Migrating Heroku Applications to AWS

Was your application built on Heroku? Do you have aggressive growth plans for your application or SaaS product and want to drive down per-user cost while increasing agility? Has your application become difficult to integrate with other systems? Does it struggle to scale during peak demand? Is it difficult to modify the system with new features and deploy them? Do you keep pushing the limits of the Heroku platform and having to come up with workarounds?

It might be time for a cloud-native modernization.

Please, don’t interpret this as critical of the Heroku platform. It can be great for starting out, particularly if you are new to AWS.

The story goes like this: Over time, more and more feature requests are bolted on, more resiliency is needed, and more users are added to the system. Costs scale linearly with system growth. But you want to grow more, faster, and make customer acquisition faster and less expensive.

The framework that started out by accelerating you can become a box you are growing out of.

And at that point, it’s time to consider modernization.

What are some limitations of Heroku?

Heroku has limits on the number of dynos (containers) that can be scaled horizontally, which can limit the application's ability to handle high traffic loads.

It is also a managed platform, which means that certain technical aspects are controlled by Heroku, and users may not have the flexibility to customize certain aspects of their infrastructure.

Since it is a platform as a service (PaaS) provider, that means you are paying for the convenience, which can be more expensive than building a cloud-native solution on AWS.

Heroku is also limited to specific availability zones, which can limit your redundancy and failover options.

What are some special considerations when migrating Heroku-based applications?

Migration can be complex and time-consuming. You will need to carefully plan and execute the migration to minimize disruption to your application. This is particularly true if you’ve had to work around its limitations a lot, integrate it with other systems, or heavily customize platform features.

Develop a solid, well-architected target architecture. This means choosing the right AWS services and configurations to ensure that your application performs optimally on AWS.

Oftentimes, Heroku was used because it, in part, solves for not having a lot of knowledge doing things cloud-natively. Be self-aware and make sure you have the right expertise to make these decisions.

You will need to have the technical expertise to manage your own infrastructure on AWS, or you may need to work with a third-party managed services provider to help you manage your infrastructure.

Throughout the modernization, you will need to factor in the cost of migrating to AWS, ongoing maintenance, and management costs into your decision-making process.

The AWS platform provides more flexibility and creativity than Heroku does. You can control security and costs at a much finer level.

But don’t go it alone. Choose a partner. Partners bring expertise, additional viewpoints and ideas, and can leverage funding and programs from AWS that are not available by working independently or solely with AWS.

The Migration Acceleration Program is AWS’ proven methodology for modernizing customers successfully to cloud-native solutions on AWS. It includes funding, AWS support, and oversight from specialists and approved partners.

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