Migrate from Heroku to AWS: A Best Practices Guide

Migrate from Heroku to AWS: A Best Practices Guide

In an era dominated by cloud solutions, businesses often find themselves at a crossroads when choosing the right platform to host their applications. This article explores the key considerations, challenges, and best practices involved in migrating from Heroku to Amazon Web Services (AWS). We compare Heroku and AWS across various dimensions like scalability, ease of use, and cost to highlight why enterprises may prefer the increased flexibility and control AWS offers over Heroku’s simplicity. The article also examines specific migration steps like setting up networking, databases, caches, and automation pipelines in AWS as well as common pitfalls with manual migration.

Understand UI Differences

Transitioning from Heroku’s streamlined interface to the AWS management console can initially be challenging. Heroku offers a more straightforward navigation structure and deployment process, while AWS provides a more intricate console with extensive deployment, monitoring, and scaling options.

The screenshot below shows how streamlined the User Interface can be with “Create New App” in the center of the screen. The various features are consolidated into one user interface, wizard, or menu system.

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When it comes to AWS, implementing proper access control and permissions management using AWS Organizations, IAM Identity Center, and IAM roles is essential to maintain security and governance within your AWS environment, but the configurations are more involved.

Familiarizing yourself with these differences and leveraging AWS documentation and training resources can help ease the transition and unlock the full potential of AWS services.

The following shows the difference in UI, where you can see the wide variety of services that AWS provides, with each service having its own UI with various options and features, in contrast to the more streamlined user experience in Heroku.

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Some best practices when getting accustomed to the AWS UI include:

  • Take advantage of AWS training courses to understand the capabilities of services
  • Start small and slowly expand your use of services to manage complexity
  • Refer to documentation when exploring new services instead of relying on prior knowledge
  • Consider getting certified in key services like EC2, S3, and VPC to cement knowledge

While the intricate AWS interface may seem daunting at first, dedicating time to learn best practices can unlock the full potential of AWS.

Migrate Networks Effectively

Replicating the network isolation on Heroku to your AWS VPC architecture is crucial for the security of your application.

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Here are some best practices to be considered when setting up a VPC architecture in your AWS environment:

  • Define subnets, route tables, and security groups that mirror or strengthen the isolation offered by Heroku.
  • Segregate resources, such as databases, ECS instances, and ElastiCache Redis instances, into private subnets to prevent direct external access. Allocate public subnets for resources requiring external connectivity.
  • Leverage the redundancy of multiple availability zones for fault tolerance.
  • Regulate inbound and outbound traffic flow within the VPC using network access control lists (NACLs) and security groups.
  • Utilize VPC Flow Logs and AWS Network Firewall to monitor and safeguard network traffic, further increasing your infrastructure’s security.

Some key steps when setting up a VPC include:

  • Design a VPC diagram mapping out public, private, database, ElastiCache, and other subnets
  • Configure route tables to manage inter-subnet and internet traffic flows
  • Set up NACLs and security groups aligned to the VPC diagram
  • Launch EC2 instances in subnets based on public vs private segmentation
  • Enable VPC Flow Logs to monitor traffic

Properly configuring VPC infrastructure is complex but critical in securing AWS-hosted applications. Referencing AWS best practices and documentation can ease the transition from Heroku’s simplified networking.

Migrate the Database

To migrate from the Heroku Database to Amazon RDS, follow these steps:

  1. Verify version compatibility with your existing database engine on Heroku.
  2. Evaluate your database requirements like storage, memory, and compute needs and choose the appropriate RDS instance type.
  3. Follow the AWS tutorial to create a database instance using the RDS management console or APIs.
  4. Once the database is set up, leverage the AWS Database Migration Service (DMS) to minimize downtime during data migration. DMS can replicate data changes from Heroku database to RDS in real-time.
  5. Thoroughly test and optimize your RDS instances’ sizes and configurations to match your workload demands.
  6. Finally, enable automated backup and database snapshots for disaster recovery.

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Some best practices around RDS database migration include:

  • Set up staging environments to test migration before production switchover
  • Preserve capacity for traffic spikes during the migration to prevent bottlenecks
  • Redirect a portion of traffic to RDS before complete switchover to validate
  • Monitor database metrics in CloudWatch during each migration stage
  • Execute migration during periods of low traffic to minimize impact

While migrating databases involves downtime and complexity, careful planning following AWS best practices can ensure a smooth transition to RDS with no data loss.

After migration, enhance reliability further through multi-AZ deployments, read replicas, and advanced backup/restore capabilities.


Migrating from Heroku to AWS is a major undertaking, requiring careful planning and execution across networks, databases, automation, monitoring, and more. While Heroku provides simplicity, AWS unlocks scalability, flexibility, and infrastructure control that growing enterprises demand.

This migration guide covered critical considerations like grasping AWS UI complexity, VPN architecture, RDS database migration, cache migration techniques, CI/CD pipeline automation, DNS changes, and CloudWatch monitoring.

Some key takeaways include:

  • Leverage AWS training and documentation to unlock the full potential of its extensive capabilities
  • Build VPC diagrams aligning isolation needs before implementation
  • Choose DMS real-time replication to prevent database downtime
  • Implement CodePipeline and CodeDeploy for rapid updates
  • Monitor with CloudWatch and audit with CloudTrail across regions

While migrating from Heroku to AWS has its challenges, companies that invest the time and resources required can reap substantial rewards in scale, cost savings, and innovation velocity over the long term.

Read more at https://www.withcoherence.com/post/migrate-from-heroku-to-aws.

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