Some of the most important decisions startups face are during the initial build of their applications. Choosing the right tech stack—the group of technologies that allow you to build and maintain your application—can mean the difference between cumbersome processes and slow growth, or rapid scaling and maintaining lean teams.
For details about each component of your tech stack and insight into how to make the right decisions for your business download The Ultimate Guide to Building a Solid Tech Stack for Startups and SMBs.
Start with an evaluation of your business needs and goals and the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Consider what your needs are now, and also the needs you’ll have as your business grows. The technology choices that you make now will influence the business for years to come, impacting the types of 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 and set your business up for success.
As you plan, consider the answers to these questions:
Your tech stack has many parts. While the stack can vary from business to business, most organizations start with servers and cloud computing services, operating systems, programming languages, database management systems, and performance monitoring services.
Servers and cloud computing
Planning the infrastructure for your project begins with the hardware needed to power your computing needs. Many businesses now choose an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider to deliver computing resources over the internet, including networking, storage, and other infrastructural components. This eliminates the need to maintain the physical hardware yourself and allows more flexibility as you scale and grow. Most businesses starting out use an IaaS model because of its ease of use, scalability, and lower cost.
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.
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.
Database management systems
A database is 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.
Performance monitoring services
Performance monitoring services enable you to ensure that your software is 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.
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.
Selecting a managed implementation option means paying a provider to create and manage that part of your tech. While there is a cost for managed services, the benefits are often worth it. For example, choosing a managed database option means that users have an easy setup process and don’t have to worry about database updates and maintenance. Databases need to be provisioned, configured, and continually maintained, taking time and expertise that many developers don’t have. A provider-managed database takes all of that upkeep out of the developers’ hands, saving time and relieving stress.
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