How Did Vercel Become So Popular?
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) platforms have been game-changing for small, rapidly iterating teams since Heroku popularized the idea in the late 2000s.
Generally the idea is this: the PaaS will create a layer on top of AWS or GCP and provide many of the same services for higher prices, but with a vastly superior interface that makes most things trivial. If you’ve ever looked head-on at the AWS or GCP console, you can understand the appeal here. No need to use a rocket-ship when a Toyota Camry will do, but you could probably piggy-back on top of one of these tools to at least build a fancy airplane.
That being said, Vercel the company has been on an absolute tear lately, reimagining what web frameworks can be with Next.js, and building the hosting platform of choice in Vercel in tandem.
While Vercel offers a Hobby tier, it mostly only serves personal projects and prototypes – while its allowances are generous, it’s only usable for individuals rather than a team and has no customer support.
Vercel’s Pro Plan is its most common – at $20 per month per seat, it offers extremely generous allowances, including:
– 1 TB of bandwidth
– 24,000 build minutes
– 60 second serverless function timeout
– Team collaboration previews like previews and comments
– Basic Analytics
– Email Support
All in all, it allows small teams to build incredibly powerful apps (or many separate apps) without having to give much thought to infrastructure at all.
Enterprise plans are typically custom per customer, but generally include advanced security, high performance, dedicated support, and detailed reporting. Pricing will be tailored to the customer based on their plan.
Vercel has been on an absolute tear lately, reimagining what web frameworks can be with Next.js, and building the hosting platform of choice in Vercel in tandem.
Vercel no doubt makes a compelling offering – if your hosting and deployment needs are reasonable, they’ll solve most of them out of the box for a small monthly fee.
For a small team of ~5 developers building an app without complicated infrastructure needs, their Vercel bill (without any pay-as-you-go costs) comes out to $100 per month / $1200 per year. Considering the amount of time saved and average cost of labor for an infrastructure engineers, this is an incredible value.
Things get trickier when custom needs arise, team size grows, or enterprise plans become necessary. For example, a team of 40 developers on an enterprise plan might run ~20k per year – add to that enormous bandwidth needs, needs for several additional build pipelines, or high traffic APIs with strict performance requirements and the bills could start running in the tens to hundreds of thousands. At that point it’s worth looking at alternatives like bringing in DevOps experts to strip back the layer and run things directly on AWS/GCP.
Considering the amount of time saved and average cost of labor for an infrastructure engineers, this is an incredible value.
For Small Teams, Vercel is Easily Worth It
In our case and the case of many small teams and studios, Vercel solves a huge problem at a relatively trivial cost, and pays for itself many times over during the course of the year.
Their constant platform improvements and rapid iteration with Next.js make it an obvious value-add when it comes to building, deploying, and previewing both static and server-rendered sites in 2023.