10 Key Attributes of Cloud Native Applications
Cloud-native application – Are you wondering if it’s just another buzzword from the IT industry jargon? Well, not really. It is actually a quantum leap that organizations were looking for, in terms of innovation.
Within a short span of time, cloud-native application is booming in the software industry. It offers fresh approach to build large and complex systems. Changes in design, implementation, deployment and operations can be made efficiently with the help of cloud native’s modern software development technologies, practices and cloud infrastructure.
Cloud Native and Cloud-Native Application
In a broader sense, cloud-native is an approach to bring together teams, culture, and technology to employ automation and architectures to manage complexity and unlock velocity.
Cloud native can be best described as container-based environments. Containers are standard software units that encases code and all its dependencies enabling applications to run quickly and efficiently across computing environs. Cloud-native applications are developed with services packaged in containers, which are deployed as microservices and managed on scalable infrastructure through agile DevOps processes and continuous delivery workflows.
Cloud native development is well suited for both public and private cloud environs. What actually matters is, how efficiently applications are created and installed, not where.
In the following section, we highlight the top 10 attributes of a typical cloud-native application, an understanding of which can aid you while designing cloud-native applications.
10 Key Attributes of Cloud-Native Applications: A Summary
- Containers: Containers are the back-bone of cloud-native architecture. A Cloud-native applications are a stack of independent services that are stored as lightweight containers. Scalability is high with containers. Since scaling-in and scaling-out is easier, framework utilization is optimized. There are ample opportunities for innovation too.
- Languages and Frameworks: Cloud native applications can efficiently recognize several languages. Services of cloud-native applications are custom developed using language and frameworks w.r.t their functionality. Cloud-native applications are polyglot- meaning the services use various languages, runtimes and frameworks. For instance, developers can build a real-time streaming service set up on WebSockets, developed in Node.js and use Python and Flask for exposing the API (Application Programming Interface). This exclusive technique of developing microservices gives them options to choose the best language and framework for a particular job.
- Microservices: Microservices can be independently installed, upgraded and scaled. Services of the same application communicate through HTTP APIs at the runtime. Resilient infrastructure and application design of such loosely coupled services brings in efficiency and qualitative performance to the business. Decoupling helps developers to concentrate on core functions of services and thus helps in achieving productive lifecycle management of application.
- APIs: One of the main challenges with microservices application architecture is achieving consistent communication among different services. It is important for the front-end client-facing microservice to acknowledge customer queries generated from mobile phones, browsers or any other device. So, cloud-native services should use APIs that are based on certain protocols like REST (Representational State Transfer), gRPC (Google’s Remote Procedure call) or NATS (message-oriented middleware/messaging system).
REST APIs can consistently communicate in microservices-based apps. gRPC is used to connect services and ensure load balancing, performance, tracing and authentication. NATS is used to augment and replace traditional messaging system in microservices.
- Architecture and Platform: The USP of a Cloud-native delivery is its speed. The core of the architecture is divided into stateful and stateless services. As mentioned above, these services are independent of each other’s existence. Services are persistent and durable in nature and hence brings out higher availability and resilience in the architecture.
The cloud-native architecture facilitates developers to use cloud platforms and avoid infrastructure dependencies. Teams will be able to focus on software and not on configuration, and operating systems maintenance. Few recommended platforms for operating on cloud-based infrastructures are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
- Operating System: Cloud native applications are isolated from server and operating system dependencies. They operate at a higher abstraction levels. The only exception is that whenever microservices need SSDs (solid-state drives), and GPUs (graphics processing units), they are made available by a batch of machines from the architecture.
- Infrastructure: Cloud native apps are installed on virtual, shared and elastic infrastructure. For effective running of apps, cloud-native infrastructure consists of operating systems, data centers, deployment pipelines, configuration management, and other systems/software and hardware essentials to back the apps.
- Agile DevOps Processes: The independent services in cloud-native apps are managed through agile DevOps processes. Multiple pipelines of CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) work parallelly with each other to bring out efficiency in the application.
- Automated Capabilities: Automation is the significant factor that is responsible for making cloud-native application a reality. Automation is the need of the hour for applications to run and scale. It manages large and complex applications. High automation can be achieved as cloud-native apps runs based on the concept of Infrastructure as code.
- Resource Allocation – Cloud-native applications are governed by the governance model defined through a set of policies. They comply with network policies that allocate resource to services, policies like central processing unit (CPU) and storage quotas. Central IT in companies can allocate resources for every department. Developers and DevOps teams in every department leverage complete access and ownership to their share of resources.
Every new feature comes with its set of challenges. But when you look at the bigger picture, you will be able to come up with solutions for these relatively small hiccups that do not hinder the overall functioning of business. Having said that, this is undoubtedly the best time to recognize the full potential of cloud by rebuilding or re-architecting your applications as cloud- native.
Wide-ranging access, flexibility and data persistence are significant features of a successful cloud-native application. Make sure you ace it by implementing in your businesses.
Next time when you hear people talk about ‘cloud’; think ‘cloud-native.’