SaaS PoC: Why to Use it and How to Prevent its Collapse From Suddenly Growing Demand

As a piece of disposable code which nonetheless speaks volumes of the solution’s future, a proof-of-concept seems to be a simple and effective way to predict a software product’s further trajectory. Meanwhile, there are numerous gray spots in using PoC. Armed with this article, you will get into the swing of…
  • What proof-of-concept (PoC) is
  • What PoC business benefits and implications are
  • What PoC-associated challenges SaaS faces
  • How to successfully switch from PoC to production
  • How Romexsoft helps in PoC-production transition
PoC for SaaS

Essential problematique with using SaaS PoC when demand suddenly grows up

In programming, what proof-of-concept (PoC) means is a common method to confirm or refute the viability of a new promising idea. PoC consists in designing a pilot project of a small-scale use case. A proof-of-concept is just the first step into software product development, though, on finalizing their PoC, organizations need to decide on their next steps.

With the ready and functional PoC, you have the evidence that your business idea is marketable. Supported by the PoC, you may be encouraged by an auspicious business plan of yours, however, it doesn’t equal successful deployment into production. It is not at all a rare case that a non-technical specialist misinterprets the situation, and, misled by the hopeful PoC, tries to speed up production by selling the idea before there is code to prop the solution.

Another widespread case centers around the following. Suppose you have launched a SaaS startup out of your successfully operating PoC, and it does function smoothly as long as it serves a limited number of users at the same time. The only thing is that the recent user influx has led to your product’s or service’s poor performance, or even collapse, as the current infrastructure cannot withstand the required workload.

In both of those scenarios, a SaaS owner, with bringing value to the customers and promoting the solution in mind, is accountable for finalizing the project and making the product or service ultimately scalable and reliable in its performance, regardless of the demand growth rate.

First things first, and we will start with the essentials.

What is PoC?

Proof of concept (POC) refers to evidence, derived through experimental testing, which reveals if a business idea or a project plan is practically feasible, or, alternatively, proves the opposite.

What is the purpose of a Proof of Concept?

The mere fact that an idea, however demanded or necessary it may seem, dawned on you is seldom enough for a successful product or service production, let alone maintenance and scaling. Factors that challenge an idea’s fulfillment are innumerable and include financial, marketing, management, business, strategic, and cultural, among other reasons. For a startup, to be added, a business idea’s viability testing is critical.

PoC is a specifically designed methodology to help you test your ideas as well as verify that your prospective product is feasible at the very beginning thus optimizing the use of your resources. Another undeniable merit is that PoC is exactly the kind of hard evidence that startups can employ in order to attract and convince investors or stakeholders to fund a new solution.

What is proof of concept in software development?

Software product development uses PoC as an initial check-up instrument to verify if a solution in progress will be in demand among, and deliver value to future users. Testing a product idea’s viability supports the development process and confirms that a solution, or one of its functions, applies to solving users’ problems and thus makes a product marketable.

Conducting proof-of-concept lays the foundation for introducing a new software product on the market. It also serves as a basis for making substantiated business decisions when it comes to either a new solution or designing a software suite.

Benefits of PoC for SaaS

Besides the query of what is PoC in cloud computing, organizations can be riddled with reasons behind conducting a proof-of-concept. To gain a full understanding of the role that PoC plays in a product development process we’d better compare it with a prototype, a pilot scheme. As the latter refers to the management theory of lean manufacturing, the proof-of-concept is also a way of maximizing the outcome while minimizing the unnecessary time, money and effort investment since it tests the workability of a business idea at the initial stage, before taking any real action or investing any resources.

Even so, anticipating any deliverables from executing a project of PoC is misguiding for it only concerns the feasibility of an idea or assumption to be embodied in a product and successfully launched.

Further, we will explore the irrefutable arguments in favor of starting a software product development with a proof-of-concept.

Evaluation of technical feasibility and practical usability

The most obvious and applicable advantage of conducting proof-of-concept is a preliminary validation of technical capacities as well as the prospective ability of the business idea to cover users’ needs and cater to the market’s demands. The product, about to be developed, undergoes PoC testing to make sure that it will respond to the target audience’s requirements and deliver practical value by addressing the users’ requests and problems.

Creating a properly structured and reasoned PoC backs up the necessary software development documentation which allows you to detect patterns or regularities early enough to take them into account and make informed decisions on directing the efforts and resources while designing the product.

Determining product limitations

Writing a proof of concept project before commencing any other work required for the product development helps plan in advance and take preventive measures. By promptly identifying the limitations, which every type of software unavoidably has, you are free to make early steps to address them in order to get smoothly and reliably functioning soft.

Assessment of profitability and expansion potentials

An undeniable benefit of PoC consists in providing evidence for an idea’s (in)viability in the current economic environment and also rendering an explanation so as to a product’s demand among a high number of users in the long run. This kind of information is especially practical for startups in settling financial issues and resource allocation with an expected return of investments in mind.

Accelerating product launch

Having a well-organized proof-of-concept ensures the drafting of an action plan which will govern not only the successful development of a software product but also its entrance into the market. Since it is a challenging and responsible stage, PoC ensures you go ahead to prevent unnecessary risks, make the amendments for the most prompt release of the software, and refine the product to its best version.

Financing PoC jointly with a cloud provider

AWS, along with some other IT companies, allows for the proofs-of-concept for startups to be funded partly by the said cloud provider. To illustrate, the AWS Proof of Concept Program offers its customers a total amount of $1,000 in AWS credits which can be spent at an organization’s own discretion. On top of that, AWS also complements the offer with a session on your architecture assessment. Taking advantage of PoS on AWS, you can get a smooth and guided introduction to cloud services and fully appreciate the benefits they bring to your products.

The AWS Proof of concept Program is supplemented by the cloud-oriented business and functional feasibility check-up criteria. In this way, the program allows you to exploit the most advanced cloud-based technology for ultimately the most efficient workload functioning with the medium of AWS infrastructure.

Both the new and the existing AWS customers will gain advantages from the proofs-of-concept. The former will be exposed to the technical and commercial product’s viability testing within the cloud, as well as to the AWS computing bonuses. The latter will be led to enhanced performance and efficiency of their ongoing projects as well as prompted to launch a new soft on AWS. All in all, in partnership with Amazon, customers and prospective partners alike can bring more incentives to life with the help of the joint funding that AWS offers.

Designing PoC, which is ready to maintain the suddenly growing demand

Verification of both technical and non-technical viability of a software product is what to a large extent predetermines the further orderly and uninterrupted process of its development and launch, at the same time aiding in perfecting a solution to guarantee it meets the requirements.

For this reason, it is imperative to adhere to the PoC procedure with no deviations or shortcuts. Only a properly created proof-of-concept at the outset of the development process allows for a careful advantages and disadvantages analysis resulting in the most practical version of the intended solution to be introduced to the market bringing value to the future users and profits to the organization.

As outlined at the beginning of the article, a common challenge to be confronted with while dealing with proof-of-concept takes place while moving from PoC to the production-ready phase. The problem consists in the irregularity and spontaneity of the stage as many companies either don’t carry out the initial plan thoroughly enough or rush into the final phase as a product faces unanticipated demand among users prior to the pre-arranged transition from PoC to production. Technically speaking, it does pose a problem and could result in the collapse of the product. Admittedly, that would be included in the worst-case scenario, and still, this problem needs to be attended to, and we will explore it further.

Key challenges of switching from PoC to production ready and how to make it smooth

One of the most common concerns within the topic of transition from the PoC to production in the software development cycle regards scalability. A product should necessarily meet certain requirements to be fully functional, for instance, be able to manage the workload of a particular number of simultaneous users, and, what is more, to scale up to the upper limit and down to the minimum number easily and rapidly. An example of a poorly usable infrastructure is a product whose operation is interrupted by crashes and re-launches on the ground of the lack of memory or user overload.

In order to avoid unfortunate system failures on a regular basis, certain decisions need to be taken way ahead, like in the PoC stage. It’s especially acute in case a company aims at containing a large number of users: a high upper bound requires correspondingly high system scalability; this, frequently combined with limited physical resources of a single computer, calls for meticulous planning and sensible resource utilization.

For the scalability to be inherent in the infrastructure, we recommend taking advantage of the AWS services as early as your proof-of-concept designing phase. AWS prevents your SaaS infrastructure from being compromised by a sudden increase in the workload through a change in the number of concurrent users. This is one of the ways to ensure a seamless SaaS transition to production ready.

That was only one of the benefits you gain through utilizing cloud-based services during writing your proof-of-concept. We will proceed with the list of the most widespread challenges you are likely to endure when switching from PoC to production. They are commonsensical to be borne in mind meanwhile you create your PoC since the list of the challenges, along with our pieces of advice on how to avoid them by utilizing AWS cloud services, originates from our long-standing experience with our clients in building their SaaS.

Data issues

A frequent dilemma for on-premise servers is the lack of storage memory due to the accumulation of large volumes of data associated with the influx of users. Never-ceasing information traffic quickly fills a physical server while it will never happen to a cloud-based environment as the cloud itself is endless.

Another issue concerns data security and compliance. Information storage in the cloud certainly allows you to appreciate the functions AWS offers, such as encryption data protection (data in transit or data at rest), and access controls (access to data and access to operating with this data).

Compliance issues

A production-ready solution more often than not will need compliance. Obviously, it poses much less of a burden on the efforts and resources to delegate this task to the AWS services that are compliant by default than try to build up compliance on a company’s own servers.

Management issues

Suppose your SaaS PoC is rapidly developing, your organization will be facing management challenges: staff recruitment and training, among the set-up of other processes. Amazon shares its best practices that facilitate the structuring and launching of the said operations: CI/CD, SDLC, Small portion (incremental) releases, and other feature releases either prompted by the hotfixes or your PoC users’ feedback.

It is advisable to make use of proven industry practices, especially when your organization is growing and taking on new responsibilities. As your product advances, your business will develop separate departments which also calls for a certain level of management. If that becomes your case, AWS Organizations Service will come in handy. With its help, you can manage your cloud-based environment concurrently with scaling resources on AWS. The service also offers automatic and free-of-additional-charge AWS account creation, proactive protection with a dedicated security group, and special access controls for sharing the selected resources and data with separate users or within your company.

Environment issues (compute capacity, scaling)

PoC is primarily targeted at a small audience. And still, if your idea is feasible and likeable, the demand for it along with the number of end-users will soar. The cloud, unlike on-premises servers, is characterised by elasticity and scalability that can hassle-free scale your product and provide for the unexpectedly increased demand.

A well-developed infrastructure is required to manage and operate your models appropriately. This is what allows you to track and deal with every little process, and also operate with and store information. You can omit extra expenditure and functional complexity with the help of a data-ready model. The models are deployed to production with a proper level of system management and monitoring as they need testing and tracking to be produced.

AWS cloud cost management in a pay-as-go mode

AWS facilitates to a considerable extent in managing your expenses and offers possibilities to make cost-efficient decisions while also catering to your needs of building a scalable and reliable website or application in the cloud. The range of Amazon services combined with their pricing options and subscription plans gives you the opportunity to not choose between cost and performance, and have the best of both worlds.

To illustrate, if you manage to turn your PoC into a production-ready MVP and your business comprises traffic spikes, AWS allows you to pay for extra computing resources exclusively in the moments of the said spikes. The less the workload, the less the payment, – this is the AWS principle that posits paying for the resources you actually utilize.

The idea of pay-as-you-go mode may be truly beneficial but as the mode is rather complex and highly adjustable, it is best set by an expert. Сontrol of total cost in pay-as-you-go mode could pose quite a challenge to newbies as well as cause problems for the enterprise. This is the reason for Amazon billing to be higher than expected or claimed among those who do not possess enough skills and experience in setting up Amazon cloud services. Examples of this include forgetting to switch off the previously launched resources, incorrectly configured services, such as the scale-in-scale-out policy in autoscaling, or underutilization of resources.

For this request, we suggest Amazon cloud cost control tools, such as special monitoring services of AWS Budget, Cost Explorer, and Trusted Advisor; they also allow for setting up various kinds of alerts to notify you in case the price exceeds a certain threshold.

Those limits can be not only manually set, but also with the help of a new feature of monitoring service, based on artificial intelligence (AI) – AWS Cost Anomaly Detection. Machine Learning technology is at the core of AWS Cost Anomaly Detection which tracks down the atypical spending as well as its causes for you to swiftly act towards eradicating them. The service enables you to get notifications at the identification of suspicious spending on your own contextualized monitor. As easy as setting one up may be, it is once again too complex and flexible to be utilised by a non-expert.

How Romexsoft can help as a certified AWS partner

Design and build cloud infrastructure for your application

Our experts are trained to match the right type of design and infrastructure to your application and your business’s needs. Each environment is built with the use of infrastructure as a code, i.e. IaC, approach (with such services as AWS Cloud Formation, AWS CDK, and Terraform) which means their easy handling, maintaining, scaling and evolving.

Pick up a suitable configuration of relevant Amazon services

Considering that the number of Amazon services amounts to more than 400, one and the same task can be solved in various different ways using different services. We are ready to help you properly select which AWS services your PoC will most benefit from based on the specifics and requirements of the solution and its future growth.

Сonfiguration of compute resources in the cloud

One of our AWS-certified staff’s responsibilities is creating suitable configurations of scale-in and sale-out policies. In order to ensure predictable and unpredictable traffic flows, or a product’s hibernation, the configurations need to be tailored to the computing demand of the solution. Our approach includes both a holistic review of the solution’s architecture and an in-depth examination of each separate component. This allows us to arrive at the best-matching configuration of cloud computing resources with maximized performance, fault tolerance, elasticity and minimized cost.

Release management: CI/CD and SDLC setting-up and configuration

What we offer is AWS release management best practices. For instance, to avoid manual procedures and eliminate human factor-related risks during a product deployment we put forward automated SaaS release management, that is automated app release cycle. With this in view, our experts also implement a variety of release pipelines which include unit or functional tests, and deployment for different types of environments: staging, test, production, etc.

Software release management process can be also mediated in designing release strategies, such as Blue-Green Deployments, Linear Deployments, and Canary Deployments, which enable a quick rollback to the previous functional version of the software in case of detecting any problem among the end users.

Monitoring and alerting systems configuration

With the diversity of AWS-suggested tools and metrics that monitor and keep you posted on the current state of your cloud environment, making up your mind on which ones to utilize becomes a hard task. We are available to assist you in handling and setting up the monitoring, inclusive of:

  • Capacity monitoring
  • Application health monitoring
  • AWS cloud cost control
  • Security & access monitoring

In addition, we provide proactive monitoring systems so that we can spot the potential problem occurrence within your cloud-based infrastructures and be prepared to respond to it.

24/7 DevOps support service

Romexsoft delivers full-cycle 24×7 DevOps Support Services to provision, run, and optimize IT infrastructures and applications on AWS. The service enables you to increase your application uptime and mitigate the detrimental effect of downtime to ensure your business continuity.

According to the service tier you opt for, 24/7 DevOps support encompasses:

  • management of your cloud environments and workloads
  • monitoring of IT infrastructures strengthened with an incident response
  • proactive prevention of recurring incidents to guarantee the solution’s uptime
  • incident detection reporting and upgrading suggestions
  • cloud infrastructures maintenance to provide security and compliance.

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    Ivan Shulak Sr. Delivery Manager, Senior Application Architect at Romexsoft | AWS Certified Solutions ArchitectOracle Certified Professional, Java SE 8 Programmer | Keen on Java Application Development and Cloud Application Development.
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