Cloud computing is at the heart of business continuity planning and IT transformation. For over a decade, cloud migration has been enabling businesses to boost their enterprise resilience and operate with minimal disruptions. With new challenges likely to surface, the post-pandemic era is expected to be more disruptive. At this juncture, it’s crucial for enterprises to think beyond tailoring their applications for the cloud. In other words, enterprises should upgrade from being ‘cloud migrant’ to ‘cloud native.’
If cloud migration is a digital transformation enabler, cloud native architecture makes the cloud the foremost catalyst for creating business value. Leveraging cloud native architecture, you can build applications that natively utilize the infrastructure and services offered by leading cloud computing providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and so on.
Cloud native applications are resilient, responsive, and scalable. They promote rapid innovation and empower businesses to respond to market trends with more agility. Cloud native application architecture improves the speed and ability of enterprises in building, testing, and deploying modern business software. Adopting the CI/CD approach, cloud native architecture enables enterprises to reduce the app development time from months to hours.
Why Cloud Native Architecture is the Way Forward for Businesses
According to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), cloud native technologies equip organizations with the ability to build and run scalable applications in the latest, high-powered environments, like public, private, and hybrid clouds. Features, such as containers, service meshes, microservices, well-established infrastructure, and application programming interfaces (APIs) are the cornerstones of such a school of thought.
Cloud native architecture, earlier used exclusively by nimble-footed startups, has now also been widely adopted and favoured by enterprise companies. According to the CNCF Cloud Native Survey 2020, the use of containers in production has witnessed a mammoth increase of 300% (92% of respondents, compared to just 23% in 2016). 30% of the respondents to the survey belonged to organizations that have more than 5000 employees.
However, when compared to startups, enterprises face a number of challenges in adopting cloud native technologies, as restructuring IT infrastructure takes immense time, money, and requires unanimous approval across an organization. In the long run though, cloud native architecture provides a number of benefits:
Improve application performance and management
On average, cloud native development drastically improves the performance of enterprise applications by 84% and reduces the downtime of enterprise applications by 79%. Cloud native approach improves your application’s performance and quality through automated development methods and minimal dependencies.
Individual microservices – one of the foundational pillars of cloud native apps – help apply incremental changes to your application. As microservices are independent of other services within the application, frequent updates can be made in the live environment, in a non-intrusive way. New and improved features can be added continuously without disrupting the application’s performance. Adherence to Agile development and DevOps strategy will enhance the ease of application management and increase the convenience in handling iterative improvements.
Containerization brings down costs
According to an IBM survey of IT executives, developer executives, and developers, 87% of microservices users stated that microservices implementation has considerably saved their efforts and expenses.
Microservices are deployed inside containers that are flexible, portable, and lightweight. Containers simplify the application management process and extend the advantages of microservices by offering a stable deployment and management experience across hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
Container orchestration platforms, such as Kubernetes, reduce the manual effort by automating container deployment and management at scale. The open-source nature and community support enjoyed by platforms like Kubernetes, Docker, Jenkins, etc. enable cloud native applications to benefit from containerization. Along with these open-source container orchestration platforms, a robust cloud native architecture drives down costs by offering flexible pricing (pay-per-use pricing), infrastructure standardization, and seamless management of dynamic workloads.
Enhance competency and productivity
Cloud native approach makes cloud the key driver of business growth. An enterprise’s long-term success depends on their ability to build and deliver applications that quickly respond to customer requirements in a volatile market. With cloud native architecture, businesses gain the flexibility to add new features, scale resources to address user demands, and increase the overall efficiency of application development executives.
Rapid application development and faster roll-out of features and enhancements improve developers’ productivity and save their time to focus on core business functions. Thus, cloud native development helps enterprises gain a competitive advantage. 75% of development and IT executives believe that cloud native architecture enables them to accommodate real-time changes in demand.
Unlock the potential of innovative technologies
Enterprise applications that extensively use databases, different data models, AI services, analytics, and business intelligence are typically built using the cloud native development model. More than half of the current cloud native applications use the most advanced cloud services powered by a host of technologies, such as IoT, Machine Learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Cloud native architecture empowers organizations to unlock the full potential of the technology services that cloud can provide. These include technologies like Kubernetes, Docker, APIs, Kafka, and serverless functions that promote rapid application development and deployment.
Avoid vendor lock-in
The widespread adoption of open-source tools and frameworks as well as the proliferation of hybrid and multi-cloud technologies have increased the interoperability and workload portability of cloud-based applications. With cloud native approach, you get plenty of tools to choose from.
Open-source containerization technologies such as Kubernetes and Docker reduce the impact of vendor lock-in. For instance, Amazon Lambda is a serverless, event-driven compute service that allows its users to run code for any type of application or backend service, without provisioning or managing servers. It can be triggered from over 200 AWS services and SaaS applications.
Cloud native security is more resilient
Traditional enterprise security involves complex security configurations that are difficult to maintain and update. Cloud native architecture offers immutable infrastructure and automation that improve threat mitigation and malware detection. Cloud native applications and systems are more proactive than reactive, which prevents any malware from creeping in.
Cloud native security is founded on three core principles, known as the three Rs of security:
- Repair: Weak software, unprotected application stacks, and vulnerable operating systems should be repaired frequently, within hours of update and patch availability.
- Repave: Regularly repave applications and servers from a known-good state. Patch the whole stack and use rolling deployments to reduce downtimes.
- Rotate: Rotate datacenter credentials such as access tokens, passwords, and certificates every few minutes so that they serve the purpose only for a short duration.
Following the Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) approach, cloud native architecture makes it highly feasible to adopt the three Rs of security. A subset of DevSecOps, the three Rs of cloud native security take into account the security concerns at every stage of workflow development. This gives cyber-attackers zero-time to sneak in and understand your system.
Cloud native architecture: Real-life examples
Here are a few examples of companies that have implemented cloud native architecture and strategically transformed themselves:
- Comcast, the leading global media company that resides on VMware Tanzu application service and AWS has reduced their time-to-market by 75%. Their operational labor costs also dropped from 20% to 10% within two years of implementing cloud native architecture.
- The New York Times attained a 99% reduction in deployment time by moving from web to cloud native. When legacy VM-deployments took more than 45 minutes, Kubernetes reduced the deployment time from minutes to seconds, improving their speed of delivery.
- ING’s blockchain-based applications are built on Kubernetes. The bank’s account management app named Yolt is hosted on a Kubernetes framework. The bank took only 2.5 days to convert their entire computing components to cloud native and DevOps.
Cloud is definitely on the horizon
Cloud native architecture underpins the Twelve-Factor Application – the most widely accepted cloud development methodology – that helps businesses deploy apps quickly, scale fast, and add features to respond swiftly to the market trends. In short, we can say that cloud native architecture is a tremendous shift from the traditional monolithic applications to independent microservices components that can be developed, updated, and maintained separately. Combine this with automated platform provisioning and deployment and you will get a cloud native app that is highly dynamic, resilient, manageable, and agile.
IDC predicts that the enterprise of the future will be built atop an independent cloud native digital infrastructure foundation. If you’re set to make the most of cloud innovation, it’s time to consider cloud native development. As a leading AWS Consulting Partner and VMware Professional Services Provider, we help our customers build reliable and responsive cloud native apps that are device and infrastructure agnostic, and take less time to deploy. Connect with our experts to kick-start your cloud native journey.