How SaaS Can Benefit From DevOps
When starting a SaaS-product-based business and hiring a SaaS app development company to create the desired software, apart from other vital questions businesses want to know who will be in charge of the technical side.
While typically custom software development is limited to involving back- and front-end engineers, a designer and a QA specialist, development in the field of cloud-based systems, which SaaS is, often requires a DevOps specialist. In this article, we will explain what they are in charge of and how your SaaS can benefit from DevOps.
Why DevOps for SaaS is necessary
SaaS companies pass the stages of their evolution from a startup to a successful mature company, like any other business. But their growth is highly
dependent on the product life cycle and development life cycle, as, in essence, SaaS is a web-based product hosted on the Internet to which users get
access via a browser.
At the startup stage, a core team suggests a software solution that solves the problem by meeting the user's needs, often in the form of an MVP. By the time the MVP grows into a product that fits the market need and provides a competitive service, it experiences a great number of changes.
At this stage, the development team plays a very significant role, but the startup may be at risk of limited budget to cover operational costs.
So maximum changes here should be made:
in the shortest possible time (e.g. the reduction of the development cycle by automation)
without bloating staff (e.g. no need to hire extra team members)
avoiding irrational use of human resources (for instance, instead of coding, developers are troubleshooting on the servers).
The Stages of SaaS Company
Searching for Problem-Solution fit
Searching for Product-Market fit
Product / Market Fit
Optimizing the Funnel, searching for Channel-Product fit
Channel / Product Fit
Pour on the resources for growth
Growth through acquisition & expansion
This was the introductory part—if you've come to learn how DevOps as a Service can be of help in custom SaaS development, you can
start reading from here.=)
The need for a DevOps specialist arises from the very beginning of work on the project. Why so? They can consult on the server architecture, as they know how to build it from the point of view of effective performance. They can assist and set up environments for development, testing and deployment, and also perform a range of other essential tasks.
Those specific tasks that DevOps can solve in a couple of working days, programmers who have not encountered before will be solving much longer, sometimes up to 1-2 weeks.
Of course, sooner or later a Middle or Senior-level developer will find the solution, but it may not be an optimal one or not follow the DevOps best
Completing your development team with a full-time DevOps specialist makes sense if the team grows and reaches 5-10 members and the project scales. Otherwise, a DevOps engineer usually works on a part-time basis and dedicates a few hours a week to your project, which also makes them efficient in terms of price.
But still, what is so special a DevOps can do?
DevOps for SaaS: benefits and best practices
Any DevOps engineer knows and applies these practices. We provide them in the form of glossary for easy navigation.
Continuous Integration. Its key goals are to find and address bugs quicker, improve software quality, and reduce the time
it takes to validate and release new software updates.
Continuous Delivery. Code changes are automatically built, tested, and prepared for deployment.
Microservices architecture. Its main benefits are hosting facility, solution stability and quick recovery. It gives flexibility in using different frameworks or programming languages to write microservices and deploy them.
Monitoring and Logging
Fine-tuned log management ensures quick identification of the fault, while monitoring will help to timely respond to
conditions of the system - CPU load, free space on the server, etc.
Finally, we came up with the benefits of the introduction of DevOps best practices in your SaaS organization. They boil down to things in the picture below.
Infrastructure as a Code
Infrastructure is provisioned and managed using such coding and software development techniques as version control and continuous integration.
DevOps Benefits for a SaaS Company
Improved quality of the product
Secure and reliable infrastructure
Enhanced system performance
Better dev team's productivity
Faster time to market
Reduced operational costs
Defining cases when DevOps is useful for SaaS
The cases suggested below are provided as examples of what a SaaS DevOps engineer can do on the project. The variety of DevOps tasks on the project is enormous, and the aim of giving these examples is to provide an approximate understanding of the DevOps functions and how a SaaS can benefit from them.
At the very start of the project
At Zero sprint, a DevOps specialist can help with defining the tech stack and architecture of the SaaS solution while planning its future functionality.
They can set different environments for testing and production.
On the ongoing project
Commonly, on an existing project, DevOps starts their work with the research of the system and its documentation. To perform specific tasks, like setting up CI/CD, they need:
to look at what technologies are used
what kinds of databases are there
what networks are configured, servers, etc.
This step is needed to get an understanding of what to improve or fix. This phase takes from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on the case.
A common goal of the SaaS project is to improve infrastructure and security. To achieve this goal, a DevOps specialist first researches what works well and what needs to be fixed. They conduct tests and review the infrastructure and evaluate the security measures taken to protect data. Often, the omissions in security are evident immediately without deep immersion, e.g. security groups are poorly configured. While working on these improvements, the downtimes of an app are possible, so coordination and approval from the customer’s side are needed.
There are cases when against the backdrop of these improvements, DevOps is asked to make Infrastructure as code (IaC). You may find out how they do it and what SaaS DevOps tools they use by contacting our team. In a nutshell, IaC automates the development process and speeds up changes. For a SaaS company, this service means simplifying infrastructure management.
DevOps consultation also is useful when making a decision of changing the level of a server class. A DevOps expert can suggest options for the server characteristics. They make a comparative analysis, estimate costs, possible risks, etc.
One of the DevOps tasks, constant server monitoring and system health check, helps timely respond to conditions of the system - CPU load, free space on the server, etc.
A great option for a SaaS project is autoscaling. To set it up correctly, DevOps engineer makes an analysis of the historical data - how many servers and of what type they are, what was the load on the processor, what was the peak load, etc.
A fine-tuned log management is essential as it helps identify the malfunction quickly and start solving the problem faster. Log management is one of the best practices that makes development more effective. As you can see, the range of the tasks is really diverse - from moving your project to a new server, or rebuilding the architecture to microservices, to SaaS release management, DNS and database management, troubleshooting in case of a crash, and much more.
Thus, the presence of DevOps in SaaS companies shortens the development cycle and frees developers from non-core tasks. But more often, the need for
DevOps starts to be evident when it becomes obvious that the development team lacks the specific expertise, faces difficulties, and loses time on
For the evolution of a Saas product, recognizing the need for DevOps is a very important step that can significantly affect the quality of the product.
DaaS (part-time or episodic DevOps services outsourcing) is a good answer for SaaS startups and developing companies. DevOps as a Service provides the possibility to effectively improve the existing state of affairs on the project without the staff bloat. The positive effects boil down to improved system performance, shorter time to market, cutting down of operational costs, a rise in the development team’s productivity, fast troubleshooting, and more secure and reliable infrastructure.
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