Cloud software development

What is cloud-based application development?

Cloud development is the development of a software application in a cloud environment rather than on physical hardware and local servers. Instead of using your own server or computer, you use servers located in data centers accessible from anywhere in the world via the internet.

Cloud development has recently started to take off in popularity, but the concept has been around for well over a decade. Unfortunately, cloud development didn’t do so well at the beginning because of a number of technical obstacles, such as slow internet speeds and deployment challenges. But both the business and development environments have changed over time and many of those difficulties have evaporated.

On the contrary, many recent innovations, such as software container technologies and the rise of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, are positively stimulating cloud development.

Two main approaches of cloud development:

Creating a new cloud-native application

Migrating legacy systems to the cloud

Clouds are everywhere these days. As consumers, we’ve become used to storing our music and pictures in the cloud. Small businesses, large multinational companies, non-profits, and even governments rely on the cloud for a multitude of services. So it makes a lot of sense to develop cloud-native applications from the outset rather than migrating those applications later on. Developers starting off with a new, cloud-native application can benefit from streamlined web-based interfaces, easily control access among the development team, and save costs on local server maintenance.

Nevertheless, sometimes you have to migrate a legacy system. Even now, not all software applications are being created in the cloud, and as more and more companies decide to migrate these to the cloud, there is still a place for migrating applications. In addition, some developers prefer to have more control over the backend infrastructure and don’t want to rely on a service provider. While outages and downtimes are very infrequent these days, reliable internet access can still be a problem for some developers. So local development and subsequent migration to the cloud is still a valid choice.

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Public vs. private clouds

It’s important to distinguish between public and private clouds. A private cloud is designed specifically for a particular company or organization, is located on discrete data centers, and uses a private network. A company might have offices all around the world, but they can still use the same cloud, served from one or more data centers.

Public clouds are operated by service providers who offer database services, support, and cloud management tools. Although there are many small providers, two big providers are currently the most popular: Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing Services and AWS – Amazon Web Services.

What’s the best platform for cloud-based apps?

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Microsoft Azure

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Amazon Web Services

Blocshop relies on Azure for most of our software projects. It can be used for developing, testing, deploying, managing, and monitoring the health of software applications. It supports plenty of programming languages, such as .NET, Java, and Python, and provides high levels of security and performance, machine learning, and a host of other benefits. Azure can be used on public or private clouds.

AWS is owned by Amazon and provides database storage, content delivery, data management, development tools, analytics, and more. Amazon Web Services generally run on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, so it can scale from individuals to large corporations.

Cloud-based applications offer multiple benefits to any business:

Computing power

Clouds have effectively unlimited computing power, especially compared to local servers. Software applications making use of new, demanding technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning need more and more power, so knowing that you can tap into more juice is sometimes vital.

Reliability

The lead architect at Blocshop, Constantine Nalimov, believes that clouds are the best choice when it comes to “security, disaster recovery plans, data storage, and backups”. At the end of the day, if the worst happens, a system designed for the robust protection and backup of your data and application is going to give you immense peace of mind.

Costs

While cloud-based applications have often been seen as more costly because of the recurring charges throughout the life of the application, those have to be compared to the huge upfront investment required to buy hardware and support on-premises servers.

Accessibility

If you have internet access, you can reach the cloud 24/7 from anywhere in the world. Again, this has been vital in recent months and will remain so as home working continues to expand.

Ease of use

Clouds are standardized, easy to manage, and operate. Cloud interfaces are also designed with teamwork built-in, so it’s easier to manage teams, even remote ones, a feature that has been essential for some countries during the pandemic. On top of that, cloud platforms make it easier for your developers to deploy and manage services.

Stability

Cloud software platforms have now reached levels of maturity that enable you to rely on them to remain stable and keep your application running smoothly. Nalimov says “if you put things on the cloud, you get the best industry standards for relatively low costs – even if you’re a small business”.

Scalability

When you create your application on the cloud, you can start by using only the computing power you need, but easily and quickly scale up as soon as, or even before, you encounter limits. Instead of having to add physical servers and deal with the extra headache of electricity costs, heat dissipation, and maintenance.

What are some examples of cloud applications?

You won’t need to look hard to find dozens of examples of applications that make use of the cloud. In fact, you probably use many of them every day. For instance, if you use Gmail, your email is in the cloud. Or you might store files on Dropbox or Apple’s iCloud, in which case your data is being stored in the cloud. If your team uses Slack to communicate, your discussions are also going through the cloud. The cloud has made it possible for entertainment giants like Netflix to serve video on demand to almost 200 million subscribers worldwide.

While the cost can vary depending on your needs, we understand that you might want a rough estimate before you get started. The average Blocshop project lasts for three months, needs three full-time developers, and costs around EUR 50,000. However, a complex project might need more developers, more time, and cost up to EUR 250,000.

But because Blocshop always starts with an MVP, you can be confident that a project will only increase in cost once that stage has been reached. Tell us more about the type of application you need and your specifications, and we’ll get back to you with a project estimate.

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