From ordering lunch to identifying a strange-looking plant, there really is an application for just about anything a person or organization might want to do. Thank the cloud for that.
The companies that are most successful and innovative in developing apps are taking advantage of the cloud’s capabilities and characteristics. But it’s not just a matter of migrating their apps and app development processes to the cloud. Their apps are being architected and created specifically to run in cloud environments — something known as cloud-native
Cloud-native apps don’t just reside in the cloud. They’re purpose built, deployed, and managed to leverage the cloud’s inherent qualities to increase speed, flexibility, and quality and reduce deployment risks. They can scale horizontally on demand, support multiple environments and offer application portability.
Many traditionally developed apps can run in the cloud as well. But because they weren’t created specifically for the cloud, they may not perform optimally or be able to make use of its benefits ─ at least not without what can be time consuming, costly work.
To appreciate the value of cloud-native development, it’s important to understand the differences between traditional and cloud-native apps and their app development processes.
Cloud-native apps are smaller than traditionally developed apps. They’re architected as collections of independent, loosely coupled services.
Functions are broken into microservices, which are independent components that run each app process as a service and communicate via APIs or messaging. Each is independent of the others and performs a single function. Individual services can be designed, tested, deployed, updated or replaced without affecting the others.
Traditionally developed apps are created as large monoliths. A single monolith contains all the code for all the business activities the app will perform. This architecture creates close dependencies between the app and the underlying OS, hardware, storage, and backend services.
As a result, these monolithic apps, which are what most legacy apps are, usually have complex coding and data integration requirements. They’re heavily coupled to existing systems and infrastructure. Making changes to them, as well as migrating and scaling them across new infrastructure, can be complex, time consuming, and risky.
That doesn’t mean these apps can’t function in the cloud. They may just require modernization
as part of the cloud migration process to perform better. Depending on the work, cost and time entailed, however, the better option may be to retire the existing app and create a cloud-native app.
Traditionally developed apps often rely on hardware and software that may not integrate with new systems and innovations. They store the state of the app on the infrastructure the code runs on, which means the app can be broken when adding or removing server resources.
Cloud-native apps aren’t tied to infrastructure. As such, they can run in a highly distributed manner while maintaining their state independent of the elastic nature of the underlying infrastructure.
In addition, traditional apps are tied to over-sized infrastructure that lacks the capability to scale beyond, delaying the deployment of an app. Cloud-native infrastructure allocates the resources based on the ongoing requirement of the app. This approach optimizes app lifecycle management.
Development Process Differences
Traditional monolithic apps are usually developed, updated and maintained using waterfall development processes. Discrete design, build, and run phases last a few months or longer, and then the entire unit of software is released.. Between the waterfall development process and monolithic nature of traditional developed apps, making any changes is difficult and the overall process lengthy and expensive.
Cloud-native apps are developed using Agile methodology, which splits the development process into time windows and provides a continuous feedback loop. Development and delivery are continuous; cycle times are shorter. Apps are built and deployed in a rapid cadence by small, dedicated feature teams to a platform that offers easy scale-out and hardware decoupling.
The development teams can quickly react to market changes and add new features. The resulting apps can scale and deploy rapidly, offering greater agility, portability, and resilience across cloud environments. Organizations can innovate quickly.
DevOps can also play a role in cloud-native app development, enabling developers to break down silos and align on the shared objective of releasing apps quickly and efficiently. Continuous delivery, a DevOps practice in which code changes are deployed to a testing environment and/or a production environment after the build stage, helps as well. When properly implemented, developers will always have a deployment-ready build artifact that has passed through a standardized test process.
The Role of Containers
Companies embracing cloud-native development are also adopting other technologies to help. That includes containers. While the cloud isn’t required for using containers, containers can make cloud-based applications easier and faster to deploy.
Containers package apps and services in an OS-level virtualization image. The apps’ execution environments are isolated from each other, but share the underlying OS kernel. A single OS instance is dynamically divided among one or more isolated containers. Each has its own unique writable file system and resource quota.
Containers are ideal for deploying the individual microservices that are key in cloud-native app development. They also support app portability between all types of infrastructure. They work well for creating cloud-native apps that can be deployed and run in any cloud provider’s environment and can be migrated to other cloud environments if and when desired. This allows for optimizing costs and developing multi-cloud apps.
Containers also can help with existing apps. Containerizing traditional apps provides immediate benefits around resource consolidation and simpler patching and maintenance until app modernization investments can be made.
Yet another benefit of containers is the mitigation of downtime. The orchestration of containers provides elastic scaling and recovery if an app or infrastructure component fails. Abstracting away from underlying infrastructure dependencies allows for focusing on higher level software issues rather than constantly patching, configuring, and maintaining operating systems
To learn more about the benefits of going cloud-native ─ and more fully leveraging the benefits of the cloud, contact US Signal today.