Cloud application development is a necessity in a modern enterprise world. You can hardly find a company that has never used a cloud-based application or any SaaS products. Cloud applications are now dominating the market over desktop software for various reasons. The main advantage is they can be accessed at any time from anywhere with any device that has a web browser. Besides, when a company develops a cloud application, it automatically means that all users are working with the same version of the app. That greatly reduces the time and resources required for new features introduction, security updates, and synchronization.
List of the Content
- State of cloud app development in 2023
- Types of cloud applications
- Cloud app development process
- Cloud development technologies
- Cloud application development challenges
- The cost of cloud application development
- In conclusion
We will look at the advantages of cloud application development later in the article. Now we’ll define the concept. A cloud application is software that is running on the remote server and accessed by the users via a web browser or local client that serves as a user interface for rendering the content that is processed in the cloud. Thus, a user’s device is used only to input the data, which is consequently sent to the server, where it is processed and sent back to the user. Naturally, all the data is stored in the same cloud environment and can be accessed by all users that have permission.
Let’s name some reasons to use web-based solutions:
- Quick implementation. In contrast to desktop applications, cloud apps are much easier to use as they don’t require any specific knowledge and skills from the users.
- Availability. Due to the great integration with various devices, you can access a cloud app anytime and from anywhere as long as you have a stable internet connection.
- Relatively easy maintenance. The thing is, in the case of cloud application development services, developers have to debug and update a single version in one environment that is shared for all users at the same time, unlike, for example, desktop apps.
- Scalability and flexibility. Cloud solutions can provision their capacity in times of growing traffic trends and lower it when the traffic descends. The use of custom cloud application development prevents enterprises from paying for highly capable servers, even in off-peak times. Cloud services like AWS and Azure have PaaS solutions for automated resource distribution, so app owners won’t pay for the resources that are not used.
CLOUD APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT: STATE IN 2023
What are the most popular cloud development technologies in 2023?
Front-end technologies – React. Angular, Vue.js
Back-end technologies – ASP.NET, Node.js, Java, PHP, Ruby on Rails
As already mentioned, companies migrate to the cloud to reduce costs, save time, and achieve high efficiency and high performance. Many IT industry giants launched their own PaaS (Platform as a Service) products to provide ISVs and enterprises with reliable and secure cloud hosting. The choice is wide and can address the needs of cloud application development at any scale. Moreover, all of them have their own advantages and killer features. The choice of the cloud services provider is as much important as a choice of back-end or front-end technology. Besides obvious things like the cost, it impacts how easily it will be for your DevOps to work with, how scalable the app will be, etc. For example, Azure works better with ASP.NET backend, while AWS works better with Java EE and has better microservices support, such as Docker, which is essential for high-load Java web apps. Here is the list of the most popular PaaS providers:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Oracle Cloud
- IBM Cloud
- Google Cloud Platform
This list may not seem very big as only the world-known giants are here. Listing less popular companies using the cloud would take an eternity. In 2023 there are almost no companies left that haven’t preferred cloud services yet.
TYPES OF CLOUD APPLICATIONS
While speaking about cloud application development, it is necessary to discuss three main software delivery models:
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
SaaS solutions are for the end-users. It means that once a SaaS product is built and set up, it is completely ready for customers to use. They receive a ready-made product accessible from any device as long as the Internet connection is stable. And these solutions are excellent for collaborative work. Examples: Google Docs and Google Drive.
PaaS applications are mostly development environments based on various execution environments, OS, and databases. They require the application code to be deployed by the developers, and the vendor performs all the other processes. PaaS enables the fast development of scalable applications with easy private or public deployment. PaaS products include Heroku, Force.com, MS Azure, AWS, etc.
In the case of IaaS, what’s required from the customer is the middleware and support, while the vendor is responsible for data storage, virtualization, networking, and servers. A significant weakness of this option is that the customer is restricted to the provider’s tools for cloud application development. IaaS is employed by Google Compute Engine, Amazon EC2, and others.
To sum up, SaaS is for the end-users, PaaS is for the developers, and system administrators most often use IaaS.
CLOUD APPlICATION DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
SDLC stands for Software Development Life Cycle, and it is an indispensable part of the development process no matter what kind of software you create and what platform you develop for. Once a team gets a task, the SDLC process begins. It implies a set of stages. Waterfall, Iterative, and Agile are SDLC methodologies. Each of them affects how the operations are performed, but regardless of the model, the sequence of stages mostly stays the same.
Cloud application development lifecycle includes:
- Requirement Analysis. At this point, development costs are estimated, and the schedule is set. In case some organizational problems appear, they are settled with the customers at once.
- Design. This phase is based on the designers’ work. UI/UX specialists examine future programs’ functionality in order to build an interface that will cover all features. After the work is done, they present it as mockups or wireframes.
- Development. That is the longest stage, where almost all of the coding is done. Programmers have to put the received design layouts into the working application. IT specialists usually divide all work into small stages and perform tasks due to the beforehand set priority.
- Testing. This stage covers the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC). It includes a set of phases that QA specialists perform to deliver the final product. Here application codes are sent to the QA engineers, who use specific methods to test and debug the program to make it work properly.
- Deployment. Here a ready-made program is delivered to the end user and set up in a user’s environment. The deployment includes release, installation, activation, and version tracking.
- Maintenance. This phase comes after the software is sold. It aims at fixing all problems that pop up after the application release.
SDLC Models: Agile, Waterfall, Iterative
Want to find out more about SDLC models? What are the most popular ones, and why do cloud application development companies prefer to use them?
CLOUD DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGIES
Cloud Development Technologies for Backend
The technology stack for back-end development doesn’t change that much from year to year, so let’s see what languages and tools take the leading positions.
.NET is a hybrid framework developed by Microsoft. It allows programmers to work with different languages, libraries, and tools for building scalable web, mobile, and desktop applications. Among the languages .NET supports, there are C#, Visual Basic, and F#. It also has its own package manager – NuGet, which contains more than 90000 packages. .NET development allows working with those cloud servers that already exist as well as creating and deploying your own. Thus, it is a powerful tool for cloud application development.
Java is a mature, versatile multipurpose programming language created back in 1995. During these years, Java has earned the trust of IT specialists worldwide. Object-oriented class-based language can be implemented in cloud application development, mobile, web, and desktop apps, etc. It has tons of advantages such as well-defined specifications, expected behavior, which results in reduced development time, a huge number of tools and libraries, the fact that Java apps can be run on any device regardless of its underlying architecture, and many others. Java is suitable for enterprise-level projects that require difficult computations and data processing. However, Java developers are rather expensive despite all the advantages, and employing this language for a startup might not always work.
PHP is designed for creating software in a great variety of domains. Because its code is processed on the web server with a specific interpreter, making PHP an excellent choice for custom cloud application development. It is most commonly employed for mid-sized projects or startups. It has a 5 million supportive community of developers, which will help you solve appearing problems at the stage of learning or later. By the way, quite clear documentation eases the learning process. The popularity of PHP results in a great number of potential specialists to hire and for a relatively affordable price. As database integration is one of the key aspects of back-end development, it makes PHP one of the best options as it connects to a wide range of databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, Redis, MongoDB, and others. In addition, hosting services for PHP are quite cheap because the components that a PHP app uses (MySQL database, HTTP server, etc.) are free.
Ruby on Rails is an application framework used for back-end development. It targets simple development. It is relatively easy to master due to the English-like syntax and understandable documentation. This simplicity results in minimized development time. High readability leads to easier updates and maintenance, which, in turn, makes RoR development extremely cost-effective. In addition, Ruby on Rails has many testing frameworks cut out exactly for it, making testing faster and easier.
Cloud Development Technologies for Frontend
CLOUD APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES
Cloud application development presents several unique challenges that developers need to be aware of in order to create reliable, scalable, and secure cloud applications. Here are some of the key challenges:
Scalability: Cloud applications need to be designed to handle spikes in traffic or usage without interrupting performance. This requires careful consideration of the application architecture, deployment strategy, and use of cloud-based services. In addition, developers need to ensure that the application can scale both vertically and horizontally, depending on the needs of the application.
Security: Cloud apps are exposed to a wider range of potential security threats than some other applications. Developers need to ensure that the application is secure at all levels, including data in transit and at rest, access control, and authentication and authorization mechanisms. This involves using strong encryption protocols, securing API endpoints, and implementing multi-factor authentication mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access.
Data management: Applications often rely on large amounts of data that are stored in distributed databases. Developers need to consider how to manage data across multiple cloud instances, maintain consistency, and ensure data availability. This requires careful consideration of the database architecture to distribute data across multiple instances and ensure data availability and redundancy.
Compliance: Depending on the industry or region, cloud applications may be subject to strict compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, PCI, or GDPR. Developers need to ensure that the application meets all necessary compliance standards. This involves implementing data privacy and protection mechanisms and ensuring that data is stored and processed in compliance with regulatory requirements.
Vendor lock-in: Cloud services are often provided by some number of major vendors, which can lead to vendor lock-in. Developers need to carefully consider their choice of cloud service provider and ensure that the application can be easily migrated to other platforms if necessary. This involves using open standards and APIs, avoiding proprietary services, and confirming that the application can be deployed on multiple cloud platforms.
Integration: Cloud solutions often need to integrate with other systems and services, both within and outside of the cloud environment. Developers need to ensure that the application is designed with integration in mind and can seamlessly communicate with other systems. This involves using standard protocols and APIs, such as RESTful APIs, and implementing message queues or event-driven architectures to enable asynchronous communication between systems.
Cost management: Cloud services can be costly, and it can be challenging to predict the exact costs of running a cloud application. Developers need to carefully consider the cost of each cloud service and optimize the application to minimize costs while maintaining performance and reliability. This involves using cost-effective cloud services and implementing auto-scaling mechanisms to ensure that resources are only used when needed.
Overall, cloud application development requires careful consideration of these challenges, as well as other aspects of cloud computing, such as cloud architecture, DevOps practices, and cloud deployment strategies. By addressing these challenges, developers can create reliable, scalable, and secure cloud applications that meet the needs of their users and businesses.
THE COST OF CLOUD APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT
What forms the cost of cloud-based application development?
The overall development cost is formed by numerous factors, such as application complexity, developers’ cost, and their experience, engagement model, location of development services, hosting platforms, etc.
It is nearly impossible to estimate each of the factors accurately, but let’s try to perform a rough estimation of cloud app cost. Needless to say that the region will affect the price significantly as the difference between Asia and, for example, North America is huge. Development in the US might be hardly affordable for a startup, while quite cheap development in Asia might not have very good quality. Outsourcing to Ukraine solves both of these problems as it offers qualified specialists at an affordable price. Another factor we can approximately estimate is developer salary. To summarize the salaries of all team members, let’s see whom the cloud application development team consists of:
- Project manager
- Business analyst
- UI/UX designer
- Server-side developer
- Front-end developer
- QA specialist
Such Internet resources as Glassdoor or PayScale help estimate the USA’s salaries. Hourly rates for each specialist with about 4 years of experience are presented in the table below:
|PROJECT MANAGER||BUSINESS ANALYST||UI/UX DESIGNER||BACK-END DEVELOPER||FRONT-END DEVELOPER||QA SPECIALIST|
To receive the overall cost, we have to summarize the approximate cost of each factor. It includes the development services region, developers’ cost, and their experience, app complexity, design, hosting, marketing tools, etc. As a result, we’ll have the following:
- Complex enterprise app with advanced functionality – $250k and more
- Cloud application of medium complexity – from $120k to $250k
- A simple web application – from $30k to $100k
What is the cost of cloud app development?
Developing an app of medium complexity will cost about $120k to $250k for custom. It’ll be about $250k for an app with complex features and $30k – $100k for a simple web app.
Choosing cloud application development services is reasonable, as it will result in fast, scalable, and secure applications with high performance. It’ll help save time and costs, which are also key factors when deciding on an application type. The approach to development has changed for the better and has become easier due to innovative tools, technologies, and versatile SDLC methodologies. After you’ve decided on the technology stack, product features, team composition, and SDLC model, the cloud application development process begins.
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What are some examples of cloud applications?
Nowadays, almost all companies are using cloud development to receive all its benefits - high performance, speed, reduced costs, and time. Among those who use the cloud for their apps, there are:
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Google Cloud Platform
What is cloud application development?
Cloud development allows programmers to create applications that hold the top position on the market today. They use remote servers to store and process data. Typically, cloud services infrastructure providers are responsible for it. The apps are fast, scalable, flexible, and easy to implement and maintain.
What are the three types of cloud app development services?
Three main types of cloud applications are:
In simple terms, SaaS is for the end-users. It is about those who use cloud applications, while PaaS and IaaS are about administrators and developers accordingly. PaaS allows uploading apps to the server and maintaining them there. IaaS, in turn, provides tools for server control and not an app.
What are the benefits of cloud development?
Cloud apps are beneficial in many ways, including:
- Quick implementation. People can use SaaS products as long as they have an Internet connection.
- Easy maintenance. Programmers have to debug and update a single version of an app
- Scalability and flexibility. Cloud apps provision their capacity and easily handle traffic in on-peak times.
- Availability. They can be used on any device if it has an Internet connection.