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The Future is Cloud Native: Are You Ready?

Why go cloud native?

Cloud-native technologies empower us to produce increasingly larger and more complex systems at scale. It is a modern approach to designing, building, and deploying applications that can fully capitalize on the benefits of the cloud. The goal is to allow organizations to innovate swiftly and respond effectively to market demands.

Agility and Flexibility

Organizations often migrate to the cloud for the enhanced agility and the speed it offers. The ability to set up thousands of servers in minutes contrasts sharply with the weeks it typically takes for on-premises operations. Immutable infrastructure provides confidence in configurable and secure deployments and helps reduce time to market.

Scalable Components

Cloud-native applications are more than just hosting the applications on the cloud. The approach promotes the adoption of microservices, serverless and containerized applications, and involves breaking down applications into several independent services. These services integrate seamlessly through APIs and event-based messaging, each serving a specific function.

Resilient Solutions

Orchestration tools manage the lifecycle of components, handling tasks such as resource management, load balancing, scheduling, restarts after internal failures, and provisioning and deploying resources to server cluster nodes. According to the 2023 annual survey conducted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, cloud-native technologies, particularly Kubernetes, have achieved widespread adoption within the cloud-native community. Kubernetes continues to mature, signifying its prevalence as a fundamental building block for cloud-native architectures.

Security-First Approach

Cloud-native culture integrates security as a shared responsibility throughout the entire IT lifecycle. Cloud-native promotes security shift left in the process. Security must be a part of application development and infrastructure right from the start and not an afterthought. Even after product deployment, security should be the top priority, with constant security updates, credential rotation, virtual machine rebuilds and proactive monitoring.

Is cloud native right for you?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy to determine if becoming cloud native is a wise option. The right approach depends on strategic goals and the nature of the application. Not every application needs to invest in developing a cloud-native model; instead, teams can take an incremental approach based on specific business requirements.

There are three levels to an incremental approach when moving to a cloud-native environment.

Infrastructure Ready Applications

It involves migrating or rehosting existing on-premise applications to an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform with minimal changes. Applications retain their original structure but are deployed on cloud-based virtual machines. It is always the first approach to be suggested and commonly referred to as “lift and shift”. However, deploying a solution in the cloud that retains monolithic behaviour or not utilizing the entire capabilities of the cloud, generally has limited merits.

Cloud-Enhanced Applications

This level allows organizations to leverage modern cloud technologies such as containers and cloud-managed services without significant changes to the application code. Streamlining development operations with DevOps processes results in faster and more efficient application deployment. Utilizing container technology addresses issues related to application dependencies during multi-stage deployments. Applications can be deployed on IaaS or PaaS while leveraging additional cloud-managed services related to databases, caching, monitoring, and continuous integration, and deployment pipelines.

Cloud-Native Applications

This advanced migration strategy is driven by the need to modernize mission-critical applications. Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions or Serverless components are used to transition applications to a microservices, or Event based architecture.

Tailoring applications specifically for the cloud may involve writing new code or adapting applications to cloud-native behaviour. Companies such as Netflix, Spotify, Uber, and Airbnb are the leaders of the digital era. They have presented a model of disruptive competitive advantage by adopting cloud-native architecture. This approach fosters long-term agility and scalability.

Ready to Dive Deeper?

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has a vibrant community, driving the adoption of cloud-native technologies. Explore their website and resources to learn more about tools and best practices.

All major cloud providers have published the Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) that provides guidance and best practices to adopt the cloud and achieve business outcomes.

Final Words!

Cloud-native architecture is not just a trendy buzzword; it’s a fundamental shift in how we approach software development in the cloud era. Each migration approach I discussed above has unique benefits, and the choice depends on specific requirements. Organizations can choose a single approach or combine components from multiple strategies. Hybrid approaches, incorporating on-premise and cloud components, are common, allowing for flexibility based on diverse application requirements. By adhering to cloud-native design principles, application architecture becomes resilient, adaptable to rapid changes, easy to maintain, and optimized for diverse application requirements.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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