“Cloud-native” is a big trend in software development right now, but what does it mean and how do you adopt a cloud-native approach in your organisation?
It’s not about simply moving legacy applications to the cloud, it goes much deeper than that. IDG states that cloud-native is about how applications are developed, not where. Cloud-native can be described as an approach to application development and deployment that is takes full advantage of the benefits of cloud, which results in applications that are fully optimised for distributed, cloud-based deployments. In comparison, typical on-premise, legacy apps are built to run on a centralised system, as a single piece of code, which doesn’t necessarily translate well in a distributed cloud environment. Nor is it easy to bring these applications to market quickly, or fix issues, or roll out a new release regularly.
What then are the main components of a cloud-native development approach?
The cloud-native approach uses a services-based architecture to develop applications. A service in this case is a process or activity that is self-contained and presented in a container to isolate and package just the right amount of resources that service needs. A collection of these loosely coupled, self-contained services makes up the application. Any service can be tested, released, replaced or updated independently of the overall application, making it much more agile and flexible. In addition, the containers not only isolate the service, but they make it more portable.
Cloud-native apps use DevOps automation for speed, quality and agility. By automating DevOps processes, releasing more frequently, monitoring the performance and user experience then making adjustments before deploying another release, developers can bring applications to market quicker and improve the user experience each time. By doing this at the microservice level too, the speed to market is even greater and disruption can be contained and minimised.
It’s a tricky leap to make however, everything is different in a cloud-native environment. With so many microservices being developed independently, on different platforms, sometimes in different languages, with multiple different release schedules, all requiring development, test and production environments, things can spiral out of control quite quickly.
In addition, it’s a rare business that doesn’t have some legacy applications that they need to modernise. They may have decided to adopt a cloud-native approach to all new applications but struggle to know what to do with their legacy applications.
The organisation may also want to maintain a hybrid environment, where they have some infrastructure on premises, some in private cloud and some in public cloud services. The prospect of changing applications to suit different platforms, the potential for different monitoring and operational tools for each platform, can seem daunting.
Looking at a platform like Red Hat OpenShift, a self-service platform where developers can build and run containerised applications, is a great place to start. OpenShift has been built specifically for cloud-native application development and allows automated, continuous integration and delivery build and development pipelines at the click of a button.
In addition, Red Hat OpenShift Application Runtimes provides a number of prescriptive, guided paths for developers to move through the development process with ease. When developers use these runtimes on the development platform, they can develop and deploy faster and with less risk. From microservices development to migrating existing applications to the cloud, there is a runtime to guide you through.
Read more about Red Hat’s developer platform and runtimes here.