Best Tech Stack to Build a SaaS in 2023
The procedure for launching any IT application requires preliminary planning and decision-making at the initial stages of its development. For the customer, this project must be effective, and in order to achieve its effectiveness, the developer will need to approach the task in a comprehensive manner, paying attention to many important criteria.
The key condition for a competent solution to the problem is not to make a mistake in choosing a technology stack. Material about what a technology stack is, as well as the factors that you need to rely on when choosing it, users who comprehend the science of web programming will find in this article.
Why Is Tech Stack So Important?
A technology stack is a set of programming languages, SaaS frameworks, and software required to develop an application.
Since web applications consist of client and server parts, the requirements for their functionality change the programming languages, frameworks and software with which development will be carried out. In other words, the requirements for the functionality of the client and server parts affect the technology stack.
The client-side is the visible part of the web application that users interact with. There are 3 main elements of developing the client side of any web application:
- HTML is a document markup language that is required for a web application to display correctly in a browser.
- CSS is a formal language that is required for the proper styling of a web application.
- If we talk about frameworks, Bootstrap and React.js are most often used to develop the front-end of any web application.
The server side of a web application is what the user does not see because it is under the client-side. For the development of the server part are used:
- The backend programming language.
- Server. It is also possible to develop a web application with a serverless architecture.
Requirements for the client and server parts must be approved in advance and taken into account during the formation of the technology stack. The initial stage of project development is not limited to the choice of the technology stack, you will also need to decide on the structure of the application.
Here we will look at what the technological stack of the client-side is.
How to Choose the Best SaaS Tech Stack
Choosing the right technology stack is a success factor for project implementation. Let's look at the key questions that need to be answered before we get started.
All novice developers should know that software development is not only writing code without bugs, but also optimization, scalability and security. It all depends on the size of the business and the wishes of the customers.
A thorough analysis of the project will help determine which technologies are best used. Don't try to use the ones you're strongest at. This simple principle helps develop long-term business relationships.
The results of your work will affect all departments and divisions: from personnel management to marketing. You should have a clear idea of how things work in the client's company, which departments work closely and which do not.
We asked the developers about what they think before starting work.
The results were divided into 3 blocks:
- understanding of the project (business perspective),
- and stack selection (technical perspective)
- development perspective.
Understanding the Project
The developer must understand the concept of the product, understand the client's business, and know the time frame of the project.
What is the Scope, Budget, and Timeframe of the Project?
Does the client want to add a new feature in two weeks or does he need an ERP and it will be a long-term project?
You must know:
- When should the project be completed?
- What will be the pay per hour?
- What result do customers expect?
These questions let you know if the client's expectations are realistic before you start working.
Learn how to plan your software development budget in our article.
Is This a Short-term or Long-term Project?
It does not matter if the project will last a month or five years, in any case, it must be done well.
It makes no sense to work out the prototype architecture in detail - it's a waste of time. On the other hand, if the client plans to hire 20 developers to work on a long-term project, you need to analyze which technologies are profitable to use.
Is the Technical Component Important?
The client is interested in entering the market as early as possible. Its main goal is to collect marketing data, and the technical component goes by the wayside. He doesn't care about continuous integration or test coverage. Business goals first.
This is where persuasion is required. Your responsibility is to make them understand the long-term consequences of ignoring the technical side of the project. This will show your interest in the success of the project and increase the level of trust with the customer.
How Secure Should It Be?
Now think for a second about the client's field of work. Most likely, the level of secrecy will be different for everyone. The technologies you choose should take this into account.
There is a category of customers who are obsessed with security. Handle them with care. Some of them hear horror stories out of context that keep them awake at night:
"I'm sure the hackers I saw on TV will steal our restaurant's contact list."
No dear customer. They are not interested.
Am I Up to the Project?
If you want to work on a project that is above your skill level, get ready for chaos.
Such a rash choice complicates the workflow and deadlines will be missed. Don't be indifferent to your client's money.
Choosing the Right Stack
Let's talk about what really matters: the technology stack. If you have at least a little experience and an understanding of customer needs, there will be no difficulty in choosing technologies.
How to Simplify the Task?
Hundreds of frameworks and thousands of plugins are supported by developer communities. Don't reinvent the wheel and waste precious time. You may not even need a server! Use ready-made solutions and save time and effort for really important things.
The development time should always focus on what makes a project unique: custom business logic. Before writing even one line of code, make sure that it adds value to the project.
Don't Go Beyond Reason
Does the client plan to sell T-shirts through a small online store?
On the other hand, trying to knock down a bull with a slingshot is not very effective. You don't need a highly available, load-balanced, cached no-SQL engine ready to support a million concurrent users.
A client who plans to sell thousands of products daily will be outraged that you choose a free CMS solution deployed on cheap hosting.
Choose the right tools for the job.
Are You Using the Latest Tech Stack?
Make sure the technology you choose is up-to-date. If the repository was last updated 4 years ago, think about it.
Imagine a situation where you have a problem and you do not know how to solve it. You start googling and find 3 links with useless tips. A feeling of helplessness and a dissatisfied client is guaranteed.
We don't want to upset you, but there is no guarantee that your team will work with one client for life. If something does not suit the client, he will find new developers.
Front-End Stack for SaaS
The best frameworks for SaaS are React Angular and Vue.js. They are able to manage 3 main elements of the client side of a web application.
Below, we'll take a look at React, Angular, and Vue.js, highlight their strengths and weaknesses, and explore which web applications they're best suited for.
React is a UI library that was created by the giant company Facebook and has gathered a multimillion-dollar community around itself in more than 7 years of existence. Unlike Angular, React is not a framework. That is why it is used when developing simple web applications. React comes in handy when developing complex front-end logic, especially when there are a lot of reusable web application components.
The ecosystem of this UI library consists of many elements. JSX, for example, is very useful in development. By the way, if you need a mobile application, you can use React Native, which was created specifically for mobile applications.
The low cost and fast development time compared to developing a web application with Angular are the main advantages of this UI library. Moreover, since this is a very common technology, it will not be difficult to find a qualified React programmer. This is a very popular UI library that is unlikely to go out of use in the next 10 years due to the fact that it is supported by Facebook and has a community of many millions.
You should opt for React if:
- The web application will have a rich interface and a large number of reusable components.
- You have a React senior developer.
React is not worth choosing if you want your future web application to have advanced logic or if you do not have the opportunity to hire an experienced developer. Since this UI library does not require writing high-quality code, web applications often end up with bugs and other shortcomings. That is why you need a senior developer who will take care of the quality of the code.
Angular is the biggest competitor to React. It is a framework that is ideal for complex web applications with advanced logic. It's backed by Google, so it's clearly going to be very popular over the next 10 years.
This framework has logic, template and styles divided into 3 files. This framework also integrates very well with MVC.
Development of web applications with Angular is longer and of higher quality than development with React, because this framework requires you to plan the development even before it starts.
The increase in the cost and time of developing a web application on Angular is offset by the high quality of the final web application. The main disadvantage of developing a web application in Angular is that it is very difficult to find programmers who know this framework. The fact is that learning Angular is very difficult.
You should opt for Angular if:
- The web application will be large and complex with advanced logic and a simple interface.
- It is very important for you that the web application is written in high-quality code and has good scalability.
- You already have a person who knows and has experience developing web applications with Angular.
Angular is the worst option for developing a web application if it aims for the simplest possible interface and involves a lot of DOM manipulation.
We can say that Vue.js has collected all the best from the above two technologies. Vue.js is not a framework, but a UI library. Compared to React and Angular, this is a very young technology. This UI library doesn't have a multi-million active community, and it doesn't have the backing of a giant like Facebook. Because of this, it is not certain that Vue.js will be as popular as React and Angular in 10 years.
Vuex in Vue.js is much easier to maintain than Redux in React. There are also very few ready-made solutions for this UI library.
As practice shows, Vue.js is an excellent low-budget technology. Due to being simpler than React and Angular, there is no need for an experienced developer. This UI library is great if you need to develop a small web application as quickly as possible.
You should consider choosing Vue.js if:
- The web application will be small or you need to develop an MVP.
- You have an inexperienced development team and a limited budget.
- The web application does not provide extended logic and a complex interface.
At the moment, Vue.js is very popular among small development companies.
HyperText Markup Language is a technology used by developers to structure the content on the web page. Using the latest version, HTML 5, you can easily structure your app’s front-end audio and video content.
As the name suggests, cascading Style Sheets (CSS) styles the HTML written document in a desirable state. The primary function of a CSS file is to format and style the content to give it a particular look and feel.
Today, innumerable tools have emerged as a quick-fix solution to reduce the manual efforts in building front-end for web and mobile. Using a particular framework helps to take care of the page structure, interactive elements, and design in SaaS applications.
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Back-End Stack for SaaS
Even though the backend framework doesn’t hold the center stage, it’s the main engine that drives your app and implements the logic inside it. The web server, a part of the backend, accepts the request from the browser, processes these requests as per the coded logic, turns to the database to fetch results, and sends back the relevant content. Thus, the backend consists of a database, server app, and server itself.
The database is a collection of records. It is generally an aggregation of data, records, and files. There are numerous databases: MySQL, Redis, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL, with many NoSQL and SQL databases available.
You will likely choose Apache, IIS, and Nginx, which could be running on-premises or in AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, DigitalOcean, etc.
Terraform, Docker, Kubernetes, Ansible, Jenkins, ELK stack, Prometheus + Grafana, and others are needed to build Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery pipelines (CI/CD).
Your SaaS can benefit from in-detail data analytics powered by purpose-built AI algorithms. Such services are available on AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure or can be built using a variety of Python, R, or Go libraries if you’re skilled enough.
Kafka or RabbitMQ help streamline backend events in CQRS architectures, distributed data sources, and other complex backend structures.
An API is a bridge to establish a connection between Server and the client. It helps the server pull the data and transfer it to the database. The numerous services we use daily are highly dependent on interconnected APIs. If any of these APIs fail, the service will not function.
All these play a significant role in SaaS development. But choosing the best one isn’t as important as selecting an optimal set of tools for your particular project. This is where Backend-as-a-Service comes forward.
Databases for SaaS
There’s one more term we haven’t addressed so far—Database as a service (DBaaS). It typically refers to databases offered as PaaS or SaaS.
All major cloud platforms now offer DBaaS solutions. Some of these are closer to SaaS; others are slightly closer to PaaS. Popular examples of DBaaS solutions include Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Azure SQL Database, MongoDB Atlas and Amazon DynamoDB.
Those closer to PaaS take some ops aspects out of your hands while giving you an experience similar to self-managed versions of those databases. On the other hand, solutions that are closer to SaaS offer an out-of-the-box database solution that makes it easy to add powerful database functionality to your app. This can be an excellent option for organizations looking for the shortest path to get data applications up and running quickly and easily.
Earlier the data was stored in hard drives which were not reliable and secure as the drive can access by anyone.
Today cloud computing services have replaced search hard drive technology and come with a new concept called cloud technology in which the data is stored in the cloud. There are many companies that provide Cloud computing services and they are very reliable or you can learn about SaaS migration plan yourself.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon Web Services is a cloud computing platform that provides services such as computing power, database storage, content delivery and many other functions which will help to integrate a business.
With the help of the internet, the customer can access highly durable storage such as Amazon Glacier, Amazon S3, and Amazon EBS. It also has high-performance databases such as Amazon Redshift, Amazon Dynamo DB, Amazon ElastiCache and Amazon RDS.
ServerSpace Cloud Servers
These are Cloud Servers with Windows & Linux OS. At ServerSpace Cloud Servers, you can choose your own custom configurations, spin up your VM in 40 sec, change the configuration at any time and pay as you go. Unlimited traffic, High-end performance and 24/7/365 human tech support.
VMs are based on the latest 2nd Gen Intel Scalable CPUs with 3.1 GHz frequency and deliver a revolutionary new level of cloud computing. Fast-speed solid-state drives with awesome IOPS rate. Data is stored 3x and always available with no lags.
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service that is used for building, testing, deploying and managing the application. The cloud development life cycle is done in a global network of the Microsoft-managed data center. It is a private as well as a public cloud platform.
It uses virtualization, which differentiates the coupling between the operating system and CPU with the help of an abstraction layer known as a hypervisor.
This hypervisor emulates all the functionality of the physical machine, such as hardware and server, into a virtual one. There is numerous amount of virtual machine available and each virtual machine can run many operating systems.
Google Cloud Platform
Google cloud platform is one of the leading Cloud Computing services which are offered by Google and it runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses for its end-user products.
The Google cloud platform is basically used for Google search and YouTube. There are various services offered by Google Cloud such as data analysis, machine learning, and data storage.
The data stored in Google Cloud is secure and can access easily. It offers varieties of services, from infrastructure as a service to platform as a service. Google also provides a strong commitment to security and stability.
Try to treat my infrastructure as cattle instead of pets. Servers and clusters should come and go. If one server gets unhealthy, you should be able to restart it or destroy it without issues. Also, this process should be automatic and the infrastructure heals itself. That way, you would reduce the chances of intervening at 2 AM when things go wrong.
Here are the tools that are mostly used:
- GitHub Actions;
If there's something that should never go down, it is the monitoring and alerting system. Otherwise, how would you know if things go wrong if the thing that's supposed to alert you is down too?
For peace of mind in case your cluster is down, better migrate to a hosted service instead:
- New Relic: you can use their Prometheus adapter for easy integration with Kubernetes. It automatically forwards all my metrics to their service. We are talking about things like HTTP request count, response times, queue sizes, and so on.
- Sentry: Application exception monitoring and aggregation. It notifies when unhandled errors happen.
Microservice Architecture for SaaS
Microservices are the resulting standalone services after breaking a software application down into separate components that perform their function(s) without being embedded in the application itself.
Microservices are perfectly suited for SaaS, where each service is assumed to be part of a larger system.
You can learn more about the advantages of microservices over monolithic in our article.
Multi-Tenant Architecture for SaaS
In its most basic definition, multi-tenancy is an architecture in which a single instance of a software application services multiple customers, or tenants. Multi-tenancy can be economical because software development and maintenance costs are shared.
Additionally, with a multi-tenancy architecture, the provider only has to make updates once in order to share them with all of its ‘tenants.’ A software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor, for example, can run one instance of its application on one instance of a database and provide web access to multiple customers. In such a scenario, each tenant’s data is isolated and remains invisible to other tenants. In this way, customers do not share or see each other’s data.
For those companies considering public clouds or partnering with a provider to access them, IT managers need to understand the degree of multi-tenancy supported by the vendor they are considering.
In the SaaS space, you typically share resources like servers, heating, cooling, security and more. A benefit to this arrangement is not having to provision or manage any infrastructure or software above and beyond your own internal resources. This enables you to get back to what you and your business do best on an everyday basis, instead of spending cycles managing and maintaining a lot of hardware and software.
Here is a list of many DevOps tools to automate things in Kubernetes cluster:
- Ingress-Nginx: Ingress controller for Kubernetes. It provisions NGINX services to load balance traffic to my pods. It also manages a Network Load Balancer (NLB) on AWS which controls ingress to the cluster nodes. It handles unhealthy nodes and traffic shaping. Rock-solid and has a huge community.
- Cert-manager: It automatically issues and renew TLS certificates. You can simply specify an ingress rule in my Kubernetes YAML files and it takes care of the rest.
- External-DNS: It manages the DNS records for the services that can be run on Kubernetes. Just add an entry to the Ingress manifest and external-DNS synchronizes the DNS records in Cloudflare or Route53.
- Flux: A GitOps way to do continuous delivery in Kubernetes. It pulls and deploys new Docker images when it detects a new push to the image registry (in my case ECR).
You can use plenty of CLI tools for various purposes. But here are some that you should pay attention to:
- Kubectl: try it to interact with the Kubernetes cluster. It can tail logs, inspect pods and services, SSH into a running container, and so on.
- Stern: It lets you tail logs in real-time across multiple pods or services. Super useful for troubleshooting issues or inspecting production access logs.
- Htop: Interactive system process viewer. Like the top, but better.
- cURL: use it to make HTTP requests, inspect headers, SSL/TLS certifications and whatnot.
- Hey: A great tool for load testing HTTP endpoints. It outputs a nice summary of the latency percentiles.
Here's a list of some other tools that can help you run your SaaS:
- GitHub: Source code hosting and versioning.
- PyCharm: It's probably the best IDE for Python. You can refactor and navigate the entire codebase with ease. Works well even with large, untyped codebases.
- VS Code: Great for Typescript/React work.
- Poetry: Python packaging and dependency management with lock files. Makes the packaging story in Python so much easier and helps in keeping track of changes.
- Yarn: Fast dependency management for Node.js with local caching.
- Invoked: Better to wrap all your codebase tasks in invoked commands. This way, you can run locally the same commands that would run on CI, in case it's needed.
How to Avoid Mistakes When Picking Tech Stack in 2023
At this point, we would like to highlight some of the factors that should be important to anyone who decides on a front-end application tech stack.
The first factor to consider when choosing a tech stack is probably the most obvious one, because the size of the application is the most important, as the complexity grows with the size of the project. This is how you can move to the software product discovery phase.
Another important factor when choosing a technology stack for a project is the time to market for the application.
If time is short, you need to choose a technology that does not require long planning, development is not difficult, and you can turn to developers who know this technology.
In the case of a long time to market, you can consider several factors to make the right choice. Also, it is worth to consider to scale up development team.
Given that you're spending a lot of money on an app, you need it to be secure. Especially since the number of cyberattacks continues to grow, you need to take this seriously in order to take care of the security of your data.
Most of the popular frontend frameworks contain some security guidelines. You need to take care to follow all these guidelines during the development process.
For many companies, this is one of the most important factors. Most frameworks and tools are free and open source, but you still need to hire developers, so you need to calculate how many developers you will need to complete the application in a certain period of time with your chosen technology.
In addition to the development cost, you need to take into account maintenance and server costs. If you're looking to reduce maintenance costs, consider a serverless architecture for your application.
Scalability and Support
It is also important to think about the future of the application. If you want it to grow, it must be easily scalable and maintainable. This is easy to achieve, you just need to choose a good project structure and take care to use reliable technologies.
Depending on the type of project, you may need to pay attention to several other factors, such as performance. Don't forget to rethink every aspect of the application so you can plan before it goes live, and implementing any architecture changes gets really expensive.
Choosing the right SaaS technology stack for your business is not as easy as it seems. But, at Ardas, we recommend going for the simple and reliable technologies and tools available on every layer of the stack. You shouldn’t search out niche tools without LTS support; instead, focus on selecting the most popular technology on the market.
In the end, it’s only your expertise gained over the years of software development that will help define the most relevant SaaS tech stack for every project. This is why Ardas is happy to help you out with our in-depth expertise and provide consulting on how to choose a tech stack for the SaaS product you plan to build as well as others SaaS development services.
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