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Cloud-native applications: Preparing your business for the future

P. Rajesh

Cloud Services Leader



Since the early-to-mid-2000s, organizations have been migrating on-premise business applications to the cloud. Unfortunately, the first generation of cloud applications was lifted and shifted with little to no rearchitecting for its new environments.

Now, the cracks are beginning to show. COVID-19 has accelerated the need to move more customer- and employee-facing applications to the cloud, but the lifted and shifted applications lack the sophistication to keep up with demand. To truly unlock the value of the cloud, businesses must build cloud-native applications. These applications are developed in the cloud from the very beginning.

Why go cloud-native?

Here are some of the reasons why enterprises are building cloud-native applications:

  • Innovation: With cloud-native applications, introducing new products or services is easier and faster. This is largely because of the automated elements added during development, which give you the agility to make updates at speed to support your business objectives. Plus, as cloud-native applications collect data from across your business, you'll be able to develop advanced analytics to make more informed decisions
  • Scalability: As your business and cloud usage grows, you'll need to support more users across different devices while maintaining a positive customer and employee experience. Cloud-native applications have the scalability, resiliency, and flexibility needed to keep pace with the growth of your business
  • Cost savings: On-premise applications follow a capital expenditures model, which requires large upfront expenses to set up a system's infrastructure, including its data center. However, about 30% of data center capacity goes unused,[1] contributing to a higher total cost of ownership (TCO). By contrast, cloud-native applications follow an operating expenditures model in which you only pay for what you use, which lowers your TCO and improves your return on investment

Lay the building blocks

Now that we've established why you should go cloud-native, let's look at the three building blocks of a cloud-native strategy.

1. Microservices: As the name suggests, microservices are an architectural approach by which you develop an application as a collection of small services. Each microservice features its own business capabilities and processes. Because they're managed independently, you can make changes, experiment, and innovate without impacting the entire application or end-user experience.

2. Containers: Whereas microservices are independent components, containers are how you wrap up the entire package to run on the cloud. When packaged, you can distribute applications across your business and run them anywhere – regardless of the underlying infrastructure. Containers are what make applications scalable.

3. DevOps: Following an agile methodology, DevOps is a process for application development that focuses on continuous collaboration between diverse teams, including software development and IT. These teams go through rapid cycles of build, test, and release before reviewing end-user feedback to fine-tune and repeat. DevOps will help you deliver cloud-native applications more frequently – and faster – to set a new pace of innovation in your industry.

Microservices, containers, and DevOps practices underpin a cloud-native strategy that will give your business agility, with minimal risk and cost. However, this rapid way of working could be a big cultural change for your business. If so, you'll need to address this early on.

Change the culture

With every digital transformation, you have to manage change across your people, processes, and technology. The same is true for cloud-native applications. You'll need a change management strategy and roadmap in place, otherwise you may find that the journey ahead is full of frustration, delays, and overrun budgets – the very opposite of what you're trying to achieve.

When crafting your cloud-native strategy, make sure you provide appropriate training to support your teams. You can also look for cloud expertise when hiring new talent who will come in and share knowledge. Likewise, you should build cross-functional teams that connect your technology and industry experts so that new applications are both technically sound and align to solving real business problems.

In our ever-changing world, it's time to look at the cloud as more than a cost-saving opportunity. Businesses that adopt a cloud-native approach as the new normal will be the businesses that are best placed to adapt to whatever challenges the future holds.

To learn more about cloud for the enterprise, visit our business transformation services page and our cloud solutions page.

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