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Complete Guide of How to Develop a Cloud-Based SaaS Application

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Christine Mereynis, Marketing Manager

Get your custom SaaS app development straight with this guide packing cloud-based software creation pro tips, discussions, and recommendations.

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Complete Guide of How to Develop a Cloud-Based SaaS Application

Cloud-based SaaS app development has become a true game-changer for business and regular software consumers across industries and niches by offering an extremely convenient subscription-based software sales model. They helped cut costs that companies and entrepreneurs had to direct into product licenses and took tons of security, maintenance, and support care away, making it all a SaaS provider’s responsibility.

And this is exactly what has made SaaS products a win-win solution for both sides of the bargain - providers strike highly demanded deals while users get hassle-free software where they pay exactly for what they see, nothing more, nothing less.

What are today’s SaaS solutions all about, what do you get out of them, and how do you build one? Let’s find out.


What is a Cloud-Based SaaS Application?

Any piece of software distributed based on the Software as a Service business model from the cloud is deemed a SaaS app. This, basically, means that you get a solution with any required functionality which runs in the cloud - it does not occupy physical storage space, doesn’t require you to buy a permanent license, doesn’t pose performance requirements, and doesn’t need you or your team of specialists to maintain the whole thing technically.

Getting a SaaS app is like getting a new shiny bicycle that has been custom-tailored and adjusted to fit your riding habits perfectly absolutely for free - it is stored in a reliable, properly-equipped bike parking for you to take it whenever you need it and pay for it only when you use it.

With this big picture of things, imagine what profiting potential you are looking at if you opt to create a cloud-based SaaS application of your own and monetize it properly. But let’s start from the top.


Overview of SaaS Product Market

SaaS makes up a booming market currently valued at about $170 billion.

It is expected to grow by about $20 billion each year, reaching a $200 billion mark in 2023.

This software distribution format gets more demanded by the day due to the convenience of the lightweight use it offers as well as the growing need for remote software opportunities.

At the same time, the pool of SaaS providers expands accordingly, with companies and entrepreneurs realizing how much more successful SaaS products can be as opposed to traditional pieces of software.


Major Benefits of SaaS Applications

The SaaS app development approach makes both software development and consumption all the more cost-efficient, convenient to use, and long-term profitable. In fact, as providers and customers/end-users shift focus, SaaS is gradually replacing traditional software sales models, which commonly imply burdensome licenses.

  • Cut support and maintenance costs

    The main difference between traditional software solutions and SaaS products is that the latter always run from the predefined cloud environment. This minimizes post-development maintenance of SaaS to regular software updates and proper customer support operation. With the hardware and target OS optimization out of the question, the most effort-intensive stage is the custom SaaS app development itself - the rest is pretty hassle-free.

  • Easier-to-get revenues

    As a result of the above point, a SaaS product can be monetized more efficiently and turned into a regular source of income right after the implementation. Users are covered, and traffic is generated faster due to lower up-front user costs while you save on a multitude of technical issues inherent to traditional software formats. Then, there are also diverse monetization opportunities, which can be combined and cross-used for higher conversions (read below).

  • Out-of-the-box reliability without complexity

    The opportunity of remote software access at all stages (development, implementation, post-launch support) is the ultimate product reliability booster. No need to worry about device conflicts, service downtime, or compatibility issues. Everything runs stably and can be accessed at all times as long as a user stays online.

  • Scalability and platform independence

    With custom cloud-based SaaS app development, companies and entrepreneurs (any product owners) get a universally compatible product that runs equally well on all devices and platforms straight from the browser. And even a major SaaS usage requirement - stable Internet connection - can be optimized for further user convenience with a share of offline functionality. In terms of system scalability - new features and system components can be easily added on the go, without diving into reworking and refactoring any aspects in-depth.


Process of Cloud-Based SaaS App Development

Compared to traditional software development, the process of creating a SaaS product is somewhat narrowed down, yet there are quite a lot of similarities. The main end-user benefit - no need to install stuff and clog up the physical memory - doesn’t just come out of nowhere.

File and asset storing as well as backend computation powers still must be handled somehow. For this, you need a reliable cloud provider that would grant the underlying capacities for building and supporting a new SaaS architecture.

So finding a well-tried, savvy cloud service to host your SaaS platform is the first item on your checklist. Once you find an agency or a team of specialists to partner up with, several common project implementation stages are to be handled.

  • Project discovery

    Things are kicked off with preliminary discussions, analyses, and planning initiatives. This includes thorough requirements gathering, market and competitor solution research, business analysis, and outline of further custom SaaS app development workflow stages and milestones based on all gathered and approved input information.

    In particular, the analysis of the market’s best practices and the study of existing market-leading products helps set the direction of building a market-defining SaaS solution of your own.

  • Tech stack

    To set off the technical part of custom SaaS app development, you need to select tools and approaches for frontend, database, and server-side development. Here’s how exactly an efficient SaaS-focused tech stack may look:

    CDN - Amazon Web Services

    You will need a content delivery network to bridge the gap between servers and user devices. A CDN helps grant a seamless user experience by delivering data to user devices from the closest server. AWS is among the most currently popular and proven CDN frameworks out there.

    Front-end - HTML/CSS + JavaScript framework

    The creation and optimization of user-focused features and components is always a separate stage and a cornerstone of the end product’s user experience. The classic combo of HTML/CSS and a JavaScript framework - either Angular, React, or Vue.js - cannot be overestimated in this aspect.

    Server-side - Python or JavaScript or Ruby or PHP

    A server and a database are essential parts of any SaaS solution, but they must operate from somewhere. A fitting server-side environment can be coded with the help of one of the common languages - Python, JavaScript, Ruby, or PHP. Respectively, a compatible framework must be used - e.g., Django, Node.js, Ruby on Rails, or Laravel. The final choice of the language and proper framework is made based on the project complexity, specific goals, and work philosophy of the hired development team.

    Database - MySQL or PostgreSQL

    A database is required for backend data storing purposes. It must be a relational database, with your choice being narrowed down to two ultimate favorites - MySQL (a classic relational DB) or PostgreSQL (an object-relational DB for more complex operations with more complex data types).

    Server - Apache or Nginx

    Last but not least - based on the underlying goals and development approaches, your software provider may pick either Apache (multi-threaded server architecture) or Nginx (single-threaded server architecture) as a primary server.

    The final tech stack may vary a lot depending on the specifics of a particular project case. However, the above are “gold standard” tools to make your tech stack in one way or another.

  • UI/UX architecture

    The essential task of the hired software provider is to outline a user-focused basic architecture design based on the studies, business analysis, and the set of tools in hand. This includes planning out, creating, and adding the user interface and user experience elements - everything from visuals (colors, buttons, banners, system messages, etc.) to the way elements respond to user actions is worked through at this stage.

    The process may result in an MVP that can serve most beneficially as a solution for “trying out the market environment”. Your Minimum Viable Product version of the full solution can be used to see how well the implemented UI/UX “carcass” works with real users. Based on the feedback, you may optimize and continue to build a cloud-based SaaS application.

  • Pricing strategy

    With the finalized solution in hand, you need to settle with the SaaS app monetization philosophy. Your SaaS can be subscription-based, offered for a full purchase after the trial period, based on different tier software packages or on freemium. Monetization specifics may or may not require the implementation of new elements and UI/UX features, which is why it remains among essential SaaS software development stages.

    Let’s take a look at how you can actually make your SaaS bring profits in more detail.


SaaS Application Revenue Opportunities

The SaaS model streamlines monetization opportunities, like the following ones, due to the inherent benefit of providing software not as a one-time sold product but as an up-and-running service. Want to know how to make SaaS software bring steady profits? Use and cross-use some of the below revenue generation models.

Subscriptions

SaaS can help generate regular monthly or yearly profits through subscriptions. This brings multiple advantages to the table. Seeing lower up-front costs, users are more eager to try to subscribe, giving you continuous long-term payments. In order to more efficiently attract and motivate users, a free trial period can be offered with the suggestion to subscribe once it ends.

“What you see is what you pay for”

Users may pay for the exact amount of storage space they use, the scope of functionality, or the number of connected user profiles. This is where the ultimate transparency of service pricing serves as a powerful motivational point - users love the honest service without hidden costs and such. The same principle can be applied to subscriptions - different tiers with different extents of functionality can be offered (e.g., limited/partially limited/unlimited).

Freemium

Making the basic functionality free-to-use and offering paid advanced capabilities is also a commonly efficient way to monetize. As we already mentioned, the subscription can be broken down into tiers. For instance, you can make a basic subscription free of charge, offer to remove ads for a paid subscription, and enable a set of advanced features and extra capacities for a premium subscription.

In-app advertising

Traditional ads aren’t going anywhere - and you shouldn’t miss out on regular advertising banners, links, and offers. Advertising allows earning on click-through rates as well as employing combined techniques - earn on ad clicks from basic subscriptions and get a separate article of income from payments for subscriptions with removed ads.


Costs of SaaS App Development

There are a myriad of factors underlying the ultimate cost of developing a SaaS product.

If you start with an MVP, a common price range here is set somewhere between $15,000-$50,000. Expanding it to a full-blown solution with the help of a professional team wielding specialized tools may pose a price tag that’s twice as big - $30,000-$100,000. Outsourcing can help save on the development without sacrificing quality (if you know where to best outsource - e.g., Eastern Europe).

How to build a cloud-based SaaS app at the most cost-efficient development rates? Have a big picture of your project clear, find the most reliable provider, and know your pitfalls which may include the following.


Top Challenges of Developing a SaaS Product

Building SaaS software certainly has its challenges and pitfalls. And the best way to overcome all of them is to stay informed and ready to take on the most potential issues.

  • Achieving high-level security

    Even though up-to-date cloud protection mechanisms are pretty sturdy, cloud-stored data is still at risk of unauthorized exposure, leakage, and breach of privacy. This concern hinders full adoption of the SaaS model for most software providers and consumers. The only way to tackle potential security issues is to reinforce the overall cybersecurity in all possible ways. So be sure to have a separate security budget and go in-depth on this aspect.

  • Ensuring high availability

    It may be difficult to maintain a zero-downtime strategy for SaaS solutions - i.e., making sure your solution is constantly up and running. This is mostly due to the stable web connection requirement and other Internet connection-related issues. But the main reason is the difficulty of avoiding downtime while updating software.

    To get this challenge out of the way, you should either deploy updates during the most inactive service hours (research this aspect separately) or have a backup production environment running where you’d be able to deploy updates and then switch it for the main use.

  • Finding reliable specialists

    You need a highly dedicated team of experienced specialists that would dive into your project head-to-toe if you are looking to achieve proper end-product quality. A truly reliable provider has an extensive portfolio, grants transparency across all project stages, and eagerly shows how to build a SaaS application in the most individually effective way possible.


Our SaaS Development Experience and Expertise

Integrio has a team of savvy specialists ready to dedicate their in-depth experience and expertise accumulated throughout the years of operation in the field to creating a custom highly-available, all-around secure, and cost-efficient SaaS solution. We are focused on transparent collaboration, timely implementation, and results tailored to your particular vision, scope, and expectations.

Contact us today to discuss your future project or find out how to build a SaaS product more in-depth through expert consultation.


Final Thoughts

The successful development of SaaS application is powered by sturdy expertise, a properly segmented approach, and implementation of opportunities that can be made the most use of by you individually. As much as it is important to have a reliable cloud and development provider by your side, knowing your stuff and realizing how the proper process goes is no less important.

We hope this guide explains how to create a cloud-based SaaS app for long-term profits and gives enough insights to keep you well-informed and ready for your project. Meanwhile, the team of specialists at Integrio is willing and ready to take on the underlying technical tasks.

Contact us to start making your SaaS success a reality.

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What is Cloud-Based SaaS Application? Overview of SaaS Product Market Major Benefits of SaaS ApplicationsProcess of Cloud-Based SaaS App DevelopmentSaaS Application Revenue OpportunitiesCost of SaaS App DevelopmentTop Challenges of Developing a SaaS ProductOur SaaS Development Experience and ExpertiseFinal Thoughts

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