What is Cloud Native?
Cloud-native is a software approach to application development that refers to characteristics and an underlying development methodology that is scalable, reliable, and high-performance in nature and is used to align applications and services with cloud architectures.
Why do businesses use cloud native?
The traditional application development cycle (e.g., the waterfall model) often creates delays throughout the process. But the cloud environment has empowered application developers to work synergistically, from analysis to implementation and testing to maintenance.
For businesses and developers, the advantage is not only faster development time but a significant reduction in costs. Provisioning a staging environment in the cloud is simple to set up and, compared to on-premises environments, inexpensive. The cloud environment can provide a suite of automated tools to speed up timely debugging or code integrity resolution, while also allowing simultaneous testing on multiple devices. Updates and ongoing maintenance are deployed in the background.
What are the benefits of cloud native?
The transformative power of cloud native architecture brings the following benefits to businesses.
- Independence: Cloud native enables enterprises to avoid lock-in to a specific vendor by leveraging multiple cloud providers and services. This independence provides flexibility in selecting the most appropriate and cost-effective cloud solution for different components of an application. It also enables enterprises to seamlessly migrate workloads between cloud environments or on-premises infrastructure.
- Resiliency: Applications are designed to be highly resilient with built-in fault tolerance and disaster recovery mechanisms. Using distributed architectures and auto-scaling, cloud native applications can seamlessly handle outages or spikes in traffic by reallocating resources and maintaining service availability. Resilience is achieved through replication, load balancing, and fault-tolerant design patterns.
- Standards-based: The cloud native architecture follows industry-standard practices and frameworks to ensure interoperability and compatibility. Enterprises can leverage vendor tools and services by adhering to open standards, such as Kubernetes for container orchestration. This promotes portability and enables seamless integration and collaboration across native cloud environments.
- Business agility: Cloud native enables rapid application development and deployment, allowing enterprises to respond quickly to changing business needs. Cloud native architectures like microservices offer faster iterations, independent scaling, and easier maintenance. This flexibility enables enterprises to incorporate enhanced features and updates to their applications more frequently, giving them a competitive edge in the marketplace.
- Automation: The architecture leverages automation for scalability, deployment, monitoring, and management, reducing manual effort. Infrastructure as a Code (IaC) tools and orchestration platforms such as Kubernetes help to automate tasks such as infrastructure provisioning, container deployment, auto-scaling, and service monitoring. Automation simplifies and accelerates deployment and management processes, ensuring consistency, reducing human error, and freeing up resources for higher-value tasks.
- No downtime: Cloud native applications can achieve continuous availability with no-downtime deployments and auto-scaling. Organizations can update or change their applications without disrupting end users by leveraging practices such as rolling updates, blue-green deployments, and canary releases. In addition, cloud native platforms can dynamically scale resources as needed, ensuring high availability even during increased traffic or workload periods.
How are cloud native apps developed?
Building and maintaining cloud native apps requires rethinking one’s approach and understanding cloud native architecture principles. The collaboration between developers and IT operations enables the consistent delivery of incremental updates with less risk and continuous feedback.
Developing cloud native applications still shares many facets with the traditional software development lifecycle. All of the fundamentals are consistent, including planning, analysis, and design. There’s prototyping, alpha and beta testing, and ultimately, deployment. But the seamless integration and synergy between layers enables speed and versatility that were impossible even a decade ago.
As with all applications, there are still lines and lines of code to be written, but real-time debugging and data integrity tools have transformed development speed and agility. Multiple teams can work simultaneously on different (or the same) parts of the code from anywhere in the world. And compiling versions for testing is offloaded into the cloud’s processing capabilities and shared with the rest of the team almost instantaneously.
A typical cloud-based application benefits from “small batch thinking,” in which multiple team members focus on small, individualized tasks and processes that can be managed and compiled into the application as they’re completed. Developing applications in the cloud is popular with developers not only for the benefits of speed, collaboration, and online tools, but for its scalability, agility, and security.
Cloud native vs. traditional application development
Two of the most important aspects of cloud native applications are the speed in deployment and vast improvements in end-user compatibility. Developers no longer need to anticipate consistency and compatibility for multiple versions of different operating systems. Desktop and mobile OSs are now updated near-daily, and what worked a few iterations earlier might be a point-one away from being reliable, stable, or even compatible.
With non-native, browser-based applications being served from the cloud, developers no longer need to be as worried about hardware and operating system compatibility, so long as the user is running a compatible browser. With operating systems and browsers also benefitting from cloud-based deployment (and users often choosing to update in the background), trying to anticipate every possible hardware and operating system configuration is far less of a concern.
The second main benefit is the rapid and seamless deployment of updates. Again, these are often selected by users to happen in the background. In fact, most don’t even notice them beyond the occasional notification. Large, monolithic applications typically require a significant number of changes (and testing) before they’re updated. With everything happening at the speed of the cloud, the benefits to both developers and users are considerable.
Lastly, being able to move from device to device, from work to home, or from tablet to PC, provides tremendous flexibility for not only developers and their businesses, but to their users as well.
Why is cloud native important?
The benefits to cloud native applications rest primarily in the speed of development and release, reduced costs, and ease of management. Combined with more reliable and stable builds, endless scalability, and auto-provisioning, cloud native has been a crucial step in the way applications are written, tested, updated, and deployed.
Cloud native increases productivity, reliability, and speed
For organizations working in the cloud, native applications provide a huge boost in productivity for their employees when compared to legacy or local applications. Keeping applications updated is simple, automated, and requires far less infrastructure management. The reliability, speed, and reduced costs provide tremendous benefits. Finally, cloud native applications allow the user to dynamically access additional computing resources as needed; if a particularly intensive process requires more storage or CPU cores, the cloud management software will simply add them.
Legacy model applications are limited
As the digital transformation to cloud-based applications continues to evolve, the inherent limitations of legacy model applications become more and more apparent. And as applications like model rendering and audiovisual/graphic production grow hungrier for resources, being able to access necessary computing power via the cloud is more and more appealing.
How is cloud native used?
You don’t have to look very far for several examples of modern cloud native applications. Even laptop computers are now offered as little more than a terminal and an Internet connection, making file storage and applications almost completely virtual.
Browser-based email and productivity applications are a great example of cloud native apps. More and more users have migrated away from proprietary desktop apps for word processing or spreadsheets; even well-known software packages are now accessed entirely from a browser.
For developers and IT professionals, the migration has been even more beneficial. Modern cloud architecture opens up their capabilities considerably, letting many of the processes be offloaded to the cloud. AI-assisted analytics and tools free up local resources and make maintenance much easier.
Whether it’s finishing up a spreadsheet, checking email, or developing and testing applications (or even taking a break and gaming online), cloud native applications are empowering users and businesses in new ways every day.
What are the components of cloud native architecture?
In cloud native architecture, microservices, containers, orchestration, and observability come together seamlessly to pave the way for the future of application development.
- Microservices: Cloud native architecture breaks applications into independent services that can be developed, used, and scaled independently. The microservices focus on a specific business function and communicate with other microservices via APIs. This modular approach improves maintainability, enables rapid development, and facilitates scalability by allowing individual microservices to scale as needed.
- Containers: Cloud native applications are packaged in lightweight, portable containers that provide consistency and scalability across environments. Containers encapsulate an application and its dependencies, provide isolation and enable consistent execution regardless of the underlying cloud native infrastructure. This portability simplifies application deployment and management, promotes consistency across all environments including development, test, production, and facilitates rapid scaling.
- Orchestration: Native cloud platforms use orchestration tools such as Kubernetes to manage and automate containerized applications deployment, scaling, and management. They ensure containers are deployed to the right nodes, manage their lifecycle and health. Orchestration simplifies application deployment, enables efficient resource utilization, and provides automatic scalability and self-healing capabilities.
- Observability: The cloud native architecture focuses on observation. Logging, monitoring, and tracking tools provide insight into application behavior and performance. Observability helps identify and diagnose problems and ensures health and reliability of cloud native applications. These observability practices enable proactive monitoring, efficient debugging, and continuous optimization of cloud native applications.
What is cloud native development?
Cloud native development refers to a set of practices for cloud native application development. It is characterized by agile development, DevOps, and continuous delivery methodologies.
- Agile development: Agile development promotes adaptive planning and encourages cross-functional teams to work closely throughout development. It focuses on breaking projects down into smaller, manageable segments called sprints. Features are developed, tested, and delivered in short cycles in these segments. The focus is on customer satisfaction, continuous feedback, and responding quickly to changes. This enables companies to deliver high-quality software that meets users' changing needs.
- DevOps: DevOps combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) to foster collaboration, streamline processes and automate software delivery. It aims to break down silos between development and operations teams so they can work together seamlessly throughout the software development lifecycle. DevOps promotes automation, continuous integration, continuous delivery, and infrastructure as code. This increases efficiency, reduces manual errors, and delivers faster software update. It helps organizations deliver software more reliably and quickly by fostering a culture of collaboration and shared responsibility.
- Continuous deployment: Continuous deployment focuses on automating the process of deploying software updates to production environments. It involves building, testing, and deploying software in small, frequent increments to ensure it is always in a releasable state. Continuous delivery aims to reduce time-to-market, improve software quality, and increase software delivery pipeline efficiency.
What is cloud native deployment?
Cloud native deployment is the process of deploying cloud native applications to production. Some of the critical aspects of cloud native deployment are:
- Infrastructure as code (IaC): IaC uses code to define and manage infrastructure resources to maintain version control, automation, and duplicability. Specify the infrastructure needs with declarative languages such as JSON and YAML to automate resource deployment and configuration. Also, use the best practices to ensure the infrastructure components' scalability, security, and maintainability.
- Continuous deployment: With continuous deployment, code changes are automatically built, tested, and propagated to production. This ensures that applications are always up to date and fixes all issues. Create a CI/CD pipeline with GitLab CI/CD and Jenkins to configure, build, test, and deploy. You can use technologies like Docker and Kubernetes for CI/CD to find and solve issues during deployment.
- Auto-scaling: Auto-scaling is the ability to automatically scale up or down the number of resources an application uses as needed. This helps ensure applications run efficiently and can handle traffic spikes. Specify the scaling plans depending on metrics, including memory usage, CPU consumption, and request rates. Scale the resources with auto-scaling clusters depending on predefined thresholds and monitor performance and resource utilization.
What is cloud native security?
Some of the critical aspects of cloud native security include:
- Zero-trust security: This model assumes no user or device is trusted by default, inside and outside the network peripheries. It includes applying access controls, identity verification, and authentication mechanism (multifactor authentication) to safeguard resources and applications. Some other reliable techniques, including identity and access management (IAM) solutions, encryption, and secure communication protocols, ensure data safety during transit and at rest.
- Infrastructure as code: IaC provides a standardized and automated approach to managing and provisioning infrastructure resources. Specify the security configurations as code to implement security practices across the infrastructure resources. Update and maintain version control for security patches and improvements. Also, it is vital to carry out security testing (penetration testing and vulnerability assessment) to recognize and resolve the bottlenecks.
- Continuous monitoring: Continuous monitoring scans applications and infrastructure for security threats and vulnerabilities to ensure uninterrupted security of applications and infrastructure. Organizations can use IDPS (Intrusion detection and prevention systems) and SIEM (Security information and event management) tools for threat detection and getting alerts for mistrustful activities.
What are cloud native services?
Cloud native services encompass a range of offerings tailored to the needs of applications. Some of the critical services are:
- Container registry: A container registry provides a centralized repository for storing and managing container images. It allows developers to store, version, and distribute container images, ensuring consistency and facilitating containerized application deployment across different environments. Container registry often includes features like access control, image scanning, and integration with container orchestration platforms.
- Notification: Notification services enable real-time alerts, messages, or notifications to users or systems. These services facilitate timely communication and can be used to send notifications for various purposes, such as system events, application updates, or user engagement. Notification services often provide multiple delivery channels, including email, SMS, push notifications, and webhooks.
- Streaming: Streaming services enable real-time data processing and analysis. They allow organizations to ingest, process, and derive insights from continuous data streams in a scalable and efficient manner. Streaming services are often used for real-time analytics, event-driven architectures, IoT data processing, and building interactive applications that require low-latency data processing.
- Container engine: A container engine, such as Kubernetes, is an orchestration platform that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It provides the necessary infrastructure and tools to schedule and distribute containers across a cluster of machines. This ensures high availability, load balancing, and efficient resource utilization. Container engines handle container lifecycle management, service discovery, and scaling based on demand.
- Functions: Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) platforms or serverless platforms, allow developers to deploy and run functions as individual code units without managing the underlying cloud native infrastructure. Functions are event-driven and automatically scale based on demand. This serverless model lets developers focus solely on writing code to implement specific functionality without provisioning or managing servers. Functions are typically used for event processing, data transformations, and building serverless architectures.
What is the future of cloud native?
Cloud native is still a relatively new technology, but it is gaining popularity. As more businesses adopt cloud native architectures, we can expect more innovation in this area. Cloud native is poised for innovation and growth. As organizations increasingly embrace cloud native architectures, we can expect advancements in areas such as serverless computing, edge computing, and the adoption of emerging technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Additionally, as technology providers continue to expand their offerings and provide more specialized services, organizations will have the access to a diverse range of tools and platforms. This will fuel cloud native technologies adoption and evolution. Overall, cloud native's future looks bright. As more businesses adopt cloud native architectures, we can expect more innovation and development in this area.
HPE and cloud native
HPE’s GreenLake and Ezmeral environments enable IT professionals to do more—and do it easily. A rapidly growing suite of specialized applications for virtually any kind of business or organization, HPE GreenLake provides a diverse and elastic foundation for digital transformation through as-a-service platforms that can run on-premises, at the edge, or in any combination.
For example, HPE’s award-winning Ezmeral is built around the popular, open-source Kubernetes, which has been instrumental in unifying legacy and cloud-native application development. For developers, Ezmeral has introduced entirely new ways to enable rapid development, scalable architecture, code merging, and automatic deployment. Ezmeral Data Fabric puts an end to data silos and allows for exabytes of data to be managed and analyzed from around the world.
HPE’s Aruba Networking is another popular application, providing leading edge infrastructure, better edge-to-cloud integration, and AI-powered network monitoring and management. The recent addition of Ampool offers impressive SQL analytics for engineers and analysts. HPE GreenLake provides all the benefits of cloud-based data security and integrity so both businesses and their customers have best-in-class, seamless interactivity.