Understanding Heroku

Heroku's docs were definitely NOT written for me. Can you tell me why we use it in our courses, and what problem(s) it solves...And what I would otherwise being doing if I didn't use it? Even if I'm not an expert at infrastructure, I'd love to be able to articulate (to myself) the what and the why for using Heroku. Thanks man!

Posted over 4 years ago by Matt
Posted over 4 years ago by Alex Yang

Heroku is an incredibly easy way to host a Rails app for free. You only need to edit your Gemfile, run a few commands, and you're up in no more than a few minutes. And it's great that as your website (and traffic) grows, you can scale up your Heroku infrastructure as well. That's why BaseRails uses Heroku - we're able to keep our web hosting costs at $20/month (to enable SSL), which is a lot less than we have to pay for video hosting.

I agree with you about Heroku's documentation though - not the greatest, especially if you're just getting started. I also find it absurd that they direct users to Stack Overflow for support. However, if you send their support staff an email, they'll usually get back to you in a day or two.

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Posted over 4 years ago by Matt

So if I didn't use them, would I be leasing a bunch of server space at some co-located server farm somewhere? And how do they make it possible to scale up quickly? Is there a specific technology they're using to allow users to do that? And how is it different from what we'd be using otherwise. Thanks Alex!

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Posted over 4 years ago by Alex Yang

This is a pretty advanced question, and I don't have all the answers. Yes, it's possible to set up servers on your own and try to allow for scalability as well as minimal downtime, but I'd imagine the costs would outweigh the benefits. Probably better to use one of the many hosting providers that are already available so you can focus on what matters. As for how Heroku is different from the alternatives, that depends a lot on which alternatives you're considering! There are a lot of good articles on this, here's one: http://blog.sudobits.com/2013/02/15/heroku-alternatives-for-deploying-rails-applications/.

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