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Cloud-native applications use open-source software stacks and are self-contained, portable, and designed to take advantage of the cloud's scalability, elasticity, resilience, and flexibility.

Tamir Lahiany, VP of Software and Delivery

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Cloud-native definition

"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."

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

What does it mean to be cloud-native?

Cloud-native applications use open-source software stacks and are self-contained, portable, and designed to take advantage of the cloud's scalability, elasticity, resilience, and flexibility. The term cloud-native refers to an approach that isolates the application and its dependencies from the underlying infrastructure. To accomplish this, the application is encapsulated into a container (such as a Docker container). Consequently, we can deploy that containerized application in any environment that has the container runtime engine.

Advantages of cloud-native architecture over on-premise architecture

Business agility. Cloud-native applications are designed to be highly available, resilient, and regularly updated, whereas on-premises applications are typically updated a few times a year.

Updatability provides a productivity boost for organizations, which can focus on their competitive advantages and introduce new features to customers more frequently.

Portability. Cloud-native applications typically use open source and standards-based technologies for interoperability and workload portability. These approaches decrease vendor lock-in and result in better portability.

Elasticity.A cloud-native application leverages the flexibility of the cloud by scaling consumption based on demand, whereas an on-premises application requires provisioning additional infrastructure to scale effectively. This also has cost implications, since the cloud makes it possible to pay for what you use and avoid overprovisioning your infrastructure.

Resiliency. Even in the event of an outage of the infrastructure, a well-designed cloud-native application can survive and remain available.

Multitenancy. Using a multi-tenant model, cloud-native apps can work in a virtualized space and share resources with other apps. This brings a clear efficiency boost to the organizations.

Automation. Cloud-native applications use DevOps automation features and enable continuous delivery and deployment of software changes that get released regularly. Furthermore, we can make improvements to the apps without impacting the user experience, by using methods like blue-green and canary deployments.

Downtime. Thanks to container orchestrators such as Kubernetes, you can deploy a software update with essentially zero downtime.

Cloud-native challenges

Cloud-native technology offers a plethora of advantages but is not without its issues. These are the most common problems we see enterprises face in their cloud-native journeys:

  • Monolith to Microservices. Trying to lift and shift an existing on-premises application to be cloud-native without making architectural changes is a common mistake, but re-creating a product's architecture for the cloud is also a significant engineering challenge. Organizations that are looking to go cloud native face several challenges, including finding the right skills mix, adapting to a cloud-centric security model, and managing the changing cost profile of the cloud.
  • Outdated technologies. If you fail to innovate fast enough, not only will the market catch up with you, but it will surpass you. As time goes on, upgrading your systems will become exponentially more difficult. This is true if you haven't yet containerized your applications and found cloud-native alternatives for legacy components. It's important to stay relevant in a world that changes so rapidly and so often that you never know which tools will outlast the others. Open source tools are at the core of this mission, since they assure quality, reliability, and cost savings, and minimize lock-in.
  • Service provider lock-in. If you have committed too strongly to a platform or tool in the past, you may already find yourself limited by vendor lock-in. Hyperscale cloud providers generally offer a platform that is full of features and easy to adopt, but they typically entail a lock-in. Cloud-native computing enables you to take advantage of hyperscale cloud providers, while maintaining the flexibility to incorporate multi- and hybrid clouds.

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