Cloud-Native Applications vs Traditional Enterprise Applications
Posted by Aleksandar Foltin on 19 August 2020
Since cloud computing gained huge popularity in IT during the last decade, it brought certain changes to the software development world and raised some questions among business owners.
One of the main questions is definitely: Should the application development process adjust to cloud models, and how? And the second, maybe even a more important one: What are the benefits of this approach?
In short, the answer to the first question would be the adoption of a cloud-native approach, and to the second the overall improvement of your business. This article should certainly give you a more detailed overview, so let’s start with defining cloud-native.
What is Cloud-Native?
Cloud-native represents a new approach for building applications that embraces the benefits of cloud computing. It encourages the use of smaller, independent software constructs called microservices, rather than deploying an application as a big single chunk of code as it is done in the traditional manner. In the cloud-native model, microservices are usually deployed inside containers that enable host environment abstraction.
Regarding philosophy and team culture, cloud-native works best with the agile approach through DevOps practices and well known Twelve-Factor Applications principles. Cloud-native relies heavily on automation processes like continuous integration and continuous delivery. All of these segments will be discussed in comparison with traditional development aspects in the following chapters.
With the use of containers and cloud computing models like “Platform as a Service“ (PaaS) developers don’t need to worry about OS layer management since it is delegated to the cloud provider. This is a big advantage over the traditional model because developers can focus on their primary task – software development.
On the other hand, the architecture of the traditional application is tightly coupled with the underlying OS, which makes it unsuitable for migration and scaling over different host environments.
Not only that traditional applications are tightly coupled with the underlying operating system, but even their services and functionalities are tightly coupled in the application deployment. More precisely, traditional applications can have modular structure regarding development aspects, but in production, they are deployed as monoliths. This makes processes such as improvement, testing and scaling harder, slower and more expensive.
Cloud-native applications introduce high modularity through microservices and containers. In such an environment, both development and maintaining processes don’t have to be performed on the whole application, but just on its independent parts – which makes them easier, faster, and cheaper.
The cloud-native model enables resource usage with a high-efficiency level. It provides dynamic allocation of resources based on the current needs of the application. Thus, for instance, there are application scaling based on current traffic spikes, migrations across different machines, storage utilization, container orchestration, etc.
All these actions are performed in an automated and dynamic way. And best of all, they are triggered only when needed and charged based on the amount of use. Traditional applications, on the other hand, often manually handle mentioned and similar situations, which results in oversized resources because they are allocated in advance.
In the cloud-native approach, team collaboration is oriented to DevOps principles, where development (Dev) and operation (Ops) teams achieve closer cooperation in order to add velocity and quality to the application release cycle.
Cloud-native also prefers agile software development methodologies over the traditional waterfall model, because in the agile way the development process is divided into various smaller iterations. By adopting these collaboration models, cloud-native applications get much better user feedback and can respond to customer needs more rapidly and more effectively.
As mentioned before, cloud-native systems are usually built over a series of automated processes, as opposed to traditional systems that are mainly manually operated. Automation contributes to speed and agility in delivery, reduces failures due to human errors in operation processes, enhances application resilience and eliminates downtime.
By implementing continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD), development, testing and deployment processes gain additional speed and agility. This way development teams can focus more on the software itself, and operation teams can handle deployment in a standardized and predictable manner, without a risk of human errors. On the other hand, container orchestration tools can provide automated application scaling as well as health monitoring to ensure recovery and zero downtime.
As we have mentioned before, the business benefits of the cloud-native approach are probably the most important part of this topic, so let's sum it up. Today's market requires fast delivery and innovation and this is one of the most important benefits that the cloud-native model can offer.
Modular architecture and DevOps automation processes increase the speed of incorporating application updates. The development process itself becomes also more efficient because of the DevOps culture adoption and delegation of infrastructure management to the cloud provider.
Container orchestration in the cloud provides high fault tolerance, non-disruptive updates, and zero downtime, which results in a highly smooth user experience. And finally, automated resource provisioning enables payment based on the amount of use, which can reduce costs quite a bit when compared to traditional resource utilization.
All the listed benefits are the reasons why a lot of enterprises take advantage of the cloud-native approach today, and according to most researches, a growing trend of cloud-native apps is certainly expected in the years ahead.