Downloading off-the-shelf software or including a few tools does not help when one considers the cloud native application architecture. It required a gradual, complete shift from the traditional application development process. Here are six critical aspects to keep in mind while building cloud-native apps,
1. The switch from monolithic to microservices
Faster development and deployment inevitably require speed. On the other hand, speed is the biggest barrier to traditional architecture. Imagine changing a code in monolithic architecture, where you'd have to rebuild and go through the entire executable. Or how monolithic architecture allows the release of new features only during a certain release window.
So what do hindrances like these do? They reduce the frequency of updates and require an organisation-wide headache to solve a minor issue. To resolve this, the microservices approach is used in cloud native architecture. Rather than a single, huge executable construct, microservices divide the application into separate components that function individually. The other advantages of opting to microservices include,
The smaller division enables easier bug identification and resolution
The independent components can be updated and operated separately without affecting parts of the application
A change in code needn't require testing of the entire application, but rather just the microservice involved
Microservices enable independent scaling up or down of components whenever required
2. Docker, container orchestration and Kubernetes
These services go hand in hand with the adoption of microservices. The microservices can be run in separate containers or deployed independently in a cloud native platform. However, having them in containers has an advantage. They are portable and are isolated from one another. Further, one can group all the required microservices in one container and move them to a different environment. The suite of software development tools that helps with the creation, sharing and running of these containers is called docker.
So where does Kubernetes engineering come into place? When containers work together, the development team can scale the application whenever required, eliminate application conflicts between teams and boost productivity. The platform that makes this happen in a cloud native platform is Kubernetes. With a bundle of APIs designed to run containers resiliently, Kubernetes is an open-source tool used to orchestrate and operate containers in production.
3. Cultivating DevOps
A DevOps culture is highly dependent on collaboration and automation and is a huge shift from traditional models of developer teams. DevOps requires the developing and the operating team to collaborate and have an integrated approach to creating and deploying applications. This comes into play when the application involves updates and changes on a regular basis. When the development and operations team have transparent, effective communication, regular updates of writing and implementing the code are hassle-free.
DevOps emphasises continuous integration and delivery to reduce the delay between new updates or releases to the existing product post-deployment. To grasp the idea of how DevOps can make the development lifecycle much easier in cloud native app development, this is how it may look like,
A software or application is planned
The software is built and tested extensively
The software is deployed to customers
Feedback is monitored on a regular basis, post-deployment
The next update or software release is planned on the basis of feedback
4. Restructure the testing cycle
Traditional forms of development encourage manual, functional testing to address application quality prior to deployment. But in an environment of rapid application and development, waiting until the last minute for rework or code changes can be extremely challenging for the development team. The solution? In cloud-native application development, a major approach is moving the QA testing to be a core part of the development. Rather than last-moment changes, QA testing earlier in the cycle boosts communication between development and testing teams and shifts functional testing on the developer side.
So what does the QA group focus on? Building cloud-native apps require extensive testing that traditional models often neglect. These include,
Integration testing- investing in automated integration testing involves end-to-end testing of an application to ensure that any new additions do not impair existing functions of the application.
Client testing - in an increasingly mobile-dependent audience, organisations turn to mobile testing services that test the applications on common mobile devices to ensure smooth functioning
Load testing- this is where the testing team identifies the performance of the application under expected loads and further requests, to check for any possible memory or CPU issues. As these are not visible in the beginning, this form of testing helps decide the response time, reliability and stability of the application.
5. Infrastructure as a code
If DevOps automates parts of your organisation's development process, Infrastructure as a Code takes it a step further by automating infrastructure management. In comparison to manual changes via the console, cloud-native architecture is supported by Infrastructure as a code to create, modify and manage Infrastructure resources. The pros of using infrastructure as a code include,
When the infrastructure changes and deployment are automated, the developers and operations team can focus effectively on the coding
Reduced the error-prone manual changes and standardised the infrastructure modification process
The manual changes are replaced by automation thus enabling productivity and boosting the faster time to market
6. API-driven interfaces
Meant to simplify the ecosystem of microservices and a cloud-native architecture, cloud-native application programming interfaces or API architecture helps different services communicate. This API enables organisations to allow developers, or business clients access to parts of their application's data and functionality to communicate and share data with each other. Cloud-native APIs can be built and deployed across private, public or hybrid clouds. Further, public APIs can also help boost your discoverability on search engines and diversify your business opportunities.
API eliminates informational silos and enables integration between platforms and applications. Further, APIs also create an added layer of security between your data and the servers through which the clients access the same. Tokens, signatures and Transport Layer Security (TLS) can be implemented using API gateways to authorise and authenticate the traffic accessing the data.