What is a "cloud-native" application in the context of cloud computing? And do "cloud-based" and "cloud-native" refer to the same type of architecture?
Does "cloud-native development" mean using a specific set of methods and tools, or simply hosting, running, and managing your application in a specific environment?
Let's try to understandably define what cloud-native applications are and explain the key features of a cloud-native application to clear up the confusions around cloud-native technologies and cloud-native architecture.
What are cloud-native applications? At first glance, the definition of a cloud-native application seems straightforward. It is an application that is created in the cloud. But what does that really mean and, more importantly, are cloud-native applications better than traditionally developed applications?
The most concise definition would be that it is an application developed using cloud-based technologies and hosted and managed entirely in the cloud.
While the cloud-based is an older application that has been redesigned to run properly on a cloud operating system, the cloudnative has been hosted in the cloud from the beginning. It runs end-to-end in the cloud, meaning it was written, tested and deployed in the cloud, using technologies and services based on the cloud, not just moved to a cloud computing environment after the fact.
Now, if we were to highlight the characteristics that differentiate them from traditional applications, I would summarize them in three points:
Cloud-native applications can be packaged in containers
The ability to scale quickly and easily makes a container an ideal platform for autonomous and independent services. This is also reflected in the fact that the container's infrastructure can be optimized to be as small as possible.
Services are developed as individual, loose microservices
The microservices of cloud-native applications are not further linked in themselves, thereby developers can edit and adapt each existing service individually and independently of the others. This allows developers to focus purely on the core functionality of each existing service and create perfectly tuned and idividual functionality.
Cloud-native is independent of servers and operating systems
Cloud-native applications run at a different level of abstraction and are not tied to operating systems such as Windows or Linux. So for the most part they are independent, with one exception, for example when a micoservice requires certain features, like GPU & SSD, that not all machines can provide.
Easy management through automated functions
Cloud-native applications fit into the concept of infrastructure as code and can be highly automated. Moreover, a certain level of automation is always required to easily manage these large and complex applications.
Elastic infrastructure ensures dynamic adaptation
Cloud-native applications are deployed in a shared and elastic infrastructure. They can flexibly adapt to the underlying infrastructure. They dynamically evolve and adapt to varying loads.
Make it easier to manage your infrastructure
Let serverless do it for you!
With Serverless platforms like AWS Lambda and Azure Functions, operations like configuring your network, provisioning cloud instances, and ensuring you have enough storage are handled automatically.
All you need to do is upload your code as Functions.
Cloud-native apps are resistant to failures.
The "ideal" app comes with built-in self-healing.
Therefore, expect it to handle failures automatically and be fault-tolerant by nature. When a problem occurs, your cloud-native app's processing will be immediately and unobtrusively moved from one data center to another.
In short, the end-user experience is unaffected, and you don't have to worry about the cost of downtime.
You can publish your apps faster
By supporting DevOps processes - streamlining key operations like build, test, deployment automation, and collaboration - your cloud-native app speeds up the entire software delivery process.
The four main reasons for lowering costs are:
Your app automatically scales to meet your growing needs
One of the most important features of a cloud-native app's architecture is that it scales automatically.
Basically, your app scales by default to meet your future business needs. This is also reflected in the cost: you are only charged for the compute resources you actually use.
Your app supports auto-provisioning
Imagine this: Your business-critical app runs uneventfully and uses on-demand service provisioning directly in the app.
It automatically accesses self-service and programmatic provisioning, so you don't have to manually provision the resources needed to keep it running smoothly.
You provide a better customer experience
And it's pretty predictable that you'll provide a better end-user experience, since cloud-native principles revolve around rapid delivery of new features and continuous iteration.
There are many reasons to use and develop cloud-native applications. One of the most notable is speed. Developers can respond to and adapt to specific customer requirements more quickly. This also applies to market changes. In addition, the systems and microservices can be designed to be fail-safe and the applications are independent of the operating system or the respective cloud platform.