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Ultimate Guide About Cloud App Development: Features, Cost, Timeline

Ten years ago, all enterprises focused on business processes digitalization. Now the focus has shifted to new cloud-based application development and cloud migration.

Many cloud platforms offer a broad range of business applications. Yet, out-of-the-box solutions can only cover some of the business needs in various industries. So, some applications should be tuned, customized, or developed from scratch in a cloud.

Willing to avoid getting lost in this huge and complicated market, we prepared this guide. In the guide, you will find the main stages of cloud application development, costs, and more helpful information.

What you should know about cloud based applications development

A cloud-based application is software that runs its data storage and processing via the Internet. Data exchange with the cloud solution occurs between two systems: server-side and client-side.

Developing a cloud app has great prospects nowadays. How can we prove it? The cloud app market size grows from year to year by turnover. Notably, the cloud software market is projected to reach about $169 billion by 2025.

Cloud software development market value by Statista

Source: Statista.com

If you are new in the cloud technology market, you may need some arguments to choose cloud-based application development. Here is the list of the main cloud computing benefits that make cloud solutions so attractive.

Cost-effectiveness

Every application requires some resources to function, hardware and software. Sometimes the purchase and development of all infrastructure is the best option. Yet, it is possible to rent the infrastructure in a cloud platform, build and launch cloud applications here.

For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer everything, starting from the hardware to various cloud services. So a business owner can manage all processes from one laptop or even a smartphone.

Simplicity

Cloud platforms usually offer out of box services and other tools to make cloud app development faster and simpler. For example, cloud services can simplify the architectural decision-making process or solve other cloud native application development issues.

Flexibility and scalability

If you need to modify or scale your cloud app, it is easier to purchase more cloud services from the cloud platform than buy, for example, more RAM sticks. Why?

Adding more RAM (Random Access Memory) sticks can slow your computer's work. Optimizing your storage with the cloud solution will transfer a big part of your files to a cloud storage service. Transferring your data to the cloud storage helps improve your platform's workflow.

Flexibility is also a great benefit of cloud apps. Thanks to cloud solutions, people can access data from any device with an Internet connection.

Data management

Cloud applications allow quick access to personalized data and the immediate clients' feedback. This quick feedback allows to neutralize the “garbage in — garbage out” problem. The irrelevant incoming data leads to incorrect results. Quick feedback helps to define the necessary data.

High competitiveness

The ability to scale and evolve is a competitive benefit for any software solution. Cloud-based solutions are easily scalable, so they are beneficial compared to stationery software.

Data security

Cloud app development must follow common security standards. It does not mean absolute protection, but your data will not be an easy trophy for hackers and data thefts. Besides, it helps to meet government regulations. 91% of companies report they improved compliance after cloud migration.

Remote work

The cloud-based application can be planned, developed, installed, and accessed from any spot in the world. It is essential for clients and opens the gates for different types of collaboration and distributed teams.

Automatic updates

When software is installed on the physical device, all updates are the task of system administrators. For cloud-based applications development, a platform support team will care about this. Almost no work for the cloud application owner.

“As a Service”: how to understand acronyms

When researching cloud-based platforms, you can meet many abbreviations ending with “aaS.” It means “as a Service” and the first letter marks the main offer of a platform. The XaaS abbreviation describes all possible “aaS” options. It helps define the cloud service without details.

Here is a list of the most frequent abbreviations in the “aaS” field.

Three main cloud software types

IaaS

Infrastructure-as-a-Service is a common delivery solution. A company can purchase an IaaS solution when it does not have physical computers. An IaaS platform provides a virtual machine with a broad range of possible configurations and extra services.

Using only the admin panel, it is possible to create an infrastructure for almost any task. It is amazing: you can buy several powerful computers and set up the infrastructure. Or you can create a new configuration on the IaaS platform.

Depending on your business needs and IaaS platform capabilities, more service IaaS can include:

  • Security instruments;
  • Backup cloud services;
  • Load balancing;
  • Tracking;
  • Clustering;
  • and tons of others.

We would also advise ordering the detailed invoicing service. The IaaS platform will charge most of the options separately, and the total sum can exceed your expectations. So, we recommend checking and controlling the cloud services you order and use.

Some popular IaaS cloud platforms are Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Compute Engine (GCE).

PaaS

Platform-as-a-Service is the next type of cloud-based solution. In an IaaS solution, you mostly start with the configuration. Meanwhile, the PaaS cloud provider offers a pre-configured service to install the database, operating system, infrastructure, or development tools.

Using the development tools, it is possible to create and launch a cloud-based app. PaaS is a cost-effective cloud solution. It opens some interesting opportunities for the business.

One of the leading PaaS solutions is Heroku. Now, this cloud provider is a part of the Salesforce ecosystem and AWS Elastic Beanstock. Microsoft Azure also offers PaaS service.

Read also: IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: Choosing the Best Cloud Computing Model

SaaS

Software-as-a-Service is probably the most popular cloud-based solution. The service provider offers the entire ecosystem. It is a platform with many in-built services that can be flawlessly integrated.

The SaaS platform allows the creation of various cloud apps without installing the operating system.

Here are the some of the main business processes that can be automated with the help of SaaS cloud-based applications:

  • Document flow within the organization and partly outside it;
  • Client database management;
  • CRM (Client Relationship Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems management;
  • Sales and marketing process automation;
  • ITSM (IT service management) processes management.
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Modern SaaS solutions usually offer a low-code or no-code approach. It means that even a non-technical user can create an app with the help of the internal toolset. However, in that case, they receive very limited functionality. So, it is better to apply to a professional web development team.

At Codica, we have a huge experience in creating SaaS solutions. One of the cloud-based applications developed by Codica is a specialized SaaS solution for real estate.

The real estate business wants to create a realistic impression of a property before the client goes on-site. It helps clients review more properties than they could visit in person, make an impression, and choose the best possible option.

The platform we developed allows adding 3D property tours supported with images and descriptions. Thus, the clients can review 3D tours using any gadget and from any location.

The real estate cloud app developed by Codica

Now, let’s consider the five key benefits of SaaS-based cloud applications.

Predictable pricing modelUsually, SaaS platforms provide predefined pricing, which depends on the functions and resources.
Zero maintenanceSaaS platform leaves all maintenance on its side, a development team should not waste time on it.
ScalabilityDepending on the cloud app's performance, it can be easily upscaled and downscaled.
MonitoringIn SaaS systems we can monitor the cloud-based app performance, consumption, and business effectiveness.
IntegrationsSaaS platforms offer integrations with other cloud platforms and solutions. For example, Salesforce can be easily integrated with Google cloud.

Among the most famous SaaS providers are Adobe, Salesforce, Amazon, Atlassian, ServiceNow, and many other big names. Microsoft and Google also offer SaaS solutions, and Google Office or Office 365 are the locomotive force for modern business.

Read also: SaaS Marketing Strategy: How to Promote a SaaS Startup

Types of cloud-based solutions by access

When enterprise data is available via the Internet, there are always questions about data security and access. By the type of access, all modern cloud deployment models are divided into four types: private, community, public, and hybrid.

Cloud deployment models

Private cloud

All cloud infrastructure is deployed on a private remote server, sometimes owned by the company. Only the users inside the company can access the data in this cloud. A private cloud can be unavailable from the Internet and use the Intranet only, but it remains a cloud.

A private cloud can be a good choice for a large company or organization. While the private cloud cost is high (billion dollars), this type is for enterprise clients.

Community cloud

This type of cloud infrastructure is close to the private cloud. The difference is that cloud apps and data are shared between many organizations. This type of cloud requires more security control measures, in other characteristics, this model is similar to a private cloud.

A good example of a community cloud is a government network with a common database, infrastructure, and resources.

Public cloud

The most popular type of cloud. All data, applications, and resources are alive on the public cloud resource. The access is available via the authorized device. Access via a browser can be available also, but often in limited mode.

Public cloud platforms offer a broad service range for optimal prices. They are available for different sizes of companies, organizations, and even private persons.

Hybrid cloud

This type of cloud combines private and public functions. Some data can be available inside the organization only, and some can be shared with third-party organizations and persons. A hybrid cloud is the model of the future because of its flexibility in functions and prices.

How to develop a cloud-based application?

Below you can see the custom software development process we use at Codica.

Custom software development process at Codica

Every software development process starts with an analysis. At Codica, we conduct project discovery sessions to define clients’ business needs and features to create.

Before the first symbol of code will be saved in a cloud, the development team should choose the type of application. Cloud platforms allow literally any type of app, from the operating system to the microservice.

Here is an image that demonstrates what are the main tasks of the project discovery phase at Codica.

The project discovery phase at Codica

The top corner of any application development process is a business task to solve. Even the best cloud-based app makes no sense if it does not help businesses to make money. Together with the main business task, it is necessary to define which functions the application should perform. As a rule, fetching requirements goes via the interviewing of key stakeholders.

Then in the analysis stage, the project team collects all the information and reviews it. As the next step, it clarifies the business task, main functions, primary functions, and other details. At this stage, a team usually chooses the type of cloud platform and a software vendor for cloud application development.

Budget and timeline estimates should also appear at this stage, though sometimes they come later.

Then a team develops a service model, application architecture, the necessary microservices, and a tech steak. The tech stack for the cloud-based application is developed on a previous decision, including:

  • Chosen cloud platform;
  • Application type and size;
  • Features and design;
  • Scalability plans.

In general, the more control you want over your application, the broader your tech stack will need. Otherwise, you can hire a dedicated team. Some cloud platforms, like Amazon Web Services, offer such a service. Another option is to address the experts like Codica for the Saas solution development.

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At the discovery stage, a team must choose the kind of cloud platform we discussed (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS). Using the simplified cloud app architecture, you can easily deploy your solution, new or updated. Also, you can prepare the rest of the organization to migrate to the cloud.

The result of the discovery stage is a full-scale product roadmap with clearly defined stages, budget and timeline.

Read also: 10 Best Marketplace Monetization Strategies to Succeed

UI/UX Design

A solution design is not only a nice interface. A design defines any interaction between the user and an application. Poorly designed web applications leave the market quickly. In the best case, they stay unnoticed among the more attractive competing apps. In the worst case, unsatisfied users will complain about the application and kill it at a low rate.

UI and UX designers in Codica recommend starting with deep market research in the discovery stage. Understanding the user’s needs is the key to a friendly and appealing design. Also, we recommend testing your UI design before coding because it can save a lot of cloud development time.

When a cloud-based app design is ready, approved by a client, and tested, it’s time to start product development.

Cloud development

Then, the main phase starts the coding. We will not go deep and describe the cloud development methodologies and processes. The only note is that the cloud platforms offer dozens of native solutions. The customization of the existing app can be easier than development from scratch.

If a team did great work on the discovery stage, the cloud-based software development stage should go flawlessly or close to it. Of course, each project faces some obstacles that can impact the timeline, budget, functions, and other aspects of the project. Yet, in Codica, we know that good planning, and quick reaction to challenges can drive the project until the app is developed.

Read also: How to Create a Successful Custom Web Product Step by Step: Codica's Experience

Testing

After that, an application goes to a quality assuring phase. Your clients will not like glitchy cloud software that cannot perform well and loses important information. Find and fix as many code defects as your team can.

In Codica, the testing consists of four main stages. First, we create a testing strategy for the product. Then we define the acceptance criteria: at what point the result can be satisfactory. The following stage is the quality testing process with the use of test cases and checklists. At last, we use regression testing to check new functionality.

This approach helps us to deliver high-quality cloud apps that satisfy the needs of our clients with a minimal number of issues.

Maintenance and support phase

After your cloud application is ready, you release it. The last stage of the cloud development life cycle begins. Your application runs on one of the cloud platforms, brings money to the business, and your customers are happy.

Yet, it is a bad idea to leave the cloud app alone. Sometimes users find new bugs and issues in your cloud-based software. Your solution needs to be updated along with a platform or solely. A good idea is if a software development team tracks the cloud-based application and reacts to the problems quickly.

Also, the market develops dynamically, following the changing customer needs. Cloud software should adapt to the market to stay competitive. So, it should be regularly reviewed and updated.

Core features

Below, you can see the image that demonstrates the key features of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

Features of SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS cloud computing models

The cost of a cloud-based application development

We mention above that cloud-based apps can be of any type and size. It can be an operating system, database, application, microservice, and more.

  • Here is what you should consider when building a SaaS application:
  • Project scope;
  • Implemented functionality;
  • Cost of the cloud development team.

Project scope

If you create the first cloud application, better keep it simple. Start with one tool and then develop it. In this case, the costs will be affordable.

Basic cloud apps can start from $500 for full-cycle development. But, if you want something more than a primitive microservice, be ready to pay $15,000 and more. It will require 200 to 600 hours of cloud development time.

Implemented functionality

When you have experience in cloud-based apps development, you can add some desirable features. They will also influence the product cost.

The cloud platforms offer some standard functionality for all apps. It includes role-based access, an analytical dashboard, CRM, analytics, and so on. You can extend the list.

Medium and complex cloud apps can take 1000+ hours of development time, costing from $50,000. This price is calculated in the range of $50 per hour, which is medium-to-low.

Cost of the software development team

A cloud based app development time rate depends on various factors, one of them is the location of your development company. If you hire a team from Eastern Europe, it will cost less than a team from Western Europe or Northern America.

The cloud-based app development timeline can vary from a couple of months to years. It also depends on application type, team size, and dozens of other factors. So, we provide this timeline as a sample.

Here is a calculation for the custom SaaS platform for the real estate website developed by Codica.

How much does it cost to build a real estate SaaS platform?
FeaturesTime, hoursCost, $50/hour
Design
UX Development64 hours$3,200
UI Development128 hours$6,400
Architecture
Project setup16 hours$800
DB structure32 hours$1,600
Integrations
Payment (Stripe or PayPal)32 hours$1,600
Main functionality
Authorization and Security72 hours$3,600
User Profiles64 hours$3,200
Home page84 hours$4,200
Search and filters96 hours$4,800
Reviews & ratings64 hours$3,200
Payout42 hours$2,100
Notifications64 hours$3,200
Messenger32 hours$1,600
Geolocation feature32 hours$1,600
Managing listings64 hours$3,200
Booking system64 hours$3,200
Property page96 hours$4,800
Admin panel96 hours$4,800
Guests panel84 hours$4,200
Hosts panel84 hours$4,200
Non development activity
Project management64 hours$3,200
Quality assurance96 hours$4,800
Code review48 hours$2,400
Total1518 hours$75,900

Please keep in mind that Codica is located in Eastern Europe, so our rates are relatively low. If you hire a development team from North America or Europe, the price of cloud app development will be higher because of the costly services.

Cloud application maintenance and support usually last for all cloud app lifetime, so we exclude it from this timeline.

Related reading: How Much Does It Cost to Build a SaaS Product: Detailed Guide

Conclusion

Today, cloud solutions are recognized as an essential tool for accelerating the digital transformation of businesses.

This full guide introduced you to the basic concepts of the SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS models. We have discovered how to distinguish between them and what pros and cons each cloud model comprises. Now, you have all the basic information to decide if it is worth it to build a SaaS solution.

If you do not have the necessary resources to develop a cloud-based application or face obstacles at any cloud native development stage, you can contact us. Our development company specializes in SaaS development services. We have seven years of experience in this industry.

We will be happy to share our expertise and help you with cloud applications development for your business.

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