The Ultimate Value of Cloud-Native Architectures

Cloud-native computing is an emerging transformative methodology for application development that enables you to build, operate and scale applications by leveraging cloud technologies and innovations. By using cloud-native technologies, applications can improve an organization’s agility and operational efficiency, shortening the time to market for new products and services.

A cloud-native architecture allows for massive scale in production while maintaining a highly agile development process. Cloud-native application development gives organizations the flexibility and adaptability they need to improve their competitiveness.

The power of cloud-native computing is not just for tech companies. Its value and influence extend to almost any industry that uses technology for any aspect of its business.

According to a recent report, almost all applications will be cloud native by 2025, yet less than half of IT decision-makers and developers even understand what cloud native actually means.

This creates a real knowledge and experience gap. Cloud-native architects will be in short supply and anyone with cloud-native architecture expertise will be highly sought after.

Why Cloud Native?

Why are companies so vested in moving to cloud-native architectures? There are two main drivers for virtually all cloud-native initiatives:

  • Scalability and operational flexibility
  • Development agility and increased innovation

Or, put another way, cloud native allows you to build applications faster and adapt to customer needs and desires quicker while handling the load required by larger customer bases.

Agility and scale: Two critical aspects of nearly all business success.

Let’s look deeper into these two cloud-native success drivers.

Driver One: Scalability and Operational Flexibility

Traditional application architectures often face challenges when it comes to scaling up to accommodate growing user bases or sudden spikes in demand. Even cloud-based applications that use conventional application architectures can be limited in their ability to handle constantly changing loads.

Cloud-native architectures, on the other hand, are designed to handle massive scale in production without an excessive investment that goes unused during downtimes. By leveraging cloud technologies and infrastructure, organizations can easily scale their applications horizontally or vertically to meet the demands of their users.

This results from the elastic nature of cloud-native environments, which allows for dynamic scaling; resources can be automatically provisioned or de-provisioned based on real-time demand. Not only does the cloud support this, but the application architecture enables and encourages this constantly changing resource allocation. This ensures that applications can seamlessly handle fluctuations in traffic without compromising performance or user experience.

Driver Two: Development Agility and Increased Innovation

Besides improving operational execution, cloud-native architectures improve the development process itself. Cloud-native architectures enable development teams to increase their agility. This increase in development agility allows more innovation to drive the business faster.

Traditional application development approaches often involve lengthy development cycles, rigid architectures and complex deployment processes that limit flexibility and hinder innovation. Even when operated in the cloud, non-cloud-native applications still deal with longer development cycles and inflexibility, reducing innovation.

But cloud-native computing encourages agile-focused best practices. These best practices include methodologies such as leveraging DevOps, using microservices architectures, deploying using CI/CD pipelines, adapting container-based service deployments and using organizational management philosophies such as STOSA.

By embracing cloud-native development practices, organizations can foster a culture of innovation. The modular and scalable nature of cloud-native architectures encourages experimentation with new features, services and business models. Development teams can quickly prototype, iterate and gather feedback, enabling faster innovation cycles.

Moreover, cloud-native architectures open doors to leverage emerging technologies and services that are offered by cloud providers. It has never been easier to experiment with artificial intelligence technology and the major cloud providers champion that technology.

Success in a Cloud-Native World

To build and operate cloud-native applications, companies need cloud-native expertise. This expertise is in short supply. Architecture professionals knowledgeable of cloud-native technologies are in high demand, and that demand will continue for the foreseeable future.

As more and more companies adapt to cloud-native, their flexibility and ability to innovate will increase. This will apply competitive pressures to their competition, who will be forced to do the same cloud-native expansion. This continuous cycle will propel the business world into one focused on cloud native and drive the growth of this currently nascent industry.

Lee Atchison

Lee Atchison is an author and recognized thought leader in cloud computing and application modernization with more than three decades of experience, working at modern application organizations such as Amazon, AWS, and New Relic. Lee is widely quoted in many publications and has been a featured speaker across the globe. Lee’s most recent book is Architecting for Scale (O’Reilly Media).

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