An Introduction to Heroku

A new software project requires a lot of time and work to create. Before your product can be shared with users, there are many other things you need to take care of in addition to actually bringing your idea to life, which many people might argue is the most enjoyable part.

What is your plan for managing the infrastructure? Of course, you'll also need to take care of storage, networking, monitoring, and more to run a new project successfully, so how do you plan on handling all of that?

Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers like Heroku allow developers to basically rent all they need to create an application, relying on the cloud provider for operating systems, infrastructure, and development tools. PaaS significantly streamlines the creation of web applications and makes developers' life much easier, as the service handles most of the hard work of backend management and takes place behind the scenes.

In this article, you'll see what Heroku is and why you should consider using it for your next project.

What is Heroku?

Heroku is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) platform hosted on Amazon's EC2 cloud computing platform. It enables developers and large organizations to deploy, manage, and efficiently scale web applications in isolated and virtualized containers. Heroku was founded in 2007 and initially only supported the Ruby programming language. However, Salesforce purchased it in 2011 and soon began supporting Node.js and Closure. Now supported languages, besides those mentioned, include Java, PHP, Python, Go, and Scala, or you can use another language through a third-party build pack as long as it runs on Linux, making Heroku language agnostic. Additionally, Heroku has an ecosystem of add-on services that let developers extend the capabilities of an application.

To deploy an application, you must run it on a server that can handle requests from the Internet. You can upload your code to Heroku, which makes your application code accessible online and available to everyone with just a few simple commands. What makes PaaS products unique is how simple it is to host your application online. Most of the details behind the scenes that are necessary for your application to run are handled by Heroku.

Traditionally, many developers had to manage and maintain their own servers, including all hardware requirements, software installation, security features, etc. All of the above and many other things must occur for an application to run smoothly online. All you need to deploy an application on Heroku is a few simple command-line tools installed and your application code ready to go. Heroku and other similar services handle all of these background tasks for you, making it much easier for developers to release a live application. This allows developers to concentrate on writing functional code while the platform handles the rest.

Heroku works for businesses of all sizes, and pricing depends on the type of app you want to build, the type of containers you need, and any additional products you may want.

How Heroku Works

Heroku apps run in virtual containers called dynos. Dynos run in a fully managed environment, which allows developers to deploy their applications in any of Heroku's supported languages. In addition, Heroku takes care of monitoring and patching the system and language stacks to keep the platform up to date, reliable, and secure. Finally, once your app is live, users can make requests through the Heroku platform, which your application serves.

Deployment Methods in Heroku

There are three different ways you can deploy your application on Heroku. By using Git, Github, and the Heroku button. Deploying code through Git starts by creating a local git repository. From there, you can create an app on Heroku from the git repository and start writing code running a command. To create a new Heroku app from Git, create a new git remote that you can use to push code and deploy your app. You can also use Github to deploy code to Heroku. Start by linking your Github account to Heroku and choosing the repository you want to link to your app. Once you've connected a repository, you can either manually deploy a particular Github branch or enable automatic deploys from Github. If you enable automatic deployment, every new push to a specific branch will deploy a new app version. Finally, you can deploy your app using the Heroku button and Github. To enable the Heroku button, you'll first need to embed an app.json file and then create a link in the readme. Once you've done that, click the Heroku button on the repository you want to use for your app, and Heroku will fetch your code to build and deploy a new application.

Building and Running Applications on Dynos

Heroku starts the build process as soon as it gets the application source code. Then, the built application retrieves specific dependencies and generates assets. In Heroku, the composition of your application, the fetched dependencies, and the output of the build phase are referred to as Slugs.

Heroku runs applications that are running the command you specified. It will automatically launch one web dyno the first time you deploy an application. After that, depending on your dynos configuration, some will run commands linked with the web process type, while others, commands related to other types.

Web process dynos differ from others because they receive HTTP traffic. For example, Heroku's HTTP routers distribute your application's incoming requests across your web dynos.

So scaling an app basically means scaling the number of web dynos. But let's see more details in the following section.

Heroku Scalability

Heroku provides simple tools that allow developers to scale dynos to meet demand instantly. Following the deployment of an app, it may require adjustments to adapt to factors such as increased traffic or new functionalities Scaling can be accomplished through the Heroku interface or the Heroku CLI.

Heroku scalability is categorized into horizontal, vertical, and autoscaling.

Adding more dynos scales your application horizontally. More web dynos allow Heroku to distribute incoming HTTP requests across more running instances of your web servers, improving performance for higher traffic volumes. Increasing the number of worker dynos enables your app to process more jobs in parallel and handle a higher volume of work. Of course, horizontal scaling isn't always the best option.

Vertical scaling is the process of upgrading dynos to larger dyno types that provide more memory and CPU resources to your application. This scaling option is ideal for apps that run on dynos that share compute instances and thus may experience performance variance.

To meet the 95% response time threshold, Heroku automatically increases the number of web dynos required. Autoscaling is included for free on Performance and Private dynos. Each device integration on Heroku can be scaled individually. Developers can simply provision more dynos to handle increased traffic from a specific device.

Heroku Features and Benefits

Heroku enables developers to quickly deploy their apps to the internet with its straightforward deployment process. It allows them to concentrate on their apps without being distracted by the management of servers, hardware, or infrastructure. Developers can use Heroku to iterate quickly and achieve efficient continuous delivery. Heroku has flexible pricing, and you can start with a free plan and then choose a program based on your changing needs.

As mentioned earlier, Heroku is built on Amazon web services, considered the gold standard of cloud computing or infrastructure as a service. Also, it's extremely tightly coupled with Salesforce as it's a part of the Salesforce ecosystem and products. There are pre-built connectors available that connect your Salesforce with your Heroku application so you can share data and functionality.

Heroku is both user-friendly and visually appealing. Many other platforms are more complex and, consequently, more difficult to use. For example, many people believe that AWS interfaces are confusing because there is so much going on. On the other hand, Heroku is simple to use, similar to Salesforce, and intuitive enough that you know exactly where to click and what to do. Besides its excellent point-and-click interface, it also supports pro developer tools, so you can use the command line with Heroku as well. Whether you use the point-and-click method or the command line method, both work well.

Heroku has top-notch built-in security and a very robust CI/CD tooling engine inside it. You can use these tools to build your applications, test them and deploy them. It is suitable for large enterprises, that's why some of the biggest companies in the world are running applications on Heroku, but at the same time, it's also ideal for hobbyists who want to build applications for personal use.

Heroku's ability to support virtually any language is yet another fantastic feature. You can create your application in whatever language you want or whatever language you're most comfortable with. You can write an application in that language and connect it to any database you want, whether it's a Heroku PostgreSQL, RDS PostgreSQL, or a MySQL database on your remote computer. It gives you a lot of flexibility to work with the languages and data that makes sense to you.

Ultimately, Heroku allows developers to focus on what they do best: developing apps.

Conclusion

Heroku is a trusted PaaS offering and a part of Salesforce. It is a cloud platform that enables businesses to quickly develop, deliver, and monitor applications without worrying about infrastructure difficulties. With Heroku, you can simply focus on developing the best application you can while reducing development time, ensuring reliability, and enhancing stability.

If you need help deploying a highly scalable system for your business using a cloud provider such as Heroku, call us.

 

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