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What Is Cloud Native? What Are Cloud-native Applications?

Cloud native refers to the full utilization of the cloud ecosystem to build and run applications. Contrary to hybrid models that only put applications and processes onto the cloud after development, a cloud native computing foundation uses an open-source stack to achieve the entirety of an organization's computing objectives. Cloud-native solutions have three key aspects: 

  1. Containerization, so each segment is in its own compartment
  2. Dynamically orchestrated, so containers are managed so as to optimize resource use
  3. Microservice-focused, so each process remains agile 

As an example, a developer can create new software within a cloud native container and run that software in the same environment, improving utility and efficiency. 

How Are Cloud-native Applications Built?

Developers build cloud native applications by using the complete cloud native computing foundation. This involves DevOps, microservices, and containers. Here is a bit more information on each of these cloud native elements, including the pros and cons of each. 

DevOps

Developers build cloud native applications by using the complete cloud native computing foundation. This involves DevOps, microservices, and containers. Here is a bit more information on each of these cloud-native elements, including the pros and cons of each. 

Microservices

Microservices are an alternative to the monolith approach to computer architecture. The monolith approach has one architecture to do everything. Microservices, on the other hand, are small pieces of architecture that have one specific role. These can work together to create a combined approach if necessary. 

The benefits of microservices include agility, as they can be built and refined more quickly, affecting fewer processes than if a developer has to tinker with a monolith architecture. Microservices are one of the hallmarks of the cloud-native approach.

Containers

Containers make it much easier for developers and end-users to deploy an application regardless of its environment. Containers make applications run faster and execute properly. They solve the issue of application complications. 

The container improves consistency, meaning it takes less time for developers to say an application is ready for end-users. The enhanced speed does not come at the expense of quality. On the contrary, because containers improve consistency, quality is also improved compared to an environment that does not make use of containers. 

Orchestration

Cloud-native computing foundations are not quite complete just with DevOps, microservices, and containers. You also need a way to make it all work together. This is where orchestration comes in. Orchestration is the overall process for cloud-native integration and continuous delivery. It allows the end-user to change workflows and determines how cloud-native applications, which include applications across containers and microservices, work together. 

Why Does One Need Cloud-native Applications Today?

Cloud native applications are essential for a business to make an impact. Here is a bit more of an in-depth look at the benefits of cloud native computing. 

Enable Teams To Focus on Resilience

Cloud-native applications eliminate a number of the security and operational problems that are common pitfalls of enterprise-level systems. Instead, development teams can focus on creating resilient applications without worrying about problems like moving applications between environments and tinkering with monolith architecture to modify a simple process. 

Gain a Competitive Advantage

Cloud-native applications mean new products get to market more quickly. There is less time spent in testing because stability is easier to achieve from the outset. Developers and operational teams can collaborate more effectively to achieve the end goal of user-readiness. This means it is easier to gain an advantage over the competition who is still using outdated development technology. 

Align Operations with Business Needs

Microservices allow for greater agility, which means they and containers may have refined orchestration according to evolving business needs. Workflows need updating, but there is no need to update a monolith architecture and possibly affect other systems. That means cloud-native computing processes are better for business needs. 

Achieve Greater Flexibility

Greater agility means businesses can respond quickly to changing demands, such as product updates or refined internal workflows. This gives the company a greater range of choices both in operations and in new avenues for product development as market needs arise, all while still ensuring cloud native security

Cloud-native Applications vs. Traditional Enterprise Applications

Here are the ways in which a cloud-native application is typically preferable over traditional enterprise applications:

  1. Predictable. Since each application is developed as a microservice, it has a predictable development timeline and does not have to conform to a monolith architecture like in traditional enterprise applications.
  2. Operating system abstraction. Since each application is developed in a container, it can be developed away from the underlying operating system. This saves time and avoids errors that may occur in a traditional enterprise application.
  3. Right-sized capacity. With cloud-native computing, developers have only what they need for their specific processes. Enterprise applications are typically larger and include unnecessary processes within a monolith architecture. 
  4. Automated scalability. Cloud-native computing foundations allow for easier scalability because of the reliance on containers and microservices. Traditional applications require manual updates to larger-sized infrastructure, which takes more time and invites the possibility of more error. 

Points To Keep in Mind While Considering Cloud-native Applications

Once you have decided to consider cloud native applications, it is a good idea to keep in mind these tips for a successful transition. 

Code To a Contract

Instead of reinventing a new application system every time, keep a standard way of doing things in your back pocket. This allows you to take advantage of the microservices technology to innovate when appropriate, without creating a new piece of art for every new use of the cloud-native platform

Prioritize Workloads for Modernization

Cloud-native computing foundations sound like a cure-all, but they need not apply to all of your IT functions right away. Some team members and departments may take longer transitioning from legacy systems. Prioritize transition for those workloads that benefit most from cloud-native. Look at feasibility, importance, and return on investment (ROI). 

Decide Whether To Build or Buy a Platform

The beauty of a cloud-native computing foundation is that you can compile it from scratch. However, this takes time, in effect taking away some of the benefits of transitioning to a cloud-native process to begin with. Consider partnering with a solution that provides a cloud-native platform upon which you can place all of your unique computing processes. 

Choose Between Self-paced and Immersive Skill-building

Once you decide to go cloud-native, you will have to train your team on how best to proceed. Often, immersing them completely in the cloud ecosystem gives them time to get accustomed to this new platform and to use it most appropriately. On the other hand, due to operational concerns, a self-paced process might be best. 

How Fortinet Can Help

Fortinet offers an optimal cloud-native solution through FortiWeb Cloud, a web application firewall (WAF) delivering full-featured web application security minus the hefty cost. It can be deployed easily using preconfigured policies and a setup wizard, comes with a dashboard for end-to-end security management and visibility, and provides protection against top threats, including zero-day attacks. 

Businesses of all sizes can use FortiWeb Cloud to transition to a cloud-native platform. Further, the solution uses the Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem, which allows for linkability across operations.