November 30, 2011, 6:10 AM — In the world of Ruby development, there are two primary cloud-based, platform-as-a-service offerings: Engine Yard and Heroku. Both provide an easy-to-scale, managed hosting environment, both are built on Amazon EC2, and both have a long and intimate history with the Ruby community. Nevertheless, they offer contrasting approaches and features that will appeal to different audiences.
Heroku's streamlined approach to application deployment and management, for instance, dramatically eases the administrative burden, eliminating time-intensive tasks requiring system administration skills. Yet, with Heroku, you don't have a lot of control over the environment. On the other side of the coin, Engine Yard exposes far more bells and whistles related to application management and tuning. Thus, Engine Yard provides a powerful degree of control, but at the expense of rapid configuration and deployment.
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Depending on one's viewpoint, each platform has advantages and disadvantages -- strengths and weaknesses that make sense in light of each company's target market. That is, Heroku began marketing toward the Ruby hobbyist, while Engine Yard took its message in an opposite direction: to the business community via large companies.