The IT industry is an extremely dynamic realm where new technologies and inventions robustly push their way in almost every month to radically change the way we work, learn, shop, travel, and have fun. One of such disruptive breakthroughs is cloud computing, which has essentially streamlined and enhanced data storage and handling.
However, to make use of its full potential, solutions, and apps deployed in the cloud should be customized to suit the design principles (architecture) of the new environment to a tee. That’s why the question “What is cloud native architecture?” is topical not only for seasoned cloud integration services providers but for business owners as well.
So, what is cloud native architecture? It is a software design structure (as a rule, a characteristic of an application) that is honed to fit the pattern of organization typical of cloud facilities and leverage all services the cloud provider extends to users. Typically, cloud native application architecture relies on the modular principle of both organization and building, which is exemplified by microservices, containers, immutable infrastructure, service meshes, or other structural models.
How is this different from a design diagram that describes the structure of most apps belonging to the previous generation of IT products, for instance, the monolithic app architecture? The architecture of all apps contains several modules. But in the case of its monolithic arrangement, these modules (such as a client-side UI, a server-side module, a database, etc.) constitute a single unit—a solid block—with the universal code-base underlying it. In more complex apps, the number of modules can be greater, but their functions are served in one location.
The monolithic app architecture design has a number of merits, such as straightforward development and deployment, easy testing, and the absence of cross-cutting issues. However, these unquestionable advantages are more than offset by critical shortcomings, among which are the complexity of code, resistance to modifications, and limitation on the number of programming languages utilized (conventionally just one language). Moreover, monolithic app architecture makes it more complicated to be deployed in the cloud since it runs counter to the basic tenets of cloud native architecture.
Cloud native architecture patterns can be described by a diagram with the same number of modules, but they are quite independent of each other and run every function as an autonomous service (hence the name of the organizational pattern). One might say that each loose module is a standalone solution with its own database, operational logic, and scope. Yet, their communication via APIs binds them into a single product whose structural design makes it cloud-friendly and brings a plethora of benefits in its wake.
How good is cloud native application architecture for both software developers and customers?
Individuals and organizations that outsource software development and seek the best cloud service provider find the following assets of cloud native architecture essential.
Since each module requires specific expertise and technology for building and testing, customers can recruit those IT companies that excel in that very field (say, back-end or UI).
Cloud native architecture is characteristic of any cloud facility by default, so while opting for a cloud provider, you can look into terms and rates and choose the ones that suit you most or employ several of them, thus transiting to a multiple-cloud operational model.
Since their architecture is resistant to modifications, complex legacy apps are almost impossible to upgrade or scale-up. The flexible cloud native application architecture enables updating of the existing solution. Plus, such apps are based on the pay-per-use model so that customers pay only for the resources they utilize, thus saving them a pretty penny.
Cloud deployment enables the 24/7 operation of apps, which translates into rapidly addressing customer requests and better quality of client service and support, both of which translate into increased revenues.
In addition to these, companies that employ cloud native architecture in their IT products report crucial business benefits. For example, by getting rid of infrastructure concerns by hydrating the cloud, organizations shift towards invisible infrastructure when they don’t need any on-premise facilities to handle their routine workflow. Thus, they can cut down on related expenditures and focus on their core responsibilities.
For IT specialists who tackle app development, the cloud and its native architecture promise such perks.
There are much fewer limitations as to the choice of tools, frameworks, or programming languages to be leveraged for building cloud native application architecture, so the developing team can opt for those they are most comfortable with, those that best suit the creation of each module, or those the vendor has more expertise in. Moreover, the IT crew can change the tech stack at any stage in case it doesn’t cover the expectations or the customer requirements shift.
The loose-coupled elements within the cloud native architecture allow for the utmost horizontal scalability of the solution where each module can be upgraded independently and multiple integrations added at will.
Since elements are containerized, the boundaries between them are virtually impermeable. That is why faults and errors stay within the module and don’t spread to other elements of the system. Moreover, cloud native architecture patterns are totally immune to some types of faults (like cascading ones).
With cloud facilities, security is implemented at the platform level and created by world-class security engineers, thus providing high-profile security of any solution based on cloud native architecture.
While most specialists agree that the future of the app-building industry belongs to the cloud native architecture, creating such products requires special care.
Having dozens of successful projects under our belt, we at NIX United recommend paying attention to the following bottlenecks of developing apps based on cloud native architecture patterns.
What can be done to mitigate these risks?
Dealing with microservices projects, our experts follow six basic principles.
All logs and events you create should enable as much process automation for deployment, fixing, and scaling the app as possible. Such automation can include:
Redundancy embedded into the design eliminates single points of failure of cloud native architecture, promoting the overall resilience of the system. Data replication, multi-region deployment, and self-contained instances are second-to-none means of providing the desired redundancy. What mechanisms are typically employed to augment resilience?
The distributed character of cloud native architecture doesn’t agree well with the stateless strategy when client data generated in one session isn’t saved for the next one. Yet, its limited implementation is quite possible and advisable. Such endeavors can be exploited in load balance (avoiding complex logic relating certain instances with specific transactions), scaling (making additional copies), repairing (creating new instances instead of the deleted old ones), rolling back, etc.
You needn’t stick to the same programming language while building cloud native apps that don’t have a strongly integrated structure. Instead, you can employ any language that you find efficient for building each module or able to provide its fastest time-to-market progress. To facilitate seamless communication between components written in different languages and display their functionalities, you can leverage, among others, REST APIs.
The security of the app should be approached with the initial no-trust premise for each component. It presupposes the absence of any private network—either between the modules of the cloud native architecture or between the app and its user. Every module should be able to connect to its counterparts only through an authentication gateway, while data encryption should become a must for all units within the system. While internally hedged in such a way, the app can be deployed even in suspicious environments.
At the deployment stage, make sure your server is immutable. This presupposes the configuration of virtual machines that would render them unacceptable for any modifications and keeping the server intact. This measure enhances the safety, efficiency, and coherence of the environment the app is deployed in. If any issues do occur, you can switch over to another server and keep using the application on the same footing. Other perks of immutable infrastructure include:
Taking these principles as benchmark tenets of building cloud native application architecture, you can rev up quality significantly. However, their employment is conditioned by the pattern you would choose for your cloud-powered solution.
Here is the list of the patterns of cloud native architecture that customers most frequently opt for.
Also known as pay-per-use, this cloud hosting model means that customers pay for the resources they have used. By selecting it, you can scale your involvement up or down depending on your current needs and financial conditions. Furthermore, you can freely choose services the provider extends and optimize your expenditures by wise payment rate selection. For example, you can pay only for the running time of your app.
This pattern enables the apps you deploy to adjust to the environment they are placed in—be it elastic, shared, or virtual. As a result, you won’t have to obtain permission from the server, central management system, or load balancer to make use of the IT resource they provide. Thus, you can align the app’s functioning with the shifting workloads in the blink of an eye, wasting no time on IT management operations.
Say goodbye to the legacy client-server architecture used in the previous generation of IT products and welcome three-tier, multi-tier, and peer-to-peer networks ushered by such disruptive technology. This architecture pattern comprises a whole network of autonomous units based in faraway locations. Being in close connection and communication, distributed systems share software, hardware, and data from multiple machines to provide a unified UX. Although many machines are involved in this, users have the impression that they are working on a single device.
Such a mechanism is a godsend both for end-users and developers. The former can enjoy the vast resources thus pooled together as well as exclusive transparency, low latency, and fault tolerance. The latter praises its limitless horizontal scaling opportunities. Furthermore, cloud providers take care of the upkeep of distributed systems, which includes such aspects as security, governance, updating, patching, lifecycle control, and compatibility issues your app may encounter.
On the flip side, distributed architecture places high demands on data integration and synchronization routines as well as on intelligent monitoring. Plus, network and communication failure may present a serious threat to the app running in distributed environments.
Various cloud vendors offer a wide range of tools to handle a plethora of cloud infrastructure management tasks—from migration and configuration through time and cost optimization to maintenance. For instance, Amazon RDS provides all kinds of operations with cloud-based databanks, Amazon Cognito specializes in app user authentication and authorization, and AWS Fargate allows app creation that requires no server management. Each service has a standalone lifecycle, which enables its simultaneous and independent running and management.
In their workflow, organizations go through peak and shoulder seasons that require a different scope of resource consumption and infrastructure utilization. Buying on-premise infrastructure that would not be used for quite considerable periods is a sheer waste of money. Cloud architecture allows you to use the maximum infrastructure and software potential when you need it and scale it down at quieter times, paying only for the resources you actually use. Moreover, some cloud vendors (like Amazon) provide auto-scaling options that will maintain app resource consumption at the optimal level.
The microservice architecture of an app is characterized by the unity of loosely-coupled components that function as standalone software pieces. Such organizational structure not only provides the app’s utmost flexibility and limitless scalability but also enables its deployment in the cloud with its vast resources and multiple capabilities since it matches cloud native architecture perfectly. NIX United can build such an app for you, delivering a product of high quality and a moderate price tag.
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