What is Cloud-Native and Why You Should Consider It

Software Development Feb 13, 2024

Nowadays, the way we build and deploy software has undergone a profound transformation. The shift to cloud computing has revolutionized the way applications are developed, and at the forefront of this revolution is the concept of 'Cloud-Native'. If you're wondering what exactly Cloud-Native means and why it matters, you're in the right place.

Building software for the cloud offers unparalleled flexibility, scalability, and efficiency. However, not all applications that run in the cloud are created equal.

Some are simply migrated from traditional on-premises environments to the cloud, while others are born and bred in the cloud's native habitat.

In this article, we will explore what Cloud-Native truly means, how it differs from non-Cloud-Native approaches, the benefits it brings, and why you should seriously consider adopting Cloud-Native applications for your development projects.

The adoption of Cloud-Native practices is on the rise, as indicated by surveys conducted by industry leaders such as the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and Tigera. With 30% of respondents already embracing Cloud-Native approaches and a substantial 75% of companies focusing on Cloud-Native application development, it's clear that Cloud-Native is more than just a buzzword; it's a fundamental shift in how we approach software development.

So, let's go together on a journey to demystify Cloud-Native. Are you ready?

What Does ‘Cloud-Native’ Mean?

‘Cloud-Native' is a transformative approach that aligns perfectly with the dynamic possibilities offered by cloud computing. Unlike traditional on-premises infrastructure, where applications were monolithic and rigid, Cloud-Native takes full advantage of the cloud's unique capabilities while embracing a different set of architectural constraints.

At its core, Cloud-Native represents a departure from the conventional model of building, testing, and deploying applications as a single, unwieldy unit.

Instead, it champions a modular and highly adaptable approach. In this context, applications are not built as monoliths but are rather decomposed into a collection of loosely coupled services. This architectural shift serves as the foundation for managing complexity and unlocking the full potential of the cloud environment.

In other words, Cloud-Native is all about harnessing the full potential of cloud computing by adopting a modular approach with microservices and leveraging containerization. This innovative architecture is not just a trend but a strategic shift that empowers businesses to stay competitive and agile in an ever-evolving technological landscape. As Cloud-Native technology continues to gain traction, it becomes increasingly vital for organizations to embrace its principles and unlock the advantages it offers in terms of flexibility, scalability, and efficiency.

What Is a Cloud-Native Application?

As we already mentioned, the term 'Cloud-Native' has emerged as a game-changer, reshaping how we design and build applications. But what exactly is a Cloud-Native application, and why is it considered a pivotal departure from the traditional approach?

To understand what a Cloud-Native application is, it's crucial to first grasp what it isn't – a traditional monolithic application. Monolithic applications operate as single, unwieldy units, often relying on custom-built operating systems, middleware, and language stacks for each application. These applications tend to accumulate tightly woven dependencies over time, making them complex, hard to evolve, and challenging to operate.

In contrast, Cloud-Native applications are purposefully designed from the ground up to fully leverage the dynamic and distributed nature of cloud infrastructure. This design philosophy capitalizes on the cloud's inherent elasticity and scalability, leading to enhanced speed, agility, reliability, and cost efficiency.

Cloud-Native applications are characterized by their decomposition into multiple self-contained services, facilitated by modern technologies and methodologies like DevOps, continuous delivery, continuous integration, containers, microservices, and declarative APIs. This approach allows development teams to deploy and scale individual components independently, enabling seamless updates, issue resolutions, and feature enhancements without service disruptions.

One of the key advantages of Cloud-Native applications is their ability to respond swiftly to user feedback and continuously improve. By harnessing the capabilities of cloud computing, such as self-service, on-demand provisioning, and automated application lifecycles, organizations can reap the benefits of improved scalability, availability, and faster time-to-market.

To gain a deeper understanding of Cloud-Native principles and best practices, we can use others’ words, such as CNCF, that defines Cloud-Native computing as follows:

"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."

So, a Cloud-Native application is a paradigm shift that harnesses the full potential of modern infrastructure to create agile, scalable, and efficient software solutions.

What is Cloud-Native vs non cloud native?

As we already said, not all applications are created equal. In fact, there are distinct approaches to leveraging cloud technology, each with its own set of characteristics and benefits. To shed light on this, let's take a closer look at the key distinctions between Cloud-Native and non-Cloud-Native applications.

Cloud-Native Applications:

  • Born in the Cloud: Cloud-Native applications are conceived and designed specifically for cloud environments from the very beginning. Developers architect these applications using cloud-based technologies and services to harness the full potential of public clouds like AWS, Azure, or GCP.
  • Agility and Scalability: Cloud-Native applications prioritize agility and scalability. They are built to adapt swiftly to changing demands and offer seamless scalability to accommodate growing user bases or sudden surges in traffic.
  • Continuous Delivery: Continuous integration, orchestrators, and container engines are essential components of Cloud-Native development. These technologies streamline the process of creating and deploying applications, enabling rapid updates and feature delivery.
  • Resilience and Flexibility: Cloud-Native applications embrace microservices architecture, allowing them to be resilient, flexible, and capable of handling failures gracefully. This approach minimizes downtime and disruptions.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Cloud-Native applications often come with lower operational costs because organizations pay for licenses, storage, and maintenance directly from the cloud provider.
  • Security: Security is integrated into the design and architecture of Cloud-Native applications, following best practices for cloud security. It's a shared responsibility between the cloud provider and the application owner.
  • Testing and Disaster Recovery: Cloud-Native applications benefit from automated testing processes and built-in disaster recovery solutions, including multi-region deployments and automated failover mechanisms.
  • Performance Optimization: These applications are designed for high performance and scalability, leveraging cloud-native services like auto-scaling and load balancing.

Non Cloud-Native Applications (Cloud-Based and Cloud-Enabled):

A middle ground between Cloud-Native and traditional approaches, cloud-based applications are essentially traditional applications hosted on cloud servers. They leverage some cloud capabilities like higher availability and scalability but are not fundamentally redesigned to utilize cloud services.

Cloud-enabled applications are traditionally designed applications that have been migrated to the cloud. They retain their original architecture and often struggle to fully exploit the cloud's benefits, such as shared services and resource pools.

  • Design Differences: Cloud-Native applications prioritize designing for failure and rely on microservices, while cloud-based applications focus on traditional availability. Cloud-Enabled applications retain their original designs.
  • Ease of Use: Cloud-Native applications offer flexibility and seamless upgrades of specific app areas, while cloud-based applications may require upgrades for the entire stack, leading to downtime.
  • Implementation Speed: Cloud-Native applications are faster to deploy due to the absence of hardware or software setup. In contrast, cloud-based applications can be slower to implement.
  • Maintenance: Cloud-Native applications limit interruptions, while cloud-based applications may experience downtime during hardware migrations or software configurations.
  • Pricing: Cloud-Native applications are typically cost-effective, with expenses directly tied to cloud provider services. Cloud-based applications may become more expensive due to infrastructure ownership.
  • Storage: Cloud-Native applications utilize cloud-native storage services, while cloud-based applications may rely on traditional storage solutions.
  • Testing and Disaster Recovery: Testing is more straightforward in Cloud-Native environments, while migrating and testing legacy applications in the cloud may require more effort for non Cloud-Native applications.
  • Performance: Cloud-Native applications are optimized for scalability and performance, while non Cloud-Native applications may struggle to achieve similar levels of scalability and performance optimization.

In summary, the choice between Cloud-Native and non Cloud-Native approaches depends on factors like application architecture, scalability requirements, development goals, and the organization's cloud strategy.

While Cloud-Native development is gaining popularity for its ability to fully harness cloud benefits, non Cloud-Native approaches can be practical for legacy applications or transitional phases. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for making informed decisions in the ever-evolving world of cloud computing.

Benefits of Cloud-Native

Staying ahead of the competition requires innovation, agility, and efficiency in software development. This is where Cloud-Native development shines, offering a host of compelling benefits that empower businesses to thrive. But how it can revolutionize your development process?

1. Rapid Provisioning of Resources: In the cloud, developers enjoy the power of near-instantaneous self-service provisioning of resources. Unlike traditional methods that can take weeks to set up, the cloud empowers developers to create new environments, from websites to virtual machines, with remarkable speed and ease. This agility is a game-changer in the competitive digital landscape.

2. High Availability and Resiliency: Downtime can be a significant setback in software development. Cloud-Native applications, built using microservices, are inherently resilient. Even if one component fails, the application continues to function seamlessly. This high availability minimizes disruptions and allows developers to focus on innovation instead of troubleshooting.

3. Automated Application Scalability: Cloud-Native development unleashes the potential for automated scalability. In contrast to the limitations of on-premises data centers, the cloud offers virtually unlimited scalability on demand. This is particularly valuable for applications that experience unpredictable or seasonal spikes in traffic, ensuring a consistently smooth user experience.

4. Remote Accessibility: The modern work environment often demands remote access. Cloud-Native development facilitates this by enabling stakeholders to access the development environment from anywhere.

5. Simplified Development Process: Cloud-Native development streamlines the entire software development life cycle (SDLC). From development and integration to testing, deployment, and production, you operate within the same environment. This simplification enhances collaboration and efficiency across the development process.

6. High-Quality Applications: Cloud-Native development fosters continuous improvement of applications. Using microservices, developers can update specific components without the need to rebuild and redeploy the entire application. This agility is invaluable for core enterprise workloads and software as a service (SaaS) applications, enabling rapid responses to customer needs.

7. Accelerated Time-to-Market: Traditional infrastructure management can be a hindrance to speed-to-market. Cloud-Native development eliminates such obstacles by incorporating DevOps, containers, automation, and continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD). This optimized SDLC accelerates development and testing, translating directly into faster time-to-market and a competitive edge.

8. Reduced Cost: Cloud-Native development is cost-effective. Instead of investing repeatedly in hardware for building, testing, and running applications, your cloud provider handles this responsibility. You pay only for the services you use, saving on hardware and maintenance costs.

Examples of Cloud-Native applications

There are some examples of Cloud-Native applications that are shaping the digital world.

1. Software Containers: Unlocking Portability and Efficiency

Software containers are revolutionizing how applications are developed, deployed, and managed. These portable environments encapsulate an application and all its required software components in a compact, efficient package. Containers are known for their small size, rapid deployment, reusability, and portability.

One of the key advantages of containers is their platform-agnostic nature. Once an application is packaged in a container, it can seamlessly run on any platform that supports containers. Whether it's a laptop, a cloud server, or a supercomputer, the application functions consistently without platform-specific dependencies. This flexibility empowers developers to build applications that can traverse cloud platforms effortlessly.

2. Microservices: Building Agile and Extendable Applications

Microservices represent a paradigm shift in application architecture. These loosely coupled software services can be combined like building blocks to create complex applications. Microservices promote flexibility and extensibility by allowing developers to assemble applications from pre-existing services. This modular approach minimizes the need for custom coding and accelerates development.

Applications built using microservices can evolve rapidly. Developers can swap out or add new services without extensive integration testing, fostering agility and reliability. This flexibility is instrumental in creating responsive and adaptable software solutions.

3. Software-Defined Infrastructure: Dynamic Resource Management

Software-defined infrastructure reimagines how hardware resources are managed through virtualization. It replaces physical switches, dials, and plugs with software-driven control, enabling dynamic resource allocation and management. Cloud-Native applications thrive on the assumption of a fluid and adaptable infrastructure.

This approach allows applications to scale capacity up or down, reallocate resources, and automate service provisioning. Software-defined infrastructure aligns perfectly with the dynamic nature of Cloud-Native applications, ensuring they can harness resources efficiently and effectively.

4. Application Program Interfaces (APIs): Enhancing Functionality and Connectivity

APIs play a pivotal role in extending and customizing applications without delving into their underlying code. These software connectors expose specific functionalities that other software applications can leverage. APIs facilitate seamless integration and access to rich functionality in other applications.

A prominent example of API-enabled applications is Google Maps. Developers can integrate mapping functionality into their applications by tapping into Google Maps' APIs. This integration saves time and effort, as developers can avoid building complex map functionality from scratch. APIs enhance connectivity and collaboration among applications, fostering innovation and efficiency.

Why should you consider Cloud-Native applications?

The choice of application development approach can significantly impact your business's success. Cloud-Native applications offer a host of benefits that can propel your organization forward. Let's explore why you should seriously consider adopting Cloud-Native applications and how Acid Tango can help you harness their full potential.

  • Scalability, Adaptability, and Connectivity: Cloud-Native applications are purpose-built to thrive in cloud environments. They leverage cloud platforms and processes, enabling them to seamlessly scale to meet evolving demands. This scalability is essential in the dynamic digital world, where businesses face unpredictable spikes in traffic and usage. Cloud-Native applications are designed with the cloud's scalability in mind, ensuring your software can grow with your business.
  • Efficiency and Agility: Cloud-Native applications are known for their efficiency and agility. They are highly adaptable and can be modified with ease. Additionally, they connect effortlessly to cloud services, extending their capabilities without the need for extensive coding. This flexibility allows your development teams to respond quickly to changing requirements and deliver innovative solutions promptly.
  • Leveraging Cloud Constructs: Cloud-Native applications leverage constructs that originated in the cloud. These constructs are purpose-built for the cloud environment, offering advantages such as rapid provisioning of resources, high availability, and automated scalability. By embracing Cloud-Native, you tap into the full potential of these cloud-born technologies.

How Acid Tango Can Help You

Acid Tango is your trusted partner in navigating the cloud-native landscape. Our expertise spans all major cloud providers, enabling us to accelerate your business growth and maximize the benefits of high-performing cloud environments. Our approach is rooted in software architecture best practices, including software design patterns, domain-driven design (DDD), hexagonal architecture, message-driven systems, and microservices.

Our tech team excels in handling complex systems, armed with in-depth knowledge of code structure, patterns, libraries, and tools. We pride ourselves on delivering sustainable code that is easy to maintain and ready for future developments. With Acid Tango by your side, you can harness the full potential of Cloud-Native applications and stay ahead in the competitive digital landscape.

Take the Next Step with Acid Tango:

Ready to embrace Cloud-Native applications and unlock their transformative potential for your business? Acid Tango is here to guide you on your journey. Contact us today to explore how our expertise and experience can drive your organization's success in the cloud-native era. Together, we'll build scalable, adaptable, and efficient software solutions that propel your business to new heights.