Why Should You Develop Mobile Applications with AWS?

Today’s mobile apps have a lot of requirements, increasingly in the areas of performance, scalability and, of course, cost-efficiency. In these areas, we need a sophisticated infrastructure to support the app.  

After all, the frontend of the app is already based on the user’s hardware, but the backend is where we have the most control. Improved performance and other benefits here will have a compound effect on the app as a whole: it’s vital to choose the right options. When you mention scalability and performance, there’s one easy answer: AWS. However, many still don’t consider it an idea staging ground for mobile apps, but we’d like to correct that! 

Modern Mobile Application Development 

The modern frontend developer has 4 major ways to implement their respective end of the application: 

  • as native applications (the oldest way),
  • as cross-platform applications,
  • as hybrid applications,
  • as Progressive Web Applications (PWA).

Yet whichever way the frontend team chooses, the mobile ecosystem is a two-part story; we still need a reliable backend. After all, only so much is processed on the client side of the application. While advanced mobile hardware has opened up frontend possibilities, do we have such a scalable solution for backend needs?  

Spoiler: yes! 

Backend Requirements 

Before we get into the various AWS tools and why we recommend the platform, let’s look at our main goals during mobile application development. Primarily, we want to: 

  • Scale the solution & prepare for globalization 
  • Maintain flexibility  
  • Improve and ensure security as much as possible 
  • Achieve as quick an implementation time as possible 
  • Optimize ongoing costs. 

Needless to say, building something custom from scratch would impact some of these requirements – with the backend, the best path is often to use existing solutions designed specifically for these respective purposes. 

And that’s something AWS offers in volumes… 

Amazon S3 / Essential Storage 

Let’s start with the obvious: where to store it? An AWS essential, the Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) offers object-level storage that’s scalable, always available and highly performant. It can store – and protect – almost anything you can think of, whether it’s vast data lakes, elements of the entire websites, backup systems or even, you’ve guessed it, components of your mobile application!  

AWS Amplify / Direct Integration with AWS Services 

Backend configuration, management support, publishing and even content management, AWS Amplify does quite a lot! But that’s not a surprise, as it’s a wider set of tools and services that mobile development teams can take advantage of. Amplify also gives to mobile app the possibility to direct integration with different AWS services (apart from the backend code).

Amazon API Gateway / An Answer for API 

Today’s digital landscape is run by the API economy – software, services and other solutions providing safe, controlled data between each other. In many cases, API forms a vital part of the wider business logic. With Amazon API Gateway, we can create RESTful APIs and WebSocket API with real-time bidirectional communication. Thanks to being on the cloud, we immediately gain access to ‘pay as you go’ scale adjustment, built-in monitoring, performance at scale and, of course flexible security control. 

AWS Lambda / Serverless Scalability 

The AWS Lambda is a service for running code without dedicating physical servers. Instead, AWS Lambda automatically scales the application by running code in response to specific events. The code is run in parallel, processing triggers individually and scaling based on the size and workload. Automatically scaling without delay. 

Amazon Aurora / For Relational Data 

Compatible with both MySQL and PostgreSQL, Amazon Aurora is a relational database solution build for the cloud, combining high performance, scalability, high availability and durability. In short, it offers the essential characteristics of enterprises databases with the simplicity and cost-effective nature of open source solutions. 

Amazon Cognito / For Controlling User Access 

If you need a solution for quickly adding user registrations, sign-ins and access controls for both web and mobile apps, Amazon Cognito can readily scale up to millions of users. What’s more, it also supports logging in through popular social media networks, namely Facebook, as well as Google and Amazon.  

Furthermore, it also supports data synchronization between client-side and backend applications. With all that, Amazon Cognito can handle any mobile app, whether it’s thousands of users, or millions. 

Amazon SNS / Mobile Push Notifications Enabled 

If you need to send messages between two applications (A2A) or between an application and a user (A2P), Amazon SNS (Simple Notification Service) can work wonders. It’s ideal for configuring, operating and directly sending notifications (including of the Mobile Push variety) quickly and seamlessly. Since such notifications are essential for many services, having a scalable solution that maintains efficiency is ideal! 

Amazon Pinpoint / For Understanding User Behavior In Your App 

If you want to learn about user behavior, Amazon Pinpoint let’s you both understand user behaviour and even create better targeted, more insightful data streams as a result. If your building an application and you want to integrate it with marketing communications (whether inbound or outbound), Amazon Pinpoint is highly recommend. 

AWS Device Farm / Testing At Scale 

Even after we develop and build the app, there’s one more vital but often dreaded stage: testing. AWS Device Farm is in irreplaceable aid for testing a wide range of real mobile devices without the preliminary need for testing infrastructure. It allows you to run tests on multiple real-world devices at the same time, speeding up testing overall, and generates both videos and logs to help you quickly identify potential problems with your mobile app. 

AWS Infrastructure / Going Global 

Finally, while it’s not a service per se, we’d be fools if we didn’t mention the benefits of a globally reaching platform. AWS is available in 24 geographic regions*, within which there are 77 so-called Availability Zones – isolated sites that are connected by a high-bandwidth network within a region. 

(*as of time of checking, as AWS is always expanding) 

When building on such a cloud infrastructure, it is easy to scale the platform and run your application’s infrastructure in multiple regions, ensuring the same fast and reliable access to data and computing services regardless of the user’s geographic location. It may not be a development tool, but it’s something the final infrastructure (and thus, user experience, in many ways) will benefit from. 

Summary – AWS Can Do All That! 

At the start we highlighted some key requirements for any backend option, so how did AWS do? 

  • Scalable? Between it’s global locations, serverless capabilities (hello, Lambda!) and more, we’d say AWS offers the most scalable options for any mobile application. 
  • Flexibility? Whether you use AWS native solutions, or store your own operations in S3 buckets, the cloud is certainly flexible! 
  • Security? There are many services, such as Amazon Cognito and API Gateway, that limit control where necessary. And let’s not forget that hosting on AWS also means you benefit from the provider’s extensive security investments. 
  • Quick implementations? Many of these solutions either use existing development approaches, or shorten development time – but we’re struggling to think of anything that takes longer. 
  • Optimize costs? With serverless operations, you don’t pay for idle resources. This means, in many ways, we’re cutting operational costs down as much as possible.  

Ultimately, the AWS platform is simply a means to an end – it’s the mobile application you build that matters. That said, as means go, AWS technology can help you get there quicker and better. It’s also the most future proof. If you want to go from a rapid prototype to millions of users, the Cloud scales faster than anything. 

Interested in developing mobile applications with AWS infrastructure?

Contact us to learn more! We hope we answered your questions, or perhaps inspired new ones. 

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