Cloud-native applications: The fuel of digital Transformation

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Cloud-native is an approach to addressing business challenges and improving customer experiences. However, it is not just about moving workloads to the cloud. Rather, it is about seeing the cloud not as a data center, but as a business advantage for enterprises. Cloudnative applications refer to a software development approach in which developers aim from the outset to create an application that is designed solely for use in the cloud. These applications are also known as cloud-native applications (NCAs). With a cloud-native application, users can access all the benefits of cloud computing.

What is the importance of cloud-native applications for businesses?

Digital applications are driving modern business models. The cloud-native approach offers many advantages for the development, operation and deployment of applications. It enables enterprises to be highly flexible and agile. Applications are decoupled from specific hardware and operating systems and can be mapped to any cloud platform. Thanks to a faster response to market and customer requirements, many competitive advantages result. In today's digital age, customers determine which functions a product or service needs. Responding directly to these wishes and not leaving the field to the competition is decisive for the future success or failure of companies.

The availability of applications and services can also be increased through the cloud-native approach. Cloud-native applications are characterized by modern approaches to development and deployment. Companies primarily expect lower operating costs and an improved customer experience from their use. But also higher profitability and differentiation in competition as well as faster time-to-market are at the top of the wish list.

Features - Cloud-native applications:

  • Designed to run natively in the cloud.
  • DevOps play an important role in the development of these modern methods.
  • NCAs are designed to be extremely user-centric.
  • Open source components and tools are often included
  • PaaS, containers, microservices or serverless computing provide easy portability & deployment.
  • Often include mechanisms to collect data from multiple sources

What are cloud-native applications used for?

Cloud-native is an approach that can be applied to a wide variety of applications. That is, all applications developed according to this approach are, specifically defined applications for your business, developed and operated on the basis of a flexible, agile and cost-effective cloud architecture. While existing applications are increasingly used to maintain business operations, cloud-native apps are essentially aimed at new innovative products or services. These support the digital transformation and should therefore be given a high priority.

Overall, the cloud native approach promises some significant advantages over classic development on a company's own infrastructure. In practice, the cloud delivers significant advantages over development and operation on dedicated systems, especially for Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service developers and large companies. Small companies can also access large data centers with comparably low investments.

What do cloud-native applications mean for the IT infrastructure?

The cloud-native approach contradicts the traditional and widespread use and operation of in-house data centers. The use of these on-premise or in-house deployments makes for a rigid, monolithic set of applications. Cloud-native applications, however, require high flexibility, scalability and portability across multiple infrastructures. Cloud environments such as multi or hybrid cloud, are a good fit for cloud-native applications. More and more frequently, companies are increasingly relying on the use of container technologies, which positively support the portability of cloud-native applications.

This trend is also accompanied by the development of software-defined infrastructure. This architectural approach is based on the fact that infrastructures such as networking, storage and data centers are obtained completely as a service from the cloud. This results in high flexibility, agility and automation.

8 steps to a successful cloud-native app

Red Hat looked at what factors enterprises need to consider when developing cloud-native apps.

  • Develop a DevOps culture and practices to take advantage of new technologies, faster approaches and closer collaboration.
  • Make existing, monolithic apps faster by migrating them to a container-based platform or splitting the apps into microservices.
  • Use application services, i.e., middleware, to accelerate business logic development. These are effectively ready-to-use developer tools optimized for containers.
  • Choose the right tool for the right job by using a container-based application platform that supports the right mix of frameworks, languages and architectures.
  • Provide a self-service and on-demand infrastructure for developers that uses containers and container orchestration technology. It should simplify access to the underlying infrastructure, increase control and visibility of IT operations, and enable lifecycle management of applications across multiple environments.
  • Automate IT to accelerate application delivery with automation sandboxes.
  • Implement continuous delivery/deployment to accelerate the rollout of your cloud-native applications.
  • Rely on a modular architecture that makes sense for your specific needs, such as microservices, a monolith-first approach, or miniservices.

How can existing applications be cloud-native?

There are three common approaches to making existing applications cloud-native. A detailed strategy that identifies the best patterns for your workloads is essential to design your cloud-native applications and achieve the desired business goals. In each case, the application's functionality is preserved while it is made to run natively in the cloud. Repackaging, Replatforming and Refactoring.


Repackaging here refers to packaging the legacy applications (or individual components) into containers. This makes them independent of the environment in which they run and makes them easy to port to the cloud. This method is commonly used for Windows and Linux workloads, according to the IDC survey.


Also referred to as "lift, tinker and shift." This method includes some cloud optimizations to achieve tangible benefits without changing the core architecture. Replatforming, like repackaging, goes in a similar direction, but repackaging does not interfere with the architecture of the application and therefore does not require a new platform or framework. Replatforming, on the other hand, means moving the application, now packaged in containers, into a new framework such as Kubernetes as well. The advantage is that in this way modernized applications can run in the same framework as cloud-natively developed applications.


This involves adapting the architecture and development, usually by implementing cloud-native features such as data lakes. Refactoring (or rearchitecting) ensures that organizations can add new functionality, scale or improve performance that was not possible in the old environment. If your company wants to increase agility or optimize business continuity by moving to a service-oriented architecture , this strategy is worthwhile - even though it is usually the most expensive option. It is also possible to gradually transform individual parts of the application into microservices.

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