Speed and scalability are critical factors in web development today. These two components were a key driving factor for cloud-based web development became the standard for developers years ago. And Amazon Web Services (AWS) is proving itself to be the best of the cloud-based web development platforms.
Today, we’ll explore some of the opportunities AWS has to offer for new web development that leverages key advancements in Cloud Native practices.
AWS started as a core infrastructure option (Iaas), but has since expanded to over 350 products and services providing solutions for a variety of key, complex development areas.
The platform is helping to modernize software development by making it scalable, easily maintainable, and cost-effective from day one.
Your agency may be familiar with core services such as compute (EC2), storage (S3) and managed databases (RDS) but there is major breakthrough in adopting more advanced services for speeding new development and separating crucial functions of software applications.
Why is AWS moving beyond basic infrastructure?
Amazon Web Services’ market share is enormous. Their reach and resources allows AWS to offer a wide array of products and services web developers can use to streamline the application lifecycle. We have seen how AWS provides the guardrails that allow developers to move faster and in a more scalable way — from extending websites with microservices, identity management, reporting services and mobile application development among others.
You may find similar offerings with other disparate platforms, but AWS’ size and scope means more agile development, faster innovation, and lower costs are within reach. It is also recognized as a secure platform by clients' internal IT and compliance teams.
That’s why AWS has grown to become the most broadly adopted cloud platform in the world. AWS still offers the building blocks for infrastructure developers need — servers, databases, networks, etc. But now you have the option of utilizing more business-centric, fleshed out services alongside those building blocks.
Aplyca has been an AWS partner since 2013 and being both a dev and managed services shop has allowed us to learn practices that to facilitate fast, scalable and modern web development.
The fat CMS architecture
Let’s use the common content management system as an example cornerstone for many web projects.
For many years the core development process around web projects has been centered around extending Content Management Systems using their own set of plug-in, extension or development frameworks, leading to the infamous module soup. With time (and traffic) the monolithic CMS-only approach shows many drawbacks: development is slow and error prone, upgrades are hard, security is more vulnerable and high traffic starts to push the limits of relational databases and short sighted CMS architectures.
Additionally today’s development projects require more functionality and business integrations than ever before. As a result, key functions — including system integrations and business rules specific to the application — are baked into lightweight CMS platforms.
This needs to change and working with an AWS partner can help you solve the problem in your development projects.
- Take middleware out of your core apps. Baking middleware into the CMS or core applications itself is not scalable. Extension mechanisms are not really built for high scalability, and you lock key business functions to the CMS working this way. AWS offers much more application portability and reusability with far less lock-in on application limitations.
- Develop stronger architectural knowledge. A major paradigm shift occurred in the development architecture as cloud-native development became available beyond the largest tech companies. From event-driven applications to domain-driven design and micro-frontend architecture, AWS can provide a platform and architecture for application integrations needed in development.
- Take advantage of the full development stack. AWS started as an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provider and transitioned to a PaaS (Platform as a Service) provider from there. Today, AWS continues to add more options, products, and services closer to the end of the application cycle. Specific solutions such as Cognito (for identity), ElasticSearch (for searching) up to Mobile Development services can make a big difference in the right hands.
- Use what you need, and leave what you don’t. With AWS, you pick and choose the products and services that you need to achieve your development goals. This can make projecting total costs on projects more difficult, though. Get the most out of your investment by working with an expert that can anticipate your needs.
- Find the right fit for the tool in the architecture. Your digital agency will likely require guidance when learning how to use and integrate your AWS toolset. Working with an AWS partner ensures you have access to the expertise necessary for using your tools to the fullest and finding the right fit within your architecture.
Web Development Opportunities with AWS
The size and scope of Amazon Web Services means web developers have a number of great opportunities at their fingertips. By utilizing the AWS stack, web developers can:
- Extend web experiences with scalable, maintainable, elastic code from the very beginning.
- Gather and analyze data at a scale that was not previously possible. AWS offers solutions leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence. This allows for strong analytics and a data-centric approach.
- Take the opportunity to develop with larger teams at a faster pace. We already know cloud-based development is the key to seamless operation between large teams. With AWS, you have the infrastructure to take full advantage of this opportunity.
- Complete systems integrations that are reliable and quick to maintain. Cloud-native services leveraging AWS as a stack means lighter integration code in plug-ins and extensions — a far cry from those huge pieces of code you used to bake into plugins when using a CMS like WordPress.
Using AWS to Overcome the Challenge of Scalability in Web Development
It's difficult to run and maintain an old-school CMS (like WordPress or Drupal) while attempting modern dev sprints. CMSs just weren't built to support high speed development of critical business software. In other words, scaling these platforms so developers can release new code quickly proves challenging.
Further complicating things, in order to build applications, you wind up with a lot of custom development needs. Custom development project can be be correctly architected from day one. This is one of the pillars to our practice for decoupled application development described in our CMS to DxP approach.
To go back to the WordPress scenario, if you wanted to extend this CMS, you’d essentially need to build your own compatible plugins. Right off the bat, you’re fighting a losing battle for scalability and maintainability. You put a lot of effort, business rules, and business functionality into those plugins, but they are subject to the same architecture and security concerns of Wordpress. This poses too many challenges, including the fact that they are not easily upgraded. You want to avoid technical debt arising from your architecture choice.
By leveraging AWS as a broader development stack, you’re able to distribute pieces of your application using the most efficient services available. Many of our clients tend to be excited about microservices, containers, cloud-native and the promise of rapid development and scalability but the barriers to entry in maintaining the tech stack in addition to adopting the development practices may be too much to do at once.
This is why we use cloud-native services to your advantage to extend from basic to highly advanced CMS or DxP solutions.
Work with Experts to Get the Most Out of Amazon Web Services’ Advanced Offerings
Deployment speed, cost-effectiveness, and scalability are front and center in the world of web development. Amazon Web Services is our preferred partner for cloud-based development to help organizations like yours achieve these goals. You’re not going to find comparable end-to-end services covering foundational building blocks for infrastructure, platforms, analytics, and AI that combine for super powerful agency-client projects elsewhere.
AWS provides an excellent platform for putting the best tools for modern development architecture into the hands of digital agency clients. But truly getting the most out of what AWS has to offer may require more expertise than you have in-house. That’s where working with an AWS partner like us can benefit you. We officially partnered with AWS in 2013, but we’ve been using the platform for much longer than that.
We landed on AWS in 2007 based on high-traffic demands, and over the past 14 years of partnership, we’ve seen firsthand how AWS has adapted its products and services to meet the needs of modern, cutting-edge products.
Our certified architects have firsthand experience using AWS to build and maintain challenging, complex web projects and architecture at scale. We can help you to do the same. Contact us to learn more about how partnering with our team can benefit you and your cloud-based web development endeavors.