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Cloud-native applications: The future of software development

In simplest terms, a cloud-native application can be defined as a set of small and independent services that are loosely coupled and deployed in a cloud environment. This approach of app development helps in a growing business, as the companies can quickly build and launch the apps. The risks are minimized, as the failed components are easier to replace. Recovering from any sort of failure isn’t challenging.

Cloud-native

The developers can integrate the security features in the apps from the starting instead of thinking about the same after concluding the development work. The enterprises relying on this approach have automated their IT operations, which has helped them in minimizing human errors.

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Is Cloud-native apps hype or the future of software development?

The app developers and businesses appreciate the fact that an application could be segmented into different microservices. A particular team can handle a single microservice, which takes care of the specific functionality of an app.

Scaling up is indeed easier with this approach. Even if an organization isn’t moving to the cloud, this approach is undoubtedly going to impact the way they develop apps in the future. No doubt, there are some challenges, such as difficulty in managing or monitoring. But, such challenges could be taken care of using a set of tools and skills of the app developers. For example, Retrace is an appropriate tool to collect the information from each system in a cloud-native app.

Cloud-native Apps Architecture

This technology leverages the cloud computing architecture and is composed of mainly four elements: microservice architecture, container-based infrastructure, API-based communication, and DevOps process.

1. Microservice architecture

The developers create a single application having a suite of small services known as microservices. Each microservice operates independently and communicates with other services through HTTP or other lightweight protocols. It is possible to write different services into different languages by different developers. Deploying each service on a different server is also possible. By 2021, 80% of app development will occur using microservices on cloud platforms, as per research by IDC.

2. Container-based infrastructure

This infrastructure enables a developer to isolate apps into lightweight & small execution environments that share the kernel of operating systems. It is possible to isolate an application in a container from its environment by running the container in a virtualized environment. Numerous organizations prefer Docker as their container engine. Originally designed by Google, Kubernetes is another platform to manage and automatically deploy containerized applications.

3. API-based communication

To expose the functionalities, cloud-native microservices rely on APIs that are based on representational state transfer (REST) or other similar protocols. Such designs ensure there is no risk of direct linking, shared memory models, or direct datastore reads. Binary protocols are preferred for the communication of internal services for enhanced performance. Some examples include gRPC, Protobuff, and Thrift.

4. DevOps Processes

The essential elements of a cloud-native architecture, microservices & containers, rely on CI (continuous integration) and CD (continuous delivery). Both these are also the principles of DevOps Processes, making it inevitable for cloud-native technologies. Unlike the monolithic approach, DevOps forms an ecosystem wherein the development of an app is an ongoing cycle.

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How are native-cloud apps different from on-premises applications?

Let’s understand the difference between the two types of applications based on various parameters:

1. Design: Cloud-native applications are modular in nature, with each function being handled by a particular microservice. These microservices shut off when not in use. On-premises apps, conversely, have a monolithic design with multiple subroutines. It always works as a whole app rather than any divisions.

2. Programming languages: Many mobile app development companies prefer web-centric programming languages for cloud-native apps, such as Python, Ruby, JavaScript, PHP, and .Net. For on-premises apps, traditional languages are preferred, including C++, C, or C#.

3. Downtime: The downtime in the case of an on-premise app is high because such an app can go down if the server goes down. If a cloud provider faces an outage, a different region usually picks up the slack for a cloud-native application.

4. Dynamic nature: It isn’t possible for an on-premises app to scale up. When the usage of a cloud-native app increases, it can use extra resources to handle the spike.

Why should you opt for the cloud-native application?

There are multiple reasons why you must develop a cloud-native app.

1. There are tools for monitoring and management: Monitoring and auditing of the cloud-native apps have become optimized with various tools. You can use platforms like Newrelic, Datadog, and AppDynamic to monitor microservices and containers. To debug your applications, use Zipkin or Open Tracing, whereas for log aggregation, Elasticsearch, Splunk, and fluentd are the preferred options.

2. Auto-scaling: Various enterprises opt for cloud-native, especially due to the auto-scaling feature. While coding, it is possible to implement an auto-scaling feature to specific parts of the system. Those parts will scale-out without manual intervention during traffic spikes.

3. Reliable systems: The utilization of Kubernetes and microservice architecture enables you to develop applications that are tolerant of faults. They possess the ability to self-heal in case of various types of issues.

Also, the application processing moves to a new data center during failure. This ability to handle the outages minimizes the possibilities of failure. The best part: all this happens automatically and instantly. The action is so quick that the user doesn’t even come to know of any such issue.

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