In their quest to offer new value and innovation from conventional cloud strategies, many organizations used the traditional “lift and shift” approach. However, it didn’t provide sustainable value in today’s increasingly competitive environment where consumers demand rapid responsiveness and innovative features – all while ensuring zero downtime. To achieve this quick time to value, businesses had to pivot to an altogether different approach. That approach was to become “cloud native” – which essentially is the development of applications exclusively for cloud architectures rather than legacy systems.
Explaining cloud native
While the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has coined an official definition of cloud native, the core of this approach is all about increasing the pace and agility of your business as well as structuring your teams to take full advantage of the scalability and automation that various cloud-native technology platforms deliver. This approach comes with numerous benefits, the most compelling of which are quicker time to market and improved operational efficiency. This is because the software is isolated from the underlying hardware and broken down into smaller, manageable components, which results in faster CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous deployment).
Essentials of cloud-native development
Cloud-native applications utilize a microservices architecture that efficiently distributes resources to each service used by the application, allowing greater flexibility and adaptability to the cloud architecture.
Cloud-native development rests on the following essentials:
- Microservices: A development approach that involves building a large application as a collection of modular, decoupled components or services.
- Containers: Software that can virtually package and isolate applications for deployment.
- Continuous delivery: Software delivery approach where development teams produce and test code in short, continuous cycles.
- DevOps: Methodology that fosters better communication and collaboration between development and operations teams.
The rise of cloud-native computing
In their 2020 Cloud Native Survey, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) reported some interesting findings:
- The use of containers in production had increased to 92% in 2020, up from 84% in 2019, and achieving a 300% surge in adoption since 2016.
- Kubernetes use in production was reported to increase to 83%, up from 78%.
- 82% of survey respondents were reported to be using CI/CD pipelines in production.
Cloud native’s benefits, both for end-users and developers, have resulted in increased activity in this sector. The cloud-native market saw some of its most significant acquisitions recently, most notably the following:
- Cisco’s acquisition of Banzai Cloud, a company that specializes in cloud native application deployment with a host of open-source tools.
- VMWare’s acquisition of container and Kubernetes security SaaS platform Octarine in 2020 and purchase of API security startup Mesh7 in 2021.
- SUSE’s acquisition of Rancher Labs, an open-source enterprise Kubernetes management platform.
- Palo Alto Networks acquired DevOps security startup Bridgecrew in 2021.
Kubernetes: The industry-standard for rapid innovation in the modern cloud
The modern cloud’s reliance on containers has led to the adoption of Kubernetes, a cloud-native open-source container orchestration system. According to a 2020 study, 91% of companies were utilizing Kubernetes with 83% using the platform in production. These companies are also planning to push more cloud-native applications into production, which will result in a massive increase in Kubernetes clusters.
Kubernetes brings with it numerous advantages. The 2020 survey stated that scalability, faster deployment, and enhanced availability were the key benefits of using Kubernetes in cloud-native projects. Additionally, developing and executing applications in Kubernetes clusters also leads to:
- Automation-led scaling and self-remediation
- Enhanced resiliency with nodes that can be restarted for error recovery
- Reduced errors with optimized patching and updating processes
Initially developed by Google and now managed by the CNCF, Kubernetes has become the faster-growing open-source software project in history since Linux. And the ecosystem of cloud-native tools and solutions focused on Kubernetes management is continually expanding to bring innovations to minimize the complexities around how container-based applications are built, operated, and scaled.
What to consider while adopting a container management platform
Container management platforms automate the creation, deployment, retiring, and scaling of cloud-native applications or system containers. A container management platform must satisfy the following requirements:
Consistency: The platform should provide a consistent experience to developers and operators in public cloud and on-premises environments.
DevOps: Integration with tried-and-true DevOps practices to ensure rapid and timely software delivery.
Security: Must ensure end-to-end security of the underlying infrastructure and applications. Vulnerabilities should be detected before deploying applications and the infrastructure should be constantly monitored for possible breaches.
Observability: Should offer insights into the infrastructure, resources, and applications by gathering metrics, events, logs, and traces from the whole stack and storing them in a centrally accessible location. The following five distinct technologies can be used to implement observability:
Infrastructure reliability: Enables an SLA-driven delivery strategy that ensures maximum infrastructure and platform availability.
High workload availability: In addition to infrastructure, the business apps deployed on the platform must also be highly available.
Multilatency and policy-driven management: The platform may optionally provide tight isolation among tenants who use the platform. Well-defined policies should govern application deployment and management.
Some snippets of transformational value realized with Kubernetes
With our robust knowledge of cloud-native application development and the technologies that drive it, we’ve helped businesses across industries maximize the potential of their cloud-native infrastructure. Here are a few examples of the value we’ve delivered in this space:
Delivering unrivaled agility with a modernized application infrastructure
For a global shipping and logistics services provider, the suboptimal performance of legacy applications built on legacy technologies and underlying infrastructure were turning out to be a growing problem. Through a phased approach, we modernized their business-critical applications using PaaS infrastructure, breaking the applications and databases into multiple self-contained microservices on Azure Kubernetes Service. This not only improved the overall scalability, maintainability, and performance of the applications but also reduced the client’s overall spend on infrastructure and maintenance. Moreover, faster application updates and reduced downtime guaranteed quicker time to market.
Enabling new avenues of service accessibility for a growing customer base
To facilitate its growing subscriber base with easy access to its services, a prominent telecommunications organization wanted to build a robust and scalable solution centered around web and mobile applications. By leveraging microservices architecture and open-source technologies, we delivered a scalable solution that was easy to maintain and allowed the company to provide faster time to value to its customers. Moreover, as the entire solution was built on a completely open-source technology stack, it resulted in drastically reduced deployment and licensing costs.
Ensuring always-available COVID-19 screening for travelers
A leading UAE-based healthcare solutions provider was facing challenges in maintaining 100% uptime of its critical COVID-19 screening portals. This downtime directly impacted the travel plans of the end-users traveling to the country. They needed a highly available, integrated, and fully functional solution with multi-region support within 2 months. Leveraging microservices architecture and Azure Kubernetes Service, we built a scalable, cost-effective, and secure solution that exponentially increased the availability of critical portals and expedited value addition.
Learn key insights to achieving cloud-native success
The growing popularity and acceptance of cloud native, particularly Kubernetes-based systems, is certain to continue beyond 2021. Business decision-makers are finding the plethora of deployment options and robust capabilities of cloud-native technologies to be increasingly compelling. And with new evolutions like serverless computing, platform engineering, and so on, cloud-native development will continue to break new grounds in digital transformation.
Even though Kubernetes adoption comes with its fair share of complexities, the technology itself offers incredible value to enterprises looking to elevate their business to the next generation. By overcoming these complexities, cloud-first enterprises can devise a winning cloud-native strategy to maximize their application development workflow efficiency and drastically reduce time to market.
Join our live webinar co-hosted with AWS where our experts will talk about how to overcome the most pressing challenges associated with Kubernetes adoption and how it can be improved through platform engineering to facilitate your overall cloud-native strategy. For details on the webinar and to reserve your spot, please visit here.