Cloud application development has gained a lot of traction lately, with roughly 60% of corporate data already stored in the cloud. The reason behind the trend is clear: the cloud revolutionized how businesses scale, and more so, under the highly competitive environment with an increasing number of business experiments and pilot projects, skyrocketed importance of online services, and demand for faster time to market. But it can also bring its own set of challenges.
At Surf we have been building custom solutions for clients ranging from Y Combinator startups to enterprises for 12+ years. We have tested various cloud services and learned a lot about building these sorts of apps. In this article, we’ll share our experience.
What is cloud application development?
Cloud application development means designing the programs to operate within the cloud, as a rule with on-demand infrastructure via cloud providers.
Cloud application benefits
The big benefit of building for the cloud is that it frees you from having to manage your own hardware. You can outsource most of your IT operations, and concentrate on the most important thing: your product.
- Cost savings. Hosting your own server requires a lot of expensive equipment: hubs, routers, switches, servers, fiber-optic cables. The price of all that hardware runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Whereas, the starting price for a production app service on Azure is $0.10/hour — or about $70 a month.
- Operational simplicity. When working with cloud applications, concerns such as network infrastructure, data center layout, and hardware maintenance are handled by the provider. This allows you to concentrate on refining and enhancing your product.
- Contemporary development methods. The cloud is the ideal companion to today’s DevOps practices, such as continuous deployment and delivery (CI/CD) — a method for shipping bug-free, secure code fast — and Agile, a framework centered around pushing the product out there and iterating based on real customer feedback.
- Scalability. Cloud applications are infinitely scalable: you can quickly add more computing power to handle a sudden influx of visitors. Or you can also set up more cloud machines for microservices.
Cloud application challenges: what to look out for
Despite all the pros of cloud apps, like with any technology, there are compromises.
Security. Mailchiimp was hacked in January 2023, followed by a security breach at PayPal. This underscores that security is a major challenge. The cloud widens your attack surface, so it’s important to design your app with cybersecurity in mind. This includes things like system hardening, DDoS resistance, and data confidentiality.
Finding good developers. Earlier we said that scalability is one of the main web-based app advantages. That is true, but creating an architecture that is reliable and scales well requires experience and knowledge. Poorly architected programs can suffer downtime if the influx of users suddenly surges. On the other hand, increasing throughput arbitrarily or too early means unnecessary expenses.
We believe that despite the challenges, cloud applications are the way forward for most modern businesses. In fact, a well-designed cloud architecture can help you move faster, iterate more, and ultimately deliver a better end product. Plus, it can save you a small fortune on networking hardware.
If you need a reliable partner for your next cloud project, Surf is available to help. Simply fill out the form below, and let’s discuss your project!