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Best Practices for Building SaaS Solutions in the Cloud

From managing multi-tenant environments to rapidly scaling up users, Five Talent uses the Well-Architected Framework to help you build a reliable, scalable, secure foundation for your Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. In this blog, we’ll review the advantages of using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a market strategy for winning and retaining your customers.

As one of Five Talent’s primary practice areas, helping SaaS based companies develop new products and solutions has revealed common challenges entrepreneurs face along their journey to the cloud. Our solutions architects offer up some key strategies for success:

  1. Set up your CI/CD pipeline right the first time
    Some SaaS providers skip this process in order to save time, but using a fully automated CI/CD pipeline allows you to quickly spin up other environments for testing without affecting production. This is a huge benefit when you have ongoing development as these changes won’t impact system reliability and user experience.Setting your pipeline up correctly with AWS technologies such as CodePipeline, CodeBuild, Elastic Beanstalk, and CloudFormation templates means you typically will not have to touch it again. When you have a secure DevOps environment where you can automatically isolate development, testing, staging, and production, you can use Blue/Green deployments to dramatically improve your time to market for updates, changes and new features.
  2. Build a maintainable development environment
    Architect your platform in AWS with auto-healing infrastructure to ensure you can uphold your SLA (service level agreement) with minimal downtime. For example, AWS Autoscaling monitors your applications and automatically adjusts capacity to maintain reliable performance at an optimized cost. In addition, aggregating logs in one place makes troubleshooting issues easier.
  3. Create feedback mechanisms for listening and responding to users
    Going live with your SaaS product is just the beginning. We educate our clients on what to expect in the first month, quarter, and year after deployment, with in-depth training for how to be an agile shop. Your ability to listen and respond to feedback predicts how well aligned you will be with the needs and wants of your customers. Having user feedback mechanisms in place allows you to easily track user experiences (i.e. with technical metrics or direct outreach such as phone calls and surveys). With a good CI/CD process, you can then be nimble and responsive with changes and improvements. This is a critical differentiator in a crowded field of SaaS competitors.
  4. Architect for demand, then leverage AWS to scale
    We find that many architects are using AWS or Azure but are still architecting as if they were on premise. Building infrastructure for overcapacity based on expected traffic is inefficient and expensive. The AWS pay-as-you-go pricing for services gives you flexibility to change direction quickly based on market demand. It also ensures that your revenue model can support your cost model. AWS also makes it easy to scale and go global fast without sacrificing performance or running into network latency issues. You can write something once and immediately deploy it to the edge. Last, AWS is fairly agnostic in terms of the technology stack which makes lifting and shifting SaaS software to the cloud easy.
  5. Construct secure multi-tenant environments
    Multi-tenant environments are common to SaaS solutions, but can create potential security risks. You need clear strategies for isolating tenants and supporting your user base while meeting data privacy requirements. This is particularly important when you’re expanding to international markets with compliance regulations such as GDPR (European Union) or PIPEDA (Canada).  AWS offers multiple off-the-shelf solutions, templates, and documented best practices for addressing security and building flexibility for multi-tenant environments.

In summary, the AWS Cloud gives SaaS providers limitless opportunities to innovate solutions with a secure foundation that can scale rapidly and reliably. To learn how Five Talent can help you build your SaaS solution, contact us!

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