What is cloud-native?
“Cloud-native” is a term that tends to get thrown around by many in the tech industry, but few truly understand its meaning. It even has it’s own foundation; the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) who defines the term:
“Cloud-native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private cloud, and hybrid clouds […] they allow engineers to make high-impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal toil”
Put simply, cloud-native refers to an approach to building and running applications more frequently, predictably and reliably, with the cloud specifically in mind, to solve business challenges and improve customer experiences.
Some examples of cloud-native tools include:
Why use a cloud-native approach?
With applications becoming increasingly complex and users constantly demanding innovative features, rapid responses and zero downtime, it is essential to bring new ideas to market quickly. Users no longer accept recurring errors or performance issues, and will move to your competitor faster than you can say “container”.
In the age of applications, businesses that can react quickly to customer needs and deliver responsive solutions will ultimately succeed in retaining their customers – and attracting new ones. The cloud-native approach empowers developers to work smarter and create quality products that deliver a richer customer experience.
Who uses a cloud-native approach?
Huge companies such as Netflix, Uber and WeChat use systems that consist of hundreds of independent microservices. This cloud-native approach allows them to rapidly respond to ever-changing markets, and update small areas of live, complex applications almost instantaneously, without disruption across the whole application.
Benefits of cloud-native
- Faster releases
Being able to deploy releases daily, rather than monthly increases your business agility and gives you a competitive advantage by being able to bring products to market faster. For example, after The Home Depot started using cloud-native architecture and continuous delivery practices, they went from spending six weeks to develop one application and get it in production, to deploying new code every 15 minutes.
- Lower Costs
As cloud-native technology enables usage billing models, spending is shifted from CAPEX to OPEX. Lower upfront CAPEX spending allows for more IT resources to be allocated to development rather than infrastructure, which further enables innovation.
- Improved efficiency
The process of adopting cloud-native ways of working lends itself to discovering new ways to improve inefficient, outdated, manual processes across your business. Updating these processes leads to increased employee productivity, and customer satisfaction.
Challenges of cloud-native
- Talent shortages
With new technology comes the need for new skill sets that need to be recruited for or re-skilled internally. Already, 40 per cent of employers are reporting talent shortages and with significant increases expected in skill requirements, that gap is likely to grow dramatically in the next few years.
- Legacy burdens
While new businesses today tend to be ‘born’ in the cloud, long-established businesses can’t just become cloud-native overnight. Many organisations have traditional systems that are tied to the underlying infrastructure, which means breaking old habits and learning new ways. The best way to start the move to cloud-native is when building new products or services, or during application modernisation.
- Security risks
As with any new approach to technology, the threat landscape is rapidly evolving. Security processes need to constantly evolve to keep everything secure and maintain compliance. However, with the right expertise, such as a managed cloud provider, these challenges are all manageable.
The latest wave in digital disruption
According to a survey of IT decision-makers’ priorities over the next couple of years, half of them said that they are currently using or evaluating cloud-native architectures.
Cloud-native is much more than a new way of writing code. It is an evolving concept that changes the entire process of how requirements are created, coded, tested and deployed.
With an agile and flexible approach to enterprise technology, it seems that cloud-native is the future of application development, with huge potential to create a more streamlined relationship between IT operations and the business.
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