What does it take to build a cloud-based SaaS Web app?

by Thespeculosity 8 replies
Hi everyone, I joined this forum because I was hoping to learn from experts in programming. I know next to nothing about it.

I want to develop a web app for lawyers, and plan to outsource it's development to a programmer. But I have no idea what I should look for, what language I want it to be programmed, what things I need to start a SaaS company. Can anyone help please?

I didn't know what topic to post this in so I posted it here, please let me know if you would like me to post this somewhere else.

I guess I'll organize this into a number of questions

1) What requirements are needed to have a cloud-based SaaS website? I heard I need a server so I was planning on using Amazon's cloud service. But I hear I need something like an SSL, (don't know what that is).

2) Should I look for a specific language that I want my programmers to program in? If so what would be the best language to save on time for it to be built?

Thank you guys.
#programming #app #build #cloudbased #saas #web
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  • Profile picture of the author P4tch
    1) As for technical stuff, you're going to need a server (You're planning to use an Amazon EC2 instance - that's fine). If you want to have an encrypted connection to your website, you're going to want a SSL certificate (they are not expensive at all) and it will allow you to do just that. Also, depending on if you're fine with Apache or nginx - my personal favourite is nginx - you may need to pay for some webserver software, for example, LiteSpeed. Lastly, depending on how big your website is, you may need to find an alternative to MySQL (database software) or even give it it's own software. There are paid alternatives to MySQL, like Oracle DB - which just happens to be by the same company that owns MySQL.

    2) If you're opting for speed, you're looking for a scripting language like PHP, Perl or Node.js. My personal favourite is PHP and that's what I'm most experienced with. There are a few downsides to PHP, but since you want to get it done fast, I think PHP is what you're looking to use. If you want speed of the actual website when in production, there are languages much faster than PHP since PHP is actually interpreted by the Zend engine. If you want an example, this forum runs vBulletin, which is made in PHP.

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    • Profile picture of the author Thespeculosity
      Originally Posted by P4tch View Post

      1) As for technical stuff, you're going to need a server (You're planning to use an Amazon EC2 instance - that's fine). If you want to have an encrypted connection to your website, you're going to want a SSL certificate (they are not expensive at all) and it will allow you to do just that. Also, depending on if you're fine with Apache or nginx - my personal favourite is nginx - you may need to pay for some webserver software, for example, LiteSpeed. Lastly, depending on how big your website is, you may need to find an alternative to MySQL (database software) or even give it it's own software. There are paid alternatives to MySQL, like Oracle DB - which just happens to be by the same company that owns MySQL.

      2) If you're opting for speed, you're looking for a scripting language like PHP, Perl or Node.js. My personal favourite is PHP and that's what I'm most experienced with. There are a few downsides to PHP, but since you want to get it done fast, I think PHP is what you're looking to use. If you want speed of the actual website when in production, there are languages much faster than PHP since PHP is actually interpreted by the Zend engine. If you want an example, this forum runs vBulletin, which is made in PHP.


      Thanks for the reply, I appreciate it.

      I'm planning on building something similar to this Case Management Software | MyCase

      In regards to your answer on number one:

      I talked to an Amazon representative today and have realized that I do in fact need an EC2 server. I'm also going to be using their S3 storage, so that it can hold lawyer files.

      I have to have a server software to hold my software on? I'm guessing that's for like server admin stuff right? and judging by the website I just posted, and that I'm posting something similar to that, would MySQL work?


      In regards to your answer to number 2:

      Yes, I have been reading based on what it says under the PHP topics on programming forums that PHP is starting to rise in web development. I also hear that if I'm hiring a developer, I should let him or her use what their best with... But I do plan on having developers work on it after it's made for adding on features, or to get rid of bugs.
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      • Profile picture of the author P4tch
        Originally Posted by Thespeculosity View Post

        Thanks for the reply, I appreciate it.
        Yes, I have been reading based on what it says under the PHP topics on programming forums that PHP is starting to rise in web development. I also hear that if I'm hiring a developer, I should let him or her use what their best with... But I do plan on having developers work on it after it's made for adding on features, or to get rid of bugs.
        Looking at mycase.com, I think that PHP would actually be the perfect language. ASP could be another alternative, but that's outdated and it to be honest sucks. PHP is widely used, so you will not find it difficult to find another developer that can adapt/change/add-on code to what someone else has already written, especially if you hire someone that does it all in OOP (object orientated programing).

        Also, from what you've sent as an example, you're going to need some pretty secure stuff due to the possible sensitive information that will be stored on there. I would not go NEAR shared hosting - Amazon is kind of a must. Or a dedicated server that you set up yourself (or hire someone to do so).

        If you'd like to chat about this in general and if you need any help, you can always PM me for my Skype and I can give you any tips with anything that you need.
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        • Profile picture of the author jacktackett
          Thespeculosity,
          here is a pdf on building SaaS systems. Unfortunately your question is a bit too open ended - there are many different things to consider.

          The biggest one is what do your potential customers - the lawyers - want. I know they are used to this type of delivery since they use Lexus and WestLaw which are remote databases.

          I've managed/built out several data centers and worked on a few SaaS systems, so if you have some specific questions please feel free to hit me up.

          Good luck,
          --Jack
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          Let's get Tim the kidney he needs!HELP Tim
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  • Profile picture of the author lordspace
    Waiiit!

    first, I'd stay before you invest into any hosting or other stuff talk to Small (Default)yers and many of them.
    Ask them if they would use a tool that you will build and ask a lot of details.
    Then ask if they would pay for that kind of service.

    About the S3 - file storage this would make sense if you're hosting large files.
    If files are sensitive I'd definitely make it so the downloading of the files happens by authorized people (e.g. the user is logged in and has been given access to a specific file) this can be done via a program/script.

    With EC2 (Amazon EC2 Pricing, Pay as you go for Cloud Computing Services) the Small (Default) will cost you $43.20/month.

    I'd say start small even with a shared hosting during the beta and then switch to a VPS (virtual private server). I got 2 from linode for $20/vps/month. They just finished an upgrade and the virtual machines have 1GB of ram. cool.

    Next, you'll need to have your developers configure a vhost that access subdomains (dynamic vhosts) e.g.
    client1.site.com; client2.site.com; client3.site.com

    If you're using paypal then can delay purchasing an SSL certificate.

    Hope this helps.
    Slavi
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    • Profile picture of the author P4tch
      Originally Posted by lordspace View Post

      Waiiit!
      I'd say start small even with a shared hosting during the beta and then switch to a VPS (virtual private server). I got 2 from linode for $20/vps/month. They just finished an upgrade and the virtual machines have 1GB of ram. cool.

      If you're using paypal then can delay purchasing an SSL certificate.

      Hope this helps.
      Slavi
      The thing about Amazon verses everything else is that the cloud does not go down to any attacks or things like that. I'd REALLY recommend against linode, they got their servers compromised by hackers twice within the last month. If you do not want problems and want a really fast website with no errors etc, get Amazon.

      Also, an SSL certificate is always a good thing. Why compromise on security of your customers' data if you can save $20? I buy a SSL for every single one of my projects. If you're feeling like expanding, you can look into EV (Extended Validation) SSL certificates, which are the same thing banks and things like PayPal use. They show your company name in your browser window - obviously, I'm guessing you are going to register/already have a registered company.
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      • Profile picture of the author lordspace
        Re: linode: are you talking about the VPS servers or the host servers?
        VPS servers are supposed to be managed by the owners.

        I think a VPS should be fine the first 6-12 months. If they are more successful that's even better.
        The team needs to invest the money into marketing and getting clients.
        Money saved will be money invested.

        Premature optimization is not cool
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      • Profile picture of the author mgkimsal
        Originally Posted by P4tch View Post

        The thing about Amazon verses everything else is that the cloud does not go down to any attacks or things like that.
        Yes, it does.

        June 2012: Amazon EC2 outage takes down Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest | News | TechRadar

        October 2012: Amazon EC2-Related Issues Took Down Reddit, Imgur and Other Sites [Updated] | Betabeat

        It may not happen as much as other services, but it definitely happens. And yes, you architect around the potential downtime, but it takes a lot of know-how (and cash).
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        Michael Kimsal
        http://heywords.com/ - for article writers

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