What Is Cloud Native?

Cloud native is a design philosophy that refers to applications that utilize cloud infrastructure for portable, scalable software. A cloud-native app is built with loosely coupled microservices and runs on abstract software units, such as containers.

Cloud native

Cloud native is all about designing and creating applications that are built in and operate within the cloud. Cloud-native design centers around speed and scalability. These systems are crafted to rapidly respond to environmental changes, individually scaling services as many times as needed.

Leveraging technologies like containers and microservices doesn't automatically mean software is cloud native. Cloud-native applications are architected specifically for the cloud and have therefore been optimized for running there.

Some of the most important design components of a cloud-native application include scalability, automation, and infrastructure. These attributes allow cloud-native software to adjust and scale. The infrastructure itself should have the ability to move at any time on its own at no cost to the overall ecosystem. If all these boxes can be ticked, you can consider an application truly cloud native.

Cloud-native architecture

These systems are created with the express intention of existing and running in the cloud. There are several cloud services that allow for dynamic and agile application development techniques. Many of them, including microservices and application programming interfaces (APIs), help developers adopt a modular approach to building, running, and maintaining software. This design pattern is designed to support cloud deployment and take full advantage of the cloud's scalable nature.

Microservices are a collection of loosely coupled services that form as the result of building a distributed application using containers, with each application operating independently of another. This allows each service abundant scalability and the freedom to update without affecting other services. Each microservice supports a single goal and uses a well-defined interface to compartmentalize its function and communicate with other services.

APIs are like gateways between applications that may otherwise share no discernible similarities. They facilitate communication between applications like microservices to help gather and respond to data. Processes like ordering pizza via a mobile app or booking a hotel online utilize APIs. They vary in type and deliver different types of information. Microservices and APIs work together to shift information around software created with the cloud-native methodology. When using APIs with cloud-native architectures, however, they must be declarative: they should let users declare what should happen, not how.

Regions are integral to understanding and anticipating needs for applications crafted with the cloud architecture concept. They let you allocate internal and external cloud resources closer to your customers. Selecting the right availability zone per region that works for your cloud architecture-based application helps reduce latency, improve compliance and data sovereignty based on industry and location, cut costs, and improve disaster recovery.

Automation is also a key component of cloud-native architecture. It’s integral to establishing consistency across your cloud environment, making resiliency, scalability, and tracking possible. Automated tools track what applications are currently running, detect systems that could be experiencing problems, and facilitate remediation and redeployment as needed.

In the end, as the most adaptable to change, cloud-native architecture can help you get the most out of the public cloud. It’s also a great way to craft the applications that mean the most to your business, from abstract software units like containers to swift deployment.

Cloud-native applications

Typically packaged in software units called containers that can connect to APIs, cloud-native applications feature microservices, which are essentially modules with their own specific business goals. They communicate through application APIs and, perhaps most importantly, they were designed specifically to operate within the cloud.

In addition to typical containers, there are also containers as a service (CaaS). These allow developers to upload, run, scale, and manage containers through virtualization. CaaS are a collection of cloud-based machines that enable teams to use automated hosting and deployment. Developers using "regular" containers need to rely on teams to deploy and manage supporting infrastructure otherwise. Containers as a service roll all these services into one.

Serverless containers are another option to run cloud-native applications. These solutions let cloud users utilize containers as well as abstract management and infrastructure options. They're typically used for smaller processes that don't require a glut of resources to complete.

There are still technically servers with a "serverless" development model, but cloud providers take over the work of deploying and maintaining the servers. Developers can compile and deploy code to be invoked on demand. Apps are standing by and launched as needed, with a variety of tasks handed off to the cloud provider instead of developer or DevOps teams.

Cloud-Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPP)

These all-in-one cloud security platforms are designed to monitor, detect, and respond to potential security threats. A CNAPP provides the right security information for both security and development teams at the right time and in the right place. This works seamlessly in your environment to provide complete visibility of and protection against threats, enabling teams to protect business-critical applications.

Additional capabilities, such as extended detection and response (XDR), can bring a CNAPP into the broader enterprise security picture to form a unified cybersecurity platform. This offers end-to-end application and cloud security, monitoring, breach prevention, and posture management. In a nutshell, a CNAPP combines several categories of cloud security capabilities into one central control center: artifact scanning, cloud security posture management (CSPM), and cloud workload protection platform (CWPP), runtime visibility, and cloud configuration.

Artifact scans occur in the development pipeline to reduce the risk of deploying a vulnerable application. Cloud configuration prevents configuration drifts and helps to identify misconfigurations across networks, applications, cloud storage, and other cloud resources. Context from artifact scans is combined with cloud configuration awareness in production and runtime visibility to prioritize risk remediation.

If you're relying solely on the native security features of a single cloud provider, managing multicloud security becomes far more difficult. Additionally, unlike siloed products, a CNAPP includes multiple important features within one comprehensive, streamlined offering. These platforms offer automatic, powerful protection capabilities that allow organizations to transcend their developers' knowledge of security. This includes closing gaps from point products with siloed views of application risk and increasing the overall reliability of their IT departments and workers, and achieving digital transformation and cloud-native development goals while remaining secure and compliant.

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