The cloud computing model is rapidly gaining traction in modern organizations—15% of new enterprise applications are already cloud native, and that number’s expected to grow to 32% by 2020. Cloud native architecture harnesses the power of cloud computing to build and deploy scalable, resilient applications. By utilizing containers, tools that orchestrate and scale those containers, and microservices, organizations can save time and money spent on existing on-premises solutions. Cloud native applications also align development teams with broader business goals so they can release software securely and efficiently.
Cloud Enabled Architecture vs. Cloud Native Architecture
Many of the world’s top technical organizations are using cloud native architecture to ship software quickly and securely. The ability to move fast and respond to customer feedback is invaluable to both small and enterprise businesses alike.
Yet while many organizations claim that their solutions are built with cloud native architecture, in most cases they’re actually built with cloud enabled architecture. These two approaches differ in both goals and execution. Using cloud enabled architecture can be as simple as spinning up a cloud server on Amazon AWS and deploying your application. Organizations will often use it to drive cost efficiencies in IT. But implementing cloud enabled architecture tends to leave many unresolved questions: how do developers release code to production? What does the architecture do to resolve security issues before they arise? How does it scale and perform under stress? What happens if a part of the stack is unavailable?
Cloud native architecture has answers to all of these questions. It relies on smaller, loosely-coupled services that run entirely in a public or private cloud. These smaller services not only reduce the complexity of large applications but also empower development teams to be more efficient and use the right tool for the job. With many cloud computing providers on the market, cloud native architecture helps to prevent organizations from becoming reliant on a single cloud provider. The flexibility to quickly move applications between cloud providers greatly reduces your organization’s technical risk and future-proofs your systems.
Cloud Native Architecture and Developer Productivity
By enabling developers to build and confidently deploy their code, cloud native architecture is proving vital to developer productivity. With modern continuous integration and continuous deployment practices, organizations are able to give more agency to developers while maintaining a secure and reliable application architecture. Cloud native architecture fundamentally changes the traditional software release cycle and helps align developers with business goals necessary for growth.
Security Considerations and Challenges
Before going all in on cloud native architecture, it’s important to understand the security risks. By relying on open-source container base images, your organization could be opening itself up to serious application vulnerabilities. Cyber attacks are rapidly increasing and attackers are likely to leverage these vulnerabilities to attempt to gain access to containerized applications. Keeping your container images up to date is an easy way to mitigate the risk of an attack.
Because cloud native architecture requires knowledge of the entire application stack, you can also conduct work up front to reap the benefits of safely streamlining the way that applications are built and released. By separating applications into smaller, digestible services, they will inherently be more complex. This increased complexity requires a fine-grained understanding of the interactions between each service in order to navigate each application.
Another goal when setting up cloud native applications is to minimize the amount of human interaction. Frictionless, automated deployment coupled with a resilient, self-healing production environment eases the stress on IT managers and operations engineers while allowing developers to deploy code efficiently and confidently.
Why Go Cloud Native?
Cloud native architecture eases the burden on IT managers and operations engineers by automating common DevOps tasks and empowering developers to build, test, and release their code. Organizations are more likely to meet product growth goals and stay on top of competition when new features are deployed continuously rather than monthly or quarterly. The ease of cloud native architecture does not come without security risks and challenges, but putting in the migration work up front can prove to be a pain killer for your organization.