What is cloud native computing?

Cloud native refers to software-first computing, with infrastructure that’s specifically designed around the cloud environment – rather than as an added feature to existing hardware or physical computing. But how does this work, and why is cloud native so important?

 

In this article, we’ve explored the benefits of cloud native applications, as well as the reasons to migrate to a cloud native environment. 

 

What is cloud native architecture?

Where traditionally architects developed big software structures that performed many holistic actions, they’re now able to adopt a cloud native approach centred around smaller, interconnected services – appropriately named ‘microservices’. 

 

The use of microservices is key in cloud native architecture, with each offering unique functionalities and working seamlessly together to action hyper-specific requests with increased agility, effectiveness, and efficiency. Below, we’ve explored some of the key features of cloud native microservice architecture.

Containers

A key element of cloud-first applications, ‘containers’ essentially refers to appropriately-packaged microservice components. These containers usually house microservice components that commonly run together, to offer flexible and agile deployment. Containerisation means you only need to run the included software components, rather than initiate a full-service deployment, which can waste resources. 

Service mesh

‘Service mesh’ software is responsible for facilitating communication between your various microservices, to ensure each container operates efficiently. This quick communication is also what helps you quickly scale resources and add new features, without requiring a manual code-writing process. 

APIs

Cloud APIs are used to communicate data between multiple types of software. Often, this refers to sharing data between user-facing channels and back-end development, but it can equally apply to any two software types. APIs are important in cloud native infrastructure, to maintain a consistent communicative link and reduce operational delays.

Immutable infrastructure

In traditional cloud computing, server components are upgraded when necessary, to ensure you have the most up-to-date infrastructure. However, this doesn’t apply to immutable cloud native applications. Instead, once outdated, the server is discarded altogether and automatically replaced by a better, higher-functioning model. This helps to streamline cloud processes and improve reliability. 

 

What is the difference between cloud native and cloud-based?

We’ve explored cloud native and its benefits, but how exactly does it compare to traditional cloud-based architecture?

Design

Cloud native software is designed specifically for the cloud, whereas cloud-based refers to any computing feature that was first-designed for local use and later transitioned to the cloud. The key difference being cloud-based software wasn’t originally-intentioned for the cloud. 

Implementation

Cloud native microservices are easier and quicker to deploy than cloud-based applications, due to the lack of reliance on extraneous hardware, servers, or supporting software. 

Maintenance

Cloud native computing is centred around immutable infrastructure, which means outdated or low-functioning services are replaced by new, higher-performance software. In contrast, traditional cloud computing relies on manual maintenance processes that take time and consume dev resources. 

 

What are the benefits of cloud native applications?

No matter your business model, there are many advantages of adopting software-first processes. For instance, some of the main benefits of cloud native architecture include:

Business scalability

Cloud native applications and infrastructures are naturally adaptable and allow you to scale and align your cloud strategy to business needs – whether requirements increase exponentially or fluctuate with seasonality. Notably, with cloud native architecture, you can also establish auto-scaling to provision based on demand and business performance. 

Adopt agility

The specific and effective nature of microservice containers ensures cloud native infrastructure is always extremely agile. You’re able to deploy resources with precision and speed, to improve performance and efficiency. 

Improve portability

Because cloud native infrastructure is software-centric, it’s inherently portable and practical – including within a multi- or hybrid-cloud environment. With immutable infrastructure, you’re not restricted by outdated software, either, improving overall accessibility and performance. 

Reduce long-term costs

Spending on cloud native infrastructure is a worthwhile investment that can ultimately help save you and your clients money in the long term. By adopting cloud-first processes, you’ll not need to invest in costly hardware – from procurement to ongoing maintenance. 

 

Why should you build cloud native architecture?

With cloud native benefits ranging from scalability to cost-efficiency, there are a number of reasons to build your business around cloud-first processes, including:

Future proof your business

As technology advances at an ever-quickening pace, it’s important to future-proof your business so it’s able to adapt and thrive in a cloud-first environment. Often, this means updating infrastructure so that cloud native is the norm and evolving away from a reliance on hardware. With a cloud native approach, you can begin to improve business flexibility. 

Accelerate innovation

Because cloud native infrastructure is built on microservices, innovation is inevitable. A microservice-based environment allows you to leverage containers to suit your needs and deploy combinations with complete control over the outcomes.

Gain a competitive advantage

Leveraging cloud native infrastructure can help you gain a competitive business advantage, by delivering a quicker user experience, with greater agility and the ability to scale up and down depending on demand, seasonality, and trends. Capitalising on software that automatically evolves and adapts to business challenges improves efficiency and helps drive stronger growth. 

 

How to migrate to a cloud native infrastructure

If you’re interested in undertaking a cloud migration, you’ll need to follow a few essential steps to ensure a smooth transition. These include: 

  1. Defining your cloud needs
  2. Choosing the right type of cloud
  3. Developing a robust migration plan
  4. Embracing cloud native principles
  5. Optimising business processes around the cloud

 

Though, of course, if you’ve any questions about either a public or private cloud migration, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts

And with that final point in mind, you should now feel confident exploring your cloud-based options – though, if you’re looking to learn more about why cloud native is important, discover even more insight from our experts on our cloud blog – including what’s next in the world of cloud computing.


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