We often recommend Heroku for hosting. But our clients are business minded, so how do we go about explaining the recommendation to them?
Heroku fundamentally allows us to focus on building the unique parts of an application. We don't need to focus on deployment, scaling, security and hosting support. This saves us time, and ultimately saves our clients a lot of money.
It's easy for us to setup, scale, secure and connect many useful (often free) add-ons to your site such as automatic database backups and email sending services.
The short term developer productivity gains combined with the long term hosting support and security benefits make it a great choice for many small to mid-size applications.
Applications on Heroku are also very portable — need to add another developer to the project? Need to transfer the billing to another account? No problem.
Yes, the cost will scale with your app and you'll be tempted with other options. But Heroku offers tremendous power and we all take that for granted. One must not underestimate the time it takes to maintain similar hosting features ourselves.
Years ago we used to run our own virtual private servers. This was before cloud hosting options like Heroku were around. Doing hosting ourselves meant one of our developers assumed the responsibilities of server admin; had to set it up with a Ruby on Rails stack and get deployments working. It was necessary to keep on top of security patches for the operating system and all other software dependancies. When it comes to scaling, it was entirely up to us to figure that out. This is a headache I'm glad we've been able to outsource to the hosting platform itself.
We don't always recommend Heroku as it depends on your specific needs but in many cases it's our default.
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