Wondering about how to build your SaaS application using a highly scalable backend architecture?
If you are then the great news is that your product is already shining. All you need to do now is find the right backend infrastructure to take you to the next level of growth.
If you are leading a SaaS start-up, you have no doubt found yourself wondering how to overcome this problem. How can you ensure backend scalability while simultaneously focusing on delivering tip-top service?
And finally, how will scalability help to increase your revenue? Read on, as we answer these questions in this guide on scalable backend architecture!
The scalability of SaaS backend architecture: Its Importance
Why should you pay attention to the scalability of the backend architecture of your SaaS mobile app? Well, it’s important for your business!
Among various types of cloud computing models, “Software-as-a-Service” (SaaS) is highly powerful. You offer a software solution to target a specific business opportunity, and your customers buy it on a subscription or pay-per-use basis.
Your customers typically access it via a web browser. They have a minimal upfront investment if they buy a SaaS product, therefore, SaaS products are increasingly popular.
The global market for SaaS products was worth $134.44 billion back in 2018, however, it will likely be $716.52 billion in 2028. You can read more on Global Newswire.
How do you take advantage of this growing market? The answer lies in proactively planning for growth with your software backend architecture and infrastructure.
A scalable backend architecture for your SaaS product is the key here since you can’t really plan for growth without it. Imagine you acquiring many more customers while the performance of the SaaS product degrades! You will eventually lose the customers you acquired.
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What if you proactively plan to scale your SaaS product? It will perform well even after you grow your customer base and app functionality significantly, which will boost your revenue.
Scaling Backend Architecture for your SaaS Product
I will now explain how you can scale the backend of your SaaS product. You need to take the following steps:
1. Define the scalability requirements for your SaaS backend architecture
How do you define your scalability requirements? This seemingly straightforward question isn’t that easy to answer! You need to involve your SaaS product development project manager and the IT architect in this exercise.
You need to think through the following questions:
- Should you scale the backend of your SaaS product? Why are we even asking this question? Well, first determine if your SaaS product requires scaling in any notable manner. You could have a SaaS product that caters to a niche audience and you might have already captured the lion’s share of the market! It’s not a product where the customer base can grow significantly. In this case, innovating around your functional features will give you more value than scaling.
- When should you scale your SaaS product? Should you implement scalability-related measures from the beginning? Alternatively, should you focus on perfecting your functional features initially and focus on scalability later?
- How would you know whether you have scaled your SaaS backend sufficiently? Which metrics should you measure? I recommend that you measure metrics like memory utilization, CPU usage, network I/O, disk I/O, etc.
Need help defining your scalability requirements? Read “Why, how, and when to scale your software product” for more.
2. Plan your SaaS backend scalability measures
How would you develop a highly scalable backend for your SaaS product? You need to undertake a thorough planning exercise.
Consider the following:
- How would you monitor the relevant metrics to assess the scalability of your backend? After all, your scalability measures will help you to deliver a robust performance even with a much higher customer base. Therefore, you need to monitor the application performance metrics. “Application Performance Monitoring” (APM) tools can help you, and New Relic is an example of such a tool. Read “10 best APM tools (application performance monitoring tools)” to find more such examples.
- What is the best infrastructure management approach for you? I recommend that you take advantage of cloud computing since it helps you to achieve scalability. Read “Cloud computing scalability: what is it and why it’s important” to learn more about this. Of course, being a SaaS entrepreneur, using cloud computing aligns with your overall strategy too.
- Your architectural decisions play a big part in the scalability of your SaaS backend. Make these decisions thoughtfully.
- Which technologies should you use? You need to think through the programming languages, development frameworks, databases, etc.
- How do you ensure that you have followed the coding best practices? You need competent developers and reviewers in your team, therefore, plan for this.
Do you need help with this planning exercise? Our guide “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?” can help.
3. Find the right cloud computing platform for your SaaS backend service
How the right cloud computing platform can help you to build a scalable backend for your SaaS product? Well, it can help in many ways!
Since you are offering a web app, you would use a “Platform-as-a-Service” (PaaS) platform. You would certainly need a cloud provider with impressive capabilities, therefore, I would recommend that you use AWS.
AWS Elastic Beanstalk is the PaaS offering from AWS, which offers many advantages, e.g.:
- It manages the cloud infrastructure, networking, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. You can devote your energy to development.
- You can easily integrate APIs and add database resources.
- AWS Elastic Beanstalk also offers powerful DevOps tools.
I have explained these advantages in detail in our guide “10 top PaaS providers”.
Can you get even more advantages from a suitable cloud platform? You sure can! With your AWS account, you can use Amazon Cloudwatch. Cloudwatch is a robust APM solution.
Your IT architect, developers, and DevOps engineers can monitor and observe the performance of your SaaS application using Cloudwatch. As I mentioned, you need an APM solution to measure whether your scalability solutions are working.
Cloudwatch fits the bill since you respond to system-wide performance changes. It provides all the necessary logs and metrics that client-side project managers need to fully monitor their app’s performance.
4. Make the right architectural decision to build a scalable backend for your SaaS product
Why should you make your architectural decisions carefully? Well, these are the first decisions you make in the project after finalizing the business model and requirements. You need to get them right!
Your choice of architectural pattern can influence many aspects. Apart from delivering the functional features, your SaaS product must score high on “Non-Functional Requirements” (NFRs) like performance, availability, maintainability, scalability, etc.
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Read “Building blocks of a scalable architecture” to learn more about how the architectural pattern influences these. E.g., the “Shared nothing architecture” (SNA) pattern helps with horizontal scalability.
You need to think through the nature of your SaaS product carefully before you choose an architecture pattern. I recommend you avoid jumping onto a bandwagon just because others are doing it.
E.g., you would often hear about the value of the microservices architecture pattern. Seeing the success of Netflix with this pattern, many businesses are trying to adopt it.
Is the microservices architecture pattern a silver bullet? It’s not! If your SaaS product offers multiple distinct services and you can separate them fully, then you can use this pattern.
Monolithic architecture or Monolith is one example of another very popular architecture. You should do your homework to make sure that you pick the right one for your app. Scalability issues can cause low latency times to plummet. This will result in an exodus of your end-users.
On the other hand, if your SaaS product is offering services that are closely linked with each other, then this pattern won’t work for you. You need a SaaS product that best fits the server-side web services your project will offer as well as its expected growth rate.
Read our guide “10 best practices for building a microservice architecture” to learn more.
5. Choose the appropriate technology stack to develop a scalable backend for your SaaS product
You would choose a technology stack that gives you the best chance to deliver your functional features, wouldn’t you? Well, choosing the right technology stack can do much more!
The scalability of your SaaS product backend depends on your choice of the technology stack. You can read “5 tips for building a scalable technology stack” to learn more about this. Let’s consider a few examples.
Take Node.js for an example. When you are developing a web app, Node.js can help you to make it scalable. You get these advantages due to the following reasons:
- js helps you with asynchronous event-driven programming. With this kind of programming, you can eliminate the blocking processes, which helps you to scale your app.
- If you use data streaming, then Node.js can help.
Read our guide “10 great tools for Node.Js software development” for more insights.
Are you planning to use a modern web development framework for your SaaS development project? It makes sense since popular frameworks significantly aid in your development. Remember that your choice of development framework impacts the scalability of your SaaS product!
Netflix uses a search engine named Elastic Search instead of a traditional database. It is a distributed search engine with an HTTP web interface and schema-free JSON documents.
Your technology stack determines the framework you use. E.g., if you are using Node.js, then Express.js is a great choice for developing a scalable app.
You would need to use a “Relational Database Management System” (RDBMS) for your SaaS backend. Choose an RDBMS that helps you to develop a scalable backend. I recommend PostgreSQL. It supports the key scalability requirements, e.g.:
- High insert performance;
- High read performance.
Its powerful features like “streaming replication” make PostgreSQL a robust choice to build a scalable backend. Read “High availability and scalable reads in PostgreSQL” to learn more about this.
You might also need to use a document database while developing your SaaS backend. I recommend that you use MongoDB, which is a highly scalable NoSQL database. It’s great for horizontal scaling due to the following characteristics:
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- MongoDB helps you to build a scalable backend since it supports sharding. You can add more instances easily, which helps you to increase capacity.
- You will distribute data across multiple machines. Therefore, your backend will support high-throughput operations even with large datasets.
You can read more about this advantage of MongoDB in “Divide and conquer: high scalability with MongoDB sharding”.
You would need a database to store and manage server responses. A server response can be an HTML file, a JSON file, or an HTTP status code. An app contains the logic of how to respond to an incoming request from service clients based on an HTTP verb and URI (uniform resource identifier).
6. Focus on key development and testing best practices to develop a scalable SaaS backend
Are you wondering about what you need to do more to develop a scalable SaaS backend? There are several factors in your development and testing process that can influence the scalability of your software.
You should do the following:
- Plan your infrastructure and computational resources capacity proactively.
- Use asynchronous event-driven programming, as I have already explained.
- Make smart use of caching at various layers.
- Use the cloud computing platform to smartly allocate resources based on business segmentation. This can help you to manage different demand profiles for different backend services.
- Use auto-scaling and APM capabilities of the cloud platform smartly.
- Proactively use powerful database features like sharding and replication.
- Plan your load and performance testing adequately.
Wondering how you can diligently focus on these key factors while developing your SaaS backend? Our guide “How to build a scalable web application?” can help.
7. Onboard competent people to develop a scalable SaaS backend
You need competent people on your team, don’t you? It’s not just about delivering the functional features effectively, but you need quality people to develop a scalable backend too! You need the following:
- Developers that have experience in coding scalable web apps;
- Testers that know how to run robust load and performance testing;
- DevOps engineers who know how to use cloud computing effectively for scalability.
It’s not easy to onboard such people though! You might need help and us at DevTeam.Space can help. Read our guide “How to find a good software developer” to learn more.
You also need experienced reviewers, who can detect issues with the code that can impact scalability adversely. It’s hard to find such competent reviewers though.
We, at DevTeam.Space, have the capability you need, and you can judge that by reading “Why choosing DevTeam.Space to review your code can ensure your software product is a success”.
Final Thoughts on Scaling Backend Architecture
Developing a scalable SaaS backend architecture can be hard while delivering the functional features flawlessly. You need excellent end-to-end project management, and I recommend that you work with a reputed software development company.
Simply fill out a project specification form and we will get in touch to answer any questions that you might have.
Frequently Asked Questions
Scalability is the process of boosting the app’s capability to handle larger user numbers. This is vital because if an app is not scaled then it will begin to suffer increasing performance issues as more and more users use it.
You will need to do a comprehensive review of your application and its infrastructure. While applications that have been built with scalability in mind won’t need much in the way of alteration, the infrastructure they are run on will.
AWS is an excellent option for apps since it offers reasonable rates and is the largest cloud service in the world. However, it might not necessarily be the best solution for your application. You should review all candidates carefully before making a decision.
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Alexey is the founder of DevTeam.Space. He is among the Top 26 mentors of FI’s ‘Global Startup Mentor Awards’ and is a Band Of Angels Technology Expert.Hire Expert Developers