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Understanding cloud-native applications

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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.  

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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. 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—be it 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.

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, developers can more easily release and update apps as a collection of loosely coupled services, like microservices, instead of having to wait 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. This communication can be managed through a service mesh layer.

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), fully automated deployment operations, and standardized development environments.


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


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


Application programming interfaces (APIs) are sets of tools, definitions, and protocols for building application software. They connect products and services without having to know how they're implemented.


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.

The primary benefit of a cloud-native strategy is that it can increase the speed of application development for companies that have compute resources spread across different environments. For instance, you may have some resources housed on Amazon servers, Google servers, and also an Oracle database that you run on premise. Cloud-native development helps your company derive more value from this hybrid cloud architecture, but there is an additional step you can take as part of a cloud-native strategy.

Serverless refers to a cloud computing model whereby application developers don't have to provision servers or manage scaling for their app. Instead, those routine tasks are abstracted by the cloud provider, allowing developers to push code to production much faster than in traditional models.

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.

When you build your applications with Red Hat, you’ll have access to solutions like Red Hat Service Interconnect, which provides secure communication links between applications and services regardless of where or how they exist. This means that even legacy applications can continue running independently in their original environments while staying connected to the new applications you build and deploy in the future.

Icon-Red_Hat-Media_and_documents-Quotemark_Open-B-Red-RGB 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.

Chris Hart

CTO, Levvel

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