Imagine that you’re an established offline consumer electronics retailer and you’re launching your own app for users to buy online. You’re surely planning to scale it up later. But how do you know how many servers you’ll need for the launch? It’s hard to tell, so you start with the servers you already have, simply because you don’t expect many users to hit your service immediately.
After you launch the app, it gets popular with the first 10,000 users, and all of them are totally pleased. So pleased that the app goes viral, and information about your project appears on TechCrunch. In just a day, you get 5,000,000 users instead of the 10,000 you expected. Most likely, 4,990,000 users, including possible investors and influencers, will see an error message or anything but your website. Of course, you could update your site's architecture and add multiple servers at once (if there’s money for that), say 100 or 200 of them, paying for the server downtime and waiting for 5000,000 users to come back one day (hopefully). But is there anything else you could do in this case?
The answer could be using cloud platforms, which benefit most projects. So many companies have already switched from on-premise app development to cloud-based development. Among these companies are Instagram, Quora, Reddit, Pinterest, Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Adobe. Why do they use cloud platforms? Because this way they can scale their apps quickly and, what’s more important, cost-efficiently.
Why is cloud computing getting so popular?
Enterprises that have already adopted cloud-based computing technology claim that they’re seeing 2.3 times more revenue growth. How is that possible? According to a survey on app development costs, companies spend from $100,000 to $500,000 on on-premise app development, and half of this money is actually spent on hardware and software. You can significantly cut about 50% of expenses after successfully switching to cloud-based app development.
[Cost of ownership on-premise vs cloud]
Here are some more reasons why cloud-based development is better than on-premise development:
- Faster development and deployment, as you don’t need to spend time getting and installing hardware and software to create your app
- No need to maintain or back up hardware and software used for development
- Access to cutting-edge software and hardware, as cloud platforms are regularly upgraded to better and faster solutions
- Guaranteed data security, as cloud platforms are obliged to protect your data and have to stick to GDPR standards
- Remote access from any part of the world for all of your teams, which allows you to attract high-level professionals from different cities and countries if necessary
- Ability to measure services used and provided when working with the cloud platform, so you’ll know how much money and how many resources are spent on every app feature
- Scalability both up and down, on demand, which is especially convenient when you don’t plan to support some app features and therefore need fewer hardware and software resources
Need more reasons for cloud-based app development? You’ve got it! Investors find apps with cloud-based infrastructure more attractive and predictable. Therefore, you not only have a chance to avoid expenses for on-premise hardware and software, but you also have a chance to scale your business faster and get more money invested in your product. Below is a chart that demonstrates current and future cloud spending:
[Public IT spending from 2015 to 2020]
There are so many reasons to start developing your app in a cloud platform that you might decide to do that right away. But before you actually make the leap, we suggest learning about different cloud platforms and how to choose the best one for your development needs.
How to properly choose the cloud platform for your business
Selecting a cloud platform isn’t the easiest thing, especially if you haven’t used any of them before. That’s why you should check best practices and ask for recommendations from other business owners or developers who have experience with cloud-based app development. They might share their experience implementing cloud systems so that you don’t have to start from scratch. If you don’t have such friends or acquaintances, try asking professional app developers. They’ll surely help you with the choice, as you might be developing a totally new solution or migrating an existing one. Therefore, you’ll need to know which of the types of cloud platforms to use: IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS.
Infrastructure as a Service
Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, provides online access to resources like data storage, networks, and cloud servers for deploying operating systems and programs. This is realized through virtualization, without having to maintain your own infrastructure. In other words, it’s like renting a physical server, only online.
With IaaS, you get the highest level of customization, full control of infrastructure, and, of course, scalability. At Yalantis, we often resort to Amazon S3 for storing files like pictures, video, and audio files when developing apps for our clients. This IaaS solution is one of the most reliable, trustworthy, and storage-efficient.
Among our customers who require IaaS solutions are those in the e-commerce and telecom sectors. But they often require Platform as a Service products as well if they don’t want to handle data, runtime environments, operating systems, and middleware.
Platform as a Service
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a provider of a ready software environment for building apps. Such services also provide tools for precise configuration of the environment: hardware, operating systems, database systems, middleware, tools for testing and developing.
There are quite a number of advantages with PaaS: less coding for your project, customization, flexibility, and a number of mechanisms to make development simpler and more convenient. That’s why PaaS is often considered one of the basic elements for e-commerce. At Yalantis, we regularly suggest the Dokku PaaS for deploying apps. It’s quite popular among developers because it’s light, affordable, and allows you to deploy apps on almost any server.
With PaaS, however, you’ll still need developers who can work on database deployment, business logic, and the frontend. So if you’re not ready to handle any of that, consider a SaaS platform.
Software as a Service
Software as a Service, or SaaS, is software provided over the internet and normally on a subscription basis. SaaS solutions are good when your business is pressed for time and isn’t ready to build up infrastructure and develop and deploy your app. When our customers require a database to be implemented in their app, we use Amazon RDS. Another example of a SaaS product is Amazon’s Lambda for adding specific functions to an app. This SaaS solution makes app building easy, as Lambda can scale automatically and requires zero administration.
Using a SaaS platform is a pretty good idea for short-term projects and temporary collaboration and even for specific software that’s demanded only by a specific type of audience.
[Separation of responsibilities on-premise, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS]
The services listed above are the most general and the most used tools for web app development, so you’ll surely have to choose at least one of them. Therefore, you might like some advice to ensure you work only with the top solutions on the market.
What to consider when choosing a cloud platform for web app development
No matter if you’re selecting an IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS solution, consider the following:
Datacenter stability and quality, as you don’t want your app to go down when lots of people are using it
Tech support level to make sure that you get proper assistance in maintaining your app if something goes wrong
Number of customers using the service, as a lot of customers are often a sign of trust and customer satisfaction
Update policy to make sure that your app is always running smoothly on cutting-edge hardware and software, providing the best customer experience
Data security in order to keep your users’ data safe from fraud, breaches, and leaks (At Yalantis, we prefer using GDPR-compliant services to be on the safe side.)
Pricing, to make sure that your money works for you and you’re aware of all discounts and special offers
But despite so many reasons to use cloud computing for your business, there might be some cases when you shouldn’t rush into it. Let’s try to understand exactly when and why.
How do you know if it’s time to go cloud-based?
In most cases, it’s more sensible to develop an app for your business with the help of cloud platforms. The exception is for businesses limited by specific security standards — for example, banks or medical companies that have to store personal user data in local data centers. If this doesn’t apply to you, you still have to keep a few questions in mind.
Is your business actually ready for cloud-based development?
Chasing trends and competitors isn’t always a good idea. You need to start with evaluating the actual needs of your company and analyzing the technologies you’re going to implement. Can your problems be solved with the help of cloud computing? Don’t use it only because it’s hip and trendy. Think about your app features. If they can be optimized and users will get a better user experience, then cloud computing is worth it.
Are your employees ready for cloud computing?
Going cloud-based isn’t only about your budget and business strategy. It’s also about all of the IT department changing the corporate culture. Your employees will actually have to learn a lot of things, get some new skills, learn to think in advance, and get ready to completely change the game plan. You should also consider that cloud computing allows teams to act almost independently, which is why they might use their own different ways to achieve their goals. Finally, all of the department heads within your company should know about the company’s plans to transform the product into a cloud-based one so that they can carefully plan processes within their departments.
Is cloud computing really cost-efficient for your business?
If you’ve already invested a lot of resources in your hardware and software, run a cost-benefit analysis. All of that equipment has a certain lifecycle, and it might be that you don’t need to move to cloud computing for another year or two.
It seems that these questions are really obvious, but the devil is in the details. This is exactly why you should carefully study the license agreement provided by the cloud platform you choose. For instance, Google Cloud Platform provides 5 GB of cloud storage, 1000 search operations per day, and some other features for free. But when it comes to calculating possible expenses, you may beat your brains out when going through the technical details. Another important thing to consider is how your data will be protected, especially if working with customers from Europe (in which case you’ll need to comply with GDPR). If you don’t feel like you or your employees are ready to dive deep into the nuances of technical requirements for cloud computing, we’d be happy to answer your questions and even develop your app for you.