I am looking for advice of where to deploy a Rails app for a small business:

  • web-based
  • https needed
  • fewer than 500 users
  • (probably) fewer than 20 concurrent users

So far, I am reading pricing information of:

  • Amazon EC2
  • Dreamhost VPS
  • Heroku
  • Self-hosting (most unlikely)

Any suggestions and/or pros and cons to share? Thanks!


I'd definitely go with Heroku for a small business, since you want the most developer friendly platform. Heroku provides you with a conventional system architecture and custom tools that make it easy to deploy and maintain your applications, as well as making it much simpler to distribute Heroku applications to other developers for concurrent development.

For anything else, you'll either need a dedicated system administrator or you'll have to spend time doing system administration yourself (installations, configurations, updates, security). Heroku handles all of that for you and just let's you focus on doing your work.


I have Dreamhost shared hosting (not VPS, but hey I'm halfway there) for my Rails apps and the only issue I have with it is that it's kinda slow. My best friend has a Dreamhost VPS (for PHP, not for Rails), but it suffers from the same issue.

It's not unbearably slow, but if response time is really important to your app, look elsewhere.

I would advise against Heroku for anything other than trivial sites; it gets really pricey really fast. I mean, more than 5MB database storage and you're looking at what, $10 or $15 a month right there. -_-


I know this is the least likely option for you, but at that small scale I'd personally be tempted to self host.

You get to choose your hardware, and it would be many times better than anything offered from managed hosting.

The only tricky thing would be getting good value for money on Upload bandwidth.

I've done self hosting, and found that its a lot easier than its made up to be.

As far as bandwidth goes I have a hosted plan that deals with all the static content. This poor man's "CDN-is" approach works well.

  • The reason not going self-hosting is due to the potential expertise required to maintain the whole thing (hardware, os, backup, security, ..) which may not be available (affordable) for a small biz ... – ohho Mar 18 '11 at 4:58

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