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Home > Enabling and Benefitting From a Cloud-Native Environment

Comparing Two Schools of Application Development: Traditional vs. Cloud-Native

The application development process has gone through some important and dramatic changes in recent years, including such ground-shifting trends as agile development and DevOps. These have been invaluable steps forward in helping organizations develop new software faster and more frequently in order to help organizations achieve dramatic business outcomes without waiting weeks, months or even longer for new applications to break out of the application development bottleneck.

Now, organizations are in the midst of another dramatic change in application development: the move from traditional application development methodologies to a cloud-native application development mindset and process. It is a trend that is growing rapidly and becoming an imposing force reshaping how organizations tackle application development projects. In fact, research indicates that adoption of cloud-native application development techniques will spike in the coming years, with 32% of new enterprise applications set to be developed as cloud-native projects by 2020.

Of course, this is not a trivial shift in philosophy or practice for enterprises, most of which have devoted countless hours, personnel and budget to trying to bring applications out faster to meet ever-escalating demands of business groups for innovative, agile solutions. But, as CIOs and business executives talk extensively about “becoming a digital business” and “driving digital transformation,” traditional approaches for application development must be reimagined, re-architected and re-deployed in a cloud-native methodology.

The differences between these two schools of application development are stark, and they reflect the escalating move to shift not only production workloads, but also application development processes, into a cloud environment for a host of operational and economic reasons.

How cloud-native stacks up against traditional application development techniques
Whether the goal is to modernize legacy enterprise applications or to build new ones—most likely using a public cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environment—organizations are rapidly finding that cloud-native application development offers numerous advantages over traditional approaches.

First, let’s start with a common definition and consistent language for cloud-native application development. In a nutshell, cloud-native application development is built upon a service-based architecture, application programming interface (API)-driven communications, container-based infrastructure and a bias for DevOps process such as continuous improvement, agile development, continuous delivery and collaborative development among developers, quality assurance teams, security professionals, IT operations and line-of-business stakeholders.

It is also helpful to break down the two approaches by a variety of filters, including goals and priorities, delivery cycles, application architecture, infrastructure and development methods. For instance, cloud-native application development:

  • Prioritizes speed to market, with an emphasis on rapid rollout of new software to enable new business features or functions. This compares with traditional development methods, which are predicated on a slow, long-term development process that assumes underlying software code and the overarching business value of traditional development applications remain stable over a long period of time.
  • Focuses on short, continuous development cycles, rather than the long timeframes typical of traditional methods.
  • Is built on containers and microservices infrastructure utilized both in the cloud and on-premises, rather than a server-centric infrastructure model designed exclusively for on-premises development and deployment.
  • Replaces tightly integrated architectures with loosely coupled, services-based architecture built with an API communications mindset.
  • Modernizes legacy waterfall or semi-agile development methods with agile development and a DevOps

The result: An application development process that is faster, continuous and security-integrated from the start, and optimized for fast-moving digital businesses.

How IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service supports a cloud-native mindset
Since one of the hallmarks of cloud-native application development is that it works equally well in cloud and on-premises environments, many organizations choose to deploy cloud-native development and deployment using PaaS as a cost-efficient, agile development center.

IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service is an innovative, flexible, secure and efficient platform for developing and deploying cloud-native applications. Based on the popular Kubernetes open source platform for managing containerized workloads and microservices, the IBM PaaS solution facilitates cloud-native development with an architecture closely aligned with the core cloud-native principles outlined earlier—including API-based communication, container-based infrastructure, agile development/DevOps and loosely coupled architecture.

It provides even more utility in the development of cloud-native applications by supporting microservices related to the Internet of Things, IBM Watson artificial intelligence and sophisticated data analytics.

IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service also is engineered to support the growing trend toward DevSecOps, where security “shifts left” to the front of the application development process—an increasingly critical requirement for cloud-native application development.

The breakneck pace of business innovation that is driving digital transformation can no longer be supported by traditional, legacy application development methodology. Instead, organizations are overhauling their strategies and philosophies toward application development to align with a cloud-native mentality.

IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service makes cloud-native application development second nature to digital businesses looking to move faster and to ensure continuous delivery of new, software-driven business process improvements that yield competitive advantage.