Currently, I have a reseller account with the company HostGator. I design websites, which up until now have occasionally been wrapped in Wordpress CMSs and the like (PHP applications). I then sell hosting (of the site I've designed) to the client, which is pretty simple, in that I can simply click a button and add a new shared hosting account/site with whatever settings I want. Furthermore, I then utilize WHMCS to automate billing and account management.
It's a nice package and pretty simple. I pay something like $25 a month, and can sell a hundred accounts under this (because my clients bandwidth requirements are low).
Now I am finding the need to develop more customized applications, including a minimalist CMS and several proprietary things. I soon anticipate developing these apps for clients as well. Thus, I've spent the past few months learning Rails, and it's coming along well now.
The thing that has nagged at me all along, though, is the deployment issue. I can't wrap my brain around it. It seems like all of the popular options (Heroku, etc) have nice automation with git and are set up in the "Rails Way". I get that (sort of). But it's terribly expensive... a single dyno, a helper, and the cheapest database (which they say is mainly suitable for testing) that isn't limited to 5MB runs $51. This is for ONE app!!! Throw in a "production" DB and you're over $200. This is like... the same prices as getting a server somewhere, right?
Meanwhile, going back to what I guess is a "traditional" hosting environment with Hostgator, their server only has Ruby 1.8.7 and Rails 2.3.5... No Rails 3. AND, no Passenger (not that I really understand the difference in CGI or mod_rails or whatever, but they say Passenger is the simplest). So I'm to understand that if I build an app in Rails 3, it won't run at all on this host? But damn, I already have these accounts under my reseller account there, all running static html and/or PHP stuff, right? So what now? How do I get all of this under one simple (and affordable) roof?
Forgive my ignorance, but I just don't get it. Managing a VPS is cool and all, but entails learning server admin stuff and security... And it's expensive. I get that a shared and/or reseller "server-based" (forgive the terminology) may be inadequate for large-scale apps that use a lot of bandwidth... But what about for those of us who are building real (but small and low bandwidth) apps (with Rails) and who want to deploy them simply, cheaply, using the same conceptual approach as PHP? Even after learning all of this Ruby and Rails stuff for months, I'm questioning whether it's worth it when it comes to deployment. I want to build a small app, upload it to my home directory on a shared server account, and just make it run. Why should that be so hard? Am I just choosing the wrong language/framework?
Forgive my ignorance in the subject; these questions are not rhetorical; just trying to learn here.
1) I'd appreciate if someone could give me a good rundown of how to understand deployment in Rails vs. PHP.
2) I'd appreciate if someone could address my issue with running a hosting/web business around reseller hosting (Hostgator) while also being able to host Rails apps. Can it be done? And how can a company like Hostgator completely ignore what's current in Rails/Ruby?