The Ultimate 9 Step Strategy For Building Cloud Applications

building cloud applications

Cloud Computing is certainly the rage these days. More and more businesses are taking off from the ground and are increasingly hosted in the cloud. With cloud computing reshaping the development landscape, understanding the basics of designing and building cloud application architecture becomes quite important for all business organizations.

Whether you are shifting your existing architecture to the cloud or building on a cloud-first strategy, the importance of getting the best custom software development company for your business who have the skills to craft and implement the right cloud strategy cannot be stressed enough.

Here is a how-to guide that you’ll need in order to build a cloud-ready application that illustrates the strategy that you need to follow for successful deployment into the cloud architecture.

1. Have a plan for designing cloud native applications

Making the move towards cloud applications can be a daunting task but having a plan up your sleeves can make this a manageable challenge and amplify your chances of success. Firstly, the cloud strategy you choose needs to align with your business vision and mission. Secondly, all stakeholders need critical to cloud implementation within the organization need to be involved. This includes the leadership, the development team as well as the customers.

Before you can work on the plan, the selection of cloud providers is essential. There are a number of cloud vendors like Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure that offer developers the platform and tools in order to simplify the actual development process. What matters is choosing the one that best meets your business requirements.

Once the high-level plan is laid down, get your team together and break down the cloud journey into sets of distinct phases. Further, break these phases down into specific development projects and sprints. There needs to be clarity in the project expectations along with a constant collection of feedback from all the stakeholders.

2. Understand infrastructure and design for failure

Cloud applications and cloud infrastructure are fundamentally different from traditional infrastructure. Werner Vogels, CTO and vice president of Amazon once proclaimed, “Everything fails all the time”. The cloud application developers need to be prepared that the resources may fail unexpectedly and thus design accordingly.

Designing for failure implies that system failure should be considered a natural occurrence and the team needs to be prepared for it instead of being surprised when it does happen. Failure needs to be embraced even when your team doesn’t have a prior inkling to what the failure may actually be. The blast radius has to be minimized such that the pieces that are impacted can be managed without the entire application going down.

Once you accept that failures are inevitable, incorporate the much-needed safeguards during cloud application development. Incorporate redundancy in design. Make sure that the operational segment of the application runs in a paired topology so that if one fails, the other can pick up the slack and your application downtime remains minimal.

3. Move from silos to a data lake architecture

App development has officially become agile with the adoption of DevOps. The same has to be implemented while building applications in cloud. Centralization of the data by designing a data lake architecture is important for the organization to move out of existing silos and incorporating speed and innovation in application development.

Integration of the power of cloud and autonomy that data lake architecture offers scalability to the application. A scalable data architecture hosted in the cloud environment drives the data processing and analytical capabilities of the organization. It also provides the framework required to incorporate innovative processes like artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics that give the business applications an edge over its competitors.

4. Devise and adopt a DevOps strategy

The DevOps methodology revolutionizes the organizational structure by breaking down the silos and creating a cohesive organizational environment. The benefits of DevOps in developing a cloud application include fostering of a culture that focuses on frequent releases of high quality deliverables.

Integrating the DevOps principles of continuous integration and continuous delivery to cloud applications to fully reap the benefits of a cloud native architecture. DevOps ensures that the application changes are deployed automatically by automation of code integration and testing. It improves the communication and collaboration among the teams resulting in a faster software development cycle with enhancement in the actual quality of software deployed.

5. Plan the application as a collection of services

A cloud native architecture is primarily a service-based one. Subsequently, cloud native applications need to be deployed as a collection of cloud services or APIs. The build up takes place from the data to the services. Multiple services are combined together to form composite services which are further bundled together to form the application.

In order to leverage the benefits and assets associated with cloud computing effectively, the cloud native applications need to expose the supporting functions as services which should also be independently accessible. Despite knowing this, developers tend to create tightly coupled applications with a focus on user interface rather than exposing the underlying functions as services that can be leveraged independently.

The application architecture when developing for the cloud needs to have the in-built capabilities to interact with highly complex, widely distributed systems. These systems are capable of supporting multiple loosely coupled applications which in turn employ multiple services. The application thus planned as a collection of multiple APIs remains highly flexible and readily scalable.

6. Decouple the data and move towards microservices

Both public, as well as, private clouds are complex distribution systems that function best with an application architecture that breaks down processing and data into two distinct units. Once you decouple the data, it can be stored and processed on any public or private cloud instance.

By decoupling and separating the application services physically, you can execute on the proper machine instances and track the multiple services that constitute your application using service/API managers and service directories provided by governance technology.

Decoupling data leads to the formation of microservices which allows the developers to freely choose the database technology to use with a specific operation. This solves the problems regarding data performance, scalability, replication, and complexity. It also saves a lot of development efforts during the application building. The microservices can be used by other applications as well so that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every single time and can make use of the existing resources instead.  

7. Design communication within the data architecture

Optimally building your application for the cloud isn’t just limited to the decoupling of data and services. The relationship and communication between the different components of the architecture needs to be minded as well. Application components that communicate frequently with one other lower the overall performance.

Designing of the cloud applications need to be done keeping optimization of the communication among the components in mind. The existing lines of communication need to be streamlined into a single line of communication or string of messages to ensure productivity and enhanced performance of the application. All synchronous, inter-component communication needs to be eliminated in cloud native applications.

8. Consider performance and scaling

Designing for performance implies understanding how the cloud application would scale under an increasing load. Cloud applications are subject to high variance in the load as a result of variation in the amount of traffic visiting the web application.

In case of increased traffic on the network and increased load on servers and back-end databases, a plan for load sharing needs to be in place to ensure seamless performance and scaling. Increasing the application server instances can increase the capacity to handle the additional load and gives the ability to scale. Performance monitoring tools to oversee the overall performance of the application can help make the necessary provisions needed to design the application to scale.

The database reads, writes and communications also result in latency in performance. Use of caching systems improves the performance by providing additional database by local storage of the commonly accessed data. The database read requests to the physical database are reduced boosting the overall performance. If your application does not involve constantly reading new data, making use of cache is a must.

9. Keep in mind the security considerations

When hosting your application in the cloud, security needs to be a high priority. The security approach that you pick needs to account for compliance as well as other data-level security issues.

Based on what your cloud application is centered around, different data security normas may be applicable. For example, if your application stores healthcare related data, HIPAA compliance needs to be given due consideration. Similarly, if your application is a SaaS product that requires users to sign up and submit their personal data, it may be subject to GDPR regulations.

Encryption of the stored data and identity and access management are some of the ways you can ensure data security in your cloud application. Businesses with IAM capabilities can successfully reduce their security costs and get more agile in personalizing and configuring their security for cloud applications.

Source: Equinix

Summing up

Cloud brings in a new way of thinking about architecture and design of applications. It’s meant to scale horizontally from day one. It is also very cost effective to operate because you can scale up and down based on your requirements and business needs thus giving you greater control over your expenses at a granular level.

When designing cloud applications, keeping the above concepts in mind in addition to the traditional app development basics of design, development, testing and incorporation of feedback leads your application down on the path to success.

 

Vinati Kamani
 

Dr Vinati Kamani writes about emerging technology and its application across industries for Arkenea. She is an avid reader and self proclaimed bibliophile. When Vinati is not at her desk penning down articles or reading up on the recent trends, she can be found travelling to remote places and soaking up different cultural experiences.

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