As many organizations do not have the luxury of completely rebuilding their technology foundation or immediately adopting new practices and mindsets, they can embrace gradual yet fundamental shifts in culture, processes, and technology to help support greater velocity and agility. With software increasingly key to how users engage with businesses and how businesses can innovate to stay competitive, organizations should adapt to the new demands of the Digital Economy, such as speeding up application development and delivery. The cloud-native approach describes a way of modernizing existing applications and building new applications based on cloud principles, using services and adopting processes optimized for the agility and automation of cloud computing.

Here is an eight-step roadmap to help guide your cloud-native application journey.

STEP 1: Evolve a DevOps culture and practices
The path to cloud-native applications can require development and IT operations teams to evolve in many different aspects to build and deploy apps faster and more efficiently. To be able to take advantage of new technology, faster approaches, and tighter collaboration, I believe organizations should embrace the principles and cultural values of DevOps and organize themselves around those values.

STEP 2: Speeding up existing applications using fast monoliths
Many legacy applications are important to business operations and revenue generation and cannot simply be replaced. Rather, they should to be integrated with new cloud-native applications. To help speed up an existing monolith, an organization can take a fast monolith approach by moving its existing monolithic architecture to a more modular, service-based architecture and API-based communication.

STEP 3: Use application services to speed up development
I believe reusability has always been one of the keys to accelerating software development and cloud-native applications are no exception. However, reusable components for cloud-native applications should be optimized and integrated into the underlying cloud-native infrastructure to be able to provide effective benefits. Application services that have been optimized and integrated into the underlying container-based infrastructure as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), or iPaaS offerings, are ready-to-use developer tools. Whereas DevOps and containers can accelerate the delivery and deployment of a cloud-native application, application services can accelerate its development.

STEP 4: Choosing the right tool for the right task
An increase in the fields of software study, such as IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), among others, has resulted in a growing variety of frameworks, languages, and approaches for software development. Building cloud-native applications is becoming more diverse as the choice of language or framework can be increasingly tailored to the specific business application need. No matter how cloud-native applications are being implemented, the cloud-native platform should offer the right mix of frameworks, languages, and architectures to support the chosen development requirements.

STEP 5: Provide self-service, on-demand infrastructure
Agile methods have helped developers create and update software more quickly but lack an efficient mechanism for timely infrastructure access when and where it is required. Self-service and on-demand infrastructure provisioning can provide a compelling alternative to unauthorized shadow IT by enabling developers to access the infrastructure they need, when they need it. Containers, process standardization, and application portability via containers can give IT operations greater control and visibility across the environment.

STEP 6: Automate IT to accelerate application delivery
By seeking to eliminate manual IT tasks through IT or infrastructure automation, organizations can accelerate the delivery of cloud-native applications. Automation can integrate with and apply to tasks or components, from network and infrastructure provisioning to application deployment and configuration management. By having an integrated, full-scale, and enterprise-wide automation approach, organizations can yield higher efficiency, faster DevOps, and more rapid innovation.

STEP 7: Implement continuous delivery and advanced deployment techniques
Long release cycles can mean longer delays between the discovery and resolution of software bugs, as well as can be a barrier to timely responses to customer and market demand changes which can lead to higher business costs. The goal of automated delivery pipelines is to provide updates without affecting operational capacity, helping to reduce delivery risks. Advanced deployment patterns aim to reduce the risk of software releases and build an environment for experimentation with controlled outcomes without unintended negative consequences for customers. These techniques can enable organizations to deliver updates and releases at the frequency that business demands.

STEP 8: Evolve a more modular architecture
Evolving a platform that supports different frameworks, languages, and approaches to cloud-native application development—e.g., microservices, miniservices, or MonolithFirst— can be a key to success with cloud-native applications. Which route to a more modular architecture you choose to take can depend on the size of your company, business demands and organizational goals.

In digital transformation, every organization is at a different point on their journey to cloud-native applications. Some organizations may be focused on only one cloud-native use case, while others may be prioritizing a few use cases simultaneously. Whether you take an evolutionary or a revolutionary approach, your path is highly individual and not necessarily linear. Whatever your path, getting applications to market faster can require the right technology, DevOps practices, and culture. Depending on your stage and priorities within a digital and cloud-native journey, Red Hat has technologies and services that can support you.

Want to learn more? Tune in for our path to cloud-native applications webinar!

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