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Defining Cloud-Native Software Application Development

Cloud-native applications are built to take full advantage of the distributed computing model offered through the cloud. It is designed to utilize the resiliency, flexibility, and elasticity that the cloud provides its users. Mission’s application development team uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver cloud-native solutions to partners everywhere.

In a cloud-native application, workloads are split into smaller microservices and run independently to create a more agile system. The microservices architecture allows for increased efficiency, as specific isolated resources within the application can be called upon to meet demands, rather than using the resources of the entire application. This approach differs from the monolithic approach, where the processes are tightly coupled and run as a single service. When there is a spike in demand for one process, the entire monolithic application must be scaled. 

Cloud-native applications are also not to be confused with cloud-based applications, which is a generic term used to describe any application that runs in the cloud in some way. This could be broad enough to include both cloud-native applications and monolithic applications. Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are also sometimes referred to as cloud-based.

Common Technologies Used In a Cloud-Native Stack

  • Containers and container orchestration - Containers offer a versatile approach to hosting the individual microservices used in a cloud-native application in small packages decoupled from the underlying infrastructure. Containers make it possible to run an application across multiple locations including physical servers, virtual machines, and edge. AWS provides tools and services such as Amazon ECS, Amazon ECR, Amazon EKS, and AWS Fargate to make container management easy.
  • Microservices - Cloud-native applications are split into individual microservices, which perform specific functions within the software. They share data and interact through a network in order to enhance the application’s functionality. Mission makes use of AWS services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3 in typical microservice based applications.
  • Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines - CI/CD pipelines are used by DevOps teams through infrastructure as code (IaC) to automate building, testing, and deploying new application features. 
  • Service mesh - An application-level service mesh authenticates and routes traffic between microservices working together within distributed applications. The service mesh directs traffic as services are introduced, updated, or removed by the container orchestration platform. One common service mesh from Amazon is AWS Apps Mesh. 
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) - APIs manage external requests from clients and direct them to the appropriate application service. It then relays the appropriate response back to the client.

Cloud-Native Development Practices

There are also some commonalities in the development practices for cloud-native applications: 

  • Development technologies and libraries - The use of technologies such as Go, Node.js, Ruby, Python, and PHP allow for higher productivity and can be packaged into libraries that allow developers to more easily build user interfaces and business logic. 
  • DevOps methodology and tools - The DevOps practice essentially joins the disciplines of software development with IT operations. The idea is to allow for more efficient updates and enhanced innovation to improve business outcomes. Some of the services Mission uses for DevOps on AWS are AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodeBuild, AWS CodeDeploy, Amazon CloudWatch, and AWS CodePipeline.
  • Data management and analytics - Cloud-native applications thrive on the use of customer data that is highly organized and ready to be used for generating insights. This can include things like location, viewing or listening histories, or purchase activity. These data points can then feed recommendation engines, content feeds, or ad targeting. Mission builds managed analytics on AWS using services like Amazon EMR, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon MSK, Amazon Athena, AWS Glue, Amazon Quicksight, and Amazon Sagemaker.
  • Observability - A higher level of tooling and standards is necessary in a cloud-native environment for enhanced observability, to ensure application availability and reliability. Common observability tools from AWS are Amazon Cloudwatch, AWS X-Ray, and Amazon DevOps Guru. 

Businesses looking to build cloud-native applications should focus on considering as many of these technologies and development practices to ensure their application is truly cloud-native.

The Benefits of a Cloud-Native Application

Cloud-native applications deliver additional business value, such as the ability to scale to meet demand, reduce costs, and improve performance and reliability. Below are ways that cloud-native applications can help your business.

More Efficiently Meet Business Demand

When demand for an application increases, specific microservices help meet that demand without requiring the resources of the entire application. For example, picture an online digital greeting card company focused on making and selling cards for specific holidays such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day. When the demand is high, the company’s application would need extra resources to meet customer needs. At off-peak times, the application is automated to scale back. The microservices architecture of a cloud-native application makes this a seamless process that occurs instantly.

Reduce Cloud Costs 

Cloud-native software and applications offer a more efficient approach to computing, helping you keep costs down. When only the required resources from the application are used to scale, costs can remain lower. It’s a similar approach to the electric company and your light bulb usage. When you turn off the lights that you don’t need, your electric bill is lower than if you had every light bulb on all of the time. 

Accelerated Time to Market

The CI/CD approach to building cloud-native applications allows for automation throughout the development process, increasing efficiency. Software updates will be delivered faster and more frequently under this model. Cloud-native development uses an agile service delivery model. You’ll receive the key components to your application faster, making both you and your customers happy. 

Increase Performance and Reliability

When DevOps teams build a cloud-native application using a microservices architecture, they are creating a loosely coupled system. This means that the services aren’t overly reliant on each other so that if one component fails, the other components within the application continue to do their job. The software can still continue to operate in a limited capacity while the appropriate fixes can be made. 

A More Secure Environment

Sensitive information can be contained to a specific component of the application, and the security in that area can be increased to meet more stringent compliance, and regulatory needs. In the case of an attack, the security threat is confined inside one component of the application, reducing the overall risk.

Another security benefit that comes with cloud-native applications is that the cloud provider is managing all physical security. They’ll have their data centers on tight lockdown. The developer will also be able to prioritize the use of secure services with encryption to protect data at rest and in transit. 

Boost Innovation

Cloud-native applications can make use of managed services, which cut back on the amount of upkeep and maintenance required. With these services, you are no longer responsible for updates or infrastructure management. Your team is free to focus on projects that are central to your business goals allowing for more innovation.

Building and Modernizing Cloud-Native Applications With Mission

A recent report from 451 Research highlighted the benefits of choosing a cloud managed services provider to build your next piece of software. The report revealed that cloud managed service providers remove work from the IT operations teams by taking care of the infrastructure and the orchestration platform. They also save developers and DevOps teams from concentrating on configuring their environments and manual tasks so that they can instead focus on new features, new products, and innovation. 

If you’re looking to develop a cloud-native application for your company, it helps to go with an experienced cloud-native software development team like Mission to ensure the job is done following AWS and DevOps best practices. Mission is ready to work with you to overcome any challenges you may have when it comes to building cloud-native software and applications. 

Mission has the expertise to help with your next cloud-native software development initiative, whether you are looking for new greenfield development, application modernization, or you are looking to have the management or maintenance of an application taken over from another company.

Conclusion

Cloud-native applications allow your business to take full advantage of the flexibility, scalability, and resilience that a distributed computing environment offers. They can play a key role in improving your company’s ability to innovate and meet customer demand. When you work with an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner like Mission, you’ll have full access to a team of experienced software and application development team ready to help. Contact us to schedule a call with a Cloud Advisor to discuss your next initiative!

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Application Development

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