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Why a cloud-native approach is critical to digital transformation

The cloud-native approach is about more than taking your application as it exists today and making it work in the cloud.

Why a cloud-native approach is critical to digital transformation
[asiandelight/AdobeStock]

Cloud computing has proven itself a viable technology model in this first phase of its life cycle. The pandemic accelerated cloud adoption by three to five years and helped transform the world into a “digital-first” standard. The technology model evolved from a “should I use the cloud” standard to “prove it should not be in the cloud.”

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Let’s explore the cloud-native approach, how it benefits businesses, and why it should be a vital component of a digital transformation.

WHAT IS CLOUD-NATIVE COMPUTING?

Cloud-native computing is an approach to designing, building, and operating a modern application that uses the intrinsic flexibility, scalability, and resilience of cloud computing. The cloud-native approach is about more than taking your application as it exists today and making it work in the cloud. Cloud-native provides software developers the technology to leverage the public cloud to increase development agility, design, and delivery capabilities around critical business functions.

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According to IDC, heading into 2022, “80% of enterprises will put a mechanism in place to shift to cloud-centric infrastructure and applications twice as fast as before the pandemic.” The cloud computing paradigm offers companies many advantages, including ease of scalability, organizational flexibility, resiliency, ability to distribute applications in multiple locations more efficiently and, if used well, reduced hosting costs. Applications must be specifically designed to leverage cloud services in architecture and designed natively to take advantage of this paradigm.

Because of the advantages of the approach, I believe cloud-native will become the de-facto design and architecture standard over the next three to five years. The key characteristics of the cloud-native approach are:

• Built using microservices: The application is broken down into smaller modules, making them easier to develop and test.

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• Independence: Each of the components is developed, scaled, and maintained independently, creating agility.

• Powered by serverless technology: Serverless is a cost-effective method of enabling microservices. Adopting serverless allows you to leave all infrastructure details to the cloud provider.

• Utilize public cloud services natively: Rather than moving an application as-is and making it work in the cloud, cloud-native applications use cloud services as a core part of the architecture and processing model.

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• Leverage DevOps principles: The cloud-native approach focuses on speed and how quickly a program can get from the design stage into production. It’s mainly about automation—i.e., eliminating the need for human involvement in the production process.

• A more agile mindset: The approach shifts away from traditional waterfall development models to more agile development principles like minimum viable product development.

WHY IS THE CLOUD-NATIVE APPROACH CRITICAL FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION?

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The 24/7 digital world we live in requires the business to become more agile, collaborative, and customer-centric. A core component of digital transformation is to force the technology we depend on to operate with speed and agility in a scalable and reliable manner. Digital transformation forces organizations to reimagine their business models and processes to drive collaboration and improve customer experiences. Cloud-native computing allows organizations to refine their delivery models to meet the requirements of the digital economy.

Digital transformation requires redefining the rules, roles, and resources to disrupt your business models. The hallmarks of digital transformation are creating speed, agility, and resiliency within the business. The cloud-native approach can provide these characteristics to create a competitive advantage. Applying the following capabilities of the cloud-native approach can expedite digital transformation:

• Scale, resiliency, and agility: Using the cloud-native microservices design to build scale and redundancy by focusing on cloud services instead of infrastructure makes the software more resilient and scalable.

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• Reimagine and reinvent customer capabilities: The cloud-native mindset changes the entire life cycle of how requirements are collaboratively conceived, coded, tested, and deployed. The cloud-native design enables you to offload the hosting requirements and infrastructure that typically dictates business processes to cloud providers. You can now reorganize people, processes, and workflows around the critical customer and business need as the basis of application design, leveraging the cloud to support it in a cost-effective way.

• Adaptability: Technology teams can adjust quickly to changing business requirements and technical innovation by leveraging the speed of service provisioning in a cloud-native architecture.

• Business and customer process orientation: The move to digital will likely force you to reinvent and reimagine processes to improve software and employee efficiencies. The componentized cloud-native design allows technology teams to deliver critical capabilities aligned to these processes efficiently.

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• Agile development principles: You can create very nimble organizations that react quickly by refining the development process fitting innovation into time windows with a continuous feedback loop.

Hyperautomation: Technology teams can more easily automate critical processes to integrate new digital technologies within and across your legacy systems and processes.

• Respond more rapidly: Cloud-native design allows technology teams to quickly move ideas into production and react to marketplace events with more agility. The cloud-native design provides rapid iteration, multivariate testing, observability, and working in a DevOps model to innovate at the speed of digital.

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The move to digital is driving technology organizations to adopt the cloud-native approach to drive collaboration organization-wide and improve customer experiences. Cloud-native is a digital transformation enabler to help businesses increase the speed of innovation, higher agility, greater elasticity, and reduced cost-to-market.

The winners in the new digital economy will likely be those who have unlocked the benefits of the cloud. Working with an advisor to help you create a cloud-native architecture roadmap and approach can help you accelerate your success.


CEO, FifthVantage. We help B2B software companies transform complex technology goals into clear strategy, architecture, and execution plans.

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