In the modern era of technology, "cloud-native applications" have become a catchphrase as ubiquitous as the clouds in the sky (sorry for the terrible joke).
However, as you delve into the world of cloud computing, this term tends to appear more frequently than pop-up ads on a free streaming site. Yet, what does it truly entail? This comprehensive guide aims to clear the fog around cloud-native applications and offer you a lucid understanding of the concept.
With an added bonus of touching on how it all relates to no-code, of course. Otherwise, why are we here?
In the simplest terms, a cloud-native application is designed to leverage the benefits of cloud computing architecture. These applications are hosted directly in cloud environments, using cloud-native services to offer flexibility, scalability, and resilience.
Unlike traditional apps, cloud-native applications can harness the full power of modern cloud environments to drive business growth.
In case you want a TL;DR:
Cloud-native applications rely on cloud hosting and processing to work from the very start. It’s not a traditional app propped up by a thousand crutches to work with a cloud environment. Without the cloud, it’s nothing. With the cloud, it is everything.
Cloud-native applications aren't just traditional applications dressed in the cloak of the cloud; they are a unique breed with distinct features. These applications use microservices architectures, containerization, continuous integration, and continuous deployment (CI/CD), and are designed for resilience and self-healing.
Microservices architecture is to cloud-native apps what the cherry is to a cake – the defining component. It splits a single application into multiple smaller services, each with its specific function. With this design, each microservice can be deployed, updated, and scaled independently, making the application as flexible as it gets.
Just like you can connect LEGO pieces to build a model, you can connect microservices to build a complete software application. The great thing is, if you need to change or fix something, you just have to swap out or modify the relevant microservice, rather than messing with the entire application.
Since each microservice is independent, you can use different technologies for each one, based on what's best for that specific job.
Containerization packs up an application and its dependencies into a tidy, self-sufficient unit, known as a container. Like a well-packed suitcase for a trip, these containers ensure that the application runs smoothly, no matter the host environment.
This approach makes application deployment more reliable and makes scaling as easy as cloning sheep (just less controversial).
Cloud-native applications embrace the Hollywood mantra of "the show must go on." Thanks to CI/CD pipelines, developers can regularly integrate code changes, while automated deployment ensures the updated application is always ready for showtime, thus minimizing downtime and speeding up releases.
Cloud-native apps are designed to withstand failures and recover automatically – thanks to their distributed nature, and redundancy provided by the cloud-native systems.
Let's say you had a magical LEGO set. If a tower fell over, it would automatically start putting itself back together. Cool, right? This is similar to how cloud-native apps work. They have systems in place to detect when a part is broken, and they can automatically create a new, working version of that part.
The app can fix its own problems and keep running smoothly without someone needing to step in and fix things manually.
Cloud-native technologies offer a treasure trove of benefits for people ready to embrace them.
Cloud-native apps can scale up or down faster than you can adjust your bedroom thermostat, thanks to their microservices architecture and containerization.
This ability to handle increased demand in real-time prevents both underutilization and overloading.
Cloud-native principles foster rapid application development, speeding up the journey from the programmer's mind to the end-users' devices. This agility allows organizations to respond to market changes with the speed of a sprinter off the blocks.
With cloud-native applications, you pay only for what you use, making them as economical as buying in bulk. Plus, their scalability means fewer resources spent on infrastructure maintenance, ensuring your IT budget doesn't inflate like a balloon at a children's party.
Cloud-native apps utilize containerization, creating a fortified fort of security. With threats kept at bay, these applications can safely hold your data, making them as secure as a Swiss bank.
Cloud-native applications are a complex recipe of numerous ingredients that work together to create a mouthwatering dish of something new.
Containers package the application and its dependencies, while orchestration tools like Kubernetes ensure these containers are managed efficiently, performing a symphony of complex tasks seamlessly.
The service mesh is the silent traffic cop in the cloud-native city, managing and securing microservices communications, ensuring the different parts of the application can talk to each other without playing Chinese whispers.
API gateways are the vigilant bouncers at the club of your application, controlling access to microservices, and ensuring only authorized communications pass through, thereby enhancing the application's security.
Keeping track of application performance and health is super important (duh!). Monitoring tools act as the diligent doctors for your cloud-native apps, identifying issues and prescribing remedies promptly.
Transitioning to cloud-native applications is a journey, one that requires thoughtful planning, strategy, and execution.
Transforming legacy applications to become cloud-native is like renovating an old house – you need to change the infrastructure while preserving the essence.
Refactoring involves breaking down the monolithic legacy application into microservices that can be deployed in the cloud.
Equipping your team with the necessary skills for cloud-native development is as important as handing out oxygen masks on a plane – you need them for survival. Training programs, workshops, and upskilling initiatives are crucial in this transition.
You have to choose the right cloud platform for your cloud-native applications, as it needs to support the growth of your applications while ensuring they remain robust.
Just like in a city, governance is key to maintaining security in cloud-native applications. Establishing policies, guidelines, and monitoring systems ensure your cloud-native journey aligns with business objectives and regulatory requirements.
Cloud-native applications stick to the rules. They follow a pre-set framework designed to boost resilience. It's like they have a guidebook for cloud living. Traditional applications, however, are forged uniquely, making them harder to manage in a cloud environment.
Cloud native applications auto-manage infrastructure, serving up resources as and when needed. Traditional applications usually get a one-size-fits-all infrastructure, often oversized to adapt to new demands.
Cloud native architecture grants developers freedom from underlying infrastructure dependencies. Traditional applications? They're glued to the OS, hardware, storage, which makes moving or scaling them a headache.
Cloud native applications are all about fast, iterative updates. It's like they're sprinting in a continuous relay race, rapidly responding to customer needs. Traditional apps plod along, releasing software in big, infrequent chunks, often delaying needed features.
Cloud native apps are built using a microservices architecture. Imagine an efficient factory line, with independent teams handling small, loosely coupled services. Traditional applications bundle all services into a single package, creating a web of dependencies that slow down development.
Cloud native architecture embraces DevOps, a culture of collaboration that smooths the transition of application code into production, unlike traditional apps that pass code from developers to operations like a hot potato, causing conflicts and slow delivery.
Cloud native applications have a scaling superpower – automation. No matter the size of deployment, the rules remain consistent. The complexity often leads to errors with traditional apps.
Cloud native applications recover faster from app or infrastructure failures, thanks to container runtime and orchestrator. It's like they have a built-in life jacket. Traditional applications are slower, especially in recovery.
Now, let's a short dive into the toolbox for cloud-native app development. Each software tool in this belt is an asset in its own right.
Here they are:
Docker: The Swiss Army knife of platforms! Open source and ever-ready, Docker whips up, deploys, and manages app containers that are as virtual as your alter ego. Using a common operating system, it cleverly corrals resources so multiple containers can share without squabbling.
Kubernetes: Kubernetes masterfully directs the performance of Linux containers, deciding their choreography and their grand stage.
Terraform: The wizard of Infrastructure as Code (IaC). With a wave of its coding wand, Terraform shapes resources and keeps a meticulous diary of when and where these resources changed costumes.
GitLab CI/CD: With its unblinking focus on automation, GitLab doubles up as a security analyst, static analyst, and even throws in some unit tests. It looks great, too.
Node.js: A dab hand at crafting real-time applications like chat, news feeds, and microservices. Think of Node.js as the architect designing virtual servers and the traffic officer directing microservices to external APIs. Quite the multitasker!
There are some more worth mentioning, but honestly, this article is long enough on its own. Anyway!
What about them?
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For businesses juggling high-load apps like flaming batons and requiring Fort Knox-level security, private cloud has got your back.
Sales pitch over. Anyhow.
No-code as a discipline is by default something that relies on a cloud-native approach. As you’ve learned from the benefits above, there is a good reason for that. Primarily, this approach can truly help an end user to create something that scales well.
Scaling depends on various factors: the app's end functionality, testing methods, server infrastructure, and integration capabilities. While a Twitter or Google-sized entity might demand more, most projects won't hit such scales. Common scalability issues include data exchange speed, an aspect where some no-code platforms might lag. However, one would need to conduct a staggering number of transactions to reach this bottleneck.
By the way, here’s what our beautiful architecture looks like:
From understanding the fundamentals of cloud-native applications to considering the best practices for their adoption, we've journeyed through the bustling city of cloud-native. At the end of the day, these applications are more than just a trendy buzzword. They are game-changers, offering scalability, resilience, cost optimization, and enhanced security.
As modern organizations race towards digital transformation, cloud-native applications are not just a nice-to-have but a must-have in their IT arsenal.
While both live in the cloud, cloud-native apps are built specifically for cloud environments, utilizing its advantages, whereas cloud-based apps are merely hosted on the cloud.
Cloud-native apps optimize costs by utilizing resources more efficiently, offering pay-as-you-go models, and reducing the resources spent on infrastructure maintenance.
No, cloud-native refers to the method of building apps specifically for cloud environments. SaaS (Software as a Service) is a delivery model where software is hosted in the cloud and accessed via the internet.
Absolutely! Cloud-native apps can help small businesses and startups scale rapidly, innovate quickly, and streamline operations, all while keeping costs under control.
Join 15,000+ no-coders using Directual and create something you can be proud of—both faster and cheaper than ever before. It’s easy to start thanks to the visual development UI, and just as easy to scale with powerful, enterprise-grade databases and backend.