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» Web Hosting Provisionless Cloud Application Platform, Unveiled by Heroku


Thursday, December 10th, 2009

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San Francisco, California – (The Hosting News) – April 24, 2009 – A commercial version of its provisionless web hosting service, has been unveiled by Heroku, Inc., designed to provide developers with an agile platform for development, testing and production deployment of web apps of any scope, with effortless, instant deployment.

Josh Stephenson, director of technology at RightSprite remarked, ”We’ve used Heroku to launch the backend of almost a dozen iPhone sites. They make the system administration headache disappear for our deployments. According to Mr. Stephenson, RightSprite’s application portfolio now exceeds two million iPhone users, and the Heroku platform scaled right along with their needs. ”This has allowed us to own the tradeoff of development budget versus hosting power, with Heroku’s hosting power being the frequent winner.”

Heroku’s multi-tenant platform is designed for applications written in the increasingly popular Ruby programming language, and running on any Rack-compatible framework such as Rails, Merb, Sinatra and others. The hard work commonly involved in deploying web apps is a thing of the past, as deploying to Heroku’s run-time cloud environment is provisionless; the platform provides automated end-to-end management and instant scaling.
According to Jonathan Siegel, founder, ELC Technologies, ”Heroku’s platform has been in our sights for some time, and we’ve been amazed at the growth of business-level features on the platform. We initially started using Heroku for a staging server pool and quickly realized that the ease of scalable provisionless deployment was a great fit for many of our clients’ growing production apps.”
Mr. Siegel says that today, ELC uses Heroku for most of their internal projects, including a massively multiplayer online game called Farlanders.com, noting, ”To get the same quality of deployment and maintained infrastructure, we would expect to allocate $5,000 per month for sysadmin and deployment infrastructure. Heroku provides the same value for a fraction of the cost of doing it ourselves.”
Heroku has achieved provisionless deployment by inventing a new, dynamic architecture for hosting web applications that operates and scales automatically, without any system administration. Developers and IT staff normally have to make a huge number of decisions as part of the deployment process, such as how many servers to use, how to allocate compute capacity, memory, and storage on those servers, how load will be balanced, and how data will be replicated. When conditions change, such as a significant increase in traffic, these decisions must repeatedly be revisited, and the applications re-provisioned and re-deployed.
By contrast, because of the automatic nature of Heroku’s platform, no provisioning or configuration information is ever required; the developer and IT staff are completely freed from the time and effort required to make and implement such decisions.
When an application is deployed to Heroku – with a single command – it is compiled into a self-contained, read-only instance Heroku calls a ‘slug’ – named after the movable type molds used to cast hot-metal type in printing. The slug is automatically tested to assure that it can actually start.
Then, the slug is instantiated in one or more slots in a specially-designed grid computing environment, where it is given access to its database and cache information, and brought to life.
Once activated, it becomes a fully-functioning web application called a ‘dyno’. Each dyno is a process running on a server in the grid, and contains a unique copy of the application code, framework, middleware, Rack, application server, Ruby virtual machine, and POSIX environment.
In response to changing demand, Heroku’s intelligent infrastructure can launch additional, fully-independent dynos at new locations in the grid, or shut down existing idle ones. Startup time for a new dyno is less than 2 seconds, a fact that gives Heroku’s platform an unprecedented level of dynamism only possible with utility computing. Four dynos give the equivalent compute performance as one server instance in conventional environments.
The grid itself is built on a robust cloud computing infrastructure which allows it to expand and contract as required to accommodate as many dynos from as many different applications as necessary. Above the grid is a sophisticated and highly concurrent routing mesh that allocates requests among the dynos. Additional elements, such as an HTTP cache and a memory cache, reduce the requests to the dynos and database, respectively.
The entire architecture can be viewed with examples and explanations, at http://heroku.com/how.
Heroku’s commercial service offers a frictionless workflow to developers building fully-featured web apps for commercial or enterprise purposes. The rapid coding and prototyping that Ruby and its frameworks offer fit naturally with Heroku’s provisionless, scale-free, instant staging and deployment process to create an extremely high velocity development environment.
Whether entrepreneurs, members of dedicated Ruby development teams, or part of the growing Ruby underground in major organizations, Heroku developers achieve a development speed and a deployment agility that has simply never been available for commercial web apps before.
Heroku’s pricing model is designed to charge users for only the resources they consume, and to meet the needs of users of all levels. There are a variety of tiers to accommodate everyone, from enterprises with large applications and millions of unique hits per month, down to entry-level users. Prices range from thousands of dollars a month down to less than a hundred, and the platform includes a free offering great for testing the service and rapid prototyping.
Heroku’s service has been battle tested during an extended beta period in which over 25,000 Ruby apps have been deployed to the platform by more than 23,000 different developers. By conservative estimates, this makes Heroku’s platform 10 times larger than the next most popular Ruby deployment provider.
James Lindenbaum, co-founder and CEO of Heroku added, ”We set out to fundamentally change the economics of application development, and it appears to be working. Heroku is hands-down the most agile deployment environment available to web app developers today.”
The Heroku commercial service is fully operational today.
Heroku was founded by a team of entrepreneurs who are committed to making the development and deployment of applications of any scope to the cloud fast and easy. The company is based in San Francisco, CA, and is privately funded by Y Combinator, Redpoint Ventures, and several prominent individual investors.

To learn more, please visit: http://heroku.com/pricing.

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