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Everything You Need to Know about Cloud-Native Architecture

April 19, 2022

11:00 am

More companies are embracing cloud computing services, attracted by the lower costs, flexibility, and scalability. 

The cloud-native architecture supports cloud-based applications. It helps organizations with resilience and flexibility via distributed processing, horizontal scaling, and automation. 

Ultimately, taking a cloud-native approach is an investment that results in a more scalable and reliable architecture. Here’s what you need to know about cloud-native architecture.

What is Cloud-Native Architecture?

Cloud-native architecture refers to an IT system built specifically to run in a cloud environment.  This type of architecture uses distributed systems, the foundation of cloud-based computing. Cloud-native applications are made on a microservices architecture (called micro-services) that are designed as an independent module to serve a particular purpose. 

In contrast to systems built to run on a specific hardware platform, the cloud-native architecture uses a virtual IT structure and software that’s independent of an operating system. Cloud-native architecture often is deployed through multi-cloud implementations, so that the parts of the system can be distributed on different servers from multiple vendors.

Principles of Cloud-Native Architecture

The cloud-native architecture was designed to work with cloud technology, which provides a wide range of services like on-demand storage, computing services, and application development platforms. Cloud computing services typically follow a pay-as-you-go model, so it’s easy to scale up or down as needs change because you only pay for what you need.

You might also hear the term platform as a service (PaaS), which is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud that enables a range of applications, from basic to enterprise level.

The appeal of cloud-native development is its ability to optimize systems for the unique capabilities of the cloud by…

  • Providing more flexibility than systems built on a specific hardware infrastructure 
  • Streamlining legacy application modernization to the cloud
  • Incorporating the newest and best technologies available through distributed systems 
  • Developing systems and applications that can withstand more change 
  • Managing looser or less centralized sets of resources
  • Making use of the cloud’s ability to offer versatility and scalability.

Benefits of Cloud-Native Architecture

The advantages of the cloud have led companies to consider cloud-native solutions when upgrading IT systems or undergoing digital transformation strategies. These benefits include…

Benefits of Cloud-Native Architecture
  • Automation: Cloud-native architecture offers ways to automate processes, which can apply to everything from infrastructure, scalability, integration, deployment, data recovery, monitoring, and repair. 
  • Stateless components: Cloud-native architecture can incorporate stateless components, which are simple functional components that calculate their internal state but never directly mutate it, allowing for referential transparency.
  • Load-balance: When components are stateless, load balancing is much simpler with cloud-native architecture because any instance can handle any request. 
  • Managed services: Most cloud providers offer functionality that saves users time and energy by managing the backend or infrastructure. 
  • Security: Cloud-native architectures were created for the Internet, incorporating needed security to prevent external attacks by applying authentication between each component.
  • Easier deployment: Cloud-native architectures make services easier to deploy in a cloud environment.
  • Evolution: The flexibility of cloud-native applications can help companies adapt as their needs, systems, or cloud providers change.

Challenges with Cloud-Native Architecture

Like everything, cloud-native architecture comes with some challenges, such as…

  • New skills and knowledge: Developers must thoroughly understand the concepts of cloud-native architecture to avoid serious problems. Make sure you work with experienced people.
  • Security: Reliance on cloud vendors requires giving them some access to your data. Carefully research the companies you are working with, and read the fine print in your contracts.
  • Container interaction: Cloud-native architecture uses containers that interact and connect with each other. Issues could occur in multiple containers, making it challenging to debug problems. Again, work with experienced developers.

The Twelve-Factor Application

The Twelve-Factor App methodology is an approach for building software-as-a-service applications. These best practices were presented by Adam Wiggins in 2011 as a process to improve the portability and resilience of applications when deployed to the web. The twelve factors are…

  1. There should be exactly one codebase for a deployed service with the codebase being used for many deployments.
  2. All dependencies should be declared, with no implicit reliance on system tools or libraries.
  3. Configuration that varies between deployments should be stored in the environment.
  4. All backing services are treated as attached resources and attached and detached by the execution environment.
  5. The delivery pipeline should strictly consist of build, release, and run.
  6. Applications should be deployed as one or more stateless processes with persisted data stored on a backing service.
  7. Self-contained services should make themselves available to other services by specified ports.
  8. Concurrency is advocated by scaling individual processes.
  9. Fast startup and shutdown are advocated for a more robust and resilient system.
  10. All environments should be as similar as possible.
  11. Applications should produce logs as event streams and leave the execution environment to aggregate.
  12. Any needed admin tasks should be kept in source control and packaged with the application.

Have questions about how cloud-native architecture can help your organization? Contact the experts at InApp. We’re here to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)?

Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) serves as the vendor-neutral home for many of the fastest-growing open-source projects, including Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Envoy. The CNCF hosts critical components of the global technology infrastructure, as well as brings together the world’s top developers, end-users, and vendors. It is part of the nonprofit Linux Foundation.

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

Cloud-native applications are made on a microservices architecture (micro-services), which are designed as an independent module to serve a particular purpose. Cloud-enabled applications are made on legacy infrastructure systems where each module is dependent on the other.

What is the difference between cloud-first and cloud-only?

Cloud-first is a strategy where the cloud is considered before all other technologies. Cloud only is an organizational mandate to implement cloud solutions only.