Cloud native technology is on the rise. Slash Data’s recent State of Cloud Native Development report shows a 47% adoption rate in North America. Cloud native software development takes advantage of cloud native processes and technology to streamline releases and create applications that are more resilient and scalable. In this blog, we’ll define three common components of cloud native software development and discuss the advantages of developing your applications with a cloud native approach.
What is Cloud Native Software Development?
Cloud native software is developed in the cloud, for the cloud. There’s no set model for how cloud native applications are built, deployed, and operated. However, there are some features and methodologies that are frequently used in cloud native development.
Many cloud native applications run on the microservice architecture model. Instead of using an all-in-one monolithic architecture, the software is developed as a collection of small, modular services that run their own processes and can be deployed independently. This creates modular, more scalable software. Decoupling the components of a larger system means you can deploy or scale them independently. This can improve stability and improve performance by allowing components to process data asynchronously.
Cloud native containers use system-based virtualization to create modular, portable software packages that contain all the dependencies for each microservice in an application. Because containers are ephemeral and run independently of each other, you can create and delete a cloud native container at will without affecting any other container. They can also work together in clusters to scale up or down with your workload.
Major public cloud providers also provide some kind of "cloud function" or "serverless function," which is to say code that runs in the cloud. This shares many of the advantages of using containers, but more-so. There's no need to provision servers, or even to build container images. However, functions aren't appropriate for all workloads. Designing an application to take advantage of this technology requires thinking cloud-first. Because serverless functions don't exist outside cloud computing, architects used to thinking about legacy infrastructure won’t be familiar with them.
DevOps and CI/CD
DevOps is a methodology focused on reducing bottlenecks and streamlining releases by making changes to people, processes, and technology. This can include breaking down silos between development and operations teams, adopting continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) processes, and leveraging automation tools. Cloud native DevOps uses CI/CD to test, build, and deploy microservice application code in your containerized infrastructure. For example, by incorporating cloud native tools like AWS CodePipeline and Azure Pipelines to manage the CI/CD process and automate deployments.
Application programming interfaces, or APIs, are defined interfaces that safely expose software functionality to other applications. That means you can extend or customize your cloud native software without needing to write new code or modify the existing code. This allows you to change or extend an application without affecting consumers of the microservice’s functionality, as long as the existing API remains the same.
Microservices, containers, and APIs are three ways to develop software that takes advantage of cloud native processes and technology. You should also use DevOps principles such as continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) to further improve the efficiency of your cloud native software development.
The Advantages of Cloud Native Software Development
There are numerous benefits to using cloud native principles and technologies to develop your applications, including:
- Resiliency: Applications developed on the microservices model for cloud native containers are more resilient because they run independently of each other. That means if one container fails, it won’t bring all the others down. It also means you can delete a container if there’s an issue with. Similarly, if a microservice fails or malfunctions, other parts of the application may continue to function. For example, if the service responsible for submitting and retrieving comments fails, it might make comments unavailable. But the rest of the application could still function. Because microservices are isolated from one another, breach of one microservice does not lead to a compromise of the whole system.
- Scalability: Since each cloud native container and microservice runs independently, it can also be scaled independently, allowing you to add or delete resources as necessary. APIs make it easier to add new features and functionality to your cloud native software.
- Agility: The Agile development methodology seeks to break software development down into small, repeatable tasks to facilitate easy pivots and a more streamlined release cycle. Cloud native software development contributes to agile practices by splitting applications into smaller modules that you can create, modify, and deploy relatively quickly.
- Speed: In addition to being more agile, cloud native development supports automation and other DevOps principles that help increase the speed of software development. You can also use orchestration platforms like Kubernetes to further reduce delays in development by automating cloud native container provisioning and management.
Cloud native software development aims to create highly resilient and scalable applications. Because of this, cloud native development and DevOps frequently go hand in hand. Each strengthens and contributes to the success of the other. For example, the DevOps emphasis on collaboration, visibility, and CI/CD lends itself to working with modular architectures like containers and microservices. Similarly, a cloud native development model can bring increased resilience, scalability, agility, and speed to organizations who’ve embraced DevOps methodologies.