How to choose a tech stack for SaaS development?

Choosing a SaaS tech stack is like selecting ingredients for your next ambitious cooking endeavor. You can choose whatever, but it won’t be a good meal. Only the right products and the best quality, along with your skills, will ensure you’re on the right track.

Excuse our random analogy, yet the fact remains that the right set of technology for SaaS development is one of the deciding factors in your future product’s success.

It’s the very foundation that, if chosen correctly, will spare your budget from unnecessary adjustments and prevent your time from getting wasted. You can also read our very soon-to-come article about how to create a good SaaS landing page if you're into SaaS.

If you’re new to SaaS development, a technology stack is a combination of programming languages, libraries, frameworks, necessary software, and other development tools required to create and deploy a web or mobile SaaS application.

So, we dedicate this guide to all the founders, CEOs, CTOs, project managers, or pretty much anyone in charge of selecting the technology stack for your next SaaS product.

Why choosing the right tech stack is key for SaaS development?

A few of our opening statements have already briefly outlined the importance of choosing the right tech stack for SaaS development, but let’s dig a little deeper. The right SaaS tech stack is the first step in building a secure and properly maintainable product.

The tech stack you choose will determine your SaaS product’s functionality, scalability, and user experience. That’s why choosing the right one for you is a number one priority at the beginning of your application or platform development.

It’s also crucial to do that before the actual development process begins. Though it may sound obvious, changing even one technology or tool midway through SaaS development could cost the company time and money and sometimes even be challenging in the first place.

A massive bill after switching to a new technology stack may be tolerable for bigger companies, but the blow might be too devastating for smaller ones, especially startups. That’s why we advise our readers to handle the SaaS tech stack selection with utmost care.

Key factors that influence the tech stack

Before we begin listing the most suitable tools for each of the SaaS development components and stages, here’s what influences the tech stack on a broader scale.

Key factors influencing the tech stack
Key factors influencing the tech stack

Scalability. One of the biggest attributes of modern technology is how fast it changes. It’s rare to see a product remain in its original state and not adapt to the environment. So, decide how dynamic and scalable you want your SaaS product to be and select tools accordingly.

Code maintainability. Another important factor is long-term code maintainability. Check if: a) the language has strong community support, b) the code is not overly complicated, or whether you will have access to the same developers, and c) it’s short, feature-specific, and reusable.

Time-to-market. Nowadays, the faster you present your product on the market, the better chance it has to exceed its competition. So, typically, most want a shorter time-to-market, and for that, it’s better to choose technologies that boost the development process.

The learning curve. Similarly to code maintainability, a lower learning curve will ensure your SaaS product is properly maintained even if you change developers. What’s more, a low learning curve will give more room for creativity when adding new features.

Support. And last but not least, long-term support for your product is essential if you want to have continuous maintenance in the long run. It is preferable to choose technologies that have been in the market for quite some time rather than newer and lesser-known ones.

Essential components of the SaaS technology stack

Any SaaS product development is divided into two parts - what users see (front-end) and what goes on behind the scenes (back-end). We’ll cover them both and a few other essential components, such as content delivery, cloud services, etc.

Front-end

Pretty much the basis of every front-end development is the trio of HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. The first one is a markup language that you use to structure the content, the second lets you format it, and finally, JS is there to add interactivity.

But it’s the choice of frameworks and libraries that really matters here. They let you reduce the amount of routine code workload related to the frontend. For example, Bootstrap 5 does that to HTML.

The next pick we would recommend is React. Its reusable web app components and pretty simple logic are why it’s perfect for developing non-complicated web applications. For more advanced application logic, however, it’s better to choose either Angular or Vue.js.

Despite its steeper learning curve, Angular offers excellent scalability, making the applications more complex. A UI library called Vue.js has great value for your buck and provides help for less-experienced developers creating smaller-scale applications.

Overall, all four frameworks have decent support, so the final decision should be more influenced by your product’s scale.

Back-end

Arguably, a more weighty part of your future SaaS solution is the backend, serving as the foundation of your application, processing requests from its client side. Let’s look at its most important components.

Languages.

The most common languages for back-end, with their respective frameworks, are:

  • Python (Django, Flask) - simple syntax + speedy development;
  • Ruby (Ruby on Rails);
  • Java;
  • C# or C++ for larger applications;
  • PHP (Laravel, Symphony, CodeIgniter) - excellent for startups;
  • And even JavaScript, with the help of frameworks like Node, Meteor, and Express.

Server.

A server in the application functions as a communications facilitator between the customer and your product. After it receives a request from the client side and processes it, your clients then see the result on their screens.

Some commonly used servers in the backend are Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS), Apache, Nginx, DigitalOcean, etc. If you’d prefer a serverless SaaS solution, we’ve prepared a few cloud service recommendations below.

Database.

Databases are essential for storing your SaaS application’s critical data, mostly records and files. There are mainly two types of databases - relational and non-relational.

The former will suit you if your data is pretty consistent and structured, while the latter handles diverse data structures best.

You can pick the following tried-and-tested options: Redis, ClickHouse, MongoDB, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. Choose the one that can accommodate your growing infrastructure.

DevOps.

DevOps tools are used mainly for development process automation - processes like version control, performance monitoring, configuration management, continuous integration and delivery, project management, testing, etc.

Great picks would be Docker, Kubernetes, ELK Stack, Terraform, Prometheus, Jenkins, Ansible, and Grafana. For application monitoring, use Sentry or New Relic.

AI / ML.

For artificial intelligence or machine learning-powered data analytics, you can turn to most of the cloud service providers we mention below unless you want your developers to build some of these algorithms themselves. Then they should use R, Go, or Python.

Event brokers.

Event brokers or message management platforms are development middleware used to communicate events between consumers and event producers in event-driven architecture (if you choose Microservices - see: Monolith vs. Microservices).

The most popular options are RabbitMQ and Apache Kafka. For working more with user requests and transactions, choose the former. Kafka is better with internal process operations, such as logging statistics or auditing.

Cloud services

Despite a vast variety of standard hosting solutions, storing your application on the cloud has proven to be more cost-effective for many.

One of the most popular cloud providers is Amazon Web Services, offering pre-configured Amazon-powered hosting technologies.

Most banking, fintech, or software companies today use AWS for the cloud. If you’re opting for an alternative - Google Cloud Platform, ServerSpace Cloud Servers, or Microsoft Azure are decent choices.

Monolith vs. Microservices

A Monolith ecosystem today is rather obsolete since it can’t be divided into separate pieces of software modules, so we would advise you to choose Microservice instead.

This type of SaaS ecosystem has independent services for each part of the application, so it can be easily put apart, tested, and deployed.

For Microservices-focused development, use frameworks like Spring Boot, Eclipse Vert.x, GoMirco, Micronaut, and also Amazon ECS, Fargate, or Kubernetes for scaling up the app.

Software architecture

And finally, after choosing all the previous tools for your SaaS tech stack, you must decide on your application’s architecture.

Single-tenant. Each user has their own separate database and resources without the need to share their data. Separate application + separate database. It’s more secure but costly.

Multi-tenant. Multi-tenancy, however, means a separate database but the same application. It’s more cost-effective as it requires a single codebase that is also reusable and promotes faster upgrades.

More helpful tips

We’d like to share a few more tips from our experience in developing SaaS products:

  • Try to streamline the development process as much as possible. Use frameworks, libraries, tools, and plugins created by the community to simplify code writing.
  • Choose tools that are up-to-date with their latest repositories.
  • Apart from establishing the project’s scope and all the necessary requirements, don’t forget to also plan all the scaling-up needs and security essentials beforehand.
  • When developing SaaS products, think about the future onboarding process with your clients. Make sure it’s not too convoluted.
  • If you have a smaller budget, consider free or open-source software with a large online community that will help you with advice if anything goes wrong.

Given what we already know about all the essential components of SaaS tech stacks, here are some examples of technologies that other famous companies have chosen, for a bit of inspiration:

Tech stacks in popular companies
Tech stacks in popular companies

Wrap-up

This is the first article in our SaaS guide series. Its purpose is to give our readers ample knowledge and a decent advantage in building your very own software-as-a-service product.

Even though it’s quite common to delegate the decision on choosing a SaaS tech stack to your software development vendors, no one knows your business better than you.

However, if the delegation process is imminent, make sure your partner understands your business and your audience.

Ultimately, if you are the one choosing the technology stack, we hope our article has shed more light on the process and how to make the right stack decisions.

P.S. Stay tuned for more exciting SaaS-related articles.

Serhii Hyliuk

Head of Growth

Head of Growth and Customer Success. I'm interested in design, new tech, fashion, exploring new places and languages. My mission is to make our clients happy.

Head of Growth and Customer Success. I'm interested in design, new tech, fashion, exploring new places and languages. My mission is to make our clients happy.

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