloud computing products depends primarily on the type of workflow that your organization follows.

An infrastructure solution is ideal for organizations that need a virtual machine for computing, storage, and networking. A platform service is a great tool if you primarily deal with building applications and need a platform for building software products.

Therefore, you will need to thoroughly assess the needs of your organization and then opt for a product (or a combination of products) that serves those needs.

If you cannot decide on your own, consider getting in touch with experts as they can help you select the best software solutions for your upcoming projects.


What is Heroku?

PaaS platform to create, deploy, and run apps.

What is AWS?

Largest cloud provider in the world.

What is DigitalOcean

Developer-centric cloud provider.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.