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What is Cloud-Native? Exploring Applications, Architecture, and Benefits

What is cloud-native

Cloud technology has proven to be a game-changer in our digital world. As more individuals and organizations migrate to the cloud, IT professionals face the challenge of developing more resources to take full advantage of cloud computing’s benefits. Cloud computing is still seen as a (relatively) new technology, and now we need applications deliberately designed to function in the cloud. In other words, we need cloud-native applications.

This article explores the topic of cloud-native, including applications, architecture, and development. We’ll explain related stacks and explore the pros and cons of cloud applications. We’ll also share an immersive online cloud computing program enabling professionals to hone their cloud skills.

So, what is cloud-native? What does the term mean?

What is Cloud-Native?

Cloud-native is a software application design approach that builds, deploys, and manages today’s applications in cloud computing environments. These applications are built to take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing, exploiting the scale, resiliency, elasticity, and flexibility the cloud offers.

Additionally, these applications run in public, private, and hybrid clouds and incorporate features such as microservices, immutable infrastructure, containers, service meshes, and declarative application programming interfaces (APIs).

In simpler terms, “cloud-native” describes a resource custom-designed to function in a cloud computing environment.

So, what is a cloud-native application?

Also Read: Industry Perspective: Cloud Computing in Healthcare

What Are Cloud-Native Applications?

Cloud-native applications are software programs comprising many small, interdependent services known as microservices. Traditionally, software developers built big applications with a single block structure that contains all the required functionalities. However, using this approach, developers divide the functionalities into smaller microservices, making applications more agile since these microservices work independently and require minimal cloud computing resources.

Traditional, “old-fashioned” enterprise applications are built with less flexible software development methods. Traditional software developers usually work on large batches of software functionalities before they are released for testing. Consequently, traditional enterprise applications take longer to deploy and need to be more scalable. They are a rigid, fixed product.

On the other hand, cloud-native applications employ a collaborative approach and are extremely scalable on different platforms. Cloud application developers use software tools to automate building, testing, and deploying procedures. Developers can instantly set up, deploy, or duplicate microservices, something not possible with traditional applications.

The following bullet points summarize all you need to know about cloud applications.

  • They consist of discrete, reusable components called microservices. These microservices are designed to integrate into and operate in any cloud environment.
  • Additionally, these microservices function as building blocks and are usually packaged in containers.
  • Microservices work together as a whole entity, making up applications, yet each microservice can be independently scaled, continuously improved, and quickly repeated through automation and orchestration processes.
  • Each microservice’s flexibility adds to the applications’ agility and continuous improvement.

What is Cloud-Native Architecture?

Cloud-native architecture assembles the software components development teams use to create and deploy scalable applications. The Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), an open-source foundation that helps organizations begin their operations, lists microservices, containers, immutable infrastructure, declarative APIs, and service meshes as the technological building blocks of cloud architecture. Let’s look at each block in detail.


Microservices are small, independent components of software that collectively function as complete cloud-native software. Each microservice specializes in solving a minor, specific issue. Microservices are loosely coupled, meaning they are independent software components that “talk” with each other. Developers introduce changes to the application by working on the individual microservices so the application continues to work even if a microservice fails.


Containers are the smallest computing units in the cloud application. They are software components that store cloud systems’ microservice code and other necessary files. These applications run independently of the underlying hardware and operating system by containerizing the microservices. This function means software developers can deploy cloud-native applications on-premises, a cloud infrastructure, or hybrid clouds. Developers use containers for packaging microservices with their respective dependencies, like libraries, resource files, and scripts that the primary application needs for operation.

Container benefits include:

  • Using fewer computing resources than traditional application deployment
  • Deploying the resources almost instantly
  • Efficiently scaling the cloud computing resources the application needs to run

Immutable Infrastructure

Immutable infrastructure means the servers that host cloud applications don’t change after deployment. If the application needs more computing resources, the old server is abandoned, and the app is shifted to a newer, high-performance server. Immutable infrastructure makes deployment a predictable process by avoiding manual upgrades.

Declarative APIs

Application Programming Interface (API) is a method that multiple software programs use to swap information. Cloud-native systems use APIs to bring loosely coupled microservices together. API informs the users of what data the microservice needs and what results it can give rather than specifying the steps needed to achieve the outcome.

Service Mesh

Service mesh is a layer of software in the cloud infrastructure that handles communication between multiple microservices. Developers use the service mesh to incorporate extra functions without generating new code in the application.

Also Read: What is Cloud Computing Security?

What is Cloud-Native Application Development?

Cloud-native application development indicates how and where software developers build and deploy applications. Successful cloud application development requires a cultural shift. Developers must incorporate specific software practices to decrease software delivery timelines and deliver practical, functional features that meet evolving customer expectations. Let’s look at some standard development practices.

  • Continuous integration. Continuous integration (or CI for short) is a widespread software practice in which developers frequently and accurately integrate changes into a shared code base. These small, frequent changes increase developmental efficiency because developers can identify and troubleshoot problems faster. CI tools automatically assess every change’s code quality so that development teams can confidently add new features.
  • Continuous delivery. Continuous delivery (CD) is another popular software practice supporting cloud-native development. Thanks to CD, development teams can ensure that every microservice is always ready for cloud deployment. Developers use software automation tools to mitigate risks when making changes, like introducing new features or addressing bugs. Ultimately, CI and CD work together to create efficient software delivery.
  • DevOps. DevOps is a popular software culture that enhances collaboration between development and operations teams. It’s a design philosophy that works well with the cloud-native process. DevOps practices let organizations speed up software development lifecycles. Software developers and operation engineers employ DevOps tools to automate development.
  • Serverless computing. Serverless computing is a cloud model in which the cloud platform provider manages the underlying server infrastructure. Developers turn to serverless computing because the cloud infrastructure automatically scales and configures the platform to meet the developer’s application requirements. Developers only pay for their resources; the serverless architecture automatically removes compute resources when the app is not running.

What is a Cloud-Native Stack?

A cloud-native stack describes the technology layers developers use to build, deploy, manage, and run applications designed for the cloud. Here’s a breakdown of the categories.

  • Application definition and development layer. This layer comprises software technologies used for building cloud-native applications. App developers create cloud applications using cloud technologies like container images, databases, messaging, continuous integration (CI), and continuous delivery (CD) tools.
  • Infrastructure layer. The infrastructure layer serves as the foundation of the cloud stack. It comprises operating systems, networks, storage, and other computing resources managed by a third-party cloud provider.
  • Orchestration and management layer. Orchestration and management are responsible for integrating various cloud components, so they operate as a single unit and are analogous to how an operating system functions in traditional computing. Developers rely on orchestration tools like Kubernetes to deploy, manage, monitor, and scale cloud applications on various machines.
  • Observability and analysis tools. Observability and analysis tools monitor, evaluate, oversee, and enhance the system health of cloud applications. Developers use these tools to monitor metrics like memory, CPU usage, and latency to ensure the app’s service quality isn’t impacted.
  • Provisioning layer. The provisioning layer comprises cloud services that allocate and configure cloud environments.
  • Runtime layer. The runtime layer offers cloud technologies for containers to operate and consists of cloud data storage, networking capability, and container runtime.

The Benefits of Cloud-Native Applications

Cloud-native applications, or native cloud applications (NCAs), are programs designed to be used in a cloud computing architecture. Their benefits include:

  • Independence. This architecture allows developers to build NCAs independently of each other, which means they can be individually managed and deployed.
  • Resiliency. A well-designed NCA can survive and remain online even during an infrastructure outage.
  • Based on consistent standards. Cloud-native services are often based on open-source and standards-based technology for better interoperability and workload portability. This process helps eliminate vendor lock-in and increases portability.
  • Business agility. Cloud applications provide flexible deployment options across a network, and they’re smaller than traditional apps, making them easier to develop, deploy, and iterate.
  • Automation. NCAs employ DevOps automation features and allow continuous delivery and deployment of any software changes released regularly. Developers can also use methodologies such as blue-green and canary deployments to improve the apps without disrupting the user experience.
  • No downtime. Thanks to container orchestrators like Kubernetes, developers can deploy software updates without downtime.

Also Read: How to Become a Cloud Engineer in 2024? A Complete Guide

What Are the Disadvantages of Cloud-Native Applications?

As good as cloud-native applications are, they have downsides.

  • Although microservices allow an iterative approach to application improvement, they, unfortunately, can also create the need for managing increased elements. Instead of dealing with one extensive application, managing many more small, discrete services becomes necessary.
  • Although NCAs allow rapid development and deployment, they also demand a business culture that can deal with this increased pace of innovation.
  • These applications require extra toolsets to manage DevOps pipelines, replace traditional monitoring structures, and control the microservices architecture.

Do You Want More Cloud Computing Skills?

Consider this highly effective cloud computing bootcamp if you’re interested in a cloud-based career or want to upskill. This 32-week online bootcamp teaches cloud computing and DevOps, helping you to develop expertise in multi-cloud strategies by learning Azure and Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud platforms. shows cloud engineers make an annual average of $115,437. Update your cloud-related IT skills to be ready to face the challenges of our increasingly cloud-based marketplace.

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