Cloud Native Software

Building for Scale: Embracing Cloud Native Software Development


What is Cloud Native Software?

Cloud native software refers to applications that are designed and built to fully leverage the capabilities of modern cloud infrastructure and services. These applications leverage technologies like microservices architecture, containers, serverless computing, devops practices etc. to optimize software delivery and improve operational efficiency.

Characteristics of Cloud Native Software

There are a few key characteristics that define cloud native software:

Elastic Scalability: Cloud Native Software is designed to adapt to the changing conditions of the cloud environment. The applications can automatically scale up or down in response to varying demand by leveraging infrastructure and platform services. For example, using containers enables efficient allocation of computing resources to app modules based on need.

Microservices Architecture: Cloud native apps follow a microservices architecture. They are composed of small, independent services that work together to deliver capabilities. This architectural style promotes agility, resilience and parallel development. Microservices also contribute to elastic scalability.

Containers as Packaging and Deployment Units: Containers provide the standard packaging and deployment mechanism for cloud native software. Each microservice component typically runs inside a container using container orchestration technologies like Kubernetes for management. This containerization approach promotes portability across infrastructures.

Dynamic Resource Utilization: Cloud platforms provide APIs and services to dynamically allocate and release computing resources on demand. Cloud native apps are designed to optimize the use of these dynamic resources. For example, they may tap serverless offerings like Functions as a Service for transient computational needs.

Automation: Automated deployment pipelines, configuration management, monitoring and provisioning tools are key to developing, deploying and managing cloud native apps. Technologies like Git, Docker, Kubernetes etc. enable continuous delivery of updates with minimal human intervention.

Observability: Cloud native apps incorporate telemetry mechanisms that provide deep visibility into software operations. The integrated monitoring and logging pipelines assist in rapid issue detection and resolution. This fosters high availability of services.

Designing Microservices for Cloud Native Development

When developing cloud native apps using microservices architecture, the microservices need to be designed keeping certain principles in mind:

Independent Deployable Units: Each microservice should be independently deployable without requiring changes to other services. They must have clearly defined APIs and data schemas.

Limited Scope: Each microservice should focus on accomplishing a single and coherent task. Scope creep leads to oversized services that hinder agility.

Resilience: Microservices must be resilient to failures of dependent services. They need to have timeouts, retries and fallback behaviors built-in to prevent cascading failures.

SRA (Software Reliability Architecture): Microservices must follow SRA patterns to make debugging and troubleshooting easier through concepts like monitoring, tracing, distributed transactions etc.

Versioning: Services must version their APIs properly to enable backward compatibility while allowing new features. Semantic versioning is commonly used.

Discovery: Microservices should be self-descriptive and discoverable at runtime through standardized discovery mechanisms like service registries.

Security: Authentication, authorization and encryption must be integrated at service level to build secure systems out of insecure services.

Scalable Infrastructure for Cloud Native Apps

To effectively run cloud native applications, the underlying infrastructure needs to support horizontal scaling, resource elasticity, high availability and other requirements:

Container Orchestration: A container orchestration system like Kubernetes is essential to dynamically deploy containers across a cluster of machines. It handles scheduling, scaling, load balancing etc.

Serverless Platform: Functions as a Service allows running event-driven code snippets without worrying about servers. Serverless is well-suited for transient tasks in cloud native apps.

Messaging: Microservices typically communicate asynchronously using a message broker like Apache Kafka. This facilitates loose coupling and high throughput between services.

NoSQL Databases: Data stores like MongoDB which handle high volumes of unstructured/semi-structured data at massive scale are a good fit for modern applications.

Container Registry: A private registry like Docker Hub is needed to store container images built during CI/CD pipelines.

CI/CD: Continuous integration and delivery tools automate software updates by building, testing and releasing new versions of services safely and quickly.

Monitoring and Observability: Tools like Prometheus collect and analyze telemetry from services and infrastructure to gain end-to-end visibility. This helps ensure service reliability and performance.

Service Mesh: A service mesh like Istio automatically handles traffic routing, load balancing, access control, monitoring between microservices deployed on Kubernetes. It improves operational efficiency.

Benefits of Cloud Native Applications

Some key advantages of developing applications using cloud native architecture and principles include:

Agility: Microservices and automation allow fast, independent development and updates of individual capabilities.

Elastic Scaling: Infrastructure dynamically scales to handle variable workloads, removing the need for overprovisioning.

Reliability: Distributed, replicated services self-heal from failures with resilience design. Monitoring ensures issues are quickly detected and resolved.

Cost Optimization: Resource utilization is optimized to pay only for actual consumption through on-demand or auto-scaling capacity.

Innovation: Teams can quickly build, deploy and evolve an app in response to changing needs without affecting other teams.

Portability: Cloud native workloads can migrate across infrastructures with portability aided by containers and platform abstractions.

Productivity: Tools like CI/CD, service mesh etc. boost developer velocity by removing toil and allowing them to focus on business logic.

Security: Fine-grained access controls, distributed authentication and other attributes enable building secure systems from insecure parts.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it