Understanding cloud-native applications

To succeed in fast-paced, software-driven markets, companies must change the way they design, build, and use applications. Cloud-native application development is an approach to building, running, and improving apps based on well-known techniques and technologies for cloud computing.  

What are cloud-native applications?

Cloud-native applications are a collection of small, independent, and loosely coupled services. They are designed to deliver well recognized business value, like the ability to rapidly incorporate user feedback for continuous improvement. In short, cloud-native app development is a way to speed up how you build new applications, optimize existing ones, and connect them all together. Its goal is to deliver apps users want at the pace a business needs.

But what about the "cloud" in cloud-native applications? If an app is "cloud-native," it’s specifically designed to provide a consistent development and automated management experience across private, public, and hybrid clouds. Organizations adopt cloud computing to increase the scalability and availability of apps. These benefits are achieved through self-service and on-demand provisioning of resources, as well as automating the application life cycle from development to production.

But to fully utilize these benefits, a new form of application development is needed.

Cloud-native development is just that—an approach to building and updating apps quickly, while improving quality and reducing risk. More specifically, it’s a way to build and run responsive, scalable, and fault-tolerant apps anywhere—whether in public, private, or hybrid clouds.

A quick look at cloud-native apps

Cloud-native app development sounds like another IT industry buzzword, but it might just be the breakthrough organizations are looking for to speed up innovation. We asked Ashesh Badani, Vice President and General Manager of Cloud Platforms at Red Hat, to describe what cloud-native app development means to him.

How do I build a cloud-native app?

It starts with the people in your organization and the automation processes that help them collaborate. That means bringing your development and operations teams together with shared purpose and regular feedback through DevOps.

Container adoption supports these practices by offering an ideal application deployment unit and self-contained execution environment. With DevOps and containers, apps become easier to release and update as a collection of loosely coupled services, like microservices, instead of waiting for one large release.

Cloud-native development focuses on an architecture’s modularity, loose coupling, and the independence of its services. Each microservice implements a business capability, runs in its own process, and communicates via application programming interfaces (APIs) or messaging.

You don’t always have to start with microservices to speed up application delivery as part of cloud-native apps, though. Many organizations can still optimize their legacy apps using a pragmatic, service-based architecture. This optimization is supported by DevOps workflows like continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) and fully automated deployment operations.


DevOps is an approach to culture, automation, and platform design intended to deliver increased business value and responsiveness.

Understanding DevOps


A microservices architecture breaks apps down into their smallest components, independent from each other.

Understanding microservices


An application programming interface (API) is a set of tools, definitions, and protocols for building application software. They connect products and services without having to know how they're implemented.

Understanding APIs


Containers allow apps to be packaged and isolated with their entire runtime environment, making it easy to move them between environments while retaining full functionality.

Understanding containers

Why build cloud-native apps with Red Hat?

Whether your industry is telecom, banking, healthcare—even cattle farming—you are now also a software company, with applications at the center of business strategy. This software-driven business transformation requires new apps to be developed and delivered faster, for users who have come to expect a higher quality. This is no small task. Red Hat believes it will require investing in your processes, infrastructure, and architecture to compete in modern, fast-changing markets.

In order to support these changes, Red Hat believes organizations will need a new platform to enable improvements across your architecture, infrastructure, and processes. The end goal is the ability to deliver higher-quality apps with greater agility.

Many companies know they need to achieve higher release velocity and improved reliability using approaches like microservices architecture and more modern development and operations tools. Historically, one of the biggest challenges has been the roadmap necessary for change in legacy environments. OpenShift Application Runtimes helps simplify that transformation and lowers the effort and risks to getting started with cloud-native development.

What can you do faster with cloud-native apps?

Building cloud-native apps means changing how your teams collaborate with each other, and adding tools and processes to support them. Those changes don’t just make it easier to build apps for a distributed systems environment—they give teams what they need to make your business run faster.


Apps get to customers faster when they can take advantage of a cloud-native environment.


A cloud-native app will adapt quicker to changing markets and customer needs.


New business opportunities mean you need new features and apps ASAP. Agile teams can develop cloud-native apps to meet time constraints.


You need to innovate across your organization, and switching to a cloud-native development model frees up teams to do so.

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The foundation you need for cloud-native apps

Cloud computing

Red Hat OpenShift Logo

A container and Kubernetes platform for faster deployment of cloud-native applications.

Cloud computing

Red Hat OpenShift Application Runtimes Black and White Logo

A selection of application runtimes and frameworks well-suited for developing cloud-native apps.

There's a lot more to do with cloud-native apps