Are you interested in cloud application development and related services, such as cloud consulting services?
You came to the right place.
In this comprehensive article, we explain what cloud application development is, along with the benefits and challenges you may face when jumping on this tech trend.
Let’s dive in, with the help of experts from a leading mobile app development company, beginning with answering the question: What is a cloud-based application?
Table of Contents
What Is a Cloud-Based Application?
The cloud-based application or cloud app is a type of software that runs on remote servers, also known as the cloud, rather than on a user's local device.
This means that users can access cloud-based apps through the internet using a web browser or a mobile app, regardless of their physical location — from anywhere they have an internet connection.
Cloud-based applications are popular solutions because they offer improved scalability, flexibility and accessibility compared to traditional on-premise software, as well as automatic updates and improved data security.
3 Common Cloud Types for App Deployment
There are three most common app deployment types; your choice depends on your unique requirements.
- Public cloud is shared by many organizations, making it an affordable and scalable solution for small businesses with limited budgets. It does not require IT knowledge because the cloud service provider performs maintenance and management. The downsides are less server control, less customizability and less security.
- Private cloud is a deployment model owned by one business organization and not accessible to the general public. It can be in-house or externally hosted. Although expensive, the private cloud provides many benefits — high security, customizability and greater server control.
- Hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud performances, integrating them into one comprehensive cloud solution. It is an affordable, customizable and secure solution; however, conflicts may occasionally occur when public and private clouds communicate.
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:
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.
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.
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 email marketing software, customer relationship management (CRM) software or a communication channel like Slack.
8 Steps To Develop a Cloud-Based Application
If you’re wondering about the cloud-based applications development process, here is a step-by-step guide that will teach you how to develop a cloud-based application that is scalable and reliable and meets your business objectives.
- Identify the target audience for your cloud-based application and try to understand the unique pain points your app will solve.
- Hire an outsourcing app development team. Following your instructions and requirements), they will help you define the workflow, milestones and app features, design the app concept and start creating the first MVP.
- Decide on app architecture and service model. Your chosen service model (SaaS, PaaS or IaaS) must be compatible with the kind of cloud solution you're creating.
- Select the set of technologies that will help you develop the cloud-based app. These technologies include application and data services, utilities, DevOps and collaboration tools.
- Choose a monetization model for your cloud-based app. Available options are free, freemium (free download with paid premium features), in-app purchases and advertising.
- Create a minimum viable product (MVP) that will help you understand how the target audience perceives your app and what changes you should make to improve it.
- Test the app to discover and remove errors and bugs.
- Launch the app on the desired market (Google’s Play store or Apple App Store) and keep it up to date.
The ideal option is to hire an outsourced app development team if you don't already have one or if your in-house team needs assistance with complex tasks. Employ experts who provide developing, designing, testing, and maintenance services.
They will collaborate with you on your project from the very beginning to the end and update the app afterward to ensure continued high quality.
6 Benefits Of Cloud Application Development
Statista found 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:
1. 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.
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 cloud services, 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
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.
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.
4 Challenges of Cloud Apps 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:
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.
2. 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.
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 affects 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.
4. 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 attracting and retaining 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.
Cloud Application Development FAQ
1. What Is the Difference Between Web Applications and Cloud Applications?
A web application is software that users access through a web browser and runs on a web server, while a cloud application is a type of web application hosted on the cloud - by a third-party cloud service provider.
While web and cloud applications have similarities - they are both accessed through a web browser and provide similar functionalities, their key difference is the way they are hosted and managed. A web app can be hosted locally or on the internet, while a cloud app is hosted and managed by third-party cloud service providers.
2. What Are Some Common Examples of Cloud Apps?
Many types of cloud apps are available; here are some common examples:
- Office suites - Google’s Workspace, Microsoft Office 365
- Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms - Salesforce, HubSpot
- eCommerce platforms - Shopify, WooCommerce
- Human resource management (HRM) platforms - Zenefits, Workday
- Project management platforms - Trello, Asana
- Video conferencing platforms - Zoom, Teams
- File storage and sharing - Google Drive, Dropbox
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
- Ease of deployment
- Disaster recovery
However, you will have to be mindful of the potential challenges, such as:
- Interoperability and portability
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!