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How To Build A Cloud-Based Application

How To Build A Cloud-Based Application

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How To Build A Cloud-Based Application

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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, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform.

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 will you learn from this article?

  • What are the possible types of cloud apps?
  • Which technologies work best for such cloud solutions?
  • What are the technology challenges of cloud app development?
  • How to choose technology for developing cloud-based applications?

What Are Cloud-Based Applications?

Cloud-based applications operate on external servers, where computing and storage occur. Users interact with these applications via the internet, typically through a web interface. Popular examples include Google Docs and Office 365, which only require a web browser and an internet connection.

Types of cloud based apps and cloud services

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

Types of Cloud Services

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?

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) - IaaS provides fundamental computing, networking, and storage resources over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. It offers the most control over cloud resources while reducing the operational overhead associated with traditional infrastructure management. IaaS is often used by businesses that require flexible and scalable cloud infrastructure.

PaaS (Platform as a Service) - PaaS provides a complete solution stack, enabling application development without the need for managing underlying infrastructure. It's typically billed based on resource consumption.

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Cloud Deployment Models

Public cloud: Services and infrastructure are provided by a third-party provider and shared among multiple organizations.

  • Examples: AWS, Azure, Google Cloud.
  • Benefits: Cost-efficiency, scalability, and ease of management.

Private cloud: Services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network and used exclusively by a single organization.

  • Examples: VMware, OpenStack.
  • Benefits: Enhanced security, control, and customization.

Hybrid cloud: Combines public and private clouds, allowing data and applications to be shared between them.

  • Benefits: Flexibility, optimized workloads, and balanced cost and security.

Multi-cloud: Uses multiple cloud services from different providers.

  • Benefits: Avoids vendor lock-in, leverages best-of-breed solutions, and improves resilience.

By understanding the fundamental concepts and models of cloud computing, you can make informed decisions about the most suitable approach for your cloud-based application. This foundational knowledge ensures that you choose the right type of service and deployment model to meet your specific needs and objectives.

Planning Your Cloud-Based Application

Define Your Objectives

Understanding the Purpose and Goals of Your Application:

  • Clearly outline what you aim to achieve with your cloud-based application.
  • Determine the target audience and their specific needs.
  • Establish the primary functions and features of the application.

Identify Requirements

Technical Requirements:

  • Specify the technical specifications needed to build the application, such as programming languages, frameworks, and tools.
  • Identify the infrastructure requirements, including servers, databases, and network configurations.

Functional Requirements:

  • List the core functionalities that the application must provide, such as user authentication, data processing, and reporting.
  • Determine any specific business logic or processes that need to be incorporated.

Non-Functional Requirements:

  • Security: Outline the security measures that need to be implemented to protect data and ensure user privacy.
  • Scalability: Define how the application should handle growth in users and data volume.
  • Performance: Establish performance benchmarks, such as response times and throughput.
  • Reliability: Determine the availability and fault-tolerance requirements to ensure continuous operation.

Choosing the Right Cloud Service Provider

Comparison of Major Providers:

  • Evaluate the leading cloud service providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
  • Compare their offerings in terms of compute power, storage options, networking capabilities, and additional services.

Criteria for Selection:

  • Cost: Analyze the pricing models and costs associated with each provider, including upfront costs, pay-as-you-go options, and long-term savings.
  • Features: Look at the specific features and services offered by each provider that align with your application's needs.
  • Support: Assess the level of customer support and technical assistance provided, including documentation, community forums, and dedicated support plans.

By thoroughly planning and outlining these aspects, you set a solid foundation for the development of a successful cloud-based application. Proper planning helps make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and ensure that the application meets its objectives and performs efficiently in the cloud environment.

Tech challenges connected to cloud-based applications

Tech challenges connected to cloud based applications

The Flexera State of the Cloud Report provides information on the state of cloud computing services like trends, strategies or usage. In 2023, the survey asks 750 global cloud decision-makers and users what they think about the private, public and multi-cloud market.

  • Security risks are the top concern in cloud computing. Luckily, the security capabilities of cloud services are improving each day. To ensure the privacy and security of your organization, provide your cloud service provider with secure user identity management, access controls and authentication. It is also important to check which database privacy and security laws they are subject to.
  • Reliability: Cloud app 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 is directly related to the number of data centres your cloud provider has. The more - the better performance can be expected. While the number of data centers can impact performance, other factors like network architecture, bandwidth, and regional traffic loads also play significant roles. 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 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 a cloud app development 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?

  • 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: What Does MVP Stand for in Business and Why Is It Important in Software Projects?

  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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 app?

What technology is worth using in a cloud based app?

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.

How to develop a cloud-based app development? - 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.

  • 2. 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.

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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.

  • 5. 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.

Conclusions

As the global cloud computing market continues to expand, understanding and leveraging cloud technology is crucial for modern businesses. Whether it's SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS, each service offers unique benefits. Choosing the right technology and partner is essential for successfully building cloud applications.


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