Is Cloud Native A Simple Concept?

In this recent series of articles, we’ve explored key concepts for application modernization, such as financial optimization through modernization, alongside automation, acceleration, and quality with DevSecOps in practice. The link between all of these things – and key to their succesful real-world implementation – is business agility. It’s this agility that plays a vital role whether we’re talking about howcloud technologies are used, or, in terms of applications, the process of modernizing with a cloud native approach.

Cloud native, which is a term used frequently nowadays, is most often defined as an approach for application development on four pillars (DevOps, CI/CD, Containers and Microservices). But is the concept as simple as that? If so, why does its adoption require such specialization and engineering experience?

As with most things, any attempt to use the term cloud native in a strictly defined way will require some degree of simplification. What we can quantify more reliably is the gains and goals achieved after the adoption of a cloud native approach. That’s because what cloud native looks like in practice will depend on the level of maturity, with continuous evolution on the four pillars mentioned, with a view to delivering greater degrees of agility to the business and enabling digital transformation, or at least digital channels transformation.

Despite this, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) offers an easy-to-understand definition of cloud native: “Cloud native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds.”

This works as an accesible definition but it also can be expanded upon when we consider what is required when maximizing application integration within a cloud environment:

  • Application teams need autonomy, working with automations that accelerate productivity, ensure product quality, and manage the cloud’s infrastructure work. 
    Action: automate DevSecOps and CI/CD with indicators and autonomy.
  • The product development focus is on engineering, unifying software, quality and cloud engineering as pillars that give flexibility. So, high-impacting changes can be frequent, predictable, while requiring little effort to adapt to business needs.
    Action: establish the engineer’s profile and implement an architectural standard based on microservices.
  • Observability and continuous improvement need to be the drivers of improved user experience, feeding back into processes, challenging engineering and focusing on transformation with cloud.
    Action: operationalize product lifecycle management and establish Golden Signals.
  • The business impact of applications needs to be measured, understanding how cloud, through scalability and a modernized vision, supports the transformation of IT, shifting the function from a cost center to becoming part of the business value chain.
    Action: connect the indicators from the first action and the Golden Signals from the third action to the business indicators, trace the generated result to applications and IT contribution.

In summary, and returning to the initial question, we can say that cloud native isn’t simple. Despite this, there are accelerators that if properly exploited can be the key to rapid technology-driven transformation. Specialization and engineering experiece is required because understanding these accelerators is key, allowing for applications and IT to be incorporated into the business value chain.

This is the final article in this series that sought to bring insights and knowledge about application modernization and the cloud, but there are still many aspects to be explored in the journey towards technology-driven business transformatoion, which will be covered in new upcoming content. 

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