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Cloud native: Definition, features, benefits

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Cloud native: Definition, features, benefits

Today's modern businesses use tools to respond quickly to customer expectations. And to do this, they need applications that are scalable, flexible and resilient. That's where Cloud-native applications come in. So what's behind this technology? What are the benefits for organizations? Let's find out.

Cloud native, an innovative technology

The Cloud-native approach

Cloud native is a software approach that refers to the way applications are created, deployed and managed. In concrete terms, these are applications that evolve in cloud computing environments. From design to execution.

In so doing, apps take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing, such as speed, flexibility, elasticity, resilience and scalability.

It’s precisely this type of technology that modern businesses need. And with good reason: as cloud-native apps “grow” in the cloud, they can be modified quickly (and even frequently), without even impacting their functionality and the services that go with them. Using cloud-native technology therefore provides companies with a significant competitive advantage.

Good to know: cloud-native technologies can run in public, private and hybrid clouds.

Cloud native computing foundation - CNCF

For several years now, organizations and services using native cloud models have been growing steadily. That’s why CNCF was founded in 2015 by the Linux Foundation.

It is an open source software foundation facilitating the adoption of cloud native technologies by different organizations.

To achieve this, the cloud native computing foundation is carrying out several actions, such as:

  • Verifying the accessibility, reliability and availability of cloud native technologies;
  • Developing projects such as Kubernetes, Prometheus and CoreDNS;
  • Supporting companies in their transition to cloud native.

The foundation’s members range from public cloud providers to SaaS companies and technology start-ups.

Cloud computing vs Cloud native

The term “cloud” encompasses a multitude of sometimes confusing realities. In particular, the notions of cloud computing and cloud native.

Cloud computing refers to the infrastructure and services offered by cloud providers. Infrastructure is the place where data is hosted. Services include storage, databases and analytics.

The cloud-native approach, on the other hand, refers to the development and execution of applications on this cloud computing model.

The 5 characteristics of native cloud technologies

Cloud-native technologies are based on several fundamental characteristics. These include

  • Immutable infrastructure: this means that the hosting of cloud-native applications remains identical after deployment. Even when these applications need more resources. This eliminates the need for manual upgrades.
  • Microservices: these are small, interdependent software components, each responding to a specific problem. Modifications or bugs in one microservice do not affect the others. However, they work collectively to create a complete application.
  • APIs: application programming interfaces enable two or more software applications to exchange information. In cloud environments, this enables loosely coupled microservices to be brought together.
  • Service mesh: a software layer responsible for managing communication between microservices.
    Containers: this is the smallest unit of computation, grouping together the codes of the microservices and various essential files. Thanks to this containerization, applications can run independently of the underlying hardware. This enables applications to be deployed on site, in private, public or hybrid clouds.

Application, architecture, stack and cloud-native development

The native cloud model brings together several technologies and services that need to be analyzed.

Native cloud application

Cloud-native applications are made up of a multitude of microservices. This is an innovative approach to traditional software development. Particularly when compared with monolithic applications. Monolithic applications are structured around a single block of functionality. In other words, when there’s a small modification or error in one function, the whole structure is blocked.

NCAs are much more agile, since it’s possible to continuously improve functionality without disrupting the overall operation of the application.

Cloud-native architecture

Cloud-native architecture refers to NCA design. It incorporates all the characteristics of the native cloud approach: immutable infrastructures, microservices, declarative APIs, containers and service meshes.

Each of these elements enables cloud-native architecture to gain in flexibility, without depending on physical servers. In fact, this style of native cloud architecture is referred to as serverless. It enables code to be executed only when needed, increases application availability, scales resources and enhances security.

Cloud-native stack

These are all the layers used to program and run cloud-native applications. There are 5 layers:

  • Infrastructure layer: this is the base of the cloud-native stack, with operating systems, storage, network and other computing resources.
  • Provisioning layer: these are the cloud services that configure the environment.
  • Execution layer: the idea is to keep containers running smoothly using various cloud technologies.
  • Orchestration and management layer: the idea is to group together all the microservices so that they enable the native cloud application to function as a single unit.
  • Application definition and development layer: several technologies are used, such as databases, container images, integration and continuous delivery tools.
  • Observability and analysis tools: to continuously improve the cloud-native application and ensure it runs smoothly, developers monitor various metrics (such as memory, latency, CPU…).

Cloud-native development

Cloud-native application development requires the adoption of certain practices, such as CI/CD, Devops methods and serverless development:

  • Continuous integration: modifications are integrated on a regular basis. This allows any bugs to be resolved as quickly as possible.
  • Continuous deployment: the aim is to ensure that functionalities are always ready for deployment, despite modifications made upstream. To this end, automation tools are used (particularly for bug fixing or adding new functionalities).
  • DevOps culture: the aim is to facilitate collaboration between development and operational teams. This accelerates the software development lifecycle.
  • Serverless: cloud-native technologies rely on the absence of a server for greater flexibility and scalability.

The advantages of native cloud applications

Cloud-native applications are becoming increasingly popular with organizations. And with good reason: they offer a multitude of advantages:

  • Maximum availability: through the principle of microservices, NCAs are independent of each other. This makes them even more resilient.
  • This means that they remain online despite infrastructure breakdowns or changes in functionality (….). There’s no downtime, for maximum availability and speed of execution.
  • Agility: native cloud technologies draw on agile methods in their development and throughout their lifecycle. As a result, apps can be continuously modified and enhanced to deliver a higher quality of service to users.
  • Cost reduction: being serverless, native cloud apps use only the resources they need in terms of workloads. This avoids unnecessary use of resources. And, above all, companies don’t have to invest in costly physical infrastructures for their operation.

Learn how to develop cloud-native applications with DataScientest

As cloud-native applications become increasingly popular with companies in all sectors, tomorrow’s developers need to master these technologies. DataScientest makes it possible. Thanks to courses combining theory and practice, you’ll be able to design and manage NCAs, with the corresponding architecture and the various cloud-native stacks.

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