“Cloud Native” is the current buzzword that we will hear everywhere in major digital transformation projects currently underway. But what does Cloud Native even mean? Is it worth doing it for your organization? These are questions that pop up when thinking about transforming our workloads in a Cloud Native way. So let us dive in.
What is Cloud Native?
According to Cloud Native Computing Foundation:
“Cloud native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach.
These techniques enable loosely coupled systems that are resilient, manageable, and observable. Combined with robust automation, they allow engineers to make high-impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal toil.”
In a nutshell, ‘Cloud Native’ refers to the processes and techniques for developing applications that are resilient, fault-tolerant, and change-tolerant.
Cornelia Davis sums it up nicely in her book Cloud Native Patterns when she says:
“Cloud is about where we run, Cloud-native is more about how we run”.
What is in it for organizations?
There is an increased need for organizations today to be “digital first”. The pandemic has made organizations see the benefits of digital technology, and the investments made in the digital space are here to stay.
The touchpoints that customers use to interact with their data are different from before. Organizations have a responsibility to provide customers with a seamless experience across a wide variety of devices, whether it’s mobile phones, digital kiosks, desktop websites, tablets, or automated call centers, you name it!
Traditional applications are not built to manage this influx of traffic. This is where the Cloud Native way of building software comes into the picture. To manage this level of traffic your applications should be refactored so that they can be scaled automatically based on customer traffic.
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Embracing this digital-first imperative leads better customer experience which in turn improves business outcomes. As the saying goes, “the customer is king”…
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) in Cloud Computing
A large component of those techniques involves managing and provisioning infrastructure through code instead of through manual processes. It acts as a ‘template’ that makes deploying new applications much faster.
Having the infrastructure provisioned in an automated way through code (IaC) lowers the cost and effort of by reducing the manual intervention any time they deploy a new app. Infrastructure as Code (IaC) allows the same application to be distributed across different regions that are version-controlled.
Containerizing Applications – How Kubernetes Changed the Game
Containers helps to package application code with operating system and dependent libraries which can be run in any environment. Due to the lightweight nature of containers, they can be scaled quickly compared to regular virtual machines.
Kubernetes is an open-source platform that helps developers in deploying, managing, and scheduling container applications. It became the preferred container orchestration platform as it was initially backed by Google. Later Kubernetes became the preferred platform for cloud-agnostic development so that applications can be deployed to any cloud platform like Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
This led to the creation of Cloud Native Computing Foundation which managed the development of Kubernetes with contributions from member organizations.
But using containers and Kubernetes alone does not make your applications Cloud Native. It is all about the way to build your software to be resilient, fault-tolerant and change-tolerant with consistency.
The Cloud Native Landscape
Cloud Native methodology is not only limited to application development. Cloud Native aspects apply to databases, caches, network software, infrastructure, observability, monitoring, security etc. It is important to understand that Cloud Native landscape is vast and always evolving.
For example, when Kubernetes was all the buzz, organizations had to skill their team members with Kubernetes from both a developer perspective and administrator perspective. Platform teams were created for those who were used to managing and operating Kubernetes clusters on-premises and even in the cloud. It was a heavy investment.
Now organizations no longer have to do the same. Some of the management that used to fall on team members can be shifted to platforms like VMware Tanzu, OpenShift or managed Kubernetes services from Azure Kubernetes, Amazon EKS, or Google Kubernetes Engine.
Organizations today also have fast lane access to Cloud Native by utilizing Serverless offerings and channeling their focus to developing applications to solve business problems. Serverless offerings like Azure Functions, AWS Lambdas, & Azure Container Apps can help orgs understand load patterns and get an overview on spending. Who wants to spend more than their current state? No one, right?
Choosing Serverless or Managed Kubernetes Services or Platform Services depends on the level of control that you need to have on your teams with respect to the environments.
Is Cloud Native necessary for your organization?
Now that we have gone through the basic understanding of Cloud Native Landscape, the next question comes to mind: is it necessary for your organization? It is important to consider the following:
- Is there a requirement to hyper-scale applications?
- Are applications required to run with zero downtime?
- Is there a loss in business to competition if you face downtime?
- Is there a large volume of customer traffic to your applications and infrastructure?
- Do you need to frequently release application updates and changes to improve customer experience?
If you have answered “Yes” to all the questions, then your organization can reap the benefits of Cloud Native Landscape.
As consumers demand more out of their technologies, how will you respond? Download our guide “A Business Leader’s Guide to Key Trends in Cloud” to learn more.