How to transform your standard business to Cloud oriented business?

First thing that is good to know is that there is enough skilful people outside that can help you to achieve this goal. Among these people is also myself, with more then 10-years experience in SaaS Cloud solutions and IT infrastructure that earn money from monthly/annually subscriptions. Please feel free to contact me regarding this topic, I will be glad to help.

First thing is to take deep thinking what useful value you can provide to your existing customers. If they can do their job done using you current solution, maybe the direction can be to allow them to do this job completely from their smart phones, or from any point of the world that has an Internet connection.

The best will be to start with something small, to expose one or two features from your product. Maybe you can do also the REST API from this and share with the hungry world outside. Test this on your current customers – they will be happy to give you an honest feedback (if they are happy with your existing product). So, test until you come to the point that what you have now gives enough value from your existing and new customers.

Launch the Beta version of your Cloud SaaS service, try to get as many early adopters as possible, gather the stats and analyze the usage of your features. Try to make as clean UX as possible.

When you are building the Cloud SaaS web solution it is always important to choose the technology in which you will work and deploy your solution.

What you will choose always depend on few things

  • What is the best internal knowledge of your team regarding the programming languages?
  • How trendy is chosen technology (long-term looking in next 5 years)? Youngsters are coming every day and they will not learn to create a website in Visual FoxPro…
  • What is the final cost of cloud hosting per month? What additional software licences do you need?
  • How scalable is your solution when it comes to large number of request per second?

There are three main options to choose regarding the technology:

  1. Completely open source solution
    • OS: Linux
    • Webserver: Apache
    • Programming language: PHP / Ruby on Rails / JSP
    • Database: MySQL / Mongo / PostgreSQL / Cassandra
  2. Microsoft oriented platform
    • OS: Windows Server 2008R2 / Windows Server 2012
    • Webserver: IIS (OS built-in)
    • Programming language: ASP.NET MVC (C#, Linq2SQL)
    • Database: MS SQL Server 2008R2 / MS SQL Server 2012
  3. Hybrid platform (Microsoft + open source for database)
    • OS: Windows Server 2008R2 / Windows Server 2012
    • Webserver: IIS (OS built-in)
    • Programming language: ASP.NET MVC (C#, Linq2SQL)
    • Database: MS SQL Server 2008R2 Express Edition / MySQL / Mongo / PostgreSQL / Cassandra

If we look the costs amoung different Cloud providers we see that cost of OS (operating system) is not an issue anymore (it is free for Linux and for Windows: check GoGrid). The cost occur when you choose the database because MS SQL Server can be costly. But even there you have an option to go at the beginning with MS SQL Server 2008R2 Express Edition which is completely free and has followinf limitations:

  • Use of maximum 1 CPU
  • Use of maximum 1GB RAM
  • Maximum database size : 10GB (without transaction log, only data)

So, this is more then enough for beginning (for Startups). Later you can choose to switch to some of NoSQL alternatives or even combine MS SQL 2008R2 Express with Mongo (for big incoming data).

A little bit larger costs can occur for resources CPU and RAM needed for OS itself (Linux need something less then Windows).

On the other hand I personally extremely like C# programming language and lightweight ASP.NET MVC web technology plus I really like how easy is to use LINQ as DB layer for data manipulation. Everything just works super nicet. I don’t need to search something regarding the core functionality on forums and I can be only focused on development of the solution. Almost everything I need can be found on Stackoverflow which, by the way, runs on Windows Server, ASP.NET MVC and MS SQL Server and they have really huge number of page views and they shared their experience on scalability.

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