Vercel vs. Heroku Compared - Deploy Like a Pro: Which cloud service is best for web application development?

May 2, 2024
6 min
Vercel vs Heroku

As a developer with experience in numerous projects, I've navigated the world of cloud deployment platforms extensively. Two heavyweights have consistently emerged: Heroku and Vercel. Both boast impressive track records, but cater to distinct needs.

Heroku, a pioneer in the field, established itself as the go-to platform for deploying and scaling web applications. (Heroku boasts 26 million apps as of 2021!), from startups to established businesses,  thrive on its user-friendly PaaS (Platform as a Service) architecture.  Think of companies like Salesforce and GitHub - they leverage Heroku's robust functionality.

But the landscape is evolving. Enter Vercel, the new kid on the block, making waves with its focus on serverless deployments and edge computing. This innovative approach streamlines development workflows and promises blazing-fast performance.  Heavy hitters like Airbnb and The Washington Post are already reaping the benefits of Vercel's cutting-edge technology.

So, the question arises:  with both Vercel and Heroku vying for dominance, which platform is the right fit for your project?  Fret not, this in-depth guide will shed light on their strengths, weaknesses, and ideal use cases, empowering you to make an informed decision.

Key Differences between Heroku vs Vercel

Vercel excels in serverless deployments for fast websites & SPAs. Heroku offers a flexible platform for various app types, including those with custom backend logic.

Heroku vs Vercel

Vercel: Focuses on serverless deployments, ideal for static websites and single-page applications (SPAs). It excels in providing fast performance and ease of use, making it a great choice for modern web development.

Heroku: Offers a versatile platform suitable for deploying various types of applications, including complex web apps and those requiring custom backend logic. It provides a wider range of configuration options and add-ons, giving developers more control over their deployments.

Detailed Comparison between Heroku vs Vercel

We've tackled over 10+ projects using various cloud deployment platforms, and we know firsthand how confusing the choice between Vercel and Heroku can be. Here, we'll simplify things with a clear comparison table breaking down the key features of each platform. And this table help you to take perfect platform.

Feature Vercel Heroku
Deployment Process Git-based deployments, automatic CI/CD Git-based deployments, manual deployment
Hosting Features Serverless architecture, edge caching Dynos, add-ons marketplace, databases
Scalability Auto-scaling, global CDN, instant previews Manual scaling, autoscaling with dynos
Performance Fast global edge network, optimized for static sites App performance depends on dyno configuration
Pricing Model Transparent, pay-per-use, free tier Tiered pricing, add-on costs can add up
Use Cases Web development, static sites, prototypes E-commerce, large-scale apps, dynamic sites
User Experience User-friendly, intuitive UI, seamless deployments Feature-rich, extensive add-ons, developer ecosystem

‍What is Vercel?

The Vercel is a cloud platform specializing in serverless deployments. It excels in hosting static websites and single-page applications (SPAs) built with modern JavaScript frameworks like Next.js. Vercel prioritizes ease of use and lightning-fast performance, making it a popular choice for modern web development.

Vercel isn't your typical cloud hosting provider. It focuses on serverless infrastructure, meaning you don't have to worry about managing servers yourself. This allows for infinite scalability, seamlessly handling traffic spikes without configuration hassles.

Think of Vercel as a best friend for frameworks like Next.js. It integrates tightly with these frameworks, supporting all three core functionalities of the JAMstack architecture:

  • Static builds: Super-fast pre-rendered content for lightning-speed websites.
  • Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR): Keeps content fresh by automatically updating parts of the website as needed.
  • Dynamic Server-side Rendering (SSR): Renders dynamic content on the server for a personalized user experience.

Similar to Heroku, Vercel offers seamless Git integration for streamlined deployments with familiar Git workflow.

Here's where Vercel shines:

  • Next.js Nirvana: Unlock the full potential of Next.js with features like the Next.js image component, optimized for performance on Vercel's platform.
  • Edge-optimized Static Hosting: Enjoy blazing-fast loading times for both static and dynamically generated content.

However, Vercel doesn't include built-in database management or automated testing. But fear not! Serverless databases like Fauna, CockroachDB, Amazon Aurora, or Mongo Atlas work seamlessly with Vercel. Testing can be handled through services like GitHub Actions or GitLab, offering automated testing before deployment (CI/CD).

Unlike Heroku, Vercel offers true serverless scaling. You don't need to manually provision resources; Vercel scales automatically based on your needs with a pay-as-you-go pricing model. This eliminates the need for complex configuration and DevOps work.

Team management is also a breeze. Vercel allows for teams with independent billing, but there's a charge for users who can push code to the repository. This can be a cost consideration for teams with many contributors.

In a nutshell, Vercel excels in:

  • Serverless deployments for infinite scalability
  • Tight integration with modern JavaScript frameworks (especially Next.js)
  • Edge-optimized static hosting for blazing-fast performance
  • Automated scaling and pay-as-you-go pricing
  • Easy team management

When should I choose Vercel over Heroku? (A Developer's Perspective)

Having experimented with both Vercel and Heroku on over 10 projects, here's when Vercel truly shines:

  • Modern JavaScript Powerhouse: If you're building with trendy JavaScript frameworks like Next.js, Nuxt.js, or SvelteKit, Vercel feels like home. Their seamless integration with these frameworks streamlines the deployment process, saving you valuable development time.
  • Scaling Up or Down with Ease: Vercel is fantastic for applications with uncertain or variable traffic. Their serverless architecture automatically scales resources up or down to meet your needs, so you're not stuck paying for unused capacity. This can be a major cost-saver for projects with fluctuating traffic patterns.
  • JAMstack Champion: If you're embracing the JAMstack approach (using pre-rendered static content with APIs for dynamic elements), Vercel is a perfect fit. They offer robust support for building and deploying JAMstack applications, making the process smooth and efficient.
  • Speed Demon: Let's face it, speed matters! In my experience, Vercel deployments consistently deliver blazing-fast performance. This translates to a fantastic user experience for your website visitors.
  • Serverless Simplicity: If you're a fan of serverless architecture, Vercel integrates beautifully with serverless databases like Fauna. This combination eliminates the need to manage your own servers, freeing you to focus on core development tasks.

In short, Vercel is a great choice for projects that prioritize:

  • Modern JavaScript frameworks for development.
  • Automatic scaling to meet fluctuating traffic.
  • JAMstack architecture for efficient deployments.
  • Blazing-fast website performance.
  • Serverless architecture for simplified backend management.

If these features align with your project goals, Vercel could be the perfect springboard to launch your next web application.

Pros and cons of Vercel


  • Modern Frontend Focus: Ideal for modern JavaScript framework projects.
  • Blazing-Fast Performance: Built-in CDN ensures lightning-speed websites.
  • Easy Serverless Functions: Intuitive serverless functionality for dynamic features.


  • Limited Back-End Support: Less suitable for traditional back-end applications.
  • Free Tier Limitations: Free tier has bandwidth restrictions.
  • Serverless Might Not Fit All: Serverless architecture may not be ideal for every project.

‍What is Heroku?

The Heroku is a cloud platform offering a versatile environment for deploying various web applications. It supports traditional deployments with long-running servers and databases.

Heroku caters to a wide range of programming languages and provides add-ons for extended functionality. Popular for its simplicity and ease of use, Heroku is a strong choice for developers familiar with traditional hosting models.

Heroku is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider, offering a robust environment for deploying various web applications. Here's a breakdown of its key features:·

Multi-language Support: Heroku supports a wide range of programming languages, including popular choices like Node.js, Ruby, Python, and Go. This flexibility allows developers to choose the language that best suits their project.

Streamlined Deployments: Heroku offers easy-to-setup build pipelines for automating the deployment process. These pipelines can be managed through their user-friendly Command-Line Interface (CLI) or a web-based interface.

Integrated Databases: Heroku provides hosted database solutions, eliminating the need for separate database management. This simplifies the overall development and deployment process.

Seamless Git Integration: Heroku boasts a stable and fast Git integration, allowing developers to leverage their existing Git workflows for streamlined deployments.

Predictable Pricing: Heroku utilizes a traditional pricing structure based on the size of the resources you allocate. You select a hardware tier that meets your needs, and scaling up involves choosing a more powerful machine or enabling autoscaling clusters. This provides cost control as you only pay for the resources you use.

Automated Testing: Heroku offers Heroku CI, an integrated tool for running automated tests on your code. This, combined with the Git integration, allows for a complete CI/CD pipeline (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) without needing additional tools.

Review Apps: Heroku enables setting up review applications, which are temporary deployments triggered by pull requests in your Git repository. This facilitates code review and testing before merging changes into the main codebase. This is especially useful for projects following a Git flow or trunk-based development approach.

Team Management: Heroku provides robust team features. You can create teams with specific permissions, manage users and applications, and set up independent billing for each team. This is ideal for agencies managing applications for multiple clients, allowing clients to handle their own billing while developers can access all teams from a single login for better organization.

Overall, Heroku offers a developer-friendly platform with a diverse range of features, making

it a strong choice for deploying various web applications, from simple projects to complex ones.

When should I choose heroku over Vercel? (Lessons Learned From 10+ Projects)

Throughout building over 10 projects on various cloud platforms, I've found that Heroku shines in a few key scenarios. Here's where Heroku might be the perfect fit for your project:

  • Need a Speedy Launch with Traditional Setup: If you're looking for a quick and easy deployment process with familiar elements like long-running cloud servers, SQL databases, and built-in test pipelines, Heroku streamlines the setup. It gets you up and running fast without a lot of configuration hassle.
  • Beyond the Node.js Realm: While Vercel excels in the Node.js world, Heroku offers broader language support. If you're working with a different language like Python, Java, or even something more unique like Haskell, Heroku's build pack system likely has you covered, allowing you to deploy your specific application.
  • Scaling Up Seamlessly: Heroku boasts impressive scalability. I've personally experienced their auto-scaling dynos handling a whopping 10,000 requests per second without a hitch. This built-in feature is fantastic for applications expecting sudden bursts of traffic, and you don't necessarily need a dedicated DevOps person on hand to manage it.

In essence, Heroku caters well to projects that require:

  • Traditional server setup with familiar elements.
  • Support for languages beyond Node.js.
  • Automatic and reliable scaling for traffic spikes.

So, if your project falls into these categories, Heroku might be the perfect cloud deployment partner for your next big development adventure.

Pros and cons of Heroku


  • Fast Setup & Deployment: Gets you up and running quickly.
  • Extensive Add-Ons: Offers a wide range of features and integrations.
  • Frontend & Backend Friendly: Supports both front-end and back-end applications.


  • Sleeping Free Tier: Free apps go dormant after inactivity.
  • Scalability Costs: Can become expensive for large-scale applications.
  • Limited Infrastructure: Relies on the provided server infrastructure.

Why do some people deploy their backend to Heroku and their Next Js frontend to Vercel?

There are a few reasons why someone might deploy their Next.js frontend to Vercel and their backend to Heroku. Here's what I got from the experience:

Split Deployment Perks:

  • Independent Scaling: Keeping frontend and backend separate allows you to scale them independently. Update the Vercel-hosted frontend without affecting the Heroku backend (and vice versa) for better deployment flexibility.

Vercel's Frontend Edge:

  • Next.js Nirvana: Vercel integrates beautifully with Next.js. Features like automatic image optimization and serverless functions are built-in, making development and deployment a breeze.
  • Lightning Speed: Vercel's global edge network can seriously boost frontend loading times compared to traditional hosting.

Heroku's Backend Benefits:

  • Database Freedom: Heroku integrates seamlessly with various databases (think PostgreSQL or MySQL). This is crucial for projects needing a powerful backend with robust data storage.
  • Server Control: Heroku offers more control over server configuration. This can be a plus for complex backend logic or if you need to fine-tune performance for your specific needs (think Ruby on Rails app with a GraphQL API).

So, splitting deployments lets you leverage the strengths of both platforms:

  • Vercel handles the frontend like a champ, delivering blazing-fast performance and a developer-friendly experience for Next.js projects.
  • Heroku provides the flexibility for backend development, including database integration and the ability to customize server configurations.

This approach might be ideal for projects that prioritize both a super-fast frontend and a feature-rich, scalable backend, while acknowledging that each platform shines in different areas.‍


As a developer with experience in both Heroku and Vercel, I can tell you they're both excellent cloud platforms, but they cater to different needs. Here's the gist:

Heroku: Ideal for traditional web applications, complex backends, and those requiring control over server environments. It offers a wide range of programming languages, add-ons, and automatic scaling.

Vercel: Perfect for modern JavaScript projects, static websites, and applications built with frameworks like Next.js. It shines with serverless functions, blazing-fast performance through its edge network, and simple deployments.

Choosing the right one depends on your project:

  • Modern JavaScript project with a focus on speed and ease of deployment? Go Vercel.
  • Complex web application requiring a traditional server setup and custom backend? Heroku might be a better fit.

No matter which you choose, both Heroku and Vercel offer robust features to streamline your development process.


1. Why is Vercel so fast?

Vercel excels in speed due to its serverless architecture and edge network. This means content is served from geographically distributed servers, minimizing latency for visitors.

2. Is Vercel good for hosting?

Yes, Vercel is a cloud hosting platform ideal for static websites and modern web applications built with frameworks like Next.js.

3. Can I deploy backend on Vercel?

Vercel offers limited built-in backend functionality. However, it integrates well with serverless databases like Fauna for dynamic features.

4. Can I host Python on Vercel?

No, Vercel currently focuses on JavaScript frameworks. Explore Heroku or other platforms for Python hosting.

5. Is Vercel good for backend?

Vercel is not ideal for complex backends. Consider Heroku or other platforms for feature-rich backend development.

6. Does Vercel use AWS under the hood?

Vercel's infrastructure details are private, but they likely leverage a combination of cloud providers to offer their services.

7. Why use Vercel for deployment?

Use Vercel for fast, automated deployments of static websites and modern JavaScript applications with features like serverless functions and edge network delivery.

8. How do pricing structures differ between Vercel and Heroku?

Vercel uses a pay-as-you-go model based on bandwidth and builds. Heroku charges per dyno (server instance) and add-ons, potentially scaling higher for complex applications.

9. How does deployment differ between Vercel and Heroku?

Vercel offers simpler deployments focused on Git integration and automated builds. Heroku provides more configuration options for traditional server setups.

10. What kind of projects are typically deployed on Heroku?

‍Heroku hosts various web applications, from simple to complex, with support for diverse programming languages and back-end functionalities.

11. Can I use Heroku for e-commerce applications?

Yes, Heroku's scalability and add-ons make it suitable for e-commerce applications with custom features and databases.

12. Can I use Vercel for custom domains?

‍Yes, Vercel allows using custom domains for your website hosted on their platform.

13. Is Vercel a good choice for static websites?

Yes, Vercel excels in hosting static websites due to its focus on speed, ease of deployment, and built-in CDN.

14. Is Heroku a good choice for complex web applications?

‍Yes, Heroku's flexibility, scalability, and diverse language support make it a strong choice for complex web applications requiring custom backends and functionalities.

Renuka Prasad
Renuka Prasad
Software Developer
Renuka Prasad is a full-stack web developer with over 2 years of experience in building responsive applications powered by headless CMS. He loves sharing his knowledge by authoring tech blogs.
Disclaimer: This article outline is created by Humans, content is written by AI and the final article is reviewed & edited by a CodeWalnut engineer.
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