Cloud Application Development 101: Definition, Benefits & Challenges

Cloud application development is the process of building apps that are stored in the cloud

Are you interested in cloud application development, but looking for a little more info?

You came to the right place.

In this comprehensive article, we explain what cloud application development is, along with benefits and challenges you may face when jumping on this tech trend.

Let’s dive in!

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What Is Cloud Application Development?

Cloud application development is the process of building applications that run in the cloud.

Cloud applications are apps hosted online, unlike traditional apps that are hosted on local servers.

Users interact with cloud-based applications via web browser or mobile app, but their devices do not host the data processing. Instead, all the data is processed and stored online using a remote server base.

The development of your app can be outsourced to third parties or it can be done in-house.

The cloud app development process may differ depending on the type of app you’re developing, the type of cloud you’ll be using, and the features your app will have.

Types Of Cloud Applications

There are several types of cloud models used for cloud application development with different structures and accessibility. The three models include:

  • Public cloud: The infrastructure and services of this type of cloud are accessible to anyone over the internet. The cloud provider is responsible for creating and maintaining the resources. Organizations use these resources on a pay-per-use model to save on operational costs. It is known as a cost-effective solution for small businesses in need of simple platforms for their IT resources.
  • Private cloud: A private cloud is dedicated to a single user or organization, and it is owned by a single organization. While more expensive than a public cloud, a private cloud offers higher security as well as the option to customize the storage and other components of the infrastructure.
  • Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud combines both models, public and private, to create a tailored IT solution to address an organization’s specific requirements. It provides the benefits of both cloud models in terms of cost-efficiency and security.

Cloud services vary as well, depending on what they provide. Before you look into how to develop an app, consider the type of cloud service you need. There are three main types of cloud services:

IaaS

With Infrastructure-as-a-Service or IaaS, the cloud service provider handles the infrastructure management including the network, servers and data storage.

In this type of cloud app service, the user rents the infrastructure and uses a dashboard or application programming interface (API) to access the app. An example of IaaS is Microsoft Azure.

PaaS

With Platform-as-a-Service or PaaS, the software platform and the hardware are provided by a cloud service provider, but the user manages the app itself and the data it uses.

Often used by developers, PaaS provides users with a cloud platform for application development but without having to worry about building and maintaining the infrastructure. An example of a PaaS is Google App Engine.

SaaS

Software-as-a-Service or SaaS is a cloud service that provides a product entirely managed and run by the cloud service provider. This includes all maintenance, bugs, and updates.

Typically, SaaS cloud applications are mobile or web apps that users can access using a browser. This can be an email marketing software, customer relationship management (CRM) software or a communication channel like Slack.

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Benefits Of Cloud Application Development

Statistics show that in 2021, the cloud applications market reached $133 billion in the United States. With current growth predictions, the market is expected to reach $168 billion by 2025.

Cloud-based applications are seeing widespread adoption, thanks to the numerous benefits they bring to organizations, including:

Time Savings

Cloud application development means saving time for your IT departments. As software updates and maintenance are regularly handled by the cloud provider, your IT team can focus on other relevant tasks.

Cost-efficiency

One of the main advantages of cloud applications is cost-efficiency. It significantly reduces the setup and maintenance costs as you don’t need to invest in any on-site infrastructure and servers. The cloud provider is in charge of all the hardware.

Basically, with a cloud service, you only pay for the cloud infrastructure and resources that you’re using, while the cloud provider handles the rest. Also, you are only charged for the service when it’s running so if you stop using it, you won’t incur additional costs.

Ease of Deployment

Cloud-based apps are easier to deploy compared to traditional apps. For example, some parts of the deployment process can be automated, such as testing your app before pushing it live. You can even automate the provisioning of servers.

Disaster Recovery

To ensure great disaster recovery with traditional apps, you need to invest in a separate data center and the tools to replicate said data and restore systems.

With applications hosted in the cloud, cloud services handle this, so there is no need for further investments in infrastructure. Whatever physical damage occurs to your device or a server, your data will remain securely stored online.

Scalability

Cloud-based application development ensures easy scalability. While the traditional model requires a lot of planning, including the hardware your app will run on, servers, etc., cloud-based apps make it easy to scale any part of your application as you don’t need to worry about hardware.

For example, you can scale your server by adding more servers.

Flexibility

Cloud-based applications are often more flexible than traditional ones. For example, if you need to make changes in the IT infrastructure, the cloud service provider will address your needs and handle all the infrastructure-related issues for you.

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Challenges of Cloud Application Development

While there are many advantages to cloud app development, it comes with its own set of challenges too, which vary based on numerous factors such as cloud provider and requirements.

Here are some of the challenges of cloud app development:

Reliability

Cloud-based applications boast reliability with little to no downtime even in the event of a disaster.

However, sometimes, cloud providers struggle with around-the clock service, which can lead to some downtime. To prevent this, monitor the cloud service provider and choose the provider that can guarantee no downtime and consistent app performance.

Interoperability and Portability

With cloud application development, achieving interoperability and portability is essential but not always easy. When you create a cloud application, you use one of the available platforms for app development but you also want to ensure your app works in different cloud environments to ensure your customers have interrupted access to your services. You don’t want to be limited to a single cloud provider.

For this, you need to write code that works with different cloud providers, which requires careful planning from the start and the need to adopt the required cloud computing standards.

Security

While cloud hosting is known to be secure, some issues with client-side security still challenge developers. Client-side security involves the policies and technologies that protect users from malicious activities on website pages.

The state of the browsers that customers use to access your app significantly affect this, often leading to cyber-attacks. The challenge with cloud apps is ensuring that security policies are performed outside of the browser. Be sure to understand the level of protection applied by the cloud provider.

To solve this, you need to adhere to the protocols for cloud cybersecurity and use encryption for all the data. You can use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to protect sensitive data and ensure a secure connection.

Solving this challenge is particularly important since users are increasingly concerned about data privacy. In a report published by KPMG on corporate data responsibility, 86% of participants said that data privacy is a major concern for them.

Performance Issues

While cloud applications are marketed as reliable since they have no physical storage, not knowing where your servers are and how long it will take to render the data can be a challenge.

Rendering data and all the resources your app needs can take more time than expected. Even if it’s just a few seconds, this can drive users away. Ideally, your app load time should be no longer than 2 seconds.

Optimal performance is key to attract and retain users, so you need to monitor your app regularly and ensure it’s working properly. Moreover, research the cloud provider’s infrastructure ahead of time to see if it can support your app.

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Wrapping Up On Cloud Application Development

Cloud application development has taken the app world by storm and there is no sign of it stopping anytime soon.

Whether you’re developing an Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service or Software-as-a-Service application in a public, private or hybrid cloud, you are likely to benefit from cloud app development in the following areas:

  • Time savings
  • Cost-efficiency
  • Ease of deployment
  • Disaster recovery
  • Scalability
  • Flexibility

However, you will have to be mindful of the potential challenges, such as:

  • Reliability
  • Interoperability and portability
  • Security
  • Performance

Now you know the ins and outs of cloud application development so you’re ready to make a decision and start building a successful app. Remember to choose a cloud model that suits your requirements and to research cloud providers carefully before selecting one.

Good luck with your cloud app development!

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