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Cloud-native: A modern approach to software development

Read Time 9 mins | Written by: Cole

Cloud-native: A modern approach to software development

Digital transformation isn’t slowing down or going away. Your business has to adapt faster than ever to meet evolving customer demands and expectations. That means you need a powerful and highly scalable cloud architecture to design, build, and maintain your applications. And that you need to adopt a cloud-native approach to software development.

Cloud computing isn’t new – we all know AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. These platforms helped modernize enterprise operations across the world. But a cloud-native approach is more than just using the cloud for an app or two. Or moving legacy software to the cloud without modifying its foundation. It’s about leveraging the intelligence of cloud computing, microservices, APIs, containerization, and infrastructure as code (IaC) at every level of your architecture and software development process. 

Data warehouse and data science pipelines? Migrate to the cloud. Building new apps for production? Use containers. New services to power multiple business units? Start thinking in microservices. 

More and more CTOs, CIOs, and product leaders are building cloud-native software to eliminate physical infrastructure, save money, and increase scalability. But many still don’t know what cloud-native really means or how to get started. Let’s take a closer look at what cloud-native development is, the main enterprise benefits that come with it, and some different industry use cases.

What is cloud-native development?

Cloud-native development is an approach to designing, building, and running applications that fully leverage the advantages of cloud computing. It’s also a way of architecting systems and assembling software that breaks everything down into smaller, more versatile functioning units. And that leads to faster time-to-market, cost savings, better scalability, increased system resilience, and new capabilities. 

Cloud-native development revolves around the idea that applications should be designed to take full advantage of the cloud environments they operate in. This approach supports your business needs now and opens the future for expansion and growth – instead of weighing yourself down with monolithic architecture and legacy systems. 

What are the main components of cloud-native development? 

Cloud-native development looks different on the surface at every company, but the foundations are the same. You’ll find microservices, containers, and automated pipelines for continuous integration and continuous delivery CI/CD running the show at cloud-native product orgs.

Here’s a quick breakdown of everything you could be doing to go cloud-native. 

  1. Microservices architecture – Applications are built as a collection of small, loosely coupled, and independently deployable services. APIs connect them. This allows for easier maintenance, better scalability, and the ability to use different technology stacks for each service.

  2. Containerization – Applications and their dependencies are packaged into lightweight, portable containers. This enables consistent deployment across various environments, simplifies management, and improves resource utilization.

  3. Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) – Automated pipelines are used for building, testing, and deploying applications, accelerating development cycles and reducing the risk of human errors.

  4. Infrastructure as code (IaC) – Infrastructure components, like networks and servers, are defined and managed through code. This enables version control, collaboration, and automation.

  5. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – This approach allows developers to create virtual machines running their choice of operating system and software stacks. IaaS is suitable for teams who want complete control over their environment but don't want to manage hardware and facilities.

  6. Platform as a Service (PaaS) – PaaS provides preconfigured platforms with tools and frameworks for developing, testing, and deploying your applications. The platform handles deployment, scaling, and security while your senior software engineers focus on writing new apps for customers. 

  7. Software as a Service (SaaS) – SaaS delivers applications through the browser that users can access from anywhere. You pay the provider to manage software updates, maintenance, and support so that you don’t have to hire a team to support the app. 

Enterprise benefits of cloud-native development

Cloud, hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, EDGE computing – these have all been pushed as buzzwords over the last 10 years. Cloud-native is getting some of the same treatment but it’s actually a different approach. In the recent past, you’d pay someone to transition a legacy app to the cloud without changing the app itself. Companies were still using monolithic applications tightly coupled to single-purpose services – it was still missing the advantages of modular systems. 

Cloud-native development means building a modular structure consisting of small, independent functions called microservices. These interact through APIs, enabling fine-grained scalability, fault tolerance, resilience, and easy integrations with emerging technology. Now you’re not just moving things to the cloud, you’re building them to take full advantage of those environments. 

This tools your organization to be more flexible, scale at will, and build your technology roadmap faster. Then you can get the full range of benefits from cloud-computing. 

  • Faster time-to-market – Cloud-native development enables rapid iteration and accelerated delivery of new features and applications. This faster pace allows your company to respond quickly to changing market demands and customer needs.

  • Improved scalability – Cloud-native applications are designed to scale horizontally, allowing them to handle fluctuating workloads efficiently. This enables your enterprise to accommodate periods of high demand without overprovisioning resources. That comes with cost savings and better user experiences.

  • Enhanced resilience – Cloud-native applications are built with fault tolerance and self-healing capabilities in mind.  They can recover quickly from failures with minimal impact on users. This can reduce downtime, enhance customer satisfaction, and protect against revenue loss.

  • Cost optimization – By leveraging cloud infrastructure and pay-as-you-go pricing models, you reduce upfront capital expenditures and only pay for the resources you actually use. 

  • Increased agility – Make changes, experiment with new apps, and iterate quickly. A cloud-native approach allows your product teams to innovate and adapt rapidly to shifting market conditions and customer preferences. They can build your roadmap and still test new ideas along the way. 

  • Simplified management – By using containers, microservices, and infrastructure as code, cloud-native development allows for a more streamlined and automated approach to managing applications and infrastructure. This reduces the burden on IT teams and minimizes human errors.

  • Better app & data observability – Cloud-native applications incorporate comprehensive monitoring, logging, and tracing capabilities. This gives you real-time insights into application performance, security, and user experience. Proactive issue resolution and data-driven decision-making become easier with this info. 

  • Tech stack flexibility – With cloud-native development, you can choose the best tools, languages, and frameworks for your enterprise needs. This reduces the risk of vendor lock-in and enables you to leverage cutting-edge technologies. You may have to use one piece of monolithic legacy software, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep going in that direction with the same vendor. 

Industry use cases of cloud-native development

Everyone from e-commerce and online gaming brands to direct-to-consumer wearables companies use cloud-native development to scale their services. Any business interested in modernizing its technology capabilities and competing in fast-changing markets can find ways to use this approach to the cloud. 

Here are some specific ways that companies already use cloud-native-development in their industry. 

E-commerce and online retail

E-commerce and online retail businesses require highly scalable, resilient, and agile systems that handle a high volume of traffic and transactions. Cloud-native development empowers ecommerce businesses to build and deploy new features and functionality quickly. It also ensures that their systems handle big spikes in demand.

  1. Scalability and elasticity – Cloud-native applications are designed to scale automatically based on demand, ensuring that e-commerce websites can handle peak traffic periods like sales events, holidays, or product launches without compromising performance.

  2. Personalization and machine learning – E-commerce companies can use cloud-native technologies to implement advanced machine learning and AI capabilities, enabling personalized product recommendations, targeted marketing campaigns, and intelligent chatbots for improved customer engagement.

  3. Global expansion – Cloud-native applications can be easily deployed across multiple geographic regions, ensuring fast, reliable access for customers worldwide. This enables e-commerce companies to expand their reach and grow their customer base.

  4. Improved operational efficiency – The use of microservices, containers, and infrastructure as code simplifies the management of e-commerce applications, reducing the burden on IT teams and minimizing the risk of human errors that could impact site availability or performance.

  5. Omnichannel integration – Cloud-native development can facilitate seamless integration with various channels and platforms, such as mobile apps, social media, and third-party marketplaces, enabling e-commerce companies to offer a cohesive and consistent customer experience across all touchpoints.

Online gaming companies & platforms

You need to connect players all over the globe and handle drastic changes in traffic and scale on a daily basis. Cloud-native development significantly benefits online gaming and marketplace companies by enhancing their performance, scalability, and adaptability. Here are some ways online gaming industry leaders use cloud-native development.

  1. Global reach and low latency – By deploying cloud-native applications across multiple geographic regions, online gaming companies can provide fast and reliable access to their games for players worldwide. This reduces latency and improves the overall gaming experience.

  2. Rapid development and updates – Cloud-native development enables faster iteration and deployment of new features, bug fixes, and content updates. Games get updated faster and more reliably to keep their games functional, interesting, and engaging for players.

  3. Scalability and performance – Cloud-native applications can scale automatically based on demand. This ensures gaming platforms can handle a large number of concurrent players and maintain low latency for seamless experiences.

  4. Integration with third-party services – Cloud-native development simplifies the integration of gaming platforms with third-party services like social media, payment gateways, and ad platforms. This opens up revenue streams and improves the overall user experience. 

  5. Community and user-generated content – Cloud-native development facilitates the management, storage, and distribution of user-generated content. This makes it possible for everyone in the gaming community to contribute to the platform's growth.

Direct-to-consumer wearables companies

Companies that power consumer wearables like Apple Watch, Oura Ring, and other daily life trackers have a long string of use cases for cloud-native development. These direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands need the modular scale that comes from the cloud to deliver real-time personalization to daily routines across the globe. 

  1. Enhanced security and privacy – Cloud-native development practices, combined with the security features provided by cloud service providers, enable wearable brands to protect their platforms and user data from potential threats and vulnerabilities. This is also crucial to ensure compliance with data privacy regulations in many different countries.

  2. Daily experience personalization – Cloud-native systems and software give brands the ability to implement advanced machine learning and AI capabilities to provide personalized recommendations, insights, and customer experiences based on user data from wearable devices.

  3. Rapid development and updates – Cloud-native development supports faster iteration and deployment of new features and updates for both customer-facing platforms and device firmware. This means that wearable brands can respond quickly to customer feedback, market trends, and security vulnerabilities.

  4. Integration with third-party services – Cloud-native development simplifies the integration of wearable platforms with crucial third-party services like payment gateways, health platforms, or fitness apps.

  5. Real-time analytics and insights – Cloud-native technologies enable the collection, processing, and analysis of large volumes of user data in real-time. This opens up insights for product development, marketing campaigns, and customer support.

See anything familiar that you could do at your company to increase scalability, improve operations, reduce costs, and build your roadmap? Cloud-native development can benefit any company that provides digital services to the world, you just need a team who knows how to build software that way.

How do I find someone who knows cloud-native development?

You need a team that already knows microservices, APIs, and containers to get off and running with cloud-native development this year. Hiring an internal team could take 6-18 months (or longer), cost more than you have budgeted for, and increase your headcount. That’s why Codingscape exists – we can help you get started with cloud-native development solutions next quarter. 

We get up to speed faster than other firms (or internal recruiting) to start delivering software you need. Zappos, Twilio, and Veho are just a few companies that trust us to build software. You can schedule a time to talk with us here. No hassle, no expectations, just answers.

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Cole is Codingscape's Content Marketing Strategist & Copywriter.