From Prototype to Production on Heroku

From Prototype to Production on Heroku

In this article, we will walk through preparing your Heroku infrastructure for a production launch. Many of the recommendations are based on Heroku’s Production Check feature. The specific scenario consists of preparing a web application backed by a PostgreSQL database for production.

Getting up and running on Heroku is fairly easy and inexpensive; preparing for a production launch, however, takes a bit more effort and cost.

In this article, we will walk through preparing your Heroku infrastructure for a production launch. Many of the recommendations are based on Heroku’s Production Check feature. The specific scenario consists of preparing a web application backed by a PostgreSQL database for production.

Please note: While the recommendations are language-independent, a final representative Node.js application is available for download.

The recommendations are organized around the AWS Well-Architected five pillars: Cost Optimization, Operational Excellence, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Security.

Please note: This article does not cover the additional security provided by the Heroku Private Spaces feature as it is an expensive Heroku enterprise feature that is not suitable for most initial production launches.

Authentication / Authorization (Security)

Consider using Heroku Teams; which is free for up to five members. For larger teams (up to 25 members) the cost is only $10 USD / month. Heroku provides a feature to transfer existing applications and pipelines to a Heroku Team. Consider requesting users to enable two-factor authentication for their accounts.

If you utilize continuous integration/deployment, your developers likely have no need to directly access your Heroku infrastructure. Based on the principle of least privilege, consider limiting access to it to your infrastructure team. If you are using Heroku Teams, consider locking your production application to prevent access by team members without the Admin role.

Continuous Integration / Deployment (Operational Efficiency)

One of Heroku’s best features, in my honest opinion, is Pipelines and — in particular — their deep integration with GitHub. If you have not already, consider using Pipelines to automate your development flow through your environments, for example, staging and production.

Along the same lines, one can either use the Heroku Continous Integration (CI) feature or another GitHub compatible continuous integration solution to automate application testing as part of the automated development flow.

Compute

Consider upgrading to one of the “Standard” dyno plans for your production application. Run at least two dynos for instant fallback should a dyno fail. Presumably, start with two Standard 1X plan dynos at $25 USD / month per dyno (total $50 USD / month).

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