In this article, we want to share our experience, discussing the benefits of the cloud-native approach and best practices for its successful implementation.
Cloud-native application development is an approach to building and running applications that leverages the advantages of cloud computing.
Companies can opt for public, private, or hybrid cloud environments for developing and launching their applications. By being purpose-built for cloud platforms, these applications can fully benefit from the underlying infrastructure and operational workflows. As a result, you get scalability, ease of customization, and rapid update capabilities.
Cloud-native development can involve both microservices and monolithic architectures. While microservices are a common choice, especially for new cloud-native apps, existing monolithic applications can also be adapted to leverage cloud-native practices and run in cloud environments.
In a monolithic architecture, the entire system is built as a single unit. All components, functionalities, and services are bundled within a single codebase and runtime.
This structure simplifies initial development. However, scaling, maintenance, and updates often require significant effort, and a failure in one part of the application can affect the entire system.
A microservice architecture decomposes the application into a collection of smaller, independently deployable services. Each microservice manages a specific function and communicates with others through well-defined APIs.
This modular approach offers several advantages, including improved scalability, agility, and fault tolerance. However, managing a distributed microservices system can introduce complexities in orchestration and communication between services.
Cloud-native application building represents a transformative approach to building and delivering software. Let's explore its best practices:
Offer Product Ownership
AWS's "Products, not Projects" concept encourages developers to own the entire software lifecycle. They are empowered to decide about the architecture, technology stack, deployment strategy, and feature prioritization.
This autonomy is essential for fostering creativity and innovation within the team. In addition, employees are more motivated to guarantee their success. That means higher dedication and commitment, leading to better results for the products they create.
Also, this mindset allows the teams to focus on continuous improvement. Developers can iterate the product based on user feedback, meeting changing market demands and needs.
Microservices structure software as a set of small services that can be deployed independently. Each of them is responsible for a specific business function.
What benefits does it bring?
Use Lightweight Containers
Containerization is a technology that allows you to package an application and its dependencies into a single lightweight unit called a container. Containers are isolated from the host system and can run seamlessly across environments.
Containers can be quickly started or stopped. This makes them a perfect choice for applications that require dynamic scaling based on changing workloads or traffic patterns. Scaling flexibility ensures optimal use of resources, lowering expenses.
Containers can be configured to use specific CPU and memory limits, ensuring that a single container does not consume all available resources on a host. This isolation increases the program's stability and predictability.
Choose Appropriate Tech Stack
Cloud applications have the flexibility to use a variety of programming languages, runtimes, and frameworks. The choice of tech stack should correspond to the specific app functions and requirements. For example, some tools may be better suited to building microservices, while others may excel in data processing or real-time applications.
This flexibility allows teams to choose the most efficient and productive tools for their individual microservices, boosting developer productivity.
Cloud-based development involves continuously evaluating the technology stack to ensure it remains aligned with changing requirements and industry trends. Teams should be open to implementing new tools if they want to offer better solutions.
Automate the Release Pipeline
Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) allow you to release high-quality code faster and more often.
Continuous integration (CI) is a software development practice where code changes from multiple developers are frequently and automatically integrated into a shared repository. Its key features include:
Continuous delivery (CD) extends CI by automatically preparing code changes for deployment to production or other environments. This means:
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) involves writing code to define and manage infrastructure resources. This code can be versioned, tested, and automated like application code.
IaC promotes the concept of immutable infrastructure, where changes are made by creating new instances rather than modifying existing ones. This increases stability and predictability.
IaC enables organizations to view infrastructure as software, allowing for safe, reliable, and efficient changes. It integrates seamlessly with CI/CD pipelines and source control repositories. IaC encourages collaboration between development and operations (DevOps) teams by providing a common framework for managing infrastructure and applications.¬
Serverless computing is a practice that allows dedicated developers to build and run applications without having to worry about server management. Specialists can focus solely on writing code for applications and their features.
This eliminates the overheads associated with server management, as you only pay for the resources your code consumes. Also, serverless platforms automatically scale up or down resources based on the incoming workload. This ensures that applications can handle different levels of traffic without manual intervention. In addition, serverless providers often offer security and compliance features.
Observability refers to the ability to understand a system's internal state and behavior by studying its external outputs. It goes beyond basic monitoring, providing a comprehensive overview of the system's behavior.
Observability involves collecting data from many sources, including system logs, application metrics, traces, and user interactions. This allows companies to:
Take a Modern Approach to Security
DevSecOps integrates security practices into the DevOps pipeline, from development to deployment. This ensures uninterrupted attention throughout the entire custom software development lifecycle.
Implementing multiple layers of security controls to protect applications and data is essential. This includes network security, access control, encryption, intrusion detection and monitoring at various levels, etc.
Security testing is an integral part of the development lifecycle. Implement automated testing tools to easily scan code, containers, and configurations for vulnerabilities and compliance issues in real time.
Also, you should develop robust incident response plans and clearly define roles, responsibilities, and actions to be taken.
Employ Service Meshes
Service meshes simplify and optimize communication between services in cloud applications. It abstracts communication challenges from the application code and provides a separate layer of infrastructure to handle these complexities. That way, developers can focus on building the app's features rather than managing complex communication details.
This practice is especially valuable in microservices architectures and improves the reliability, security, and observability of cloud applications.
Service meshes provide features such as load balancing and traffic distribution to distribute incoming requests among multiple service instances. This increases performance and fault tolerance.
As application requirements change, service meshes can adapt communication patterns without requiring significant changes to application code. This flexibility supports the evolution of cloud applications.
The adoption of a cloud-native approach brings a range of compelling benefits. We’ve prepared the list with the most crucial ones:
Enhanced Agility and Productivity
The cloud approach promotes flexibility through the use of microservices and containerization. This modularity allows you to rapidly develop, test, and deploy new features or updates, as well as scale individual services.
Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines automate creating, testing, and deploying code changes, reducing manual intervention and possible errors.
DevOps practices are often used in cloud environments. Thus, collaboration simplifies work processes, solves problems faster, and increases productivity.
In addition, cloud-based applications can be developed and deployed quickly, reducing the time to market for new features and products.
Improved Reliability and Scalability
Cloud applications are designed to scale horizontally, allowing organizations to handle different traffic levels and workloads without manual intervention. This ensures efficient resource allocation, lowering the risk of over- or under-provision.
In a microservices architecture, individual services are resilient to failures in other ones. Such isolation minimizes the impact of incidents and ensures that the application remains available and responsive.
Using container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, your solution can automatically recover from failures and maintain availability, increasing overall reliability.
Cloud environments often use a pay-as-you-go model where companies are charged based on actual resource usage. This eliminates the need for initial capital investments in hardware and allows cost optimization.
Containerization and serverless computing increase resource efficiency by minimizing overheads and maximizing utilization. Use it to reduce infrastructure costs and improve resource allocation.
In addition, cloud providers offer a wide range of managed services that can replace the need to build and maintain custom solutions. This can lead to cost savings through reduced operating costs.
Talent Attraction and Retention
Cloud technologies and practices are attractive to top software development professionals. They allow engineers to move faster and spend less time on infrastructure. Therefore, working with such tools can make the organization more attractive to qualified professionals.
However, don't forget to invest in the growth and development of your employees to increase employee retention. Motivate talents with the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects and gain experience with in-demand technologies.
Lower Vendor Lock-in
Cloud applications are designed to be more portable and compatible between different cloud providers.
Some organizations use multi-cloud strategies to maintain flexibility and avoid over-reliance on a single vendor. Also, this approach allows you to distribute the load between several providers, ensuring stability and flexibility.
Cloud Platform Components
The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) provides enterprises with a set of standardized tools and technologies that can be easily adopted within their own environments.
Components of the common platform include:
Embracing best practices for cloud-native application development is essential for modern companies that want to get the most out of this approach. By adopting microservices architecture, containerization, automation, and other related principles, you can unlock the full potential of the cloud.