Vercel vs Netlify vs Heroku
Serverless computing is a new entrant in the world of cloud computing and is gaining rapid popularity among organizations.
This new computing model removes the need for IT teams to manage the backend infrastructure offered by cloud computing providers, allowing developers to focus solely on improving the frontend code and thereby enhancing the end-user experience.
Instead of paying for pre-determined computing resources, the organization only pays for the resources utilized by its application.
This model not only reduces development costs but also allows the company to expedite the app development process in certain cases. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly popular and a core aspect of distributed computing going forward.
While serverless computing does use servers (there is nothing truly serverless, it’s just marketing), it does remove the burden of server management and planning aspect of cloud computing.
For workflows that only focus on delivering excellent frontend, serverless computing models can be a significant contributor to improving productivity.
However, when hosting complete applications, developers might need some level of control over the deployment process. A platform as a service implementation can be of use in these instances, enabling development teams with the flexibility required to build and manage full-stack modern applications.
In the following post, we compare three cloud computing providers, i.e., Vercel, Netlify, and Heroku. We try to distinguish the features and pricing of each model. If you have been wondering about using one of the following for your upcoming projects, the following process should help you make an informed decision.
What is Vercel?
Known primarily as the creators of Next.js, Vercel is a cloud platform for static frontend frameworks and serverless websites.
Formerly ZEIT, Vercel enables developers with the tools and services required to host web assets with minimal configuration, i.e., websites and lightweight event-driven APIs that deploy instantly and scale automatically.
It offers a higher-order abstraction on top of cloud computing providers by wrapping and composing the infrastructure utilities into a developer-centric computing solution. Essentially, Vercel offers a live editing experience, allowing developers to get their desired UI components on the website.
The built-in CI/CD enables easy automation of the workflows, allowing teams to collaborate on developing and deploying frontend apps effectively.
With live previews, you can gather feedback early in the development stage, meaning the final deployment will have minimal compatibility issues and the productivity of the development teams will be higher.
- DPS workflow: The Deploy – Preview – Ship (DPS) workflow prioritizes observability and allows developers to deploy from the code instantaneously. You get real-time logs of every touchpoint, one-click integrations to almost all major frameworks, and built-in analytics for measuring app performance.
- Scalability: The static and serverless infrastructure of Vercel is designed to scale the deployment to infinity and back down to zero instantaneously. Every deployment on Vercel is immutable and domains act as pointers for easy reverts. Each layer of the infrastructure (i.e., ingress, storage, caching, etc.) can scale up and down dynamically.
- Serverless functions: Vercel can help developers deploy serverless functions without much configuration. The Edge network can intelligently route traffic and run logic close to the users. Vercel helps you handle advanced features like user authentication, form submissions, and database queries easily.
As a serverless platform, you will be paying for the resources used by your deployment. Vercel offers three pricing tiers to power your projects, which are discussed in brief below.
- Starter: Free for non-commercial and personal projects, you get 6,000 build execution minutes at 100 GB bandwidth. You can deploy from CLI or personal Git integrations and get automatic HTTPS/SSL.
- Pro: For small teams focused on business, this tier starts at $20 per user per month where you get up to 24,000 build minutes at 1 TB bandwidth and 3,000 deployments per day. You will be charged $50 per additional concurrent build and $40 per extra 100 GB of bandwidth.
- Enterprise: Custom pricing tier for teams that require more security and performance. You get isolated build infrastructure with a dedicated support manager and SLA.
What is Netlify?
Netlify is arguably one of the most popular serverless cloud computing platforms for frontend CI/CD deployment workflows.
Offered as a cloud implementation, Netlify helps developers build and deploy progressive web apps and projects with the help of serverless backend services. It can be used to develop multi-cloud global Edge networks, serverless functions, and modern workflows.
The proprietary global Edge platform essentially eliminates the traditional need for managing or patching servers when scaling.
Consequently, scaling on Netlify can be done using incremental builds effortlessly. It offers a new architecture called the JAMstack platform for supporting modern web development.
While you cannot directly build Node sites on Netlify, you can use Node in conjunction with Gulp, Grunt, Yarn, or Webpack to build and deploy static websites.
Moreover, you can also build your website if you use static website generators like Gatsby and Hugo. Essentially, Netlify creates a unique repository, which it uses to push the app codes to microservices and then runs a typical pre-build process to render pages in static HTML.
One of the most popular advantages of Netlify is Split Testing. It allows its users to create unlimited branches of the website whenever there is any change to its source code.
By simply spinning a URL, you can provide unlimited testing opportunities to your editors, meaning they can test multiple versions of your website, check the preview in real-time, and upload the code after finalizing everything.
- Lambda functions: Since Netlify is built on multiple cloud platforms, it allows its users to leverage the features of platforms like AWS, Google, and Digital Ocean. By deploying server-side functions to Lamba, you do not need to worry about service discovery or handling the AWS ecosystem.
- JAMstack ecosystem: As discussed above, Netlify offers JAMstack architecture for web deployment. You can use hosted API services to enhance your app’s functionality without infrastructure management. Moreover, since the entire frontend is built into static web assets, your website can be directly served from CDNs.
- Git integrated CI/CD: Netlify is a holistic cloud computing serverless platform where various apps can work together to automate various processes. You can deploy globally directly from Git without worrying about backend infrastructure.
Being a serverless platform, Netlify also charges you for the resources used by your deployment. The pricing tiers are discussed in brief below.
- Starter: Anyone with a Netlify account can start building on the platform. You get 300 build minutes a month at 100 GB of bandwidth, post which you will be charged then $7 per 500 minutes and $55 per 100 GB extra bandwidth.
- Pro: For private organization Git repositories, this tier starts at $19 per member per month, for which you get 3 concurrent builds, 25K minutes of build time a month at 1.5TB bandwidth per month. Extra charges apply when exceeded.
- Business: Aimed at collaboration, this tier starts at $99 per member per month, for which it offers 5 concurrent builds, and 35K minutes of build time a month at 1.5TB bandwidth per month. Extra charges apply if you cross these limits.
- Enterprise: Netlify also offers a custom pricing tier with bespoke services that are aimed at improving the performance of a development team, e.g., 99.99% uptime SLA, premium support, custom contracts, etc.
What is Heroku?
Finally, we take a look at a cloud computing model offered as a platform, i.e., Heroku. Launched in 2007 and acquired by Salesforce in 2010, Heroku is one of the first cloud computing platforms that follows a container-based approach to app delivery.
Being offered as a platform, Heroku offers a complete environment for developing high-performance modern applications. A PaaS functions very similarly to a serverless cloud computing model, providing a platform that can be used to develop, run, and manage cloud software solutions without maintaining or managing the backend infrastructure required to run the application.
Containers are standard units of software that pack the code and all its dependencies so that the app can run in any computing environment reliably.
Heroku offers isolated Linux containers called “dynos”, which are small fully managed runtime environments. The dynos are distributed over a dyno grid and rely on virtual isolation in order to be deployed and run. As a result, the app can run on any target platform without worrying about compatibility issues.
Upon its launch, Heroku only supported the Ruby programming language, for which it was originally designed. Since its acquisition by Salesforce, Heroku now supports a wide variety of programming languages, including but not limited to PHP, Python, Go, Scala, Clojure, Node.js, etc. It also offers official buildpacks, which can be used to run programs in additional languages.
- Threshold monitoring: One of the indispensable features of the Heroku platform is the Operational Experience, which refers to a bunch of tools and services that can be used to monitor the app performance in real-time. OpEx keeps track of negative trends and notifies the user instantly so that they can address the issue at the earliest.
- Command line: Arguably the strongest component of Heroku is the CLI, which allows users to complete almost any task instantaneously right from the terminal. You can schedule deployments, take backups, verify installations, etc.
- Server security: Heroku automatically scales or adds more dynos if needed when the server response time crosses a threshold. App data stored on the Heroku platform is encrypted to ensure server security. Heroku conducts regular audits to ensure that the platform maintains security compliances with HIPAA, PCI, ISO, SOC, etc.
Since not a serverless platform, Heroku charges for virtual machines that keep the apps running even in the absence of a trigger event.
It offers a free tier with 550-1000 dyno hours monthly for personal projects and non-commercial applications. The paid tier starts at $7 a month for a dyno, more on which is discussed below:
- Hobby: Starting at $7 per month, this tier offers all the features of the free tier along with automatic certificate management and free SSL.
- Standard: Standard 1X starts at $25 a month for a dyno and can run lightweight applications that can boot with 512 MB RAM. Standard 2X starting at $50 a dyno monthly offers higher concurrency for computing intense background workers.
- Performance: Performance M starts at $250 a month for running high traffic, low latency apps with optimized concurrency over Standard 2X. Performance L at $500 for extremely high concurrency and max throughput for high-traffic, latency-sensitive applications.
- Custom Pricing: Private tier with network isolation and dedicated resources and Shield tier with the dedicated environment and PCI compliance for running high compliance software that needs greater control.
Heroku vs Vercel vs Netlify Comparison
Here is a table comparing Heroku vs Netlify vs Vercel.
|Focus||Towards frontend||Towards frontend||Towards backend|
|Pricing||Pro – $20/user/mo|
Enterprise – Under quotation
|Pro – $19/member/mo|
Business – $99/member/mo
|Hobby – $7/mo|
Production – $25/mo
Advanced – $250/mo
Enterprise – Under quotation
Vercel and Netlify are two of the most popular serverless cloud computing platforms available in the market right now, while Heroku has been a consistently reliable PaaS since its launch. While the models seem similar in how they function and offer their deployment, each of them is mainly suited for a different style of workflows.
Netlify is primarily suited for hosting static websites due to its excellent CDN platform. It has a global network with instant cache validation and offers various features that are more suited for that specific workflow. Similarly, Vercel is a serverless platform that is more suited for for frontend frameworks and static sites.
Heroku is similar to a serverless platform but not in the sense the word is used today, as it does not respond only to a trigger event and does not sleep when not used. However, it still manages most of the backend work and automates redundant processes, allowing developers to simply upload their code and Heroku will handle the rest.
When selecting among these, you will need to carefully assess the requirements of your organization to determine which one best suits your organization. If you cannot come to a result, consider getting in touch with one of the leading app hosting companies for more information. The experts there will help you select the best software solutions for your upcoming projects.