Native cloud operations are becoming increasingly important in the digital age, but how can businesses optimize their use?
Mass migration to the native cloud has become one of the key themes driving the world of business. However, while people understand the value of the technology, they don’t necessarily understand how to make it work well for them. To do so, you need to embrace the fundamental principles on which success will be based.
What is native cloud?
Native cloud applications are developed on one of the cloud platforms. These platforms include MS Azure, AWS, GCP, Oracle Cloud etc. The design, implementation, deployment, and operation of the application are all intended to exploit the specific advantages of cloud computing.
These applications will become a critical component of any successful digital transformation processes, thanks to their ability to make the complex look and feel simple. They work on a service-based architecture bringing all these different components into one place, within a container-centric model. These can be scaled quickly on demand offering continuous delivery with no interruption to services. In all, there are four pillars of the native cloud that you should be looking at.
1. Service-based infrastructure
A service-based infrastructure uses a series of microservices which help to improve the agility of applications with loosely connected modules. Because the components delivering these services, the protocols used to deliver them, and the clients using the services can vary significantly, a service-based infrastructure will create a translation and management layer which makes it easier for the client to receive these services.
It allows all these microservices to use different language and protocols to communicate with one another and provides standards which convey all the messaging. It might not be necessary in basic cloud services used to backup email and other tools, but as the demands of native cloud operations grow, they are becoming an increasingly important ingredient to help you, as the end user, obtain all the functionality you need.
A key part of this is the Application Programming Interface (API). This is a technologically-agnostic interface which exposes the applications and greatly reduces the complexity of the offering to the end user. This can be described as the glue which holds together a cloud system. It allows them to be used together quickly and simply, so if you have a native cloud which does not have an effective API, you may find it difficult to work with other services.
To see what happens without a good API, look at the experience of Google when it launched its Latitude and Buzz services. There was plenty of excitement around these but because they did not launch an effective API they rather fizzled and died. A good API, on the other hand, can significantly speed up the entire process. It can help with the cooperation between other service providers, speed up access to the platform and improve security. It ensures data portability and interoperability in a world in which both these things are becoming increasingly important.
2. Container-based infrastructure
Containers are everywhere in cloud based applications. They serve as a packaging application in which applications can be abstracted from the environment in which they are run. These applications can be built into a set of loosely coupled services which can be managed under a container which remains independent of the overall infrastructure. All these services can be updated and scaled within this container. They can be quickly taken and deployed from those containers into the target environment – whether that is the public or private cloud.
However, as Forrester’s TechRadar report found, most of these are in the creation stage and are evolving rapidly. It means components have the potential to change quickly, technology will advance and navigating this environment becomes much more complicated. The market growing and the range of vendors is growing in both number and diversity, so managers need to stay on the ball and understand the changing landscape.
Fail fast and fail often is the goal of developers in the cloud computing space and DevOps can allow you to do this, and to speed up the delivery of services. The idea of DevOps as it moves into the age of the cloud is to take you towards a world of end-to-end automation in which services can provide continuous delivery throughout the life-cycle of the product. It reduces the risks of developments and means you can experiment without worrying about the possibility of failure.
4. Continuous delivery
There was a time when operators would reluctantly see downtime as an inevitable part of service updates or maintenance. However, in the age of the native cloud, their demands are growing, as are the financial consequences of downtime. With the native cloud, software updates are available for release as soon as they are made ready for implementation. This can improve performance and reliability and help you respond to a rapidly evolving marketplace. If you achieve continuous delivery of operations, then, this can put you at a considerable advantage against your competition. This helps you at every stage. It speeds up the development of new and potentially highly beneficial systems and makes it much easier to optimize existing systems. It makes it easier and less complicated to manage at the user’s end and allows for quick and easy scalability.
Putting them to use
As digital transformation picks up the pace, keeping up with evolving trends is becoming an increasingly tough challenge. It requires an understanding of where the technology is at the moment, where it is going and how it can help your business. However, by getting the fundamentals in place, developers can lay the foundations of a successful native cloud strategies. All these pillars will help you develop a successful overall digital transformation strategy. It will make your business more agile, scalable and secure – capable of addressing its key challenges more quickly and efficiently than the competition.
Director – Business Development, RapidValue