Welcome to part two of our six-part series examining the advantages cloud native development conveys to SaaS providers. In part one, we took a brief look back at the obstacles caused by monolithic legacy apps and looked at the first cloud-native benefit: reduced barriers to entry.

Civilized Software Development

“Specialized jobs” are one of the many developments used to define the beginnings of civilization. Additional developments, including stable food supplies, cities, and systems of government and social structure help to enable this specialization.

Today, most of us no longer grow our own food or weave cloth and sew our own clothes, enabling us to focus on one dedicated career, while also enjoying more leisure time. Cloud native development also brings helpful job-specialization to software development and alleviates the burden of infrastructure management for developers. This specialization results in numerous benefits, which we’ve broken into five categories.

SaaS providers can incorporate complex technologies across multiple, discrete areas such as:

  • Natural language processing
  • Complex data processing
  • Event-driven functions
  • API management

Specialization = Smaller Teams

Microservices free startups from having to build it all from scratch. You no longer need a broad range of in-house expertise in all areas, including infrastructure management. SaaS providers no longer have to hire and retain huge teams of detailed, very skilled experts in all areas. Instead, your team can lean on numerous microservices to supply that expertise. Using components with logic and hooks baked in alleviates the need for numerous Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to manage it.

Without the need for many SMEs, development teams can become smaller as well as more specialized. Reduce the size of your team, as each member is able to focus on a narrower area of specialization.

By breaking up the traditional monolith, you can take advantage of this specialization and support powerful, compelling use cases without internal expertise. In turn, this provides the following additional benefits.

Focus on Your Core Competencies

Your “core competency” is often referred to as what you can do better than any other. Focusing on it enables you to do it better. By increasing the amount of time and energy your team spends on that vital core, you can boost competitive advantage.

Adopting technologies developed by third parties, such as various SaaS applications, is one way many organizations increase focus on their core competence. QAD, a provider of cloud-based manufacturing and supply chain management solutions, quantified these gains in a recent survey on the impacts of SaaS adoption.

  • 86% of respondents agreed that adopting SaaS applications is a good way to foster the company’s concentration on its core competencies.
  • 89% agreed that adopting SaaS allows their organization to enhance capabilities that distinguish them from their competitors.
  • 86% agreed that by adopting SaaS their company can concentrate more on putting their core strategies into action.

“Further, improved capabilities from SaaS diffusion were associated with increased revenues, reduced costs and improved productivity.”

For SaaS providers, microservices, and serverless in particular, alleviate burdensome infrastructure management, enabling increased focus on the unique advantage your app delivers to customers. In, The imperative to become cloud native, Deloitte notes “[Serverless] is a key architecture pattern to consider while developing cloud native solutions. … Serverless lets developers focus on code and advances event-based computing.”

Reduce Development Costs

Cloud native development brings opportunities to easily embed third party components and relieves SaaS providers from having to hire numerous, specialized experts. This enables SaaS providers to reduce costs while also enhancing their product’s functionality, delivering real ROI.

In the vast majority of cases, embedding a third party component, such as Qrvey embedded analytics, will be less expensive than hiring -or even outsourcing- developers. Senior developers with specialized expertise can be particularly expensive.

DevOps and software development services provider ClickIT estimates that, “including its pre-configured and built-in technologies that Amazon provides, you would probably reduce web development costs up to 30%.”

Reduce Maintenance Efforts

When purchasing a product, it’s easy to focus exclusively on the initial price tag, but the “cost” includes much more. Building and owning a SaaS component requires you to take on the effort of maintaining it long term, beyond the initial, upfront cost of building it. Maintenance entails more than just fixes and includes the entire lifecycle of a module: planning and roadmap processes, product management and non-engineering decision making.

Working with a third party embedded platform, the maintenance is essentially taken care of, along with a steady roadmap of enhancements. This alleviates the need for your internal team to build and maintain both the code and the roadmap – which is another significant “cost” as well.

Software development company Onix estimated the costs of each stage of SaaS application development. “The cost of maintenance and improvements by a couple of developers, design and QA specialists will start from $10K per month.”

Improve Efficiency & Speed

With smaller teams, SaaS providers can be leaner, spend more efficiently, and move faster. According to AWS, “Cloud-native technologies support fast and frequent changes to applications without impacting service delivery, providing adopters with an innovative, competitive advantage.”

This ability to accelerate development is reflected in the ever increasing frequency of releases. GitLab’s 2022 DevSecOps survey found that 35% of devs are releasing code twice as fast, and 15% are releasing code between three and five times faster. Seventy percent of DevOps teams release code continuously, once a day, or every few days, up 11% from 2021.

But First… Embrace True DevOps

AWS notes that, “A cultural shift is important for cloud-native development.”

DevOps is a vital component of that shift.

Deloitte advises, “Just as microservices stress independence and decoupling, so must the IT organization embrace true DevOps—in which the goal is to be able to build, deploy, and run with much smaller teams that spend less time coordinating with other teams.”

Writing for CNCF, Product Manager Susa Tünker describes a set of workload centric development principles created as part of their shift away from infrastructure centric development. The principles include, “Provide a tightly scoped workload spec that shields
developers from the configurational complexity of container orchestrators and tooling.” This workload-centric approach, “simplifies the promotion of workloads from local to remote development environments by automating repetitive configuration work.”

In a fun visual, Susa describes the impact as, “Code is passed through the fence, rather than being thrown over it.”

TOP TIP – Evaluate tasks to uncover what enhances your competitive advantage.

In order to stay focused on the components that increase your competitive advantage, you must first define what that advantage is. Hopefully your marketing department has very clear definitions of your unique selling proposition and key value messages. Then work to evaluate your tasks against that definition. As you uncover tasks outside that scope, you can begin to identify what could ideally be left to third party components, so your team can resume focus.

 

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