A Framework To Scale Your Software And Lower Maintenance Costs

Software development is a multifaceted process, one that is riddled with a number of different challenges along the way. The longer you iterate on your software project, whether it’s a web or a mobile application, the more complex it becomes. The software maintenance costs also add up really quickly.

Cost Optimization of your current software application can not only bring down the cost of software maintenance, but also allow it to scale by bringing efficiencies in the process.

Types of software maintenance

The maintenance phase is an integral part of the software development life cycle. Software maintenance isn’t just about finding and fixing bugs within the code. The type of maintenance required can be classified into four distinct types based on its characteristics.

1. Corrective maintenance: The reactive modifications done within the product after its delivery for the correction of problems discovered. These are the issues that come into focus because of the user activity after the product has hit the market.

2. Adaptive maintenance: Modifications and updates in the software product in order to keep it relevant in the changing environment. These include changes that need to be made because of third party alterations.

3. Perfective maintenance: Modifications done within the software on the basis of user feedback to improve its performance. This does not include addition of new features but rather the maintenance efforts within the existing ones.

4. Preventive maintenance: Maintenance activities aimed at resolving issues that may not pose a big problem today but are likely to become a threat in the future.

Tips for lowering the software maintenance costs

In our several years of experience in designing software products for our clients, we came across a number of challenges in maintaining and scaling the software which added to the cost factor.

On taking a bird’s eye view of the problem, our team of solution architects were able to discern a pattern of emerging problems which were consistent across a number of industry verticals.

Empowered with the technical insights obtained as an aftermath of software audit, we came up with a software optimization strategy that significantly brings down the maintenance costs while boosting the revenue by successfully scaling the software.

For instance, we were able to bring scalability to one of our client’s eCommerce website which resulting in doubling of their revenues to $3.5 million in a span of mere 18 months. We’ve done this over and over again for many such clients.

If you’d like us to audit your software application, our solutions architect can do a deep dive and make recommendations in the report. We are offering this audit free of cost to you for a limited period of time.

We are sharing the framework that we developed with you in the hope that this will aid in the growth of your business, as it has for several of our clients. Here is the list of the most common problems we uncovered and the strategies that our team came up with in order to solve them.

#1: Overpaying for resources not in use

Overcommitting budgets when starting with application development is a surprisingly common mistake. Apart from being a poor business decision, it also saps away vital resources as you end up paying for services you don’t use.

A number of clients subscribe to server hosting plans that offer blanket charges. These payment options comprise of upfront payments at the time of purchase irrespective of the actual consumption which significantly increases the costs.

Solution: Optimize usage and costs

In order to prevent our clients from overpaying, we put up a system that ensures that the clients only pay for the computing power, server storage and other resources that they actually use.

Use of amazon web services is critical for long term cost savings .We setup volume-based EC2 instances on AWS cost optimization to bring down the billing. There were no long-term contracts or upfront commitments involved and we ended up saving 20-30 percent on the recurring billing costs for our clients. The AWS pricing model operates in an on-demand capacity in which the user can choose the method to pay for the reserved instances (RIs). 

Another way for ensuring cost optimization is opting for AWS cloud. The biggest advantage of cloud computing is its ability to fit the infrastructure to your need so you only pay for what you actually use.

#2: Use of outdated technology stacks

A number of our clients had pre developed applications coded in outdated technology. Because the development took place in legacy technology stacks, the lack of flexibility it offered became a concern.

All the digital assets were saved on the same server with the code and database hosted on the same machine which affected the performance and made upgrading a challenge. We did not have the server level control of the pre-existing software which made inspection and updating of software packages difficult for us. Even the basic task such as upgrading the OS was restricted.

Solution: Upgrade the technology stack

We worked towards migration with a more advanced technology stack by creating RDS (Relational database service) with the latest MySQL version. This move improved the performance of the application and we were able to create a virtual environment that allowed us to load the software and the services the application required.

Codebase and database were stored separately which improved the performance of the client’s application. Using AWS services, EC2 and RDS instances are created separately to help the storage at different levels. We also configured EC2 instances with Linux, PHP and packages which are requisite for the web application. This gave us the complete access to configure technology, packages and operating system and allowed us to make the necessary changes.

#3: Application facing downtime due to influx of higher traffic

While running an online business, any downtime the web application or mobile app suffers, directly impacts the revenue generated. While developing the software for an eCommerce client, we noticed that a huge influx of traffic during campaign and sales caused significant downtime when the site became non-reachable.

Solution: Auto-scaling and load balancing

We implemented auto-scaling wherein the instance would automatically upgrade to a higher one on detecting a high traffic influx and would scale down when the traffic load reduces back to the normal levels once again. We also set up a load balancer to divide the demand on a single server and transferring the load to other servers located in different zones when the traffic increased.

Auto-scaling and load-balancing ensured that the resources were made available when the application required it while only being charged for ones that were actually in use, significantly reducing the cost for the clients.

#4: Loss of business data while transitioning

The importance of business data cannot be stressed enough. While migrating the technology with our development team, lack of a concrete data backup plan was a major issue. We had to raise tickets for the support team for backup.

Solution: Scheduling of regular data backups

We set up an AMI for all our live projects. An Amazon Machine Image (AMI) provides the information required to launch an instance, which is a virtual server in the cloud. In case of any loss of data from the server set up, the saved machine images ensured that the time taken for setting up a duplicate server is minimized and there is no loss of data in the process, thus minimizing potential business losses.

Depending on the individual project requirements, RDS instances for daily, weekly or monthly backups were set up.The process was completely automated removing the liability from a single person and ensuring that there is no loss of critical business data with low data transfer costs. In case of any clash, this made data recovery possible.

#5: Lack of application-level insights

Figuring out the exact reason for glitches in the software is necessary to implement future enhancements aimed at improving the existing problems. Pinpointing the cause is the first step for resolving the issues and preventing occurrences in the future.

Solution: Monitoring failure points

We implemented monitoring of the server level activities, set up threshold levels for the metrics to be analyzed and set up a system for notification to be issued if the threshold is surpassed. The application level insights helped us in monitoring and analysis of the current metrics. Using this data we decided instance type, server size and storage capacity required for each project.

Aided by the tactical data, we were able to make strategic decisions that went a long way in reducing the cost incurred to clients. We also ensured that no server downtime occurred by setting up auto restart once the CPU utilization went past 95 percent.

#6: Lack of adequate data security

Any malicious activity targeted at business data in the form of hacking or phishing attacks results in significant business loss. The software audit we conducted led us to discover a number of loopholes which put the server safety at risk.

Threat to the data can cause significant business damage and can also invite potential lawsuits when it comes to storing sensitive data like medical data in the form of patient health information (PHI).

Solution: Ensuring security and prevention of lawsuits

We implemented a number of server security measures to safeguard our clients’ interests and ensuring data integrity. Since a number of our clients are from the healthcare industry, ensuring HIPAA compliance is a top priority for us.

We configured the server access with specific port and whitelisted IPs and revoked public access. For health domain applications, we ensure that HIPAA business associate agreement (BAA) is signed for storing patient health information (PHI).

To ensure secure authentication and authorization, we create and maintain audit logs based on user role and access level. We also create separate environments for frontend and backend code so that direct access to API layer is forbidden.

The cumulative effects of all these efforts from our end not only cut down the development and maintenance costs, it also resulted in enhanced functioning of the application, directly contributing to improved revenues for our clients.

Hope this provides you with enough insight into optimizing your software application and grow your business.

If you’d like us to audit your software application or help maintain it, get in touch.