The cloud may be well established as a development environment for enterprise software development, however, the concept of ‘cloud-native’ application development is still relatively new. Cloud-native applications are built with the specific properties and flexible structure of the cloud development environment in mind and are therefore able to maximise the benefits that this environment offers.
The key benefits to enterprises using cloud-native development practices are the ability to innovate quickly, the ability to scale up and down rapidly as required and the efficiencies gained in the developmental process, whether it be the cost of resources or manpower and time. Here is a more detailed list of reasons why becoming cloud-native will be essential for businesses of the future.
Cloud-native development allows for rapid iteration and innovation
When an application has been designed specifically for the cloud, it usually makes good use of the distributed structure of cloud-native architecture models, also known as microservices. Microservices are essentially small components of a larger application that have been developed independently, yet are orchestrated by a central orchestration program.
A key advantage of using microservices over a traditional, monolithic architectural model, is that changes can be deployed quickly, without causing a lot of disruption to the overall workflow. Another key advantage is that any particular issues can be isolated to smaller components of an application, thereby reducing the risk of exposing a larger proportion of the user base to potentially buggy software.
The tight feedback loops offered by rapid iteration allow for more innovation to happen. When there is more data available, dev teams can push the boundaries further in terms of UX and functionality, which ultimately leads to better applications, happier customers and a healthier bottom line.
Cloud-native development utilises the on-demand infrastructure offered by the cloud
One of the biggest blockers to application development in the past has been the need for extensive infrastructure and resources before the development work can even begin. Naturally, for dev teams to get sign-offs on new projects, there would be lengthy procurement and sign off processes within large enterprises, ultimately delaying the process and leading to less work being shipped.
However, cloud-native development helps address this issue by helping developers design apps to scale as and when required, thanks to their ability to call upon infrastructures such as networks, servers, and operating systems, as and when required. And of course, this scaling can work both ways- extra resources can be called upon when required (e.g. a shopping app calling upon extra servers to deal with higher user demand during the holiday season), and then scaled back during quieter periods.
Naturally, this ability to scale as and when required helps prevent a lot of wastage of resources and promotes efficiency within an organisation, making it a key benefit for businesses looking to maximise returns while minimising costs.
Cloud-native development creates a healthy ‘DevOps culture’ within an organisation
Thanks to the measurability offered by in-app analytics, rapid customer feedback loops and a much higher frequency of iterations, cloud-native development helps dev teams gain visibility and credibility with non-technical stakeholders within the business. This, alongside initiatives such as the development of cross-functional project-based teams (vs. the old siloed departments for example), helps develop a much more collaborative culture within an organisation.
It is much easier to make the case for more resources for a project when the dev team can display results for test projects easily to management and the c-suite. Analytics dashboards can be set up so that everyone is ‘speaking the same language’ when it comes to what matters the most- the impact on customer satisfaction and ultimately the bottom line.
The transparency offered by the cloud, as well as the flexibility offered by cloud-native development, helps create much better communication between departments in a large organisation, and much more of a collaborative spirit.
Management knows that any potential issues can be spotted fairly quickly (e.g. a buggy release causing issues with customer satisfaction can be rolled back quickly, without a long dev cycle). This makes management much more open to allowing the dev team to test new features, ultimately leading to greater innovation and better results.
Similarly, marketing departments can share research such as customer satisfaction surveys, call centre data, market research, etc. with the dev team and potentially provide some ideas for new features to be introduced into applications. Since cloud-native apps are modular and built using a microservices approach, small components can be worked on, based on feedback, without jeopardising the smooth functioning of the rest of the software.
There are many other benefits of cloud-native application development, and enterprises of the future would do well to ensure that their internal departments are set up in a way to make the most of the enormous opportunity for efficiency and scalability offered by this framework.