Understanding Cloud-Native Applications

The traditional way of developing applications has changed drastically over the past few years. It is replaced with more dynamic, scalable, flexible cloud native applications post the penetration of cloud computing is spreading its footprint across enterprises. To succeed in today’s business environment – agility, flexibility and scalability is very important. Companies need to change the way applications are developed, used, and managed in traditional computing. 

Today we look more in detail about how cloud-native applications are made, how they work and how they are different from traditional approaches towards application development, its benefits etc.

What are Cloud-Native Applications?

In the traditional approach, you create a large core application having all domain logic embedded within. It has modules like identity, cataloguing, ordering, purchasing, invoicing etc. They communicate directly to each other within a single server process. The backend of modules is a large relational database. The core functionality is exposed via an HTML web interface or a mobile application. 

So, what you created is a monolithic application. This kind of application continues to evolve, iteration after iteration but after sometime you start noticing application is become complicated in such a manner that 

  • no single person can handle it, 
  • addition of new features and fixes become tricky to incorporate, 
  • single unstable component could bring down whole application, 
  • implementation of agile delivery methodology becomes a distant dream, 
  • architectural erosion leads to never ending quick fixes and so on. 

So, what is next? Should we rewrite the code again?

Many organizations have addressed the limitations of monolithic application challenges with adoption of cloud native approach to build new systems in which application is decomposed into a set of small isolated microservices components. 

  • Each service is self-contained in itself and encapsulates its own code, data, and related dependencies. 
  • Each microservices is deployed in a software container and the container orchestrator does its management. 
  • Instead of a large relational database at the backend, each service owns its self-data store which will vary depending on the nature of requirement. 
  • Use of NoSQL databases lets the service store its state in a distributed cache. 
  • All traffic routes via an API gateway service which is responsible for traffic routing to the core backend services. 
  • Application takes full advantage of scalability, flexibility, availability, and resiliency which is a core feature of cloud platforms.

Benefits of Cloud-Native Applications

  • Flexibility – Flexibility of cloud helps to deploy, repeat, and redeploy resources in as fast and easiest manner as long as necessary. 
  • Automatic – cloud native applications are built on the concept of architecture as a code and highly automated in nature. It reduces the effort of testing and mass scale deployment over the cloud.
  • Efficiency – cloud native applications allow access and monitoring of every process. ‘Infrastructure as a code’ model is used to automate deployments and operational tasks
  • Testability – Cloud native applications use CI/CD (continuous integration/ continuous deployment) framework to establish automated way of applications deployment and testing as required
  • Disposability – The cloud native infrastructure made the disposal process smooth and without any glitches. Applications are shut down gracefully in a robust manner and quick recovery from unexpected crashes. 

Applications that could be candidate for Cloud-native are as under:

  • Enterprise applications used in strategic decision making and require constant evolution in capabilities and features.
  • Applications which require high release velocity.
  • Where you need to release a system with their individual features but without full redeployment of complete system.
  • An application wherein components need to scale independently. 
  • Monolithic applications which are non-critical can be good candidate for quick lift and shift to take advantage of cloud computing. 

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