The Ultimate Guide to Building a Solid Tech Stack for Startups and SMBs

Introduction

A tech stack is a group of technologies that work together and allow you to build and maintain your application. Many components need to work together to get the results you want, both on the frontend and backend of the application.

Frontend development takes care of the things that the end-user sees and uses—tools like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Backend development is the development of services that support the frontend of your application. This can include anything from calculations, Data Science/ML Models, to database operations. Infrastructure, programming languages, and databases are all components of backend development, and there are many different platforms and frameworks to consider. 

To build your tech stack, start with an evaluation of your business needs and goals and the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Initial choices while building your tech stack will influence the developers on your team, costs, and time to market. By carefully considering what your team needs from your tech stack, you can avoid troublesome changes in the future. 

Key components of a tech stack:

Servers and cloud computing

Planning the infrastructure for your project begins with the hardware needed to power your computing needs. Providers like DigitalOcean, AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud allow you to control your infrastructure without needing to control or manage the physical hardware. With these options, builders can set up their infrastructure and decide how involved they want to be with the upkeep. Cloud computing providers often offer a variety of products and services that make maintaining infrastructure easier, so you can decide how hands-on you want to be.

Operating systems

The operating system (OS) manages the computer’s memory and processes and allows you to interact with the compute function. It links together the hardware with the programs running on the computer. When considering which operating system to use, consider each one’s versatility, security, and cost, as well as what’s most familiar and easy for you to use. Each operating system will have an ideal use case, so keep your use case and experience in mind as you research your options.

Programming languages

Programming languages are responsible for executing your application code, communicating with the database, and more. Programming languages typically fall into three categories: procedural, functional, or object-oriented. Procedural languages follow a set of commands in order. Functional programming languages are based on applying sequential functions to solve complex problems. Object-oriented programming languages are built on the concept of objects that contain both data and code to modify the data. Each language has distinct qualities and features, and which programming language you choose will depend heavily on the type of application you’re building and your team’s experience. 

Databases and database management systems

A database is simply a structured collection of data. While that data can have many uses, you need a database management system (DBMS) to access, interpret, and manipulate the data for your needs. The DBMS will allow system administrators to track changes, pinpoint errors, and implement backup and recovery systems in addition to managing the data.

When considering which DBMS to use, start with the type of data you’re collecting and using. Is it numeric or customer information like names, addresses, and more? Will you have multimedia that you’re collecting and storing? Think about where you want the data stored, how you plan to manage it, and the structure that it needs to have to fit your needs. Also, keep in mind how you’ll be using the data and what querying mechanisms you need.

Performance monitoring services

You’ll likely want to have the ability to monitor the performance of your software to ensure that it’s running smoothly and that your users have an optimal experience. Tracking things like application load and response times, CPU utilization, and consistent error documentation will help you provide the best experience for your users. 

Managed vs. self-managed tech

Many of the technologies you choose for your tech stack can be self-managed. If you have the time and the expertise to maintain your entire infrastructure internally, then self-managing gives you more insight and control than you would have with a managed solution. However, if your team doesn’t have the extensive experience often needed to maintain these technologies, or if you’d like to save time and focus on developing your application, you can choose a managed implementation option. 

For detailed breakdowns of each component in the tech stack, plus examples of how other successful companies built their stacks, download the full guide.

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