Cloud Application Development: Service Models, Providers & Architecture

by | November 28, 2023

An increasing number of businesses rely on cloud-based apps to streamline their workload, with 90% of organizations using cloud computing at some point in their operations. 

While some companies opt for subscriptions from third-party companies, others find value in investing in cloud application development for a long-term and customizable solution. 

But what exactly is cloud computing, and what entails custom cloud application development? We’ll cover that and so much more in this article. 

Understanding of Cloud Computing  

Cloud computing is an application-based software infrastructure that provides various services through the internet, such as data storage, servers, databases, networking, and software. Rather than owning physical hardware on local computers or servers, cloud computing grants access from remote data centers (also known as “the cloud”). 

Many people use cloud computing without even realizing it. Some popular examples include Google Drive, Gmail, Netflix, Zoom, Google Workspace, and Salesforce, to name a few. 

What is Cloud Application Development?  

Cloud application development is the process of designing, building, and deploying software applications that are run in a cloud environment. Cloud application developers work closely with companies to define key functionalities and features to meet their short- and long-term goals.  

Cloud Service Models (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) 

Cloud service models define the structure and component framework, which characterize how services are provided to users and organizations. There are 3 main types of cloud computing service models: 

 

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IaaS is a form of cloud computing that focuses on IT infrastructure components, such as servers, storage, and networking hardware. Many companies use this model to make workloads more efficient. A great example of this is AWS EC2, a cloud computing service that allows businesses and developers to run applications and workloads in a scalable and cost-effective manner. 
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS is a development and deployment environment in the cloud. Aside from infrastructure, it also includes development tools, database management systems, and more. This helps streamline the entire cloud-based application development process. To get an idea of how this works, let’s use Microsoft Azure as an example. This platform provides a wide range of cloud-based services, including computing, storage, databases, networking, analytics, AI, and more. 
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS is a model that allows the software to be accessed online as a subscription rather than bought on individual computers. Instead of being aimed at cloud application developers, SaaS is designed for end-users who need to perform specific tasks easily. Dropbox is a well-known SaaS that allows users to store files, documents, photos, and videos securely in the cloud. 

Cloud Deployment Models (Public, Private, Hybrid, Community) 

We now know that there are 3 cloud service models to choose from, but what about cloud deployment models? What’s the difference? 

Cloud deployment models essentially describe how cloud providers deliver resources to users; their deployment architecture varies depending on the requirements of the project. They define the ownership, access, and management of cloud resources and services. 

Deciding which cloud deployment model your project requires is an important step in the custom cloud application development process. There are 4 cloud models available: 

 

  • Public: This model allows anybody to access the systems and services. It’s owned by the person or company that provides the services, instead of the consumer. Since it’s easily accessed, this model is less secure and customizable, but acts as a highly scalable and cost-effective option. 
  • Private: Also referred to as the “internal cloud,” these systems and services are dedicated to a single organization or client, and access is restricted to the organization that owns them. This is generally a more costly option than public models but offers better security and control. 
  • Hybrid: Hybrid cloud computing combines the best of both worlds, allowing data and applications to move between on-premises infrastructure, private clouds, and public clouds. This model is typically harder to manage but offers more flexibility and control. 
  • Community: This model integrates the services of different clouds to create a solution for a specific community. This structure allows you to share resources with multiple organizations but has limited scalability. 
cloud based application development

Benefits of Cloud Application Development 

Cloud application development comes with an array of benefits, which is why the global cloud applications market had a value of 133.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and continues to grow. Let’s take a look at why so many businesses are turning to cloud-based web application development. 

 

  • Global reach: Companies and individuals can now access information from anywhere in the world, which is a huge bonus for the growing field of remote workers. 
  • Data loss prevention: Having your information in a cloud means you don’t have to worry about hardware malfunctions. Cloud application developers also implement backup and disaster recovery features. 
  • Real-time updates: This enables teams to work together efficiently, guaranteeing that accurate and up-to-date information is being shared. 
  • Cost-efficiency: Cloud apps don’t require on-site infrastructure and servers, meaning minimal upfront costs. Cloud resources also work on a pay-as-you-go basis since you only pay for the service when it’s running. 
  • Advanced security: Security features, automatic maintenance, and centralized management help reduce the risk of physical IT infrastructure failure. 
  • Scalability: Cloud-based application development typically ensures easy scalability, meaning you can adjust your cloud to match your workload during peak seasons. 

Understanding Cloud Application Development Platforms  

Cloud platforms provide developers with the tools required to streamline the cloud-based web application development process. Here’s a breakdown of cloud application development platforms. 

Overview of Major Cloud Providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc.) 

Cloud providers are third-party companies that offer cloud-based platforms and computing resources such as infrastructure, applications, or storage services. Three of the big players in the cloud industry are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). However, there are many providers to choose from, including IBM Cloud, Salesforce Cloud, Tencent Cloud, and many more. 

Comparing Features and Services

With so many cloud app development programs on the market, there are various features that must be considered to ensure a successful end project. This includes programming languages supported, scalability, security pricing, ease of use, and integration capabilities. To create a successful cloud application development platform, developers on the project will carefully consider each feature and select the one that aligns with their project’s goals. 

Selecting a Cloud Provider for Application Development 

This is a crucial decision that will affect a project’s success. So how do developers ensure they’re making the right decision? 

Cloud application developers evaluate the features and services identified above, but they also use their expertise and knowledge of cloud providers to make an accurate choice. Our developers at Scopic perform in-depth research before choosing the right platform for the project at hand. 

cloud application developers

Cloud Application Architecture  

And since we’re covering all the bases, it’s important we take a second to discuss cloud application architecture, the key to building cost-effective and scalable applications.  

Principles of Cloud-Native Applications 

Cloud-native architecture combines methodologies from cloud services, DevOps practices, and software development principles. It addresses new possibilities and architectural constraints that set it apart from on-premises architecture. 

Google Cloud identifies the 5 principles for cloud-native architecture:

 

  • Design for automation: Infrastructure, continuous integration and delivery, monitoring and automated recovery, and scaling up and down are all ways to automate cloud-native applications. 
  • Be smart with state: Developers should design components to be stateless when necessary or create architecture that carefully considers how you store state. 
  • Favor managed services: Opting for managed services can save a company time and operational overhead. There are various services, such as those that offer an open-source compatible interface and those with high operational savings. 
  • Practice defense in depth: Developers should apply authentication between each component, therefore protecting itself and becoming a more secure network. 
  • Always be architecting: Cloud-native systems are always evolving, and the architecture of your application should too. Regular updates will ensure the app is up-to-date and functioning properly. 

Design Patterns for Scalability, Reliability, and Maintainability

When designing a cloud application, developers must consider the app’s scalability, reliability, and maintainability requirements and select the appropriate design patterns that best address those needs. Some design patterns that can be considered include: microservices architecture, load balancing, auto-scaling, caching, blue-green deployment, and more.

Microservices Architecture vs. Monolithic Architecture 

Microservices architecture and monolithic architecture are two distinct approaches to designing and structuring software applications, each with their own characteristics. Monolithic architecture uses one code base to perform multiple business functions, while microservices architecture is broken down into independent services with their own codebase and data storage. 

Choosing the right web application architecture comes down to the project’s specific requirements. In some instances, a hybrid approach is the best option. 

Containerization and Orchestration (Docker, Kubernetes)  

Containerization is a deployment process that bundles an app’s code with all the files required to run on an infrastructure, while orchestration is the method of synchronizing multiple containers running on multiple nodes. 

Docker is a popular containerization platform that offers portability, isolation, and consistency, and Kubernetes is an orchestration platform that can automatically scale application instances up or down based on traffic or resource usage. 

These two platforms are essential concepts in modern cloud-native application development and are often used together to create, deploy, and manage applications. 

Database and Storage Solutions  

Cloud databases are database management systems provided and hosted by cloud service providers. Keep reading to learn about the types, storage options, and strategies that experienced developers implement. 

Types of Cloud Databases (SQL vs. NoSQL) 

Cloud databases come in various types and should be chosen on a project-by-project basis. There are two categories of data management systems: Structured Query Language (SQL) and Not Only SQL (NoSQL). 

SQL is the standard language for database creation and manipulation. It is required for tasks such as querying data, updating records, defining database structures, and performing various operations on structured data. 

NoSQL is an approach that stores data in a format that’s different from relational tables and is characterized by its flexibility, scalability, and ability to manage unstructured or semi-structured data efficiently. 

Typically, SQL databases are used for structured data with well-defined schemas, while NoSQL is the preferred choice for flexible data structures. Developers may choose to use a combination of both, depending on the project. 

Data Storage Options in the Cloud 

There are 3 main cloud storage types: 

 

  • Object storage: Data storage architecture for large stores of unstructured data, such as photos, videos, files, audio files, and more. 
  • File storage: Commonly used among applications, this option stores data in a hierarchical folder and file format. 
  • Block storage: Block storage takes data and divides it into blocks of equal sizes, with each block having its own unique identifier for quick storage and retrieval.

Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Strategies 

Your application should have efficient strategies to protect critical data in case of an unexpected event. Developers implement various strategies to ensure that businesses can quickly recover their data, such as: regular data backups, data retention policies, automated backups, multi-region backups, incident response plans, and more. 

Cloud-Based Application Development and Deployment  

This is the typical process behind developing cloud applications: 

 

  • Initial requirement clarification period: Project developers work closely with the client to clarify the project’s requirements. This ensures that everyone involved has a clear understanding of what the cloud app should achieve. 
  • Rough project estimation and proposal: Developers consider the information from the clarification period and create a formal proposal that outlines the rough estimate of the cost of the project. 
  • Discovery phase (aka project planning phase): If the client approves the proposal, developers create a more in-depth outline of the project, defining timelines, estimates, deliverables, goals, processes, and resources. Part of the initial planning also includes selecting specific details of the project, such as server-side services, databases, and storage. 
  • Choose an architecture design: There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing the right architecture design. Developers consider a range of factors to make the right decision, including scalability, data storage and management, security and compliance, and more. Once this step is defined, developers can choose a cloud platform. 
  • Set up a cloud development environment: Developers will create and configure a computing environment in a cloud infrastructure to help develop, test, and deploy the application. 
  • Design user interface (UI) and user experience (UX): UI/UX design is a crucial step in creating a user-friendly cloud application that users can easily navigate. Developers will do extensive research and analyze existing cloud apps to gain insights into industry best practices and user expectations. 
  • Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD): CI/CD automates the building, testing, and deployment of code changes to production environments. Our developers use this to accelerate the development and deployment cycles of cloud applications. 
  • Security and compliance: Developers follow security best practices throughout the entire development process to ensure that the unique challenges of cloud environments are addressed. 
  • Quality assurance: Developers perform in-depth testing to ensure that the app is ready to be deployed. Common tests for cloud application development include load testing, performance testing, security testing, compliance testing, and more. 
  • The app is put into production: Once the app is polished and ready, it’s time to publish it. Aside from having a functional and great user interface, one of the ways to bring traction to a new application is with a marketing strategy. At Scopic, we have a team of marketing experts that can help make your app more visible. 
cloud application development platform

Best Practices for Cloud Application Security  

Security is a huge concern during application development for the cloud. Developers use cloud security best practices to protect their cloud infrastructure. This may include the following techniques: 

 

  • Identity and access management (IAM): This is a security discipline that helps the right people or machines access the right assets at the right time. The purpose is to prevent unauthorized access and fraud by only giving access to verified individuals. 
  • Data encryption and secure data storage: Data encryption technology prevents unauthorized people from using their data, therefore protecting it from theft. 
  • Compliance with industry standards: Cloud apps should be created in accordance with industry guidelines and local, national, and international laws. This includes compliance with HIPAA and GDPR. 

Emerging Trends 

Staying updated on the latest trends is crucial in the world of cloud application development. One of the emerging trends in the modern cloud application development landscape is serverless computing and Function as a Service (FaaS). This is a strategy where developers focus on writing code functions without managing the underlying infrastructure, resulting in reduced complexity and enhanced scalability. 

Machine Learning and AI in the cloud is another increasingly popular trend. Many cloud providers now offer a range of these services to build intelligent applications faster and easier.  

And lastly, we’ve seen an increase in Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud Integration, tools that help developers generate and process vast amounts of data. 

Since this is a continually changing industry, we’ll continue to see new emerging trends. At Scopic, we use a mixture of our experience and knowledge, along with the emergence of new technology and trends, to create the best solution. 

Case Studies and Real-World Examples   

Our Web Application Development Company has extensive experience in cloud application development. Check out some of our favorite case studies. 

IDCreator

IDCreator’s goal was to automate the process of creating identification badges for employees or membership cards. To create a user-friendly solution that streamlined the process, they partnered with Scopic to develop an application that facilitated the design and ordering of high-quality identification cards for a range of industries. Our team used our expertise in Google Cloud, UI/UX design, SQL, and cross-platform development to develop an app that allows users to create, print, and receive same-day shipping. 

StocksToTrade

The founders of StocksToTrade had the idea of creating a user-friendly portal that allowed real-time stock market analysis. With the goal of using algorithms to help predict hot stocks for day traders, they reached out to our team to create a custom application from scratch. Scopic’s developers fully developed a user-friendly app by implementing a few programming languages like RubyOnRails, C++, and MySQL. As a trusted AWS partner, we were able to bring their idea to life, providing their users with live stock market stats.

UPExchange

With the goal of facilitating the filing and reporting process of company tax information, UPExchange reached out to Scopic to create a custom financial software development solution. With Microsoft Azure at the forefront of their cloudnative application development process, Scopic’s team built a web app that now successfully serves nearly 50,000 companies. 

Final Thoughts 

Cloud application development allows companies to improve their collaboration, enhance data security, and have more flexibility and scalability. The development process entails many skills and tools, such as cloud service models, choosing the right design and architecture, implementing disaster discovery strategies, and so much more. 

If you’re interested in Scopic’s application development services, then our team of experienced developers will work hand-in-hand to bring your vision to life. Contact us for a free estimate. 

About Cloud Application Development Guide

This guide was authored by Baily Ramsey, and reviewed by Vyacheslav Korchagin, Principal Engineer with experience in leading and delivering complex software and application development projects.

Scopic provides quality and informative content, powered by our deep-rooted expertise in software development. Our team of content writers and experts have great knowledge in the latest software technologies, allowing them to break down even the most complex topics in the field. They also know how to tackle topics from a wide range of industries, capture their essence, and deliver valuable content across all digital platforms.

Note: This blog’s images are sourced from Freepik.

If you would like to start a project, feel free to contact us today.
You may also like
Have more questions?

Talk to us about what you’re looking for. We’ll share our knowledge and guide you on your journey.