“Cloud-native” is a technical term that describes the general tendency to move software systems from a hosted environment to a public cloud computing model. The main benefits of this model are greater reliability, faster agility, and lower maintenance.
According to Statista, organizations across the world are investing heavily in these technologies, and that trend is expected to grow at least 18% by the end of 2021. This correlates with the introduction of novel technologies like Kubernetes, containers, and the commoditization of infrastructure hardware. If that doesn’t convince you that something big is already happening in this area, then let us explain in more depth.
Keep reading for a discussion of the most compelling reasons to move to cloud computing and an explanation of why cloud-native domination is coming sooner than you think.
Most traditional software development models end up as big monolithic services with myriad components stitched together into one binary. This setup makes it very difficult to build and deploy, and it’s been proven time and again that it does not scale well as the program evolves over time.
One effective solution is to break it apart into many individual services, each with discrete functionality and responsibility. This process, however, can merely increase maintenance costs and network configurations while increasing the number of servers and resources you will need to deploy and maintain. The more services you add, the worse it becomes. If you had a way to make this maintenance overhead more manageable in the long run, you could provide bigger and more robust platforms. This is exactly what the cloud-native development model offers. It alleviates the cost of setting up new and improved workflows that rely on modern infrastructure components. Let's explore some of the benefits of cloud-native development.
Because of the flexibility, affordability, and maintainability of cloud computing, it accelerates innovations in new businesses and organizations. The following is a list of the most common and innovative technologies that work well in cloud-native environments:
Container technology goes hand-in-hand with the cloud-native world. This is not because they are bound together, but because containers were a key innovation that made it easier to deploy applications in the cloud. Initially, cloud computing revolved around setting up virtual machines, which proved to be expensive. With the advent of Docker, containers became easier to control and simpler to use.
Even with container technology, there were still problems handling the types of requests that were suitable for smaller deployments but infinitely scalable. Then came AWS Lambda, which introduced the world to the Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) pattern. Since this provided an effective way to migrate legacy apps into the cloud, it enabled the wider adoption of these technologies and sparked even more innovation.
Microservices represent an architectural pattern that we use for composing many independently deployable services. These services were once part of a monolith, or else they were part of an application that was re-architectured to fit a cloud-native development model.
Since the whole idea of a microservice is that it’s small and has only one function, it conforms to the model of an application inside a container or a function. Therefore, making the transition to microservices as part of a cloud adoption strategy is a convenient and logical way to achieve it.
What if you had an easy way to describe the infrastructure components of a whole organization in a single file that could be inspected as part of the code review process? And what if every time the file was updated, a separate tool would read it and orchestrate a deployment of those services on demand. Tools like Terraform unlock a whole list of possibilities by shortening the time it takes to provision, configure, and deploy containers, hardware, and network topologies hosted on cloud environments, and it does so predictably and at scale.
Now, more and more tools that assume a cloud-native development and deployment model are being released. For example, Hashicorp introduced a tool called Waypoint which promises a seamless workflow to build, deploy, and release applications across any platform.
Using a simple configuration script, you can simultaneously build, deploy, and release an application locally and in remote environments. Waypoint integrates well with major cloud providers, making it a very useful tool for developers. This wouldn’t have been possible without good cloud-native adoption.
Modern software technologies and services rely on cloud infrastructure providers in their everyday operations. We have not arrived at this point without reason. Millions of people have invested millions of hours to make cloud-native possible, and its adoption will only increase with time. The only question that remains is how that will affect the security model. Does it entail a change of strategy in terms of application security testing? Will it require a substantial increase in technological risks because of that exposure? We'll answer those questions in subsequent articles.
Theo Despoudis is a Senior Software Engineer, a consultant and an experienced mentor. He has a keen interest in Open Source Architectures, Cloud Computing, best practices and functional programming. He occasionally blogs on several publishing platforms and enjoys creating projects from inspiration. Follow him on Twitter @nerdokto. He can be contacted via http://www.techway.io/.