Software Engineering Daily • Wednesday, December 4th 2019

Heroku Infrastructure with Mark Turner

A cloud provider gives a developer low-cost compute infrastructure on-demand.

Cloud providers can be divided up into two categories: Layer 1 cloud providers and Layer 2 cloud providers. A Layer 1 cloud provider such as Amazon Web Services owns server hardware and sells compute infrastructure as a commodity. A Layer 2 cloud provider purchases compute infrastructure from a Layer 1 provider and builds a high quality developer experience on top of that compute infrastructure.

Heroku was the first Layer 2 cloud provider. Heroku’s first business was to provide a high quality developer experience and low cost containerization infrastructure on top of Amazon’s EC2 virtual machine infrastructure. Heroku has added features for continuous integration, relational databases, caches, and queueing.

Building a Layer 2 cloud provider is a very different challenge than building a Layer 1 cloud provider. A Layer 1 provider must focus on low level problems such as hardware infrastructure and virtualization. This does not leave much time for focusing on developer experience. A Layer 1 cloud provider must be able to serve every type of potential software customer. A Layer 2 provider can provide a streamlined experience.

Mark Turner, an engineer at Heroku, joins the Software Engineering Daily show to discuss the architecture and engineering of a Layer 2 cloud provider. Heroku is built on top of Amazon Web Services, and the core compute infrastructure is built on top of a pool of EC2 virtual machines that are continually scheduled with applications that users create on Heroku. Full disclosure: Heroku is a sponsor of Software Engineering Daily.

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