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Cloud Native: What Does It Really Mean?

Written by GoodData Author, Cassie Lee  | 

Cloud Native: What Does It Really Mean?

Cloud: You have likely heard this word batted around for a while now. We have transitioned from using an outdated, hardware-based computing system — also known as the legacy system — to a cloud computing system. With this cloud computing system, we now have on-demand availability of computer system resources without the direct management of the user. In other words, we are able to retrieve information in real time and won’t need to rely on the user’s hardware or device to achieve it.

Building onto that definition: For software to be real cloud software and defined as “cloud native,” it should meet these minimum criteria:

  • Specifically designed to take advantage of the many benefits of cloud computing (scalability, elasticity, and agility)
  • Best-of-breed modern technology stacks leveraged to deliver a seamless experience both on the back end and to the end user login
  • Constant innovation, feature releases, changes, and upgrades

Cloud Data Integration to Software Applications

According to Infoworld, the term “cloud native” actually refers to a specific type of cloud service that was derived from a previous term called “born in the cloud.” It doesn’t involve legacy systems whatsoever; instead, it is designed solely for cloud delivery. Software designed specifically around the cloud is going to perform better in the cloud than something that was developed in a legacy framework but adapted to a “cloud model” (i.e., managed off-site hosting]; it may run in a cloud, but it’s still based on the old tenets of compute-limited software design.

This is a massive upgrade from the traditional legacy system because you are now able to interact with newer systems and can access data servers on the internet. For example, your Netflix or Instagram account relies on analytics in the cloud because you are able to log into your account from multiple devices and still be accessing the same information — without having to rely on only one device to access it.

The Benefits of Big Data Cloud Computing

While cloud used to be an overused marketing term, there is real value in leveraging commoditized pooled infrastructure to deliver compute and storage at incredible scale to businesses. Performing cloud-based analytics is an example of how scalability is possible within businesses. The main advantages of relying on these cloud vendors, instead of the old-school legacy systems, are having:

  • Rapid elasticity
  • On-demand availability
  • Agile information

The ability to leverage this data brings cloud computing into the mainstream. Historically, software developers needed to be very cognizant of the physical limits of computing when building their products, so as not to overtax the available resources and crash the product or systems.

With the cloud, those resources are infinite and elastic. Need more processing power? No problem. More memory? Sure. Storage? Check. The cloud allows software to grab as many or as few resources as needed, dynamically, and on the fly. This is a fundamental change in the world of technology; imagine a car that won’t run out of gas — ever.

Analytics in the Cloud: Present Day

As cloud adoption continues to skyrocket, many vendors who didn’t place strategic bets early are scrambling to patch together any offering that contains the word “cloud” just to remain relevant. But now that everyone has jumped on the bandwagon, how can you tell the difference between marketing hype and reality? There are some fantastic marketing efforts by many software companies that have taken some serious artistic license when describing their products as cloud solutions.

Just like putting a Ferrari body kit on a Pontiac Fiero does not make it a Ferrari, software designed around the constraints of yesterday’s technology cobbled together and delivered in a hosted data center is not going to perform nearly as well as the real thing.

Make sure to keep your vendors honest. Ask them about their history, strategy, architecture, and roadmap. Don’t get caught up by the all-show and no-go, boxed-in solutions out there. Be sure you take a close look under the hood and not just the shiny exterior, because if your competitor deploys the real thing, you’re eventually going to get left behind on the racetrack of today’s business environment.

Header photo by Billy Huynh on Unsplash

Written by GoodData Author, Cassie Lee  | 

Go back to Blog's hub Blog   |   tags:  

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