How To Build A Cloud-Based Application

・11 min read
How To Build A Cloud-Based Application

Cloud computing can have two meanings: the most commonly-used one refers to running workloads remotely over the internet in a commercial provider’s data centre like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.

The second meaning mostly describes how it works - a virtual pool of resources available on demand.

Cloud computing has reached a point where all new applications will target cloud environments as the favoured deployment option. I am sure your business will not want to stay behind, so you start considering building a cloud-based application. But how to go about it? What are the possible types of cloud apps? Which technologies work best for such solutions? We have got the answers, read on.

What is a cloud-based application - the types

A cloud-based application is an application, which functionalities are provided by a network. In the case of those apps, computing and storage are happening on external servers and users only get the results of those calculations. Cloud-based applications and their infrastructure are used and managed over the internet and usually offer a web interface. A great example of them are Google docs or Office 365 since to use them, you only need a machine capable of running a web browser and an internet connection.

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Although there are many different cloud computing services available, most of them fall into one of the following types:

SaaS

Software as a Service - software used via a web browser or API without the need to download, install and run it from a computer. The main advantages of this solution are accessibility, compatibility and operational management. What is more, users always have access to the freshest version of the software. On the other hand, SaaS software has to be constantly connected to the internet in order to be used, but with broadband connections being present almost everywhere this should not be a big issue.

More on SaaS solutions in How To Design A SaaS Application? (2020 Update).

IaaS

Infrastructure as a Service - a form of cloud computing that delivers fundamental computer, network and storage resources to customers. It works on demand and over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. IaaS enables the end-users to scale resources up and down reducing the unnecessary infrastructure. In contrast to SaaS and PaaS, IaaS provides the lowest level control of resources in the cloud.

PaaS

Platform as a Service - a cloud service that provides a complete solution to the client, enabling developing, running and managing a business application without the need for building and maintaining the infrastructure that would be required in a standard development process. PaaS solutions usually charge only for computer, storage and network resources consumed.

Tech challenges connected to cloud-based applications

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The Flexera State of the Cloud Report provides information on the state of cloud computing services like trends, strategies or usage. In 2020, the survey asks 750 global cloud decision-makers and users what they think about the private, public and multi-cloud market. This year is special due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is also taken into consideration in those responses.

The same survey from 2018 provided insight into what are the current cloud computing challenges and this is what we will focus on.

Security

Security risks are the top concern in cloud computing. Luckily, the security capabilities of cloud services are improving each day. To ensure your organization’s privacy and security ensure your providers have secure user identity management, access control mechanisms as well as authentication. It is also important to check which database privacy and security laws they are subject to.

Reliability

Cloud application infrastructure guarantees a high level of service time-up and availability for the users. If your service is crashing, it is not your responsibility to fix it - it is something that your providers should take care of.

Performance

Performance is directly related to the number of data centres your cloud provider has. The more - the better performance can be expected. Global providers are locating their servers around the world to offer users the same page loading time despite their location. A common practice is to use Content Delivery Networks to speed up content delivery.

Scalability

Scalability of your cloud solution is important since performance is one of the top priority for the end-users. A scalable solution will allow you to handle more users at the same time without the necessity to rebuild the infrastructure.

Cost management

Most businesses notice that cloud computing is an amazing option for saving money that normally would be spent on hardware and software. Organizations can easily access extra processing capabilities using pay-as-you-go models. However, one of the disadvantages of the pay-as-you-go model can be the inability to precisely predict the costs of the used external services. To keep the costs in check, financial analytics and reporting are crucial to decrease the unexpected costs.

Compliance

When moving your product to a cloud environment keep in mind laws and regulations like GDPR. Depending on the industry, there will also be some specific standards, you can read more about it in How To Meet GDPR Requirements In Mobile And Web Applications.

How to select an outsourcing company?

It should not be a surprise that many businesses decide to outsource the development of their cloud applications to external providers. You can read more about it in our post Top SaaS Companies That Outsourced Software Development. But how to choose an outsourcing provider?

  1. Define a clear scope of work

The first step to take before you start the collaboration is to declare what you need. Find the best solution that can be adjusted to your requirements and prepare the scope of the project. It may also be valuable to prepare a detailed description of the MVP (see: Why MVP Development Should Be Outsourced)

  1. Establish industry experience

When you are looking for the right partner, search for teams that have previous experience in developing a similar product to what you wish to create. Research also the technologies best-suited to your app.

  1. Check the market reputation

Before signing the contract, check the reputation of your provider. Make use of public catalogues like GoodFirms or Clutch, which usually contain previous client’s reviews.

  1. Ask for client references and sample code

Do not be afraid to ask for the company’s references and portfolio. You can also ask them for feedback on the presented project scope.

  1. Check the financial stability

One last thing to remember when looking for an outsourcing partner is checking if the company is reliable and financially stable. Make sure the developers will be 100% available when you need them.

What technology is worth using in a cloud-based application?

To create a cloud-based software, apart from a cloud provider, you obviously need the right technology. Each one will give you some unique benefits, so carefully analyze your requirements and decide which one fits you best.

React

React is a JavaScript library created for writing user interfaces. It uses a Virtual DOM, which gives the application amazing performance. One of the advantages of React is also unidirectional data flow meaning that the components are nested within parents and it is easier to debug them if any problems occur. What is more, React offers reusable components, which significantly speeds up the development time. The library can be used for both web and mobile applications and with React Native you can reuse some parts of the code to build mobile solutions.

Ember

A free JavaScript library released under the MIT licence. It comes with a Glimmer rendering engine, which greatly speeds up rendering. Ember is a giant ecosystem offering a big amount of addons that can be used out-of-the-box. Apart from that, it provided the Command Line Interface utility that integrates Ember patterns into the development process and focuses on developer productivity.

Elixir

A relatively new programming language used mainly for heavily trafficked websites and highly scalable applications. Elixir offers concurrency, which means it allows running several processes at the same time - multiple requests can be handled simultaneously. As it runs on Erlang Virtual Machine it is able to run on many nodes, so it is easier to create larger networks, which in turn, positively influences the app performance. Elixir has high fault tolerance, so the applications work even if an error occurs. One of the most popular frameworks for Elixir is Phoenix, which allows real-time processing on the server-side with JavaScript.

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails utilizes the MVC pattern (Model-View-Controller), which is the most common architecture of applications. Thanks to the Active Record library it is easy to create database interaction queries (it is very rare to develop SQL queries in RoR). It is a convention over configuration language and does not have any XML configuration files. Ruby on Rails includes simple programming conventions that can be used to specify the configuration parameters. What is more, debugging is easy as detailed error logs are provided.

Node.js

A super-fast server-side platform built on Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine. In Node.js all APIs are asynchronous, so the execution of one command will not block the execution of the second one. There is no data buffering - applications written in Node will never buffer any data and will output it in chunks instead. Node.js is highly scalable as it uses a single thread with event looping. This solution can provide a better responsibility for standard servers like Apache.

Cloud-based app - the road to follow

The process of creating a cloud application can be narrowed down to a few crucial steps and best practices. Here is how to build your own cloud-ready solution:

  1. Design it as a collection of services

When building cloud-based software the best performance will be achieved when we build separate APIs or services. Create them to be able to work independently, without the data from other services. It is worth considering breaking down your application into tiny pieces that, in the future, can be reused by other solutions or by a new module of your service.

  1. Decoupled data

One of the good practices is to not tighten the data to the application, but rather keep the data layer separate from the application login - this will allow easy processing in the cloud. Take care of your database operations performance since all the operations are going through the open internet, which in turn may cause some latencies. Consider using caching systems that will speed up your solution.

  1. Communication between the components

When building your software consider the communication between each part of the application. When there is no need for constant communication, it may be worth sending a bigger amount of data rather than making requests on small changes in the solution

  1. Design for failure

It happens that cloud applications can be unavailable for some time. That is why you should design your application in a redundant way, meaning that every part of your product is run in a paired topology. When one part is unavailable, the second one will be able to handle the entire traffic.

  1. Prepare for Load Variance

In the process of gaining lots of users, you will produce a lot of traffic. The solutions should be designed in such a way to allow joining extra resources when needed and dropping them when the traffic reduces.

How can we help you?

Selleo has many years of professional experience in building, improving and maintaining cloud-based services. We managed to create lots of amazing solutions and help clients from all over the world gain a competitive advantage on the market. You can find more information about our projects in the portfolio or read articles to find out more on the hot topics like eCommerce, healthcare or LMS development.

Outsourcing the development of a cloud-based application is a perfect way to shorten the time-to-market, gain access to the international talent pool and increase efficiency while focusing on the core business activities.

Conclusions

According to Editor’s Choice, the global public cloud computing market will exceed $330 billion in 2020 and nearly 90% of companies are on the cloud. SaaS, IaaS and PaaS are all types of cloud-based applications, which means they work and are managed remotely, over the internet.

Building a cloud-based solution is associated with challenges like security, performance and the ability to scale it up and down, so it is crucial to find a reliable cloud provider as well as development partner if you wish to outsource.

A good external service provider should have a good market reputation and established experience in creating such applications. Technologies like React.js, Elixir or Node.js are often used to build such robust software, however, each of them introduces different advantages for your business.

At Selleo, we have over 12 years of experience in building powerful solutions, also on the cloud. If you are looking for a strong outsourcing partner, contact us to book a consultation to discuss your idea and turn it into reality. We also provide DevOps and Cloud consulting services if you wish to improve your existing application.

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