Referred to as ?born in the cloud,? the cloud-native approach now encompasses the best of software development techniques, including DevOps, Containerization, Microservices, Agile methodology, and more. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) defined cloud-native technologies as the enabler that empowers organizations to build and run scalable applications on dynamic cloud environments.
Witnessing the success of cloud-native architecture pioneered by Netflix, this approach has been adopted by many technology companies and application developers to build efficient cloud applications. With a rapid release cycle and workload management, cloud-native apps are digitally transforming businesses by modernizing them.
As we continue to transform, it is important to look at the core principles of Cloud-Native development.
Cloud-Native Development ? Core Principles
The cloud-native development process is based on these 4 key principles.
- Microservices or development architecture where larger applications are built using a suite of individual components or modular services.
- Containerization or the use of software containers to package and isolate applications to be run independently from physical resources.
- Continuous delivery and integration (CD/CI), an approach that enables software testing teams to test shorter code bases in continuous release cycles.
- DevOps methodology that automates application lifecycles and enables improved collaboration between the development and operations teams.
These principles help cloud-native apps stand out from cloud-based apps. Essentially, cloud-based apps are designed to work on the cloud but do not leverage the potential of the cloud effectively. Whereas cloud-native apps are more suited to dynamic cloud environments and are tailored to fit these environments, enabling them to scale up and down based on demand.
That said, we should also look into the 5 core elements that need to be integrated for cloud-native applications to succeed.
Core Elements of Cloud-native Applications
Cloud-native apps are designed for speed in both delivery and iterations. Hence, the application?s design needs to be based on the microservice architecture, which is crucial for making the app adaptable and flexible for the cloud.
Microservices also address the concerns posed by monolithic architecture in the following ways:
- Modularity enables the modules to be updated and executed independently, leaving other modules unaffected.
- Microservices accelerate the deployment of new functions without hampering the functionalities of other modules.
- They eradicate the need to deploy complete code, which is time-consuming and inflexible for erratic workloads.
APIs (Application Program Interfaces)
The Application Program Interface (API) enables communication between modules, effectively acting as the ?glue? among loosely coupled microservices. APIs make it easier for external service callers to format a service request and communicate with cloud-native apps, irrespective of their location.
A proper call format with adequate identification and authentication contains an accurate payload, thus enabling the correct execution of the service.
Designed to break down IT (Information Technology) Silos, DevOps enables rapid and continuous deployments. DevOps acts as a core element, breaking down barriers between development and production stages.
To initiate the DevOps process, organizations can use value chain mapping (VCM), a method that can evaluate the complete application development cycle. The VCM technique can optimize each silo and automate a group?s work while not disturbing other groups.
Cloud-native apps simplify operational design through microservices, where code modifications are limited to individual executables, leaving the rest of the app code unchanged.
As a core element, the microservices-based operational design ensures:
- Better operational efficiency during any changeoverchangeover simple
- Simpler and easier rolling out of code changes
- Easier recreation of the older production environment when code issues are reported
Quality Assurance (QA)
The importance of QA and testing cannot be underestimated in the cloud-native app development process. The approach ensures that QA is performed at an earlier stage in the app development, detecting and addressing issues. This approach ensures that the responsibility to test new functionalities developed by the app developers lies with them, allowing the QA team to focus on integration testing, performance testing, and testing on multiple devices
Next, let us look at the best development practices when building cloud-native apps.
Best Practices in Cloud-native development
For efficient cloud-native development, it is important to follow best practices that determine how the app is built, and how performance is measured. Here are 5 such best practices:
- Automate the provisioning of cloud-native applications across popular cloud vendors. Through automation, you can use the infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) service to track code changes in the repository.
- Monitor how the cloud-native app is being used along with the development environment. Cloud-native development environments make it easy to monitor the app and the underlying architecture.
- Document the changes being made by multiple development teams and see how they are contributing to the cloud-native application.
- Making incremental app changes that are easy to reverse and not permanent. This practice enables development teams to learn from their coding mistakes.
- Design for process failures using testing frameworks that can simulate failures and improve them.
Apart from these best practices, there are plenty of development tools that can be used for cloud-native apps. These tools, found in most cloud-native development stacks, include the Docker platform (for managing virtualized app containers), Kubernetes (for managing Linux containers), and Terraform (for managing IaC services).
With the rapid adoption of the cloud, cloud-native development offers huge opportunities to businesses, transforming the way applications are built and managed. Organizations must navigate this process of adopting new cultures and technology. Be it application modernization or business modernization, cloud-native development enables organizations by selecting the right technology stack.
The author is AVP ? Engineering at Calsoft Inc.