The cloud has revolutionized and streamlined every aspect of the digital business landscape. With its endless possibilities, it has ceased to be seen as a mere backup storage location for on-premises data, instead becoming the preferred location to house information, as well as develop and deploy business applications. Per latest Gartner forecast, worldwide end-user spending on cloud services is forecast to grow 23.1% in 2021 to total $332.3 billion, up from $270 billion in 2020.
As cloud-native applications are quickly becoming the norm, companies are looking to transition from the on-premises model to the cloud-based model. While this transformation is not without its challenges, the advantages of going cloud-native are numerous and wide-reaching. For one, since these apps are based on a microservices architecture, they result in services and processes that are optimized for agility and automation. Additional benefits include faster release, ease of management, reduced cost, scalability, auto-provisioning, and reliability.
Cloud applications are essentially Internet-based programs or loosely coupled services. Just like their web counterparts, they are used to access online services; however, they don’t necessarily always depend on a web browser to work. Their processing logic and data storage are either fully or partially processed in the cloud, and their computing is often conducted by an application programming interface (API). You can also build and run them on scalable responsive and fault-tolerant apps anywhere – public, private, hybrid or serverless.
Perhaps the most common, and most familiar among users, SaaS consists of third-party providers who supply both the software and hardware to run applications, as well as the full range of support for them. Well-known examples would be Google’s G-Suite and Microsoft’s Office365. The benefits are obvious - no need to spend money on expensive hardware or purchase license for every software update.
On the other hand, IaaS includes third-party infrastructure, while the software designer is responsible for supplying middleware (i.e., the software connecting the operations to the app), applications, and the relevant support systems. This enables access to high-quality infrastructure. For instance, IaaS from Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers users separate development environment, hardware and operating system specifications for the service, and resource expansion with no errors or extra costs while upgrading the system.
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PaaS works similarly to IaaS, additionally providing some of the software, middleware, and operating systems, as well as the associated support and updates. The developer is responsible for providing the application and its support. AWS Lambda and Google App Engine are examples of such hosting services that are capable of scaling to an app’s specific needs. Such services are generally cost-effective and flexible.
The on-premise model is quickly becoming obsolete, as legacy applications are dependent upon physical infrastructure. In contrast, cloud apps are developed and deployed in the cloud from day one, making them less reliant on hardware-based infrastructure and therefore less cumbersome.
Often built using service-oriented architecture (SOA), cloud applications are more versatile and flexible. Plus, cloud vendors and providers, such as Microsoft Azure and AWS, already offer many application managed services built in. This makes them less prone to failure, and more scalable.
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Besides the technological benefits, cloud-based applications are also more aligned with user needs and expectations. They allow your company to expedite the design of compelling new customer experiences with real-time, actionable insights, make your business applications more agile with quicker time-to-market, and drive rapid innovation. Various cloud providers, such as AWS, Microsoft, IBM, and Google offer such apps.
Given that cloud applications live in the cloud, developing them takes a different set of skills than what is required to create and deploy a legacy application. Most enterprises rely on a DevOps approach that involves significant collaboration and user input and ensures continuous deployment and integration in the cloud.
The DevOps approach to cloud app development ensures that applications can be updated, tested, and deployed very quickly. It is a holistic process that integrates communication and planning tools, as well as tools for continuous development, testing, integration, deployment and post-production support.
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Since cloud applications rely on APIs and serverless architecture, which allow them to integrate third party data and storage services, they are smaller and faster to develop. Moreover, the DevOps process involves a microservice-based development model, which means that the bulk of a singular application is broken down into smaller modules. Each of these components can be developed and updated independently, speeding up the journey significantly.
The best path to cloud-native applications is embracing modern approaches like microservices, serverless, and containers. Such approaches help you automatically build, test, deploy, and manage your code with highly responsive infrastructure and built-in best practices.
Cloud-native apps offer many benefits of cloud computing, allowing you to replace the capital investment and resources required for on-prem apps with burstable performance instances and pay-as-you-go, on-demand services. Plus, their integration with tools like Jenkins – CI/CD, GitLab, Terraform, Prometheus, etc. empowers your enterprise to address business needs much more swiftly.
Alternatively, if your enterprise relies on a specialized system of in-house applications, you may want to consider migrating them to the cloud. This option will allow you to improve the functionality of apps your team is already comfortable with by modernizing the infrastructure to make it cloud-native.
Contrary to popular belief, the main driver of digital transformation is not technology, but customers. The cloud, being elastic, adaptable, and secure in nature, has answered the modern consumers need for smooth, dynamic, and personalized experiences.
Developing and deploying your applications in a cloud environment is a crucial step towards transforming your business’s operations and service delivery. As they don’t rely on soon-to-be obsolete physical infrastructure or on-premise servers that can easily fail, they can address business and customer needs at practically any time, from any location around the world.
With their nimble response, increased data security, low long-term maintenance costs, and quick updates, cloud-based apps will drive your company to evolve into the digital age.
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