Cloud / November 10, 2020

What Is Cloud Native?

For businesses and other organizations that want to get the most out of their approach to the cloud, cloud-native computing may provide the answer. Unfortunately, although the benefits of the cloud-native approach are widely recognized, there is a lot of confusion about what cloud-native computing actually is.

What is cloud native? How does cloud-native compare to cloud-based computing? And, perhaps most importantly, what kinds of advantages does cloud-native computing bring to the table? Read on to learn the answers to all of these questions and more.

What Is Cloud Native?

The term cloud native refers specifically to the overall infrastructure of cloud computing. Simply put, it’s about how applications are organized over where they are deployed. In cloud-native computing, all relevant components are assembled for full optimization of the cloud environment. As such, cloud native is as much a way of thinking as it is a computing architecture.

Cloud Based vs. Cloud Native Computing

So what are the differences between cloud based and cloud native computing? Let’s dive into a side-by-side comparison.

Cloud-Based Computing
Cloud-based computing is a relatively new approach to managing data and running applications. Cloud-based computing is similar to traditional computing, except that, rather than deploying applications on physical, in-house/on-site hardware, all software, servers, and networks are hosted within the cloud. Cloud computing uses an on-demand computer model, where IT resources are accessible via internet connections on an as-needed basis.

One common example of cloud computing is email — SaaS providers such as Gmail or Microsoft Outlook allow users to store email data within off-site servers, which can then be accessed via any common web browser.

Cloud-Native Computing
Cloud-native computing falls into the above criteria; cloud-native computing is cloud based. In constructing critical business systems, organizations that adopt a cloud-native approach need to be much more involved in the design, implementation, and operation of the cloud applications, while fully utilizing resources provided by cloud-service providers.

Cloud-Native Considerations

There are certain factors to consider when adopting a cloud-native approach. This is because cloud native demands more than simply taking existing, on-premises applications and moving them over to the cloud. Cloud-native computing requires that apps be designed specifically for optimal effectiveness within a cloud environment, with an architecture that supports this ideal. Modern cloud services are making this possible.

However, there are certain considerations that organizations and IT departments should keep in mind when creating cloud-native applications:

  • Cloud-native applications should be oriented toward microservices for easier maintenance and agility
  • Cloud-native applications should be containerized, so they can function optimally in any environment
  • Cloud-native applications should be dynamically orchestrated, so individual containers can operate together effectively to make up a complete application, allowing for improved efficiency and scalability
  • Cloud-native applications should be built using whichever frameworks and languages are best suited to specific tasks, rather than adopting a single framework or language for the entire architecture
  • Cloud-native applications should be managed using agile DevOps processes
  • Cloud-native applications should be developed mobile first, implementing a user-centered design
  • Cloud-native applications may be vulnerable to cloud-specific security threats, and thus may demand specialized security tools or platforms

Cloud-Native Application Architecture Examples

According to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), these are the following types of technological blocks under the cloud native bubble:

  • Immutable infrastructure
  • Microservices
  • Declarative APIs
  • Containers
  • Service meshes
  • DevOps

Benefits of Cloud-Native Computing

Cloud-native architecture offers certain benefits and advantages over traditional computing solutions:

  • Cloud-native applications are independent services packaged together as containers. This means that they have the potential to scale in and out very fast.
  • Because of cloud-native containerization, specific services can be added or removed without affecting the other aspects of the application.
  • Cloud-native applications can be shipped extremely quickly and updated on a near-constant basis. This results in not only faster time to market, but also an improved customer experience.
  • Cloud-native applications are easier to manage.
  • Thanks to containerization, support tools, and cloud standards, the cost of operating a cloud-native infrastructure is generally less than the cost of transitioning existing non-cloud applications into a cloud environment.

For more insight into the cloud and cloud-native computing, see these additional readings:

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