Businesses across all industries are increasingly digitalizing processes to improve operations, reduce costs and provide more competitive services. Traditionally, an organization would achieve this by purchasing an off-the-shelf solution; they would install the software and sign a contract to maintain application updates. Alternatively, the business hired developers to build a solution internally. Either way, it would eventually become a legacy system with subsequent issues. However cloud-native development has changed this paradigm.
In this guide, we look at what makes cloud-native development unique — particularly, how it differs from more generalized cloud development. We dive into the benefits and challenges of each to help you make an educated decision for your application needs.
Cloud Development: Developing for the Cloud
While it’s easy for people to mistake the cloud for an intangible or invisible floating hub of data, it’s essentially the same as an internet server. When we store data in the cloud, we’re simply using the internet to communicate that information to a server we can access at any time, from anywhere.
The alternative method is to store data on a physical hard drive, which requires on-premises maintenance by a dedicated IT team. Although this was standard procedure before the emergence of the cloud, companies are now migrating away from physical servers to cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud (GCP) and IBM Cloud. This transfers the responsibility of maintaining, scaling and securing data systems to the cloud provider.
Cloud development comes with its fair share of advantages, including:
- Disaster Recovery: Due to the remote storage, there is a reduced risk of data loss from system failures. This eliminates the cost of recovering data from malfunctioning hard drives. Cloud providers automate the backup process, saving the time and stress of manually backing up your data.
- Global Data Access: Cloud-based systems make it easy to access data at any time. It simplifies remote collaboration with global teams, facilitating easy access to work from any location.
- Low Cost: Cloud-based systems eliminate the costs of server infrastructure, software licenses and updates, and in-house IT staff.
- Scalability: With cloud-based systems, you can pay for only the amount of storage you need. Scale your subscription up or down depending on your data storage needs as your business grows or shrinks.
- Enhanced Security: Professional cloud providers offer better data security than many smaller businesses can achieve on their own. Data is protected by authentication and encryption mechanisms before passing over the internet.
However, it comes with its detriments as well. For example, cloud development can limit your operations thanks to:
- Lack of Control: Cloud providers limit the ability to control and customize storage set-ups. This is especially challenging for larger businesses with complex storage requirements.
- Migration Difficulties: Once you commit to a cloud provider, it can be difficult to switch to another, creating a vendor lock-in.
- Internet Dependency: Internet outages cause costly downtime for businesses reliant on the cloud, as they cannot access their remotely stored data. Slow connection speed also affects access time.
- Fixed Contracts: Cloud providers may require long-term contracts. This means that if your data needs change, you may have to pay for data storage features you no longer use.
Cloud-Enabled vs. Cloud-Based
Legacy systems that are not heavily reliant on local systems and hardware can be migrated to the cloud to become cloud-enabled. You can reconfigure these applications to use virtual resources, but they aren’t scalable and can’t fully integrate into modern cloud applications.
Some systems don’t require reconfiguration to offer more scalability. For instance, if an organization migrates its in-house applications to cloud platforms, they eliminate server and backup responsibility and can scale up with demand. These applications go a step further than cloud-enabled to become cloud-based.
Cloud-based development and cloud development essentially refer to the same thing — creating and deploying software applications based on cloud infrastructure. It involves utilizing cloud resources such as storage and networking to build and run applications. However, while these applications can run on cloud infrastructure, they are not initially designed to take full advantage of the capabilities provided by the cloud platform.
The biggest advantage of cloud migration is enabling applications to scale up to meet demand increases and improve application availability. In this case, organizations pay only for the cloud resources they use. Unfortunately, if the application is not designed specifically for cloud use, this can become an expensive way to operate.
Cloud development is beneficial for companies with existing applications that wish to take advantage of cloud technology, including increased scalability and availability, without having to fully redesign their applications.
Cloud-Native Development: Developing in the Cloud
Rather than focusing on where applications are deployed (on-premises, public, private, or hybrid cloud), cloud-native development focuses on how applications are developed.
Cloud-native development is a modern approach to app development that utilizes continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) methodology for efficient development and performance. These applications are specifically designed to run on the cloud and leverage the full extent of cloud capabilities.
Cloud-native applications favor managed services by cloud providers and squarely aim to gain a competitive advantage through speed and improved customer experience. They support fast and continuous upgrades to applications without affecting service delivery.
Consider, for example: Airbnb, Netflix and Uber are all born in the cloud and intentionally engineered to maximize the advantages of cloud infrastructure and delivery.
As with other cloud services, cloud-native applications are entirely reliant on internet access, making them vulnerable to service outages and downtime. And as with cloud-based applications, there is always the risk of potential security breaches and users have limited control over cloud service provider operations. However, the benefits of fully utilizing the cloud’s capabilities can more than balance out these drawbacks.
Some tangible benefits of cloud-native development include:
In a cloud-native environment, the overall application management workload becomes more automated. Since repeatable processes are managed with IT automation, staff time and downtime reduces — both leading to cost savings. In addition, organizations don’t need to invest in costly physical infrastructure or the maintenance thereof.
Ease of Management
Leading cloud providers such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, offer serverless platforms. This frees your team from handling network configuration, scaling, provisioning and cloud instance management manually; instead, developers only need to write the code and set the triggers to run it.
Improved Business Continuity and Resilience
Reliability and business continuity are essential in modern digital enterprises. Cloud-native development reduces redundancy and improves fault tolerance. Meanwhile, automated recovery greatly reduces downtime, which enhances reliability and conserves resources for other IT priorities.
Increased Choice and Independence
Organizations are taking advantage of using multiple environments, ranging from on-premises to public, private and hybrid clouds. Cloud-native applications enable them to move freely without code modifications, avoiding vendor lock-in.
Since cloud-native applications and architecture are independent of the infrastructure, developers no longer need to worry about hardware compatibility. Instead, they can dedicate more time and resources to meeting business requirements and optimizing software for improved user experience.
Faster Development and Deployment
Cloud-native technology boosts development speed and application quality. Instead of relying on hardware, developers create deployment-ready, containerized apps with DevOps practices. This enables them to rapidly address changes such as multiple daily updates, without closing down the app.
DevOps also facilitates fast development, integration and testing with phased deployment of ready software. Using a “fail fast, fix fast” methodology, your team can identify and solve issues quickly before they impact customers. Plus, continuous integration and continuous delivery allow users to access services quickly and seamlessly without disruption.
Key Difference Between Cloud Development and Cloud-Native Development
The main and major difference between cloud-based and cloud-native development is cloud-native applications are designed in the cloud to take full advantage of cloud capabilities, while cloud-based applications aren’t. While cloud-based applications can run on cloud infrastructure, they don’t fully benefit from inherent cloud characteristics such as rapid elasticity, resource pooling and on-demand self-service.
Another key difference is in the implementation of applications. The need for software setup or hardware acquisition, as well as potential interruptions resulting from specialized software configuration or hardware migration can impede the implementation of cloud-based applications. Conversely, your team can deploy cloud-native applications more quickly, as there is no need for hardware or software and interruptions are unlikely due to the microservice architecture.
While cloud development is suited largely to legacy or monolithic applications, cloud-native development is more suitable for modern or distributed applications.
How to Choose Between Cloud Development and Cloud-Native Development
When deciding whether cloud development or cloud-native development is the best strategy to meet your goals, consider the following criteria:
- Your Project Requirements
What are your long-term goals for the project? If you anticipate the need for flexibility and seamless integration with cloud services down the road, cloud-native development may be the more future-proof option.
If your project requires the ability to scale rapidly, adapt according to seasonality, or utilize cloud-specific features, cloud-native development is most likely the better choice.
Cloud development involves managing and maintaining the applications and infrastructure on the cloud platform; regular monitoring and updates are necessary to ensure smooth operations. In contrast, cloud-native development relies on containerization and orchestration platforms, which simplify the deployment and management of applications.
While cloud development optimizes application performance with techniques such as load balancing, caching and resource allocation to ensure efficient response times, cloud-native development goes a step further.
Cloud-native technologies employ serverless computing, auto-scaling and distributed architectures to handle high traffic volumes and ensure smooth scalability. Additionally, cloud-native development emphasizes continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) pipelines to automate testing and deployment processes, leading to faster and more reliable performance.
While both cloud and cloud-native development place a strong emphasis on security through encryption, access control and authentication, cloud-native applications are additionally designed to be fault-tolerant. With built-in mechanisms to detect and respond to security threats and monitoring and logging capabilities, developers can track and analyze security events in real time.
- Team Expertise and Familiarity
Take the expertise and familiarity of your team with cloud development and cloud-native development into account. If your team has experience and knowledge in a specific approach, it may be more efficient to choose that option.
Accelerate Your Digital Transformation With GAP
Regardless of the approach you choose, adopting a cloud-native or cloud-based application will promptly lead to lower costs, more scalability, availability and better performance. Of course, the technology and best practices in this field are constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and advancements. This will ensure that you can make informed decisions and keep your projects on the cutting edge.
But every business is unique and often requires tailored solutions. If you’re still unsure about which approach to choose, it can be helpful to consult with an expert cloud solution provider — like Growth Acceleration Partners (GAP).
At GAP, our front- and back-end cloud delivery teams specialize in enterprise architecture and utilize the top cloud technologies to consistently deliver updates and groundbreaking features. We’ll assess the best cloud solution for you based on your budget, performance, application-specific workloads, availability and manageability. Our tailored recommendations also take your corporate culture and existing team’s skillset into consideration to ensure the best fit.
Get in touch today and discover the far-reaching benefits of leveraging cloud capabilities.