How to Choose the Right App Deployment Platform for Your Web Apps

The software development lifecycle (SDLC) involves several stages, including planning, analysis, design, development, testing, and deployment. For example, when developing a web-based project management tool, the team would first plan the features and functionalities needed, analyze the target audience and their requirements, design the database schema and UI wireframes, develop the front-end and back-end components, test the tool’s functionality and usability, before reaching the final (and most gratifying) step of app deployment. This is when the product or application is hosted, making it accessible to users and customers in the outside world, and bringing the team’s hard work to fruition.

Traditionally, apps were deployed on physical servers or virtual machines, requiring significant infrastructure management and maintenance. However, modern app deployment platforms now offer streamlined processes, automated scaling, and built-in security features, making the deployment process more efficient and reliable. However, with a range of options on the market, choosing the right model and platform for your entire app deployment can be quite overwhelming. This article will discuss how to choose the right app deployment platform, breaking down factors to consider like security, scalability, and integration with your current cloud environment.

DigitalOcean App Platform is a modern app deployment solution that simplifies the process of launching and scaling applications. It offers a fully managed platform with built-in CI/CD, automatic scaling, and integrated security features, that enables developers to focus on writing code rather than managing infrastructure. With support for multiple programming languages, frameworks, and databases, App Platform provides a flexible and efficient way to deploy applications.

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What is an app deployment platform?

An app deployment platform, also known as Platform as a Service (PaaS), is a cloud-based solution that provides a complete environment for developing, deploying, and managing applications. It offers a range of tools and services that streamline the deployment process, including built-in infrastructure, automatic scaling, and integrated security features.

App deployment platforms abstract away the complexity of managing underlying hardware and software, allowing developers to focus on writing and deploying code efficiently. By leveraging an app deployment platform, businesses can accelerate their time to market, reduce operational costs, and ensure their applications are scalable, secure, and highly available.

Benefits of using an app deployment platform

The rise of cloud computing and Platform as a Service (PaaS) has transformed the landscape of app deployment. Today, more developers, organizations, and hobbyist programmers are choosing to host, manage, and maintain their products and applications in the cloud. Here’s why:

  • Simplified deployment process. App deployment platforms automate many aspects of the deployment process, such as provisioning infrastructure, configuring environments, and managing dependencies. This simplification allows developers to focus on writing code and reduces the risk of human error during deployment.

  • Scalability and flexibility. App deployment platforms enable applications to scale seamlessly based on demand, automatically allocating resources as needed. This flexibility ensures that applications can handle sudden spikes in traffic without manual intervention, maintaining optimal performance and user experience.

  • Cost-efficiency. By leveraging the pay-as-you-go pricing model of app deployment platforms, businesses can avoid the upfront costs associated with purchasing and maintaining physical infrastructure. App deployment platforms also optimize resource utilization, ensuring that businesses only pay for the resources they consume.

  • Enhanced security. App deployment platforms offer built-in security features, such as network isolation, data encryption, and regular security patches. These features help protect applications and data from potential threats, ensuring a more secure deployment environment.

  • Streamlined collaboration and DevOps. App deployment platforms provide a centralized environment for development teams to collaborate, share code, and manage deployments. This streamlined approach enables better communication, faster iteration, and the adoption of DevOps practices, leading to more efficient development cycles.

  • Integration and customization. App deployment platforms offer a wide range of integrations with popular tools, services, and databases, allowing developers to easily connect their applications with existing systems. Additionally, these platforms provide customization options, enabling businesses to tailor their deployment environments to their specific needs and requirements.

How to Choose the Right Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution

There are a broad range of PaaS solutions to choose from when your code is ready to deploy. This section explores seven factors to consider when evaluating a tool for your next app deployment.

1. Programming languages supported

Choose an App Deployment Platform that supports the language your code is written in. Developers choose to deploy a broad variety of different web apps including NodeJS, Python, Go, and Ruby apps. You may also be ready to deploy static websites such as Jamstack-style sites, plain HTML websites, and websites that use frameworks like Hugo or Jekyll.

2. Using Docker to deploy applications

Docker is a containerization platform that enables you to create, deploy, and run applications conveniently with the help of containers. It’s a convenient way to package applications with all their required libraries and other dependencies in a single container. Docker provides a clean and robust environment for your application, allowing you to quickly deploy and scale applications into any environment, knowing your code will run seamlessly both when deployed and when others use your code or application.

3. CI/CD

App deployment platforms that support CI/CD pipelines can help decrease complexity, increase efficiency, and streamline workflows. CI/CD automates the manual human intervention traditionally needed to get new code from a commit into production, so downtime is minimized and code releases happen faster.

4. Built in security

Application security prevents malicious entities from exploiting vulnerabilities in applications to gain unauthorized access, steal valuable data, or disrupt the application’s daily operation. Security features like the ability to perform IP whitelisting via dedicated IPs, the inclusion of built in TLS certificates and DDoS protection all help you sleep at night, knowing your app is protected from unwanted traffic.

5. Scalability

Autoscaling your app allows its infrastructure to match its workload dynamically, whether workloads increase or decrease. This ensures that performance remains optimal by automatically adjusting resources in response to fluctuations in demand, such as increasing the number of containers during a large influx of online traffic to prevent performance slowdowns.

6. Free plan to get started

Many vendors provide a free PaaS plan to help developers get started on their application deployment journey. These free plans offer a great opportunity to explore and experiment with the platform’s basic functionality without any financial commitment. Companies like Google Cloud Platform, Vercel, Render, and DigitalOcean offer such free tiers, allowing users to gain hands-on experience with the platform’s features, assess its suitability for their needs, and build prototypes before deciding whether to upgrade to a paid plan.

The free plans typically come with certain limitations, such as static sites only, reduced resource allocations and fewer advanced features, but they still provide a nice way to step into the platform to road test some of the basic functionality, before committing to a paid plan.

7. Integration with your cloud environment

There are benefits to choosing a provider that offers other cloud solutions such as storing your database and other virtual machines.

Many PaaS providers also offer fully managed, cloud-based data services along with platform services. These services enable developers to swiftly integrate data into their apps, as well as access and work with that data, all without having to set up and maintain their own databases.

Which app deployment platform is right for my business?

Well, as always, that depends.

Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure App Service, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk are some of the PaaS solutions offered by the big hyperscaler cloud providers. They tend to come with all the features you could dream of, and as you’d expect, a higher price point (especially as you scale) that may be best suited to large businesses and enterprises.

DigitalOcean App Platform, Render, Vercel and Netlify are other popular options suited to small to mid-sized businesses, with their ease of use, and lower pricing. Netlify and Vercel are well suited to apps that are more front-end centric, while Render is well suited to apps that are more focused on crafting backends. DigitalOcean App Platform is a great all-rounder that provides the basics for getting started at low or no cost, but also has the power to grow with you and handle complex business-critical applications.

Is PaaS the only option?

While PaaS is the most straightforward way for businesses to easily deploy, run, and manage cloud apps, there are alternative ways to get your app to market.

Let’s take a look at the various ways you can handle app deployment. Before you step off, it’s important to carefully consider the app’s use case along with the skillset of the app developer (or dev team) to ensure the best approach for your app. Here are some of the other ways you can deploy your app.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

This solution offers on demand, virtualized computing resources via the cloud, such as compute, storage, networking, and virtualization. While you don’t have to manage or update the infrastructure, you are responsible for the operating system, middleware, virtual machines, and any apps or data. So there’s an added level of complexity that suits a team wanting more control and granularity, and who have the skills required to manage their own data security and recovery.

Container-as-a-Service (CaaS)

This solution focuses on the management and deployment of containerized applications. CaaS is a cloud computing model that allows developers to upload, build, scale, and manage containers that include everything required to run an application. Containers are highly portable, small in size, and efficient. They do not rely on one code stack or language, which is why you can implement CaaS in multi cloud and hybrid cloud environments. Examples of CaaS providers include managed Kubernetes services like Amazon’s ECS, Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), and DigitalOcean Kubernetes (DOKS).

Get started with DigitalOcean App Platform’s free tier

Whether you’re a scaling startup, an ISV building business critical apps or a hobbyist experimenting with mobile app development, DigitalOcean App Platform is a great place to start and grow. App Platform’s free tier is designed to get you started at no cost. Sign up here with $200 in free credits for new DigitalOcean accounts.

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App Platform’s Free Tier includes:

  • 3 apps with static sites

  • 1GiB data transfer allowance per app with static sites

  • Deployment from GitHub and Gitlab

  • Automatic HTTPS

  • Bring your custom domain

  • Global CDN

  • DDoS mitigation

  • Unlimited team members

For detailed information on App Platform’s features and capabilities, visit the App Platform product page. To explore pricing options, or the free tier, visit the App Platform pricing page.


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