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Buyer's Guide

Download the PaaS Clouds Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: May 2022

What is Engine Yard Cloud?

Engine Yard Cloud is a leading cloud application platform, a convenient and easy-to-use portal where web application developers can build, test, and execute their applications.

Engine Yard Cloud Customers

MTV, Estee Lauder, Audi, Appboy, Badgeville, Vitrue, RepairPal, and TST Media.

Engine Yard Cloud Video

Archived Engine Yard Cloud Reviews (more than two years old)

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it_user8382 - PeerSpot reviewer
Director of Engineering at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Engineyard or Heroku?

Web-based software is becoming more and more service-oriented. You probably know about software as a service (SaaS – e.g. Salesforce) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS – e.g. Amazon) but probaby not platform as a service (PaaS). Companies like Engineyard and Heroku make it easier to launch and scale a web application. For the most part, you can setup an account, run a few commands for basic configuration and you’ve launched in the Cloud. This is an order of magnitude easier than it was just 5 years ago. If you just felt your heart skip a beat, please take a few minutes to catch your breath. When you’re ready, let me help you decide what platform to launch your next application on.

Heroku is great for quick applications. The best Rails candidates I interview deploy their code challenges on there and send me a link. The smallest configuration on Heroku gives you a 5MB shared database and 1 “dyno”, their unit of measure for CPU. It’s free and you can even get add-on’s like New Relic performance monitoring thrown in. To scale up, you can pay more for dynos and a more powerful database. Setup is fairly painless, though I had to google for help when their “happy-path” documentation didn’t work exactly the way it was intended. The most annoying thing is that for the smallest configuration, the first request you make to the site takes 30-60 seconds to complete because their servers are dynamically provisioning you resources. Heroku hides much of the Operations side of things from you and that’s an intentional choice. It’s clear that they’d like to make the deployment process idiot-proof. I think that’s great for interview code challenges and school projects but if you’re serious about your application, you need to use Engineyard.

Why?

-- You need to be in control. --
Over the years I’ve seen EBS volumes become read-only all of a sudden, MongoDB refuse to resolve internal hostnames for a subset of instances, and even instances mysteriously become unreachable or “disappear”. Putting your servers in the Cloud has a huge drawback: you don’t have physical access to the hardware. When things go wrong–and they inevitably do–you need to have access. Since you’re saving money by not buying your own hardware up front and using IaaS, the next best thing is having as much control of your instance as possible. With Engineyard, you can ssh into every single machine and customize your own recipes. Essentially, they setup the default configuration but at the end of the day you can do whatever you want. For everything from Cron to Redis, I customize the configuration and understand exactly how processes are running. I analyze the CPU and memory usage and even the IO performance because I need to tune things like how many workers should be on each application instance. Control is critical when debugging issues. You’ll need to install custom monitoring and benchmarking to find out why your Memcached servers are maxing out at 80% memory utilization for example.

-- You need expertise. --
PaaS is your world-class Operations team. Even if you hired one or two Operations people, it is unlikely they will be experts in all the technologies you’re using. Given that I’ve never used paid Heroku Support, I can’t speak to their experts, but Engineyard definitely knows their stuff. They try to cover as many areas as possible in-house and through partnerships, cover others. I know that they have a great in-house MongoDB presence because their team helped me with my Sharding migration. I’ve gotten DBAs from Percona to look over my slow mysql queries, advice from Durran Jordan of Mongoid over IRC, and just as I was looking into Neo4j for some graph-based projects, I heard that they were actively talking with Neo Technology about a partnership. When your application has a problem and Google doesn’t help, you can either call a really smart friend like a contestant on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” or you can leverage the collective expertise of Engineyard and their network. They know your application and infrastructure really well and you may be seeing the same problem as another one of their clients. This expertise model works and just makes sense.

-- You need support. --
When you’re in the Cloud, you need someone to have your back. You can install a Heroku add-on like “Redis To Go”, but what happens when things break? As a engineer I’m pretty paranoid and rightfully so. I’m weary of things labeled “X to go” or “Y in a box”. Furthermore, I believe that if you’re going to use a technology in production, you should install it yourself. It’s critical that you develop a long-term relationship with a team that knows your specific application and infrastructure. When you read an email from Engineyard at 9am telling you how at 5am they detected a problem and brought your site back up without waking you from your precious 6 hours of sleep, you’ll know what I’m talking about. When it’s 3am and you’ve been wrestling with an issue that’s keeping your site down and your friends at Engineyard are still up and walking you through hell, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Heroku support may be just as good, I don’t know. But I’ve been in the trenches with these guys and I can tell you that whoever you choose, you better be able to count on them when the CEO is calling you to ask when the site will be back up.

If you’re serious about your application, you’ll take these points into consideration and weigh them heavily against cost and hype. Engineyard’s worth the money.

Disclosure: Badgeville is an Engineyard customer and so was Howcast when I was there

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user8004 - PeerSpot reviewer
Director of Web Development at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Ruby hosting in the cloud – Elastic Beanstalk vs Heroku vs EngineYard

Three platforms stand out for cloud based hosting – Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku and EngineYard. Here I present my experiences with the three, and thoughts on which might be best to use under various factors.

To cut to the chase – Elastic Beanstalk wins, but as usual it depends on your situation.

Common features

All the below services feature:

  • Deploy from the command line with git
  • Full support for Ruby/Rails apps
  • Gems installed and updated automatically on each push
  • Comprehensive settings to handle db:migrate
  • Integrated database support (no need to set up separate instance)

Note that none of these features came with Elastic Beanstalk when it first launched – its come a long way, so may be worth reconsidering if you’d previously disregarded it.

Heroku

Pros

  • Heroku very easy to get started, you just install the toolkit and your away
  • Documentation is simple and straightforward
  • Heroku is the cheapest option for a low traffic site – you can run a site with a basic (less than 10k rows) database for free, although it will be quite slow if you have a lot of traffic
  • You don’t have to add a credit card, so you will go up in price only as and when you choose to – no nasty shocks
  • Backups are handled automatically
  • A number of addons are provided, making it easier to integrate with systems such as NewRelic for monitoring and SendGrid for emails
  • Database integration is simple with Postgres support out of the box

Cons

  • Once you need to add power and handle more traffic the price goes up quickly
  • You need to manually scale your application by adding dynos – a vague and somewhat confusing concept Heroku have come up with themselves - this gives you *some* control over price, but ultimately means your site won’t cope well with unexpected spikes in traffic
  • Customer support is reported to be poor, but I haven’t needed to use it personally
  • Heroku is owned by Sales Force, which means it could be sold at any point or deprioritised
  • Unlike the others, you can’t log into your server via SSH
  • After deploying an update the first hit to the server takes ages

We use Heroku for all our test applications, and for little pet projects that might grow. I wouldn’t use it for actual scaling though, its too expensive and you don’t get enough for your money.

EngineYard

Pros

  • Scaling happens automatically, so you can handle that spike (although this can lead to a suprisingly large bill)
  • You can SSH into the server and change things
  • Backups are handled automatically
  • A number of addons are provided, making it easier to integrate with systems such as NewRelic for monitoring and SendGrid for emails
  • Database integration is simple with Postgres and MySQL support out of the box
  • Support is excellent – I’ve had much first hand experience of this

Cons

  • Its a little more work to deploy than heroku, but not much, and after the first live publish it takes no longer to update
  • Its incredibly expensive, we once spent $100 on a month for a server without any traffic
  • EngineYard applies a 20% surcharge on all of Amazons prices, as it uses Amazon for storage, IP Addresses and backup, so it will almost always be more expensive

I would recommend EngineYard for production products where money is no issue, and support and absolute minimal interaction with setting up addons is required.

Elastic Beanstalk

Pros

  • New users can use Elastic Beanstalk free and underlying services up to a certain amount free for a year, making it competitive with Heroku, certainly for the first year
  • A sample low traffic site on Elastic Beanstalk after the free period is $35 per month. To run that same site on EngineYard would cost at least $86
  • Scaling happens automatically, so you can handle that spike (although this can lead to a suprisingly large bill)
  • You can SSH into the server and change things
  • Backups are handled automatically

Cons

  • Its a little more work to set up and deploy for the first time than Heroku and even EngineYard (the toolkit needs installing manually, you can’t do it as a gem), but it only takes a few mins extra
  • In order to use a database to get the same ease you would with Heroku and EngineYard you need to use Amazons RDS service (which provides a MySQL, Oracle or SQL Server database) which comes with variable additional charges
  • Addons aren’t provided, so its a tiny tiny bit more complex to integrate with essential monitoring tool New Relic (although it is free for AWS users), and SendGrid. Its not much more work though.
  • Its hard to work out how much you will pay, although it should always be cheaper than EngineYard since they use AWS and add on top. Elastic Beanstalk itself is free, but you pay for bandwidth, storage, database, backups etc.
  • You don’t get as much feedback from the server when pushing as you do for Heroku and EngineYard

Elastic Beanstalk is where I would recommend hosting production products to get a balance of service and price. You could even start a pet project on there right away due to the free storage tier. There are more cons, but I feel these are offset by the price for many situations.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Buyer's Guide
PaaS Clouds
May 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about Engine Yard, Heroku, Amazon and others in PaaS Clouds. Updated: May 2022.
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it_user7896 - PeerSpot reviewer
Owner at a tech company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Middle ground between black box cloud hosting like Heroku and vanilla EC2

It’s worth pointing out that the middle ground between black box cloud hosting like Heroku and vanilla EC2 is Engine Yard Cloud. They give you a tested and scalable Rails stack with a web UI for management, but under the hood you still have root access and the AWS keys, so the billing is transparent, and you can install whatever software and use whatever instance types you like, which is useful if Heroku’s architecture doesn’t fit your load profile, or you need some piece of software that is not available or very expensive as a hosted service.

Oh and of course they provide support as well.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Heroku vs Engine Yard
#1 “Ease of Use” Heroku blows Engine Yard away. you install the gem and can deploy your application in minutes. There are also commands you can run on your local machine to get information about your application. Engine Yard is moving forward, but it is still pretty technical. It’s really easy if you have a public github repo, but anything other than that starts to get “more complicated” quickly. #2 “Architecture” Engine Yard gives you a “real” virtual machine. This means you’ve actually got a single CPU virutal host that you ssh into and effectively do whatever you want. Heroku gives you a sandbox with walls around it, and I think it’s a shared environment. It’s actually kinda difficult to figure out exactly what they’re running as you cannot log onto the machine direction. #3 “Startup Price” Heroku gives you a free (as in beer) environment. Engine Yard let’s you run a trial environment for free for a period of time, but you eventually have to pay for it… even if nobody ever visits your site. #4 “Flexibility” Heroku lets you do anything you want as long as they’ve preconfigured it to enable you to be able to do it. Engine Yard gives you ssh capability to the machine, which means you can do anytChing you want even if they didn’t think it would be a good idea. Overall, I’d say Heroku is like taking the bus: if enough people want to go the same place at the same time, it’s more economical. Engine Yard is like buying a car: it’s going to be a bit more expensive and you’re going to need to know how to drive, but it is a much more flexible solution. Cheers
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Buyer's Guide
Download our free PaaS Clouds Report and find out what your peers are saying about Engine Yard, Heroku, Amazon, and more!
Updated: May 2022
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PaaS Clouds
Buyer's Guide
Download our free PaaS Clouds Report and find out what your peers are saying about Engine Yard, Heroku, Amazon, and more!