September 18, 2019

Why I pick Heroku over AWS Lambda. But not always.

Tim Nolet @tnolet

When adding a new feature to Checkly or refactoring some older piece, I tend to pick Heroku for rolling it out. But not always, because sometimes I pick AWS Lambda.

The short story:

  • Developer Experience trumps everything.
  • AWS Lambda is cheap. Up to a limit though. This impact not only your wallet.
  • If you need geographic spread, AWS is lonely at the top.

For the long story, read the post on my "Building a SaaS"-blog

https://blog.checklyhq.com/why-i-pick-heroku-over-aws-lambda-but-not-always/

  1. 1

    I totally agree with this for the most part. Currently, I'm on a Google Kubernetes Engine cluster which is EXTREMELY overkill. But Google gave me $20k of credit. When that credit expires next spring, I'll almost certainly move to Heroku because of the DX. I've actually considered moving anyway...

  2. 1

    There is a third way. Check out Piku.

    https://github.com/piku/piku/

    Not for everyone, but a great fit for self-hosting bootstrappers.

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      Well, it looks nice but again you are managing your own infrastructure. The whole idea of Heroku and AWS Lambda (or serverless / FaaS) in general is that you do not manage your own infra.

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        Yep I hear you. I am one of the people hacking on Piku so I am biased but I can tell you that the "manage your own infra" aspect has been very low for me. There is a single script you run to set up Piku and then it's done.

        Basically I pay for the VPS (just like paying for a Heroku instance) but other than that it just hums away without any intervention. It's all just git push and the whole idea of Piku is to reduce maintenance & deployment so you can focus on shipping code. YMMV but I would give it a try before you write it off.

        Also it is far cheaper than Heroku. I'm running multiple apps on a single $5/mo instance as opposed to Heroku's $7 per app.

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          Not disregarding anything. Piku looks great. But here are some questions for you that start popping up when running a for-profit company with customers relying on your 24 x 7 availability:

          1. Who patches the OS and when?
          2. What is your security update policy in general?
          3. How do you manage log files, disk capacity etc?
          4. How do you do updates without downtime?
          5. Who is monitoring this for you 24 x 7?

          Your single $5 Digital Ocean box is suddenly a liability.

          Of course, not every Indiehacker has this issue at the start. But when business takes of, you will.

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            Yes at scale those things become an issue.

            Isn't that also the case for a platform like Heroku?

            Currently I optimise for trying many experiments quickly, and for that use-case Piku is great.

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          This comment was deleted a year ago.

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    This comment was deleted 3 months ago.

    1. 1

      Yeah, not many companies have scaling issues. If you have, it's mostly a luxury. Doesn't mean you should ignore it, but you certainly should not optimize for it.