Achieving a Well-Architected SaaS Platform

The adoption of SaaS is at an all-time high and is expected to achieve new heights as we move forward. A lot of this growth can be attributed to the high costs involved in setting up and managing an on-premise software deployment solution. With SaaS business software at the fore, it enables people to connect remotely and allows businesses to outsource their software needs easily.

AWS (Amazon Web Services) understands the importance and the potential of SaaS and has come up with Solutions such as SaaS Enablement Framework and the AWS SaaS Factory Programme in a tryst to become the go-to cloud service provider. Given its importance, it is imperative to understand that resilience is one of the key needs for developing a successful SaaS application. It is why AWS Well-Architected Framework (WAF) plays a vital role in achieving a top-notch SaaS platform. 

This article discusses the best practices for an efficient Well-Architected SaaS platform and some tips to build one for yourself.

AWS Development Categories

For those looking to build a SaaS platform on AWS Well-Architected Framework, here are several common categories to choose from – 

  • Migrated applications – Applications built on other platforms or on-premise looking to be migrated on-cloud by leveraging the code through APIs.
  • Refactored applications – Solutions that use AWS Auto Scaling and self-healing architectures to achieve improved operational processes and automation. 
  • Redesigned applications – Redesigned and re-architected applications for cloud operations using DevOps processes for improved management. 

Some Best SaaS Practices for Efficient Design

Here are some of the best practices intended to guide where and how to implement the WAF for cloud-based SaaS applications – 

  • Creating a scalable and evolving architecture capable of scaling with you.
  • Limit capacity usage to only include as much as your workload needs.
  • Test workloads at the testnet before deploying them to the mainnet.  
  • Create a data-driven architecture.
  • Use automation wherever feasible during testing and execution.
  • Add redundant instances with Availability Zones to ensure optimum availability. 
  • Work on optimizing MTTR (mean time to recovery)
  • Ensure real-time monitoring of workload components 

How to build a Well-Architected SaaS Solution?

In the modern world, SaaS applications have a niche of their own. But to optimize their productivity, it is imperative to find a capable cloud solution and tools that automate and streamline the app-building process. Following are some of the best practices to consider for building a Well-Architected SaaS solution.

Codebase

You can use a VCS (Version Control System) to track the SaaS application codebase. It provides benefits such as code versioning and code tracking while making collaboration a seamless affair. The Twelve-Factor App states that each app should only have a single codebase, and this should not be shared across apps to ensure non-dependency.

Dependencies

As mentioned above, developers should not copy any dependencies and can use dependency management tools to derive the requisite ones from the server. The Twelve-factor App suggests using a dependency declaration manifest with a dependency isolation tool to ensure the codebase is free from any unwanted dependencies. 

Config

Configurations are key to any SaaS application and help back service credentials with connection information, database connection properties, and more. So, developers need to separate it from the code. It is suggested to store variable properties in the config files and allocate the rest to the code itself.

Backing Services

These refer to any attached services consumed by the app over the network for its normal operations. While it is infeasible to code for every possible competing technology, creating a facade with backing services is suggested to allow developers to restore previous instances without disturbing the code. 

Build, Release, Run

Build, Release, and Run are the three vital stages of the SDLC (software development life cycle). According to the Twelve-factor App, there should be a clear separation between building, releasing, and running the app in an execution environment which would help maintain the system’s integrity.

Processes 

Multiple instances/processes of the SaaS application should be deployed upon the network. The SaaS business can use a load balancer for optimum request handling. Make sure you do not depend on data written in memory or the file system, as any failure can wipe it clean. 

Port-binding

The SaaS app should be a standalone product and not dependent on any web server container for execution. It means that the Port used for connecting the application is to be kept in Config and not in the code. 

Concurrency

The Twelve-factor App rule enables developers to create apps capable of handling diverse workloads using multiple process types for each work. It also suggests not relying too much on threads as vertical scaling can be limited and instead focusing on horizontal scaling. 

Disposability

To ensure optimum SaaS security, the processes need to be capable of starting or stopping instantly. It not only helps in robust production deploys but also contributes to fast elastic scaling.

Dev/Prod Parity

The development environment should match the production scenario as much as possible. It would enable continuous deployment and helps avoid unforeseen issues after the software goes live while making the process more seamless and organized.  

Logs

Developers can establish a system that treats log entries as event streams routed as a separate service. It would enable the execution environment to take care of storage, capture, and archival needs. 

Admin Processes

The aim should be to run management/admin tasks as one-off processes to ensure database migration becomes a periodic task that can be automated. You can use the built-in tool available in the execution environment to run scripts on the production server. 

Wrap up

Modern SaaS applications have come a long way in providing continuous utility to businesses. But for them to be effective, it is vital to have a robust application development process. Unfortunately, organizations often struggle to get the development recipe right and create a SaaS solution that matters. If this is your story, consider getting in touch with Cloudlytics. We handle everything cloud and specialize in SaaS app development and security. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Abhijeet Chinchole

Abhijeet Chinchole

Abhijeet Chinchole is Chief Technology Officer at Cloudlytics. Over the years, Abhijeet has helped numerous global businesses transition to the cloud by helping them with strategy and implementation. He is also an expert on cloud migration, cloud security, and building modern SaaS applications. When not working, he likes to drive and don the hat of a creative tinkerer.

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