Choosing the right technology stack plays a crucial role in the ultimate success of a future SaaS product. It determines the number of application features, performance, and maintenance costs. This is what we will discuss in this article.
What is SaaS?
Software as a service (SaaS) is a form of cloud computing that delivers an application, including IT infrastructure, to end users via browser.
This solution is great for large enterprises, small businesses, or individuals who:
SaaS reduces initial user costs by eliminating the need to purchase software on an ongoing basis or invest in on-premises IT infrastructure. However, SaaS customers must additionally invest in fast network hardware because service performance directly depends on the speed of the Internet connection.
SaaS makes it easier for software vendors to deploy new features to their customers. Most SaaS applications are pre-configured products in which the vendor manages everything behind the application, including:
Our MaybeWorks developers have great experience developing SaaS products, so they can augment your team and boost your processes.
Distinctive features of SaaS
What components differentiate SaaS from other types of applications? Here are some of the key criteria that every SaaS application should have.
One of the benefits of using a SaaS architecture is a customizable infrastructure that can be scaled up or down depending on business and customer demand. For example, customers can decide which components benefit their business and pay only when needed. Therefore, the ability to customize infrastructure is a must.
SaaS applications rely heavily on subscription models to provide software licenses. Unlike a perpetual license, this software delivery model ties each account to a subscription that provides access to SaaS for a specific period - usually annually or monthly. The subscription fee typically provides access to product documentation and ongoing support governed by a service level agreement (SLA). Still, some SaaS vendors charge additional support fees for custom code changes at the source code level.
The essence of a SaaS application is the high availability of software as a service. This service is enhanced by a flexible billing cycle that allows customers and business users to take full advantage of whatever they want and for as long as they want.
Because SaaS offers a common platform for many tenants, it requires a single repository for customer accounts and the management of that information.
SaaS automation helps simplify the customer onboarding process in a cloud-based application. It increases the efficiency of independent software vendors (ISVs) as the required infrastructure updates are quickly delivered to subscribers. Moreover, it saves users from fixing issues and force majeures.
Support and analytics
The SaaS application's customer support and analytics module provides tools for platform management and metrics validation. In this way, providers can improve customer experience and optimize their service.
SaaS applications are based on a rental model. Each client using the platform is considered a tenant and receives access rights after paying a subscription fee.
Single-Tenant SaaS Architecture
This type of architecture serves a single tenant who pays for this software service. This means the tenant gets their dedicated software instance, a single infrastructure, server, and database. This architecture is convenient for customers as they don't have to share database resources with other users. Moreover, customers can even customize the software according to their business needs and scale it at any time.
The essence of single-tenant architecture is as follows: the cloud provider hosts separate entities with isolated resources and detailed access control. This allows customers to have a different version of the same SaaS product and even provides access to customize the application to their needs.
Multi-Tenant SaaS Architecture
Multi-tenant architecture is one of the most preferred architecture types when developing a SaaS application. In this model, each site serves multiple tenants. This means that all clients share a common database and application information while keeping each tenant's data secure and private.
Multitenancy has become widespread and is most commonly used in cloud computing. This type of architecture appears in both public and private cloud environments that allow each user's data to be separated from each other. For example, in a multi-tenant public cloud, the same servers will be used in a hosted environment to accommodate multiple users. Each user is given a separate and secure space on these servers to store their data.
Building a SaaS application with multi-tenant architecture offers several advantages over other methods:
- It is less expensive compared to other architectures
- A "pay only for what you use" pricing model
- Tenants don't have to worry about upgrades because the host provider makes them
- Tenants don't have to worry about maintaining the equipment on which the data is hosted
- Providers only have to monitor and administer one system
- The architecture is easier to scale
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Mixed SaaS architecture
Unlike single or multi-tenant, where boundaries and functionality are defined, the mixed type is a little different.
Let's imagine a situation where a tenant uses common infrastructure resources, but specific business requirements force it to have one or two dedicated components. It can be a database or some modules of the common infrastructure. This is where mixed architecture comes in handy.
Under this model, one or two application parts are dedicated to each tenant, and all users share the rest of the components.
SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS - what are the differences?
In addition to SaaS (Software as a Service), there are the terms Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
IaaS means that the vendor provides infrastructure to the user through the cloud. This is actually servers, networks, virtualization, and data storage. The user can access an API or dashboard while the infrastructure is leased.
The tenant manages things like the operating system, applications, and middleware, while the vendor provides the hardware, network, hard disks, storage, and servers. The vendor is also responsible for troubleshooting and repairing the hardware.
PaaS provides users hardware and application software platforms from an external service provider. Since users handle the applications and data themselves, this model is great for developers and programmers. PaaS provides users with a platform to develop, run, and manage their applications without building and maintaining the infrastructure or environment needed to run the applications.
Criteria for selecting a SaaS technology stack
A technology stack is a set of frameworks, libraries, programming languages, and databases used to create a fully functional platform.
A competent choice of the tech stack is one of the main criteria for the successful launch of any product. This is especially true for SaaS services. Choosing exotic tools for software development will make it difficult to update and maintain in the long run.
A prime example is the Ruby on Rails framework. When it came out, customers worldwide asked vendors to use this new and cool platform for their projects and even ported their existing applications to RoR. But it soon became clear that working with them wasn't as easy as everyone thought.
As soon as more user-friendly frameworks emerged, RoR's popularity dropped dramatically. Today, most Ruby projects are supported for a lot of money as the demand for support remains, and far fewer developers use this stack.
The most reliable option not to make a mistake with the choice is to hire analysts who can select the most suitable tools for a particular project. Here are some criteria to consider when choosing a SaaS technology stack.
Any product owner has to think several years ahead. Will the framework used to build the application still be popular, or will it be considered obsolete? If one of the developers leaves the team, how easy and quick will it be to find a replacement? How long will it take for a new developer to be incorporated into the project?
Using a popular combination of language and framework will reduce the likelihood of being left with a legacy project after a few years. New development tools appear every year, but not all of them are noteworthy. A tool's popularity can be measured by the number of stars on GitHub and by studying the developer market: the more jobs and requests a certain stack has, the more popular it is.
The question concerning the scalability of the project should be raised at the stage of planning and budget allocation. This will be especially true if the project is designed for unlimited users.
Physical servers can be improved indefinitely by increasing the hard disk's memory or production capacity. However, in software development, you may encounter limitations that prevent further product development.
For example, if the framework is not designed to withstand heavy load, users will encounter application hangs or other problems as the number of requests increases.
It should be taken into account that if the stack is initially chosen with a reserve for the future, developing the first version of the application will cost more than simpler solutions. For example, Angular applications scale much better than React applications because Angular was created with scalability in mind from the very beginning and has all the features for it. That said, an Angular app will always be more expensive to develop than React.
The shorter a product's time to market, the more chances it has to outperform its competitors. Therefore, it pays to choose technologies and approaches that increase software delivery speed by automating and simplifying repetitive operations. This includes automated unit tests for code, implementing continuous code delivery through CI/CD pipelines, automated analytics, and more.
In addition, the MVP approach allows you to manage customer needs more effectively. When a product is already released in production, metrics, managers, marketers, and analysts can be used to find out where there are problem areas in the application. Analyzing this data and implementing new solutions will help take the service to the next level.
Key components of the SaaS technology stack
In 2024, the technology stack for SaaS (Software as a Service) remains a key element of successful products and platforms. It brings together a variety of technologies to create powerful and scalable applications. Below is an overview of the key components of this stack and their benefits.
- React and Angular remain popular frameworks for UI development. They offer high performance, modularity, and extensive support for third-party libraries. This enables the creation of modern and adaptive interfaces, improving the user experience. Angular.js is more commonly used for highly loaded services as it provides more scalability but is harder to develop.
- Node.js continues to take center stage in the development of server-side SaaS applications. Its asynchronous architecture allows for high performance and scalability.
- Apache and Nginx are reliable and performant web servers that provide load balancing, query processing, and application security.
- PostgreSQL is a powerful open-source relational database. Its benefits include reliability, performance, and support for extensions. This makes it an ideal choice for storing data for SaaS applications.
- Docker provides application containerization, which simplifies deployment and scaling. It also promotes standardization of development environments and reduces differences between environments.
- Kubernetes is a container orchestrator that simplifies containerized applications' automatic management, scaling, and maintenance. This enables high availability and fault tolerance.
- Ansible provides deployment and configuration management automation that helps eliminate human error and improve operational efficiency.
- Jenkins is a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tool that accelerates application development and deployment.
- ELK stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) provides log data collection, analysis, and visualization to help identify and resolve real-time issues.
- Prometheus is an open-source monitoring system, and Grafana is a data visualization tool. They work together to provide application and infrastructure performance monitoring and analysis.
The benefits of this SaaS technology stack include high performance, scalability, reliability, simplified deployment and maintenance, and the ability to respond to changing market demands. It enables development teams to build innovative and competitive SaaS products in a rapidly changing technology environment.
Popular SaaS services
Software vendors provide products to fulfill any business need. SaaS can include those applications that involve multi-tenancy using the internet:
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications
- HR management software
- Enterprise software
- Messaging Services
- Cloud services
- Virtual Hosting
- Systems for collaborative document editing
- CRM systems
Here are some popular examples of SaaS:
- Google Docs
All these applications have in common that they are SaaS-based products. They include entire systems for both customers and employees of companies.
MaybeWorks - your reliable IT staff augmentation provider
At MaybeWorks, our engineers know how to develop SaaS products. They augmented numerous development teams and worked on different features. For example, our developers were engaged in the development of enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, HR management software, cloud services, and CRM systems.
Our IT Staff Augmentation model allows you to easily integrate top engineers into your team as if they work at your side. Feel free to contact us to discuss your future SaaS projects.