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Why Host Your Application with Amazon AWS

Why Host Your Application with Amazon AWS

Amazon is not only about the online marketplace anymore and has more to it!

With Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon not only helps you by improving your wardrobe, but also helps you with your cloud application development too!

AWS is by far the best way you could host your application on the cloud.

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Hosting an application using AWS has many advantages.

First of all, it is highly reliable.

Secondly, it has cost effective computing resources on which you could host your application.

It also has various components which make your application hosting process a lot easier and more flexible.

This is perhaps one of the reasons why you need to host your application with AWS.

AWS Components that Make Your Application Hosting Experience worth It

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

Commonly known as Amazon EC2, this component offers compute capacity in the cloud which is actually resizable. It also gives you APIs and full management consoles so that you can manage the computer resources.

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service

This component offers a web services interface that is easy to use and that can save and retain any quantity of data from anywhere around the world at any given time. It is easily available, safe and has good durability.

  • Amazon Relational Database Service

Commonly known as Amazon RDS, this component eases the whole setting up process and operation and can scale databases in the cloud that are relational.

It offers a resizable database capacity while simultaneously handling databases of administration works that are time consuming.

  • Amazon Cloud Front

Amazon Cloud Front gives a content delivery system that is globally distributed and of great performance.

Your app could make use of this component to effortlessly share stream content with less latency and a greater data transfer pace.

  • Amazon Simple Queue Services

This component gives a highly secured queuing system with high performance. It gives you a chance to distribute the work among the application processes.

  • Amazon Devpay

Amazon Devpay can be used for services related to account management and online billing that would ease your way through the selling of applications.

It is not only those components that make AWS what it is! AWS is further recommended because it has a lot of advantages.

Advantages of AWS Hosting

  • Very Easy to Operate

AWS was designed while keeping in mind the vision of all application providers, vendors, and ISVs who should be able to quickly and safely host their applications.

Irrespective of the kind of applications being hosted, whether existing ones or SaaS based, you can always use the AWS management console or web services APIs.

These are aptly documented in order to gain access to the application hosting platform of AWS.

  • Highly Flexible

AWS will allow you to choose the operating system, web application platform, programming language, database and various services you require.

Using AWS, you can access a virtual atmosphere that would allow you to load the services and software that the application needs.

This also makes the migration process easier for applications that already exist, while also conserving options for building other solutions.

  • Highly Economical

The only expenditure you will have is the electricity and other resources that you would use. Since there are no contracts that last for a long time and upfront commitments, AWS is highly cost effective.

  • Very Reliable

When you use AWS, you are exposed to the benefits of a secure global computing infrastructure that is very reliable and scalable.

Incidentally, this happens to be the virtual spine of Amazon’s online businesses that rake in billions of dollars.

  • High Performance

You can easily scale your application up or down, depending on the demand. This can be done by using AWS tools, elastic load balancing as well as auto scaling.

Supported by the enormous infrastructure that Amazon has, you can easily avail access to storage and computing resources whenever you require them.

  • Highly Secure

AWS uses an end to and characteristic to safeguard and harden the infrastructure which includes operational, software and physical measures.

Okay, so now you have decided to host your application on AWS. But how are you going to do it?

Since doing it yourself might be a risky and time consuming task, resorting to AWS implementation specialists would be the best solutions.

Why Hire an AWS Implementation Specialist for Cloud Solution Development?

  • They Know It inside out

From elastic block storage to the type of performance that can be expected, an AWS professional knows it all.

Furthermore, you cannot take the risk of backing up your data in the wrong way. Only a professional and well experienced developer knows the art of using the snapshot facility via API call and about other techniques.

It is better that you leave a few tasks to only be done by them.

  • Do You Know about Server Management Skills?

AWS is all about cloud computation and you cannot expect yourself to be a master of all trades.

It takes a considerable amount of time and monitoring the health of the server and various tools are used for that which you might not be aware of.

While AWS is still in its infant stage, the service is definitely giving startups a tailspin!

So, when do you plan to host your application with AWS? Do you have any questions or points to add here?

 

Yii vs. Zend – Why Use One of These for Your Web Development

Yii vs. Zend – Why Use One of These for Your Web Development

PHP has a large footprint in the web development community. With over 80% of all existing websites running on PHP code, we can confidently say that PHP has become a ubiquitous phenomenon in web development.

A major reason for many developers choosing PHP is its wide range of developmental frameworks.

PHP frameworks enable you to build websites and apps of all sizes and complexity levels without having to start from scratch.

So, the massive growth of PHP-based web development can be rightly attributed to these excellent frameworks.

But, then again, the real question is which PHP framework is best suited for your needs.

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While choosing the best framework can be subjective and based on your particular needs, there are few qualities that make a framework the best choice in many cases.

Yii and Zend are two frameworks with such amazing features and capabilities.

So, here is a brief overview of both these frameworks to help you decide which is the best one for your MVC development project.

Yii

Yii has been a popular choice among developers to develop large-scale and secured applications.

It was launched in 2008 and is one of the oldest PHP frameworks still going strong. Yii 2.0 is the latest version available.

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This framework is suitable for developing secure applications with complex workflows. It is also great for developing CRM and CMS applications.

Yii is a high-performance, component-based PHP framework that is designed to make your MVC development fast and easy. It is flexible and includes a variety of features, including:

  • Integration with jQuery,
  • Gii module – a built-in code generator, and
  • Active record – the ability to access databases as either Data Access Objects or as Active Records.

It has many other attractive features as well, such as caching, role-based access control, scaffolding, testing and authentication.

In addition, Yii has an active community that can help you with easy maintenance and support. The documentation of its code library is also good.

Cons

  • A major downside, as reported by many beginners, is that it can be a little difficult to get started with Yii.
  • Yii relies heavily on static methods and this may cause code complexities.
  • Managing code for large platforms and sites can be difficult and you have to be extra careful in using Yii in such cases.

Zend

Zend has been a constant favourite for many developers and has been upgraded into the Zend 2.0 version. Many corporations, such as BBC, BNP Paribas and Cisco WebEx, use Zend in their projects.

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Some of the great features of Zend 2.0 are:

  • Modular approach – enables reusability and better flexibility,
  • Service manager – a layer that returns objects as requested to be used in your own factories,
  • Event manager – lets you attach and detach even listeners, handlers, trigger events and interrupt execution, and
  • PHP composer – maintains the project libraries and version management.

Zend can also be used on a piecemeal basis: Certain components of Zend can be used in a Yii-based web application.

It follows a use-at-will architecture and has minimal interdependencies among its components.

It further supports multiple database systems and email delivery systems.

This framework gives you complete control over every feature and customisations are very easy. When the project involved is simple, development using Zend can be very fast.

However, for larger projects, using Zend tends to take longer.

Cons

Zend has a reputation for being hard to learn. But, in case of documentation, Yii seems to have better credits. The configuration options are also complex.

Let us take a closer look at the specialties of each framework to better understand them.

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So which one are you going to pick? Do you have any questions or points to add here? Please feel free to leave your comments below and thanks for reading!

A Closer Look at the Cross-Platform Frameworks for Mobile App Development

A Closer Look at the Cross-Platform Frameworks for Mobile App Development

The difference in the syntax and structure of programming languages is no longer the talk of the town.

With every app enclosing thousands of lines of code, all that developers now talk about is their choice of app development frameworks, application program interfaces (APIs) and the cross compilation they provide.

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App frameworks have become the norm and people cannot call themselves programmers if they are not well-versed in at least one particular development framework.

They offer a lot of benefits over the previous and newly outdated development approaches. These frameworks have reduced the learning curve so much that even absolute beginners can start developing apps with little training.

Adding complex functionality is no longer a genius’s work, but an effective way of writing API calls and developing apps for various platforms does not require you to be an expert in all platforms.

So, everyone with a great idea can now easily, quickly and effectively implement it with the help of app frameworks.

Therefore, you too can easily create your own mobile apps which might have seemed a difficult task a few years ago. Here is an overview of the cross-platform mobile app development frameworks to get you started.

Mobile App Development Frameworks

The mobile app development has become a million dollar industry with hundreds of mobile apps hitting the market daily. The growing demand and the need for high-performance apps have pushed the app development industry to a new level and frameworks help developers scale to the growing demands.

But, before we can delve into mobile frameworks, we first need to understand the difference between native apps and cross-platform apps.

There are many mobile platforms, for example, iOS, Android and Blackberry, and all of these require apps tailored to their own platform constraints.

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Native app development is the original methodology where an app is developed specifically for a single platform using the relevant framework, syntax, and APIs.

However, this type of app development may prove to be costly and time consuming when a relatively simpler app has to be developed for more than one platform. In these cases, a cross-platform framework can be used to develop a cross-platform app that works on different platforms with a single code base.

Cross-Platform Frameworks

Cross-platform frameworks provide a feasible way for developers to develop cross-platform apps easily. These tools can generally be classified as web-based frameworks and converters.

Web-based frameworks focus on the client-side technologies, such as HTML5/HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Other frameworks, such as Unity, Corona and Titanium, are called converters and use a particular programming language and then convert it into an executable native code for the target device.

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Source: Flickr

There is no single best fit of a cross-platform framework that suits all your needs. While frameworks like Corona are suitable for game development, others frameworks like PhoneGap are much more suitable for developing hybrid HTML5 apps.

Developers will mostly use more than one tool as the market is more niche than it is mature. With so many frameworks in the market today, your decision of choosing one out of the many heavily impacts the app you are developing.

Here is an overview of some of the major cross-platform app frameworks for you to choose from.

PhoneGap or Apache Cordova

PhoneGap was recently acquired by Nitobi and has been rechristened and distributed under the name Apache Cordova. It lets you write mobile apps using HTML, JavaScript and CSS which can easily be ported to various platforms.

It is a little difficult to fully exploit the native features using PhoneGap. It has numerous plugins that help you add the native device features in a modular way. Furthermore, it is an open source framework and is thus available free of cost.

Titanium

Appcelerator’s Titanium allows you to develop cross-platform apps by providing a unified JavaScript API with native platform-specific features. It abstracts the native software development kits and allows you to write JavaScript apps above.

Thus, it is capable of giving a higher user interface (UI) performance compared to hybrid apps. It also provides value-added services, such as backend as a service (BaaS), app analytics, and marketplace services.

Adobe AIR

Adobe AIR has described itself as a cross-operating-system runtime that lets developers combine HTML, JavaScript, Adobe Flash and flex technologies. Adobe Air can be used to develop apps with interactive UI elements, such as animation and other graphics.

However, a major disadvantage of this tool is that you can only use Flash and ActionScript to write apps.

Sencha

Sencha Touch is an HTML5 mobile app development framework that can help you develop apps that have the look and feel of a native app. It can be used along with PhoneGap or Sencha’s native packager to utilise the device-level APIs.

Comparison between the Cross-platform Frameworks

Here is a comparison table of some of my favorite app frameworks on some important factors.

Untitled

There are many more frameworks on the market waiting to be explored and exploited. If we have missed your favorite, leave some suggestions and feedback in the comments.

 

Captive Centre or Vendor Partner Model: Which One Suits Your Business?

Captive Centre or Vendor Partner Model: Which One Suits Your Business?

In today’s competitive world, businesses want to be careful when deciding whether a large software development project should be done in-house or done by outsourcing the work.

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Some companies have an in-house software development setup (captive centre subsidiary), but they are so flexible that they outsource work to reliable vendor partners.

Other organisations no longer outsource major software development work, because of their captive centre setup which has long-term goals.

You can select the best one that suits your business’s purpose in the short-term and in the long-term, by comparing the two setups.

So let’s take a look at a comparison of the key drivers and challenges for a captive centre set up with those for a vendor partner set up.

Key Drivers for the Captive Centre Setup

  • Does your business have a captive centre in a low-cost area? Do you want to benefit from the cost-savings of offshore resources? Then this model is the one for you.

You can choose to set up your own captive centre to make the most out of its large-scale offshore plans.

  • Does your business deal with sensitive information? Do you want to prevent the potential risk of data leaks to third parties? Then you may prefer this model.

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For example, if your business is based on banking, insurance or the stock market, you deal with a lot of monetary transactions and sensitive customer data.

  • Do you want complete control over your sensitive operational activities, like product costing and new product launches? Then this setup is suitable for you.
  • Does your business handle a complex software development project? Then the knowledge gained by the resources working on such projects will be invaluable. It will stay in the organisation with this model.

Challenges for the Captive Centre Setup

  • It is usually rapidly set up to scale up your business and you may start with lenient service level agreements (SLAs). But, when you need to make the SLAs stricter and better, you might have to spend more than you thought.
  • Some internal employees might be resistant of this setup. They may fear new projects being assigned to the captive centre which will lead to a lack of work for them with potential job cuts in the future.
  • Your company’s top management may start to focus less on the captive centre, due to it being viewed as a cost centre (instead of a profit centre). This is because it takes a long time to show decent returns on investment and results, despite it being costly to set up.

Key Drivers for the Vendor Partner Model

Most drivers for this outsourcing model stem from the shortcomings of the captive centre model.

  • Unlike the captive centre model, this model does not require a lot of time to start and the operations can be ramped up quickly. This is because the vendor generally has an established setup. For example, if you are a big retail company and wish to build an enterprise app, it makes more sense to start off using this model.
  • You do not need to invest a lot of money or time to enter a vendor partner relationship.

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  • Your company can opt for a pilot project execution, before getting into large scale operations. This allows you to first gain valuable experience in setting up a low-cost centre. You can then decide to continue to scale with the vendor partner or you can start your own captive centre.
  • You can smoothly close out offshore operations without hassles or high costs. This is possible with a clear contract with the vendor partner with a transparent exit clause. However, you may find it too tedious and expensive to close down offshore operations with the captive centre model, since labour laws in several low-cost countries are quite strict.

Challenges for Vendor Partner Model

  • You may find it challenging to maintain the security of confidential data for banks, insurance companies, etc.
  • Your business may have to spend a lot to ramp up your vendor partner setup with those who have expertise in the niche skills. This may also be difficult, because you may be unsure how long the resources and knowledge will be kept.

Verdict

Many companies may want to balance the two models based on the nature of their business.

However, Fortune 500 companies, such as Citigroup, Dell, Unilever and Deutsche Bank, have recently shut down their captive centres and opted for the cost effective and efficient vendor partner setup. This is due to the increased competition and the need to save costs and deliver instant results within strict deadlines.

So, which model will you opt for? Do you have any points to share?

 

8 Tips for Application Maintenance Outsourcing

8 Tips for Application Maintenance Outsourcing

Application maintenance outsourcing (AMO) is an important part of application outsourcing. With AMO, you can outsource all the maintenance activities, such as enhancements, corrections and patch developments.

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You can get the resources that you need for the maintenance phase of your project on a contract basis. These resources include the manpower with the required technical skills, technology and other required resources.

Application development and maintenance form about 80% of the total work that is outsourced. The number of outsourcing companies is also increasing due to the huge demand.

Thus, let’s take a look at the several pros and cons it comes with.

Pros of AMO

AMO is a cost-effective solution and improves your operations and technology well.

Here are some benefits of AMO:

  • Cost and time saving
  • It lets you have more time to develop the app and for other operations.
  • It lets you concentrate on the core business.
  • It makes use of external expertise.
  • Gives you access to industry experts without paying a big compensation as you would for a normal employee.
  • Allows your work to be flexible.
  • Gives you access to talented IT professionals, better tools, equipment, and technology.
  • Improves the performance, productivity, and customer satisfaction.
  • It allows work to be continued in different time zones.
  • Enables you to go without a payroll system.
  • Nullifies the worry about losing key employees.

Cons of AMO

There are many benefits of AMO. But, if you choose the wrong partner or if you don’t take care of the basic guidelines, you could end up losing rather than gaining.

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Here are some disadvantages of AMO:

  • You may lose control over the workflow.

You could have a conflict with the contractor about the differing workflows.

For example, you may want the contractor to use a different approach than what they usually use.

So, you should ensure that the approach that you want the contractor to follow is clear before you sign the contract.

  • The outsourced staff may be disloyal.

You may not have proper communication with your outsourced team and so you may lose control over the team.

  • There is a management overhead.

You will have to deal with extra management duties, since you also have to take up the management issues related to outsourcing.

  • There may be a slow response time to problems.

If there is no proper project management and communication, your customers will experience a slow response time and they may be less satisfied.

Tips to Implement AMO

Thus, you first need to choose the right partner for outsourcing. You also have to follow best practices and guidelines and you need to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Here are eight tips to help you.

1. Set Your Goals

You should set well-defined criteria and quantifiable goals.

You should know what you want from the outsourcing and you need to specify them as measurable objectives. You should then measure the progress of your project with these.

2. Understand the Process

The activities involved in maintenance outsourcing are:

  • Service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Asset transfer
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Architecture reconstruction
  • Environment replication
  • Pilot programme
  • Process propagation
  • Work execution
  • Testing (verification and validation)
  • Deployment
  • Monitoring and reporting
  • Review and improvements

You should understand the workflow, other specifics and how the maintenance process will be carried out.

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You should clarify everything with the contractor and only sign the contract once you are clear about everything. This includes the approach that the vendor will use.

You must follow a well-developed maintenance lifecycle. Each phase (the planning, transitioning, delivery and close out) should occur at the right time and you should have a proper plan for each.

3. Documentation

You must ensure that the knowledge transfer is done properly. So, you must maintain a good documentation and keep it updated. This will also help you during training.

4. Hiring

You must choose experienced and skilled professionals. Such employees will require less training and you can use work trials to select key personnel.

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You should also set aside a budget for training. They need basic training; since they must understand the app they are working on. You can optimise your training costs by choosing employees with the required technical skills and experience and by having good documentation.

5. Make Use of Metrics

You must establish metrics to evaluate the performance and to determine whether the contractor abides by the SLA.

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You can these metrics:

  • Customer demand metrics
  • Enhancements work backlog
  • Maintenance work backlog
  • Priority request ageing
  • Performance metrics
  • Maintenance work volume
  • Enhancement work volume
  • Quality metrics
  • Rework requests
  • Efficiency metrics
  • Utilisation metrics

Verify your measurements using audits and monitor them continuously. You should also regularly hold review meetings and ensure that you are on the right path.

6. Team Integration

You must integrate your in-house team with the outsourced team. There should be good communication with your external staff to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts.

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You should also understand the cultural and geographical differences of the offshore team and try to bridge these differences to work as a single team.

7. Production Management

If you believe in productive work, then must establish a proper monitoring and reporting system as well.

You should also have a strong production management to help you smoothly carry out the joint operations. Everything should be planned and executed according to the plan.

8. Improve Your Infrastructure

If you have a mature infrastructure, you will achieve better results.

You should have a good communication platform, good connectivity and good technology support. Recovery features can also help you improve your efficiency.

So what’s your tip for AMO? Do you have any questions? Please feel free to leave your comments below and thanks for reading!

 

5 Reasons to Select Magento for Your Small Business

5 Reasons to Select Magento for Your Small Business

Have you been keeping track of the leading eCommerce platforms that have emerged in recent years for businesses?

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If yes, then Magento is sure to figure in that list of popular eCommerce solutions that have made lives easier for businesses to go online with their products or services.

Magento has been known to help businesses seamlessly build an online store across any category, customise it as per their changing needs, attract more customers and generate better sales.

This open source Content Management System (CMS) has been constantly evolving with new solutions and tools, due to which it has been trusted and utilised by more than 240,000 businesses across the globe.

This number is estimated to rise by leaps and bounds in the coming years as the demand for eCommerce increases.

So let’s check out the advantages offered by Magento, especially for small businesses, and compare it to other eCommerce platforms or CMSs.

1. A Customisable Open Source Solution

Magento (Community Edition) is open source and can be downloaded for free. Once installed, you are not restricted to the standard templates, but you can customise it as per the dynamic requirements of your business.

Open Source

Image credit: Flickr

You can boost your eCommerce store with several new features and functionalities by installing Magento extensions that are available at the Magento Connect marketplace.

For small businesses, this customising option is pretty handy since the eCommerce needs of these businesses may be pretty specific.

2. Strong Community Support

To enjoy a smooth experience with any new tool or CMS, like Magento, that you haven’t used before, you will always feel the need to have reliable and readily available support.

Customer Support

Since Magento is open source, it has an extremely large and knowledgeable community of developers who constantly work on it to ensure it stays updated and secure. If you are stuck anywhere or face any issues while handling the Magento tool, sound technical help is available to you at an instant.

Such support is ideal for small businesses which may not always have enough expertise with Magento to handle the issues. They can easily rely on this Magento community support to get solutions for several issues.

Most of the problems that you may face, while using Magento for the first time, may already have been discussed with solutions at the community forum sites.

3. One-Stop Shop

The best thing about Magento is that you can manage it from a single platform and do not need different solutions for different purposes.

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Image credit: Flickr

You can manage all customer records, billing activities, store inventory, and so on from one place (the admin dashboard). You can create multiple online stores from a single backend CMS.

All your eCommerce apps can be handled from a single database, which further increases your company’s efficiency. This makes it easier for small businesses, as they will need fewer resources to manage and monitor their online store.

4. Support for Mobile Shopping Experience

The world is witnessing an increasing trend towards online shopping for mobile phones. This has led many eCommerce businesses to switch their focus towards developing their online store apps or making their eCommerce websites mobile friendly.

Mobile Shopping

The fact that the Magento platform offers multiple HTML5 capabilities ensures that your customers will have a superior mobile shopping experience.

5. Higher Flexibility and Scalability

With an open system architecture, the Magento experts in your company can create uniquely designed user experiences for various types of access devices.

You can have a fully flexible eCommerce workflow to meet the different business requirements of your company. In addition, this platform offers a higher scalability option at any point of time.

This means that your business can grow seamlessly with flexible eCommerce-based modifications and enhancements possible through Magento.

Comparison with Other Popular CMS

If you were asked about the most popular CMS in the world today, you would probably answer “WordPress”. There is no doubt about the overall popularity of WordPress, but it is not designed specifically for eCommerce.

To handle eCommerce requirements, you need to use WooCommerce along with WordPress. Similarly, if you want to design eCommerce stores using another popular CMS, like Drupal, you need to use Drupal Commerce along with it.

Yet, Magento is a platform specifically created for eCommerce requirements. It possesses countless eCommerce features and functionalities that give it a clear edge over other content management systems supporting eCommerce.

Magento is quite SEO friendly and you get the preloaded ability to give meta titles and descriptions as soon as you add products to your online store. You don’t need to install a separate SEO extension or plugin. Some other preloaded SEO features include sitemaps, URL rewrites and layered navigation.

For WordPress, you need to specifically download an SEO plugin, like Yoast, for SEO-related features.

A simple comparison table according to a Tomrobertshaw.net report , for the top eCommerce software in use across the globe is illustrated below:

Magento

It is clear that Magento leads the way for eCommerce software with a market share of almost 26%, followed by WooCommerce which is way behind with only 9.7% of the market share.

Now that you know Magento is the best eCommerce platform currently, you may be wondering about the ways through which you can opt for a suitable Magento development service provider.

You can do that by checking out the Magento community forums which are full of experienced Magento developers or you can find a suitable one via LinkedIn or Crunchbase as well.

You can also check out who has extensive experience in developing online stores using Magento and contact them to get the relevant services for your business.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started with Magento and grow your online business!