Cloud-Native Product Development

Best-in-class companies have already moved most of their business-critical tools – for optimizing sales, marketing, accounting, HR, etc. – to cloud-native Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms. Ironically, many product development professionals have yet to benefit from this major technology shift. The core value of SaaS is having a single source of truth for how data is stored, processed, and accessed. Looking at the same design updates in real-time speeds up communication and collaboration while reducing costly manufacturing errors and rework.

How a SaaS platform can immediately impact your company:

  1. Scalability – Get new employees, contractors, and partners up and running with their product development tools and projects within minutes – versus hours or days when using on-premises solutions.
  2. Data Security – Better protect your valuable intellectual property (IP) by strictly controlling who has access to your product designs and for how long.
  3. Profitability – Significantly reduce IT overhead such as high-end workstations, dedicated servers, network infrastructure, storage, backups, and software maintenance.
  4. Reliability – Eliminate the delays and downtime caused by a software installation, crashes, file corruption, and lost data. Software updates are applied automatically in the cloud without requiring IT services.

What is a Cloud-Native Application?

Cloud-native applications are created in the cloud, utilizing the full power of cloud architecture to transcend traditional application restrictions. Cloud-native applications enable organizations to lower maintenance costs, enhance scalability, and improve workflow collaboration.

What is a Cloud-Hosted Application?

Cloud-hosted applications are traditional applications that have been migrated to the cloud and are not designed to take full advantage of the cloud.

The adoption of quirky tech lingo into modern vernacular can sometimes feel like a fever dream. Staple buzzwords like 5G, blockchain, and Virtual Reality (VR) can often leave people scratching their heads trying to figure out what it all means.

With the adoption of the cloud comes even more confusing jargon to sort through. Among these sets of new terms are cloud-native and cloud-hosted. Cloud-native applications have granted organizations a significant competitive advantage over their cloud-hosted counterparts, empowering organizations to run dynamic and scalable applications with improved workflow productivity.

But what do “cloud-native” and “cloud-hosted” mean? And why should you care?

Most people seem to be at a complete loss when it comes to describing the cloud. Some people point to the fluffy, white puffs dotted throughout the sky. (And before you ask, yes, that technically is a cloud.)

However, the cloud we’re referring to isn’t a cloud in the natural sense. Simply put, the “cloud” is a term used to refer to internet-accessible computer system resources, such as servers, databases, and software.

Instead of storing data on your computer’s hard drive, users can now conveniently store and access their data at any time and on any device via the cloud. In every sense of the word, the cloud is revolutionary; cloud computing has changed how we access, store, and share information for many years to come.

Consequently, many programs have sought to modernize their software by adopting some of the principles of cloud technology, but with varying results. Never has this point been clearer, than with cloud-native and cloud-hosted applications. Not all applications are created equal and here’s why.

Ways Cloud-Native Applications Outperform Cloud-Hosted Applications:

Cloud-native applications are accessed through web browsers, and no software downloads are required. Cloud-hosted applications require users to spend time downloading and uploading software.

We’ve all been there: Glaring angrily at our computer screens as the newest software/hardware update downloads onto our computer. In the time that it takes an update to completely download and run the application, we all could make ourselves a sandwich, eat it, and still be waiting for the application to open.

Say goodbye to wasted time. The cloud-native model is built for speed and agility. No longer bound to the constrictions of proprietary desktop apps, cloud-native has streamlined the path-to-production pipeline by allowing users to access software entirely from a browser. The faster turnaround of production actively encourages users to worry less about encountering hardware or operating system compatibility issues and focus more on what truly matters: Bringing business ideas to fruition.

Cloud-native applications are created to be resilient, self-healing, and fault-tolerant. Issues that had once resulted in incomplete application failure can now be isolated without taking down the entire application. The risk of security breaches is higher for applications that are not designed to take advantage of cloud security capabilities.

Cloud-hosted applications are not designed for the exposure users have while running in the cloud. Due in part to the architectural foundation of cloud-hosted applications, they are not able to adapt to evolving security threats and are not designed to compartmentalize data.

On the other side of the coin, cloud-native applications are designed to utilize the full scalability of the cloud. Leveraging the full capabilities of the native cloud infrastructure, applications are designed with multiple layers of security and continuous monitoring for weaknesses (e.g., continuous deployment, auto-scaling, auto-management, reoccurring updates, etc.).

Cloud-native architecture embraces horizontal scaling, which allows for the division of an application into smaller independent parts “with each part having its realm of responsibility.”

The hands-off approach for monitoring and managing the cloud-native infrastructure allows developers to allocate a greater amount of time to creating and optimizing other valuable business tools.

Updates to the cloud platform can be made without impacting the day-to-day interactions of its users. Risk of prolonged system downtime due to hardware and software updates.

 Most cloud-hosted applications rely on traditional monolith services. Monolith services are single-tiered software applications where all the components are packaged into a single unit consisting of three parts: a database, a client-side user interface, and a server-side application.

The overwhelming size of a monolithic architecture application can make it difficult to manage and increase the start-up and deployment time of the application, and a single bug in a module can result in having to redeploy the entire application.

In comparison, cloud-native horizontal scaling allows for the segmentation of a single application into smaller functional components. Each part is self-contained, independently managed, and significantly reduces overhead for developers. Far gone are the days when end-users would be impacted by the day-to-day interactions of infrastructure optimization, horizontal scaling has essentially eliminated that issue.

Cloud-native applications can utilize vast amounts of computing resources to optimize performance and increase productivity.  Cloud-hosted applications can’t fully utilize the elasticity of the cloud, severely limiting performance and productivity.

Cloud-hosted applications, which are considered “on-premises” software hosted on a server, simply can’t compete in terms of speed, elasticity, and performance.

Time is money. Cloud-native applications are designed with a high degree of automation. Less time spent doing development tasks, running tests, and provisioning updates aid developers and significantly improves productivity.

On the other side of the coin, horizontal scaling allows end-users to take full advantage of the elasticity of the cloud by scaling their application (i.e., CPU, memory, and storage) depending on the needs of its users.

A single source of truth for data ensures that users are always working on the correct version and promotes real-time collaboration.   Multiple silos of data allow for version incompatibilities and prevent users from collaborating in real-time.

Cloud-hosted applications use multiple silos of data allowing for version incompatibilities and preventing users from collaborating in real-time. Users must then wait for their co-workers to finish their work on a design file, before completing it themselves. Not only is this method incredibly slow, but it’s also archaic. This outdated approach to data management not only lowers productivity but creates frequent software incompatibility and version control issues.

For designers and engineers on a project deadline, this concept is a major roadblock when trying to complete their tasks on time.

Cloud-native applications utilize a single source of truth for data, allowing multiple designers and engineers to work simultaneously without the risk of managing multiple versions of the same design document.

Embrace the Cloud

Cloud technology can deliver new value to enterprises at all stages of development. No longer bogged down by ineffective work practices, cloud-native technology offers agile and dynamic solutions to rudimentary problems.

The digital market is changing – it’s time we all evolve, too.

Download your free copy of An Introductory Guide to Cloud-Native Product Development today!