Role of Automation in SaaS: Continuous Deployment
Posted By : Arpita Pal | 21-Aug-2023
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a distribution and delivery model for software hosted on cloud-based systems by a third-party vendor over the internet. Offered as a paid subscription model, they are accessible to their users in versions of mobile applications, desktop applications, and APIs via the internet. The third-party vendor is primarily responsible for updating them to their latest versions, and daily maintenance of the software while hosting them on its servers and databases. SaaS has a wide range of applications in numerous industries involving professional, retail, and is used even for personal and governmental usage. In 2023, the market for SaaS is found to be worth 197 billion US dollars, and by 2024-25, the market is estimated to rise to 232 billion dollars.
Benefits of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS):
Its soaring popularity in numerous industries is due to the multitude of benefits it provides to its users, such as:
1. Automated updates: Advancement in SaaS development has now made it possible for enhancements released by the developers to be applied in the software automatically and immediately without the need for manual involvement.
2. Flexible Payment Options: The subscription model of SaaS allows its users to choose from multiple payment options on the basis of duration, type of architecture, and even allows the convenience to drop the subscription according to the needs of the organization.
3. Optimal Resource Utilization: Companies are able to utilize their resources in crucial areas of software development more efficiently, instead of diverting and spending it on training manpower for routine maintenance of the software.
4. Accessibility: In large organizations, there are multiple users who have varying degrees of power in authority and accessibility that are working on the projects. SaaS helps such organizations to distribute control of access so that they can work only on those areas of projects that they are assigned to.
5. Scalability and Flexibility: SaaS offers a great degree of customization and flexibility in choosing the right type of software relevant to the company's requirements.
Its wide range of applications are supported by different types of architecture in SaaS models which provide varying levels of accessibility and data handling. Multi-tenant SaaS, Split-plane/Hybrid SaaS, Private SaaS, and Self-managed SaaS are the different varieties of architecture found in cloud-based models. Multi-tenant architecture is used by fields where the software is hosted on a public infrastructure and the requirement for sensitive data is less. It is most popularly used in professional and service-related fields. Split-plane SaaS is a hybrid architecture of SaaS that uses features of both on-premise and cloud-based systems and is more cost-friendly. Private and self-managed SaaS architectures are mainly used where sensitive data is to be stored and tight control of data and ownership is required by the company.
Advancement and Enhancement of SaaS Development through Continuous Deployment
Continuous Deployment in DevOps
Continuous deployment In SaaS development plays a huge role for developers in achieving the ability to be agile, flexible, and quickly integrate changes in the software during or past the stage of production. It's the stage in the pipeline process of software development that allows an automated response of integration of any change in code released by the developer at any stage of the production, thus, eliminating the need for manual human intervention. This stage in the pipeline is enabled with automated tests that minimize the chances of any errors or failures, where initially the process would have been required to stop and then the changes would have been implemented in all affected areas. What it means for SaaS subscription users is that they will not have to worry about manually reinstalling and upgrading the application frequently for combatting real-time challenges and maintaining relevancy.
Continuous deployment is part of the CI/CD pipeline in DevOps. DevOps is an essential method of optimizing the process by combining the development and operations departments of SaaS development. It focuses on transformative automation of its testing, environments, lifecycle, and security to minimize the possibility of failures and aids in a seamless integration of deployments with each release. It also provides a robust security network that is synchronized with all changes taking place from production to the client’s finalized product. DevOps provides a ‘continuous’ process that involves the CI/CD pipeline of continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment for streamlining the lifecycle process of software development.
Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery
Continuous integration is the other aspect of the CI/ CD pipeline in DevOps. During the process of SaaS development, multiple teams and departments are involved in writing the building code for the desired software. Continuous integration helps to achieve consistency in the overall coding process by seamlessly integrating each new change in code released by different departments into the main code repository. Then, automated tests are conducted to check whether the integrated changes are running effectively or not. If an error occurs, the code developers are alerted about the problem immediately so that they can correct and construct the software with rectified code swiftly. CI runs automated tests and implements corrections frequently and in small amounts instead of a few big changes. It is done to avoid halting the process completely due to sizable faults coming late into the picture.
Continuous delivery performs rigorous testing to check its performance, usability and uses the concept of “shifting to the left” to check security. It is also done in small sizes and in frequent durations to spot errors and quickly rectify the issue so that the estimated time for completion is not disturbed to a great extent and hence, is delivered within the deadline. It prepares the software in process for smooth release management by making it bug-free and ready for the next stage in production. When all tests in continuous delivery are completed, it is sent for manual shifting by developers for it to enter the next stage of the CI/CD pipeline, i.e., continuous deployment.
Tools Employed to Achieve Continuous Deployment
1) Configuration Systems: Without proper systems to support functions in place, it is nearly impossible to implement successful software development within the organization. Configuration systems ensure the management of hardware and software systems relating to servers, storage and various other departments to ensure functionality, consistency and operational efficiency to support the development process of SaaS.
2) Version Control Systems: They are essential for tracking the development process and new updates in the procedure and hence, aid collaboration between different departments and teams within the company by giving them a real-time picture of the process at any given point in time.
3) Monitoring Tools: To reduce the time between implemented changes and the software’s estimated timeline for completion, monitoring tools provide a detailed view of the process in real-time to avoid any unnoticed lapses and maintain synchronization between all processes and departments.
4) Automated Testing: Continuous deployment has been made possible for SaaS development through transformative innovations in automation. They ensure fast implementation and integration of changes made by developers to maintain the desired pace of development and credibility throughout all stages of production.
5) Infrastructure monitoring tools: Often compartmentalization is required to test how the changes undertaken would appear to the actual client. They are tested in small portable containers to see whether the results match the estimated targets and what further improvements are required to get the required result.
Benefits of Continuous Deployment in SaaS Development
1) Minimized Errors: Continuous deployment through automation reduces the possibility of errors in software development as it removes human error from the process. In the traditional model of SaaS, human observation and spot detection skills had to be of impeccable quality which ended up putting immense pressure on developers and cost them a big share of time and concentration to remove errors from the process. But through the deployment automation method, the measures of testing are ensured to be of strict standards so that as soon as an error is detected, developers are alerted immediately to take the required action necessary for smooth operation.
2) Improved Agility: Agile development is a key contributor in giving continuous deployment the ability to release changes speedily from its developers to end-stage users without the physical involvement of manpower. Agility provides organizations the ability to make required decisions to meet the challenges posed by a volatile technology market where a balance of innovation, profitability and sustainability is necessary to stay ahead of the game. Through acceleration of the software development process, it drastically reduces the duration of the overall lifecycle of the product. The need to manually test each stage of development is removed, and changes are released and implemented automatically even after the final stage of production. With meticulous testing measures in place, the need to spend undivided attention and precious time on eliminating defects is significantly reduced. All these factors help developers in the timely execution of SaaS product development and delivery to their clients within the deadline.
3) Improved Feedback Circle: With the accessibility of SaaS products through web interfaces, feedback from subscription users is received considerably faster in cloud-based systems than in traditional models. The developers can then implement these changes at a fast pace which again allows them to observe the effect of such customizations and enhancements on users in a short period of time. On the basis of this, they make improvements in the software so that it runs to its best capacity.
Continuous Deployment v/s Release Management
Both processes, continuous deployment, and release management, are meant for releasing and integrating deployments relating to changes in code, upgrades and improving their credibility by making them bug-free. Release Management is focused on delivering the final product to its client whereas deployments are more specific to releasing changes to end users as new versions. The timeline is different for both procedures as well. For continuous deployment, these changes can be released frequently. As for release management, greater planning is required for final product launches on specific dates. The popular techniques in continuous deployment are namely DevOps, CI/CD pipeline and Blue-Green Approach. In the case of release management, the techniques that are used are Canary Deployment, Big-Bang Releases and Dark Launching.
SaaS development saves its users from the hassle of investing crucial time, manpower, and resources in routine maintenance of softwares. It does so by aiding them with a wide range of benefits like agility, scalability, and swiftness in shortening the lifecycle processes of their products. For meeting the rising demands of the upcoming generation of companies, existing components of software development such as continuous deployment will be powered by artificial intelligence and transformative automation deployment technologies with a greater understanding of user management. To meet such unprecedented requirements and achieve optimal operational efficiency for the company, robust software infrastructure and reliable systems are necessary to stay ahead of the competition. If you have similar concerns and are looking for customized SaaS solutions, we’d love to support your journey. Feel free to drop a query and our experts will get back to you within 24 hours.