What Are Cloud Applications?
The term ‘’cloud applications’’ defines its meaning. It means that the application functions within the cloud. Now you may ask a simple and naive question. What is ‘’the cloud’’? The cloud is the centrally maintained server accessed over the internet. It also includes the software and databases that run on these servers. In this article, we will talk about different forms of cloud computing, characteristics of cloud computing, and more. In the end, you’ll get hints for developing your own cloud-based application.
What Are Different Cloud-Based Application Designs?
When we speak of a cloud-based application, we speak about data storage between two systems — client-side and server-side. It means that you can store data both on your local computer and on a remote server. The interaction between the users and the cloud application is done via a web browser or application programming interface (API). This is the basics of cloud-based applications but the way the client and server-side interact is done differently. Let’s have a look at different forms of cloud computing.
Software-as-a-service (Saas) is the delivery of applications on the internet. It’s an easy way to use the application as you are free from complex software and hardware management. The infrastructure and the codebase are common for the users and applications and are processed centrally.
A good example of Saas application is Slack. Slack is a platform where teams and companies interact. Organizations do not have to worry about how Slack is maintained. They can message each other, share videos and PDF files. Slack integrates with cloud companies like DropBox and Salesforce.
Saas applications are subscription-based but the lower cost and ease of use make them one of the most attractive sectors in all businesses and tech.
Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a form of cloud computing where the hardware and software platforms are provided by an external third party. Developers and programmers use PaaS to run and manage apps without building and maintaining the infrastructure. PaaS provides all the hardware and software and delivers the platform to the users.
Examples of PaaS are SAP, Microsoft Azure, Heroku, and Google App Engine. Google App Engine for example allows developers to build highly scalable applications on a fully managed serveries platform. App Engine is scalable, which means it automatically allocates more resources for the web application if the demand increases.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) does what its name denotes. It provides IT infrastructure to end-users through the internet. It means that the users don’t need to have a physical server and don’t need to worry about updating and maintaining data. Meanwhile, the users have complete control of the infrastructure. For example, you can access and control IaaS platforms on your own and don’t just rely on an external vendor. IaaS is cost-effective. It operates on the pay-as-you-use model and is good for most budgets.
AWS EC2 is a good example of IaaS. It provides an infrastructure to companies that need to host cloud-based applications. Another example is Google Compute Engine which runs Google’s search engine, Gmail, YouTube, and other services.
Integration of Cloud-Based Application Into Your Existing Architecture
Let’s first clarify what cloud integration is. Cloud integration is composed of tools and technologies that connect various applications and systems for the exchange of data and processes in real-time. When integrated into a cloud system, the data can be accessed from various devices via a network or the internet.
Here is what Shawn McAllister suggests for integrating a cloud-based application into your existing architecture. He suggests creating “hybrid cloud” systems by covering three types of connectivity:
- Within individual clouds;
- Integrating on-premises apps and cloud-native apps and services;
- Integrating between different clouds.
Hybrid clouds present a better option for medium-sized companies because they encompass the benefits of both the private and public clouds. If the company wants to keep sensitive information on a private cloud, they can still opt for cost-effective and scalable public clouds creating a hybrid cloud integration system.
E-commerce companies, for example, can use server architecture space on a public cloud but then send all customer information to a private cloud to ensure the security of data.
In time, most companies will be running some variant of a hybrid cloud. They will take advantage of storing information on highly secured services while deploying most of the information on less confidential locations.
Developing Your Own Cloud Application
- Monolith or Microservice Architecture?
Let’s first decide which is better: monolith architecture or microservice architecture. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The basic difference between the two is the scope.
If you are a small startup, most probably you won’t have massive data and a monolith architecture is a better choice. It’s managed easier as the engineers have only to know the language used to create the application. In the case of microservice architecture, all services are handled using different programming languages. Since there are different programming languages, the engineers need to master all to run the application.
Therefore, if you are a new startup, most probably you will go with a monolith architecture. However, monolith architecture comes with its own drawbacks. While a monolithic architecture provides ease of managing and operating applications, it reduces flexibility. For example, all services use the same memory which takes away from flexibility. In addition, when updating the application, you need to do it as a whole package, whereas in the case of the microservice model, you can update separate parts.
- Data Decoupling
A good practice of building a cloud-based application is to decouple the data. Decoupled architecture means that the components exist independently and remain completely autonomous until instructed. This gives businesses an opportunity to change one computing component without the need to change the other components.
The benefits of decoupled data are:
- Easier maintenance of code;
- Multiple service platforms;
- Multiple languages;
- Various technological tools;
- Faster development.
- Technologies Used
Although your application is hosted on a third-party service, you still need the right technology. There are different tools with unique advantages and benefits. Here are tools used for building cloud-based applications. Compare each one’s functionalities and choose the one which is best for your app.
- Operational Models
Serverless Operational Model
This is one of the best methods for building microservice architecture. Engineers can focus on their core competencies as the company does not need hardware. The application is linked to backend cloud storage. Because companies do not need to maintain infrastructure, the cost is considerably reduced. A serverless application also offers scalability as the companies are not limited by the server’s capacity.
Containers and Event-Driven Model
Event-driven is a programming approach, not a language. It can be created in any programming language. It is widely used to run code, manage containers and perform other cloud computing tasks. One of the benefits of event-driven architecture is that it enables minimal coupling making it a good choice for modern application designs.
While we covered the basics of creating a cloud-based application, it’s honest to tell that it is not an easy task. Building a cloud application on your own is very tempting. However, you will need competent engineers to do that. Outsourcing your cloud application is a good move. If you decide to go with your own resources, here is a good article to read for guidance.