In order to provide online services, every SaaS business needs an infrastructure that can support the kind of traffic, bandwidth, and data handling created by constant user connections. Most SaaS programs are completely or almost completely cloud-based, accessible through control panels, live dashboards, platforms, and mobile apps that are constantly sharing data back and forth between the client devices and your central service servers. Because most SaaS programs are keyed for B2B use, you are not only handling all of your clients, but the majority of their clients as well creating a truly massive amount of data handling. This means that your infrastructure needs to have an impressive capacity, connectivity speed, and a robust resistance to interruption.
A Growing SaaS
If your business plan is solid and your service is high-quality, your clients will quickly see a boost in their productivity, customer relations, profits, and/or efficiency based on the purpose of your software. Their rise in success granted by your service will inspire others to seek you out in a domino-chain of new clients through referrals and example following. A growing customer base is fantastic for your business and bottom line but could be disastrous for an unprepared infrastructure. Your servers and network are only prepared to deal with so much traffic and if your clientele multiplies without also scaling your online infrastructure, you risk crashing the entire system as it becomes overloaded with data handling and update requests. This means that if you see your client numbers rising, it’s time to think about scaling up.
DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service happens when your online network is overwhelmed with traffic and data requests. The servers providing the data will lock up and new requests cannot be received or sent from the afflicted network. Normally, this term is used to refer to a specific kind of cyber attack in which malicious hackers purposefully send a massive amount of traffic to a website from multiple sources in order to prevent real users from accessing the site. However, it’s all too easy to accidentally DDoS yourself with an unexpected growth in clients and online traffic.
Websites that become virally popular, for instance, have experienced this problem when their normal user-base of a few hundred increases to many thousands in a single day. Online video games that achieve unexpected popularity have also essentially DDoS-ed themselves with their own success. In this way, SaaS businesses are not that different from a popular video game, except that you have a chance to see this kind of growth coming and prepare for it.
Being Prepared for Success
One of the biggest challenges for a small online SaaS business that as just started to hit the big time is keeping up with the demands of traffic. As your number of customers goes up, so too will the number of people accessing your online resources, using your platforms, exploring your website, and contacting customer service. And that’s just for the people who have already converted into customers. As your SEO ranking and popularity increase, so too will the demands on your network. You want to make absolutely certain that you don’t accidentally DDoS yourself with your own success.
This is exactly why network expansion is a common part of any online company. While you may not have needed more than a few small servers to start with, when traffic picks up, so too should your network. Not sure how to scale up your network? Stick around for the second half of this two-part article where we’ll talk about scaling up, preventing outages, and how network performance monitoring can help.