Ask the Experts: What’s New in the World of Heroku?

September 15, 2015 Jiordan Castle

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At Dreamforce ‘15, you can expect a great deal of talk centered on both Customer and Worker Experience. Additionally, there will be new offerings from Salesforce, like their recently revealed Lightning Experience. Another interesting focal point will be Heroku, the leading Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, which Salesforce acquired back in 2010. We’ve asked 2 of our experts to weigh in on the rewards of Heroku, recent changes to the platform, and other need-to-know facts, so you’ll be that much more prepared to embrace all things Heroku this season.

KBKyle Bowerman leads a small team of Community Architects who run crowdsourcing challenges on Topcoder. He has an Engineering degree from the University of Illinois and lives near Chicago with his wife and 3 kids. In his spare time, he can be found tinkering with microcontrollers and other IoT devices. Learn more at his IoT blog.

 

CDChris “Lazy Baer” DeLaurentis is a jack-of-all-trades developer who fell into a technical architecture role in crowdsourcing with Appirio. With a varied background in the Financial Services, Marketing, IT, and Telecom industries, he enjoys graph databases, good beer, genetic algorithms, Lovecraftian horror, crowdsourcing, and good beer. Hailing from the Northeast, you can usually find him not sleeping and running a variety of creative development challenges on our crowdsourcing platform.

For companies who use Salesforce, but are not familiar with Heroku, what does Heroku offer that Force.com does not?

CD: Heroku offers you the ability to develop 12-Factor, custom applications without limits. Salesforce.com, while an amazing platform, comes with its own set of limits and governors that force (pun intended) a developer into a very specific pattern of development. Heroku provides you with scalable, pay-as-you-go “dynos” that allow for elastic expansion of compute resources on the fly. Simpler than AWS, but with all the benefits that come with the multi-tenancy of cloud computing and no user-based licensing.

Also, Heroku’s git-based deployment and new pipeline development features allow you to migrate your applications seamlessly from dev to staging to production environments. Git push from local and you’re live. And while the AppExchange is great, the Heroku Add-Ons marketplace is amazing. Just like Heroku itself, there are pay-as-you-go add-ons that can enhance your apps at scale. And of course, there’s Heroku Connect.

KB: A lot of shops have developers with existing apps written in the language of their choice or who want to develop new apps using the languages they are comfortable with, and they want to handpick the database or other cloud providers that are right for them. Heroku gives these developers access to a polyglot platform that supports a whole host of open source programming languages, as well as hundreds of hosted third party add-ons for databases and other services. In addition, Heroku does not charge license fees per user; they charge by the horsepower. We are big fans of Heroku within our crowdsourcing community because our members can build apps that include any add-on Heroku offers without it costing them a penny. (Of course, they are all within a free tier, but for demo purposes it is always enough.)

What are some typical use cases for Heroku?

CD: Some great use cases for Heroku are: things Salesforce.com’s Apex can’t do (image processing apps and video processing apps), things that aren’t cost effective in Salesforce.com (web applications and mass emailing), migrating existing apps to the cloud (generally speaking, if you can buildpack it, it’ll run; relational database support for mySQL and Postgres), and rapid prototyping.

KB: Heroku is always a top choice for companies who don’t have the ability to take advantage of an existing Salesforce license — whether you’re building a web, mobile, or even a standalone API. With the addition of Heroku Connect, you can create a real-time 2-way sync between Salesforce objects and a Heroku PostgresSQL database. This is quickly becoming our favorite way to build a mobile app that exposes data in Salesforce, and doesn’t require any code.

Heroku recently announced a new development stack called Dogwood (also known as “heroku-spaces” for Marketing). What do we need to know about Dogwood?

KB: It was just announced that Dogwood will allow single-tenant or virtual private clouds that should help with HIPAA and PCI compliance. It will also support more AWS regions than just North America and Europe.

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