Legacy software drags you down? Here’s a step-by-step guide on cloud application development

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Many businesses face the challenge of tedious network upgrades and related crashes. The growing demand for mobility and flexibility makes it hard to predict the company’s IT needs. It also complicates cost control greatly. But the good news is that cloud development can solve all these challenges.

And businesses are actively leveraging it. According to the study by Thales and Ponemon Institute, 66% of enterprises already store their sensitive data in the cloud. The insurance, telecom, retail, banking, and consumer products industries are the most active cloud users. However, cloud application development services are essential to any business that needs to store and process a large bulk of data.

Cloud app market size
Cloud market value growth

The growth and popularity of cloud solutions raise many questions for businesses of all sizes, especially regarding what is cloud application development and how to build a cloud solution. This post was created to answer those questions! Today, you will learn the difference between a cloud app and a web app, the technology required to build a cloud-based application, the steps, and the estimated cost.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a cloud-based application?

It is a software product that stores data and runs its processing logic online rather than on a local server machine as web applications do. It is possible thanks to remote data servers hosted by cloud service providers.

The following sequence can represent the cloud product’s operation. A user interacts with a cloud product through a browser. The browser uses an API to send data for processing to a remote server and receives the resulting data through the same API to present it to the user. In this scenario, the user’s device serves as an input device and does not interfere with a cloud app’s operation.

Characteristics of cloud software

  • Easy maintenance. Cloud software receives and installs updates autonomously, needing no human intervention. This way, you don’t get distracted by regular pop-ups asking for your attention and can still enjoy the latest tech advancements.
  • Data accessibility. Users can access information stored in the cloud from anywhere, anytime. Moreover, most cloud solutions have an offline mode, allowing you to work with files in poor network conditions. The data is automatically uploaded to the cloud when the connection is restored.
  • Automated backup. Cloud software makes snapshots of every new piece of information and partly saves it on the devices’ cache. So your information is safe and will be restored even if one of the cloud servers goes down.
  • Enhanced security. Cloud products use the latest data encryption and user verification technologies which you can customize to your liking.
  • Pay for what you use. You only have to pay for the services or storage space you use. Moreover, some space and services are allotted for free.

Types of cloud-based solutions

Before we can talk about solutions, you should know that there are different types of clouds, each providing different capabilities:

  • A public cloud is an array of readily provided resources, such as memory, networking, storage, and a central processing unit (CPU). You can rent them to build an IT infrastructure for cloud application development and avoid the hassle of setting up and maintaining any physical components.
  • A private cloud is owned by a single organization that fully controls the solution, customizes it for its needs, etc. The data centers can be located on the company’s premises or offshore. Private clouds are often perceived as more secure as they offer privacy but have limited scalability capabilities.
  • A hybrid cloud combines the best of both solutions, providing flexibility. Thus, you can increase your storage capacity using the public cloud while data processing occurs privately. You can also save on buying extra hardware and extend your network to the cloud. However, implementing and migrating to a hybrid cloud may be resource-consuming and requires deep technical knowledge.

Cloud-based software is also categorized into four types depending on the tasks they focus on:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions provide cloud services for developers. They let you use essential resources on demand, on a pay-as-you-go basis. Each service is represented by a separate service component you can purchase to support your web apps and help you deliver new products faster. Amazon Web Services is one of the most popular IaaS providers. It also has PaaS and SaaS offerings, though.
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) software provides you with servers, storage, and network infrastructure to set up a virtual environment for cloud application development and deploy your apps. Google App Engine is a popular PaaS tool.
  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are ready-to-use cloud-hosted applications that charge a monthly or annual fee to use via a browser, mobile device, or desktop client. Slack and Dropbox are SaaS products.
  • Serverless applications run without a server. Or rather, there is a server, but you don’t have to worry about its management when developing your apps. The routine work of provisioning, maintaining, and scaling the server infrastructure lies on a cloud provider such as AWS Lambda or Microsoft Azure Functions.
SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS
Cloud-based solutions types

Syndicode’s expertise in cloud development

Syndicode has gone a long road toward assembling a mature team with the experience and knowledge to overcome the common challenges in cloud application development. 

Among our recent projects is SwiftComply, a compliance management software for restaurants and water utility companies. Syndicode helped SwiftComply to identify areas for improvement and implement AWS practices to enhance security, data flow, and cost-efficiency.

An African job marketplace named Fuzu turned to Syndicode to make its monolithic IT infrastructure more scalable and easier to update. Our engineers performed code refactoring, migrated Fuzu to AWS, implemented cloud services, and equipped the platform with an ML-powered search tool.

All our clients appreciate our highly secure solutions that ensure proper regulatory compliance and have 99,9% uptime. We achieve it by applying tested privacy and cybersecurity measures, adopting DevOps tools, using verified third-party services, and establishing real-time data monitoring policies. 

Besides, we ensure that our engineers stay updated with the latest advances in cloud software development from scratch and migration techniques.

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Cloud application development step by step

Cloud development involves web app development and mobile solutions development. Depending on the chosen solution type, you will need different technologies and skills in your technical team. In other respects, the cloud application development process is similar. 

First, you should study the market and define your target audience’s needs. Then you should decide how your product will solve those issues and prove your idea’s viability. And finally, you should ensure that your software product is reliable and easy to use.

To summarize, the general steps to cloud applications development are

  1. Project discovery
  2. Choosing the development team
  3. Planning the development
  4. UI/UX design
  5. Development and QA
  6. Deployment and delivery

Let’s discuss these steps in more detail.

Cloud app development steps
How to develop a cloud application?

Step 1. Project discovery

A discovery phase allows the client and the development team better understand the objectives and scope of the cloud development project. Sessions vary in length and discussion topics, but we follow the same basic pattern to ensure effectiveness.

Before the first session, you will receive a questionnaire that helps clarify your goals. This way, our development team can assess the project complexity and outline the potential issues to be addressed at the discovery meeting.

During project discovery, we will determine the desired outcomes, identify end users and their pain points, refine project objectives, and generate a list of features the project will address. We will also agree on the priorities.

Step 2. Choose a development team

People who will build your cloud solution should also be skilled in implementing and maintaining the cloud infrastructure. They must be able to design, develop, analyze, maintain, and integrate the new solution into your company’s IT system or those of the end users.

But where to hire cloud application developers? There are three widespread options: hire freelancers, get an in-house team or outsource to a reliable software development company. Of course, every option comes with its pros and cons.

Engagement modelProsCons
Freelance developersFreelancers tend to be cheaper
Easy team scaling
You can find an expert in anything
Freelancers are usually review-dependant, so the quality of their services is high
Senior-level individual developers may charge more than agencies
Low chances of hiring the same developer for maintenance
Industry norms do not apply
Supervision may be challenging if you have multiple employees in your team
In-house teamFull control
Excellent communication
Great understanding of company values
High involvement level
High cost
Limited talent pool
Lengthy recruitment process
Lack of flexibility in terms of scaling the team
Outsourced teamAny expertise is readily available
Easy team scaling, and you also can use the dedicated development team services to augment your in-house team
Short time-to-market
Well-matched team
Communication difficulties may arise due to cultural differences, time zones, etc.
Vendor may hire low-level talent
Lack of control
Scope and budget creep are possible
Pros and cons of different engagement models

It’s worth noting that cloud application development isn’t a once and for all venue. The product must be updated regularly to ensure it works properly in the current technological environment. It’s also possible that you’ll want to expand its functionality with new features as your business grows.

You can always get the necessary application development services on-demand with a knowledgeable vendor. And since they were the ones who made the software, they won’t need extra time to get acknowledged with all the documentation.

Step 3. Plan the development

Before the actual coding begins, you should determine what it takes to implement your cloud solution. The requirements will include defining the development team composition, tech stack, cloud application development platform, time, and budget. Speak with your vendor, or use IT consulting services to get help on these matters.

You should also determine the most appropriate service model, the architecture, and whether you should migrate your company’s data to the cloud too. If that’s the case, you should also have a migration strategy.

The migration strategy involves prioritizing workloads to minimize risks during the migration and modification planning to fit the cloud environment. You should also investigate workload changes after migrating and develop an algorithm for updating, troubleshooting, and other routine activities. 

Finally, you must develop a security policy and prepare your staff for the new technology adoption.

Choose tech stack

The tech stack should be chosen based on the project scope, scalability requirements, the number and nature of integrations, and safety concerns. 

Both web and mobile cloud solutions consist of two interface parts. One is hidden or server-side, and another is visible to the user. While these parts are interconnected, their development requires using different technologies.

Thus, the most widespread tech for user-defined interface development, entails HTML, CSS, JavaScript, TypeScript, and appropriate front-end frameworks. The server-side (back-end) part consists of several components: server application, database, API(s), and server architecture. 

A server application receives server requests and responds to them. It can be written using Ruby development or Node.js programming services. Databases store information, such as product catalogs or customer profiles. At Syndicode, we use PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Redis, Elasticsearch, and others.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) link the server with the user. There are many ready-made APIs, and it’s also possible to make custom ones for specific cases. The server architecture defines what services your software will provide, and there are many factors to consider when building it.

Design the architecture

Cloud software architecture defines the digital product’s key components, relationships, and interactions. In other words, it is a plan describing how to build an application faster and simultaneously meet client and market requirements.

Most of the time, we rely on microservices since they allow us to shorten the cloud application development cycle. An application’s microservices architecture may consist of a different number of architectural tires. Typically, there are three: a presentation layer, business logic, and a data layer. The tiers are not physical but logical. They are designed to speed up the application development in the cloud since several engineers can work on different tiers simultaneously.

The presentation layer houses components visible to the end-user through a web browser or a mobile app. It communicates with business logic through APIs. Additional resources can be added between the presentation and business logic layers to improve the application’s performance, security, fault tolerance, etc.

The business logic layer transforms user actions into functions the application can process. The developers will design the business logic with specific components depending on your solution’s desired functionality.

The data layer contains databases and data analytics tools. Your cloud application developers will choose the most beneficial ones for your requirements.

Cloud computing architecture
Cloud solution architecture
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Step 4. Design the application

There are no standardized guidelines for cloud UI, so there are as many UIs as applications in the market. However, we recommend researching your end-users intent and what other products they will potentially use along with your solution. This way, you can create a unified experience between the user’s applications and ensure visual consistency with your other products.

As a result, your cloud solution will have a simple, clean image that uses a familiar layout and gently guides users through their journey. They will also require a minimum of training time.

Besides, by applying an iterative approach to your UI designs, you can test user reactions and make improvements in the next update. This method also makes you flexible in incorporating new technologies in a completed build.

Step 5. Build and test the application

Usually, cloud solutions are developed using Agile/Scrum methodology. Iterative development helps to come up with the most effective solution in less time and ensures higher product quality than traditional development approaches.

Besides, your development team has to be skilled enough to overcome one of the biggest cloud computing challenges—performance optimization. Since you don’t have any control over the server, data rendering, style sheets, and other resources can take more time than expected, affecting the app’s usability. Therefore, your product should have its resources right-sized and use a solution to transfer assets quickly.

Then, there are scalability issues tied to the data usage limit that your developers should be able to foresee and address. Moreover, the interoperability problem might arise if your product works with several cloud environments. It should also be addressed by thorough planning.

Finally, downtime and security are other widespread issues in cloud computing. You and your tech partner should understand the product objectives well to choose the right technologies and avoid these issues. 

The completed cloud product should be tested in an emulated environment that resembles real-life scenarios. QA specialists should choose the appropriate testing types and methods to ensure the correct app’s performance under all possible use cases.

Step 6. Deploy and deliver

Every development team has its routine to ensure fast and successful cloud application deployment. At Syndicode, the process is the following. 

First, the development specialists determine how the application is served and whether it requires scaling or auto-scaling out-of-the-box. Then, depending on the answer, they will choose an appropriate deployment tool and configure CPU, memory, and garbage collection settings.

Next, we pick a JavaScript framework, compile languages, and optimize data assets. After that, it’s time to deploy databases, set up backups for disaster recovery, and automate the app’s ability to identify and respond to crashes.

Finally, the cloud application development team configures network settings and security groups and performs a security audit. 

It requires applying to App Store or Google Play for publishing if it’s a mobile solution. In this case, the development and testing teams ensure compliance with guidelines and prepare the associated documentation.

How Syndicode can help you

Our experience in full-cycle cloud service development and SaaS development services allows our clients to reduce time to benefit and decrease operational costs by removing hardware expenses. 

We build custom software that looks and works according to the client’s expectations. In addition, our strict security standards ensure secure and seamless third-party integrations, such as payment systems, real-time messengers, maps, etc.

Thanks to our web application development services, businesses can reach their customers right where they are, regardless of the device and OS. Our solutions do not require high specs to run and provide enhanced data security.

We provide custom CRM development services to clients who need a centralized place to manage customer interactions with instant access. Our CRM systems offer robust integrations with third-party services enabling you to seamlessly handle tasks across multiple departments.

With LMS development services by our cloud application development company, you can offer micro-learning services across all devices and get access to cutting-edge technologies such as VR/AR.

Moreover, using DevOps practices with cloud computing, we ensure short time-to-market, excellent software quality, and effective resource allocation.

Finally, we encourage our employees to monitor the latest advancements in the cloud computing realm and learn from the best. Through continuous improvement and collaboration, we provide our clients with the best cloud development practices currently existing.

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Benefits of developing cloud applications

The absence of physical information storage devices eliminates the risk of data loss due to device damage or loss. Moreover, the evolving technology facilitates faster data sharing in a fully custom way. Below are the main advantages of using a cloud-based solution for business.

Benefits of cloud computing
Why invest in cloud computing?

Cost-saving

You can save on managing and retaining IT systems by using the resources of a cloud service provider. You will also cut your operational costs since you don’t need to employ an in-house IT staff, your energy consumption is lower, and software upgrades are on the vendor (usually).

Automated updates

A cloud service provider has a single corporate data center through which they can distribute updates to all customers at once. This way, you will always use the latest software version without the hassle of downloading and installing it.

Sustainability

Your business data stored in the cloud is backed up automatically and protected using the latest encryption technologies. No power shortage or other crisis can damage your files. You can easily access them from a different location and continue conducting business.

Flexibility

Cloud computing allows access to data from anywhere, providing there is an internet connection. This lets you and your employees be much more flexible in your work practices. Everyone can access their files immediately and provide urgent feedback.

The cost of cloud application development

The final cost of developing a cloud application depends on its complexity, features, technology stack, the allocated timeframe, and the rate of your development team.

For a rough cost estimate, a basic custom application development in the cloud like a data storage service may require 3-6 months of development. That will cost around $80,000—$150,000. On the other hand, a  complex product such as Zoom, Zoho, Facebook, etc. may take a year or more and cost more than $120,000–$200,000.

These are ballpark figures since the specialists’ skill levels and location greatly affect the price. Thus, a cloud computing engineer from the USA may charge 3 times as much as a cloud developer of the same level in Europe.

Summing up

Businesses that adopt cloud software find it easier to meet compliance requirements, protect their data, and access it over a secure connection. Different cloud solutions help companies save the costs of acquiring and maintaining their own IT infrastructure, get access to automatization, big data, disaster recovery, AI capabilities, and more.

However, cloud computing poses many challenges related to cybersecurity, compliance, performance, migration, and more. That makes custom cloud development a risky business for a beginner. So, unless you are a seasoned cloud software developer, you might need assistance from a digital transformation agency like Syndicode.

Our cloud computing specialists have over 2 years of experience in cloud application development. They have a good understanding of cloud and database concepts, excellent networking skills, and know hypervisor and data visualization technologies.

You can rely on us for in-depth consulting on cloud development matters and for implementing your idea from scratch.

FAQ

  • Cloud development is the process of application development in cloud or on a local machine directly connected to the cloud environment. You only need a browser that is connected to a cloud infrastructure. You should distinguish between software development in cloud and cloud-native development. Though often used interchangeably, these terms differ because cloud-native development refers to creating a specific type of software. In contrast, cloud development defines how software is created.

  • Cloud software is any digital product that delivers services over the internet. The services include servers, storage, networking, databases, analytics, and intelligence. Thus, cloud software users access these resources from a cloud provider rather than owning and maintaining computer infrastructure or data centers. Web software is programs stored on a remote server and delivered through a browser over the internet. Similar to cloud software, they use the processing power of a server located in a distant data server. However, while a web app needs a constant internet connection to work, a cloud application processes tasks on a local device and mainly uses the internet for data exchange. The principle difference between a cloud solution and a web app can be illustrated as follows. Gmail is a web application that requires a browser and must use the internet to receive and send emails. Office 365 performs tasks locally without any connection. Its cloud aspect comes to play when you want to save work to the server.

  • Cloud computing offers many benefits. The most popular are quick deployment, automated software updates, cost reduction, data security, scalability, unlimited storage space, disaster recovery, mobility, and control. Since cloud computing doesn’t depend on on-premises hardware, it allows developers to test new ideas without any limitations. For a business owner, it means access to cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions minus the cost of software and hardware.

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