How cloud software development is transforming the tools of business 


As cloud drives digital transformation, it’s become crucial to all aspects of business. However, central to cloud’s importance is the role of software applications.

Cloud is a flexible, scalable and cost-efficient platform to house applications. But it’s the applications themselves that empower business. Applications are essential tools: whether to share ideas, work where and when you want, enrich customer experience, or keep up in a dynamic environment.

As more applications are delivered from the cloud, it’s no wonder that more are built there. But that’s not just coincidence. There are compelling reasons why cloud software development is playing a key role in promoting competitive advantage.

What is cloud software development?

Cloud software development (also known as cloud-native applications) simply means that applications are designed and built in the cloud.

Previously, when applications were housed on premises, they would be built, tested and run in private data centres.

As digital transformation gained pace, many organisations moved their applications to the cloud. However, this often created complications since applications built on-premises had specific dependencies, and weren’t taking full advantage of a cloud environment.

In fact, a lift and shift of an application to the cloud often disappointed with high running costs or complex processes, as many businesses discovered to their dismay.

That’s why cloud-based software development is important. After all, if an application is supposed to run in the cloud, it makes sense to develop and test it in the same cloud environment. But developers soon realised there were significant advantages – both to themselves and the business - of cloud software development.

What’s driving cloud software development?

The fact that you no longer need on-site infrastructure to build and test applications is a windfall for business. All that time, effort and cost can be side-stepped with the cloud. You can now focus on developing applications, rather than the supporting structure.

Of these advantages, the lower cost of cloud software development is of primary importance. Leading cloud vendors like Microsoft Azure and AWS are offering Platform-as-a-Service. These platforms provide all the resources you need to build and test applications such as computing, databases, memory, and storage.

Better still, resources are offered on a pay-as-you-use basis, which is far more economical that buying on-site infrastructure that sits idle much of the time.

It's also much easier to scale. Instead of the cost of building infrastructure, you simply allocate more resources from your provider with a few clicks of the mouse or automatically. And of course, the whole process is much faster, and generally more reliable.

The evolution of cloud software development

As cloud software development has become more popular, technologies have evolved to support it. New approaches and tools have transformed how cloud software is built.

Previously, application development, expansion or upgrades encompassed the entire piece of software. This monolithic approach took a lot of time, and errors were usually only found after the software had been deployed. In turn, that entailed remediation work which directly impacted business performance.

The new approach is to make small incremental changes and test as you go. This makes the build, test, release and operate journey much smoother, with less chance of disruption to the business.

The other big advance in cloud software development is containerisation. Here, an application and all of its dependencies are packaged together in a standalone, functional unit. This means it can be moved across platforms with ease because it has everything it needs to run independently.

Add new systems to automate how you build, scale and manage containerised applications, and you have a software development methodology of unprecedented power. Now you can build once and deploy everywhere - with more speed, economy and reliability than ever before.

The two types of cloud-based software

When developing software for the cloud, businesses have a choice of two types: web-based or cloud-based. The two are similar, but there are important differences.

Web applications. Web applications only run on web browsers, and interactions occur via a website. Consequently, the internet has to work to provide access. Data is stored in one location while customisation and scalability is limited.

Cloud applications. Cloud applications are more sophisticated. They’re accessed by a web browser as well as other methods. They can also work offline: data is cached on the device and synchronised with the cloud when back online. They also offer greater customisation and scalability, with data stored in multiple locations.

Both types of applications have pros and cons, so you will need to choose based on your business requirements, and that’s where a cloud based software development company can help. Generally speaking, if you want always-on access for a large user base, cloud applications are the way to go. If not, web applications will do.

Why is cloud software development important?

As we mentioned before, applications empower businesses to better perform. Given the pace and change of modern times, chances are you’ll need new applications sooner or later – whether to reach new markets, satisfy changing customer needs, or pursue more efficient ways of working.

This is a global phenomenon. A study in 2020 estimated that more software will be deployed in the next five years than has been built in the last 40 years. And nearly all of it will be built using cloud software development techniques.

Are there any disadvantages?

There are some things you need to be aware of. While cloud software development is far cheaper to set up, it’s not free. Be aware that you will face ongoing subscription costs from your cloud provider.

Security also needs to be considered. Cloud is susceptible to breaches like everything else. On the other hand, cloud providers take security very seriously and have stringent protections in place. If you take AWS for example, the company is the undisputed market leader and has had years and lots of resources to fine-tune its security posture.

In addition, the cloud service can fail. It’s not common, but if it does, you won’t be able to use it for the duration of the failure. But just as with security, cloud providers are diligent in ensuring systems are available.

Similarly, you will depend on the internet to use your cloud service. If that goes down, you won’t have access.

Be aware too that some services are auto-healing. If something is going wrong with your process and you shut it off, the service may start up again on its own.

Another point is that you won’t have complete control of the hardware and software tools you use. They’ll be controlled by the cloud provider and there will be limitations. So read the small print. Make sure you check the cloud platform will actually fit your software development needs. And then design your application for that specific environment from the start.

At Idea 11, we have wide experience of these limitations, and know what they are with most cloud providers. The testing cycle can also reveal limits, but we know how to resolve them. In fact, we follow best practice and peer reviews to do just that.

Why would you need a professional cloud software developer?

The cloud is a multi-facetted organism that’s evolving all the time. There are multiple cloud providers, each with different services, and each constantly changing and expanding those services.

It’s exceedingly difficult to keep pace with change, so you may need to look for assistance from cloud experts. If you do, here’s a short checklist of what to look for:

  • Secure by design. Security is critical for the cloud so it should be top of mind for developers for every aspect of software development.
  • Proficient in APIs. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are connectors that allow applications to talk to each other. API integration is important because whatever application you use, it will probably need to connect to another one.
  • Expert in cloud architectures. When developing cloud based software, they need to see the big picture of cloud delivery. They must understand different cloud architectures, and also identify the providers that can best meet your needs.
  • Cost-aware. A knowledge of cost structures for cloud applications is vital. Otherwise you may be locked in to paying more than you expected.
  • Plan for the unexpected. Developers need to factor in events like network downtime, outages and errors, and have remedial actions ready to go.
  • Relevant certifications. Make sure your developer has high-level certifications in the cloud you’re using. Clouds are complex, so they must be accredited experts.

How does Idea 11 approach cloud software development?

At Idea 11, we use the Agile methodology for software development. The Agile approach takes small steps and tests every step, instead of completing the whole project, then testing.

Obviously, the initial design will aim to address all the relevant factors. But it’s during the build and test phase that glitches will be identified. Agile enables fast rectification through ongoing feedback, solving minor issues before they become big problems.

The advantage of Agile is that it helps ensure software is fit-for-purpose and error-free. It’s also faster and more cost-effective since remediation work can be avoided.

Above all, we take pride in our work. For us, near enough is never good enough. We pay attention to detail, and always follow through on our promises.

Our approach has delivered successful projects for Australian Mid Enterprises across multiple industries. And we can do the same for you. If you have an application that needs to be built, and you’re looking for a custom API integration, or if you’re simply wondering how to connect people to a business process, get in touch. We’re sure we can help.