Cloud Native and Cloud-Native Applications

What is Cloud Native? What are Cloud-Native Apps?

Cloud-native applications are a recent approach to application development in which applications leverage the cloud environment to increase productivity. Entire applications can be written, developed, deployed and continuously updated this way.

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?

Legacy applications are stored on a user’s hard drive; however, over the past ten years, leaps in mobile, computing and cloud technologies have rapidly evolved to the point that it’s easier for both the developers and the users to migrate to cloud-native applications. From little more than a web browser, the user’s hardware effectively becomes an input/output device and allows for many CPU-intensive processes to happen in the cloud. Some cloud applications do not even necessarily require an always-on internet connection.

It’s estimated that 90% of application development is already happening in the cloud. Given the benefits of lower cost, faster development and deployment, and the suite of online tools, cloud application environments aren’t the future – they’re already here.

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, individualised 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 applications

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 on an almost daily basis 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 are cloud-native applications important?

The benefits of 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 organisations 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 to find 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 an 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.

HPE and cloud-native applications

HPE’s GreenLake and Ezmeral environments enable IT professionals to do more – and do it easily. A rapidly growing suite of specialised applications for virtually any kind of business or organisation, 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 analysed 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.