Cloud software development, once a trendy and somewhat distant technology, has become an integral part of any business that is serious about its future. Since the Covid-19 crisis cloud development market has witnessed even further growth. In its annual Internet Report, Cisco estimates that by 2021, 94% of workloads and compute instances will be processed by cloud data centers and only 6% by traditional data centers. Another mind-boggling prediction comes from the Data Attack Surface Report, which states that in less than 5 years half of the world’s data will be stored in the cloud. Another contributing factor to the ever-growing popularity of the cloud is the rise of remote work. Since spring 2020 with the pandemic, lockdowns, and social distancing, many aspects of our lives have changed. The way we work included. And today, almost 34% of employees say they prefer to work remotely and may quit their job if forced to return to the offices. Among organizations that choose cloud software development, 92% are at least “somewhat” in the cloud. Meaning they’re utilizing multiple cloud service providers, for instance, AWS and Google Cloud Platform. That way, if one of their services is temporarily unavailable, they can switch to a working backup for disaster recovery. But with all the advantages, many enterprises face challenges when moving to the cloud, the top three being issues with the security, managing of cloud spending, and governance. In fact, according to Statista’s 2019-2020 report on the challenges and risks of cloud computing, 30% of business owners complain that roughly 30% of their cloud budget goes to waste. But it doesn’t have to. In this article, we will guide you through what is cloud computing and cloud native development how it differs from traditional software development, what are the key component of cloud-native development, its main advantages, and risks. What is cloud computing, its types Cloud computing refers to the delivery of a range of services, such as servers, storage, databases, software, networking, analytics, by the means of the Internet, via “the cloud” as a cost-saving, agile and flexible solution and to bring innovation. But not all the clouds are made the same, to understand which one is the right solution for your business needs, you need to discern between various models, types of deployments, and services. The three ways of deploying cloud computing services are by the means of public, private, or hybrid cloud. Public cloud – with this cloud computing model, third-party cloud providers own and manage the computing resources such as servers, storage any hardware or software. The services that vendors offer might be free or subscription-based and are most suited for predictable computing needs, software development, or testing. It offers great technical agility for a good price. However, as a downside, the public cloud comes with a lack of security and cost control and pretty minimal technical control as well. Private cloud – refers to any cloud solution used exclusively by a certain business or an organization. With this model, the computing resources are located either on-premise or operated by third-party service providers. The private cloud is a perfect fit for government projects or highly regulated industries. For companies that require full control and security of their workloads or large enterprises. With this model, you can count on a dedicated and secure environment, flexibility, scalability, and efficient performance. But naturally, it comes with an outstanding bill. Hybrid cloud – combines both public and private cloud solutions, with data and applications shared between them. This gives the organization better flexibility, helps optimize existing infrastructure, scale with security, and takes into account compliance. Hybrid cloud is a good choice for organizations that operate. On various levels and face different compliance, security, or performance requirements. Or if you approach cloud investment with a strategic foresight in mind, trying to devise the best cloud service, delivery model. However, this approach adds a level of complexity, as you’ll have to manage and operate a mix of architectures. On top of that, navigating between the public and private cloud might result in some wasteful spending. Cloud-based or cloud-native application development? Another important aspect to consider, whether you want to go for a cloud-native or cloud-based development. Though often confused as they share some characteristics, the two differ in important ways. Cloud development or cloud-based development refers to writing code in the cloud by the means of a browser or online interface connected to a cloud-based infrastructure. While cloud-native software development is a specific type of cloud development that is container-based, dynamically orchestrated, and uses microservices architecture. The container-based and dynamically orchestrated nature of cloud-native applications makes them a subset of cloud-based apps. For instance, in such aspects as high availability or elastic scalability. While the microservices nature of cloud-native apps helps in delivering updates, some enhancements, or debugging. Thus, this approach nurtures the implementation of CI/CD processes and DevOps culture. Types of cloud services There's a wide variety of cloud services available on the market. To have a clear picture of what exactly you need from cloud software development and how it can help you achieve your business goals, it’s important to know what these services are and how they differ. Generally, most cloud services fall into one of the following categories: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), or software as a service (SaaS). Together they are often referred to as the cloud computing stack as they build on top of one another. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)Offers essential resources, such as storage, servers, network, on-demand on a pay-as-you-go basis. IaaS helps reduce on-premises data centers maintenance, as well as saves money spent on hardware. At the same time, it gives the flexibility you need to scale the resources on-demand and saves money by avoiding expenses on buying and managing physical servers and data center infrastructure. Each of these resources is offered as a separate service that you pay for as long as you need. Platform as a service (PaaS) Provides complete development and deployment environment in the cloud. Much like IaaS, it includes the infrastructure resources (I.e. storage, servers, networking) but also middleware, development tools, database management systems, BI services, etc. It supports the complete development lifecycle, from building and testing to deploying, updating, and managing. Cloud services providers offer PaaS resources on a pay-as-you-go basis which helps to avoid unnecessary expenses related to buying and managing software licenses, app infrastructure, and other resources. Software as a service (SaaS) Allows using a cloud-based app over the Internet without having to download, install or run it on the computer. The most widespread example of SaaS solutions would be Microsoft Office 365 or Gmail. It offers a complete solution for the end-users. For the business, it means renting the use of the solution that can be accessed over the Internet. The main advantages of this type of solution are compatibility, accessibility, and operational management. All of the underlying infrastructure, application software, data, and middleware are located in the cloud service provider’s data centers. The latter manages the hardware and software, as well as ensures the security of the solution. Cloud application development best practices Cloud-native application components So what constitutes a cloud application? Here are some key components that together make up cloud-native development: Containers Microservices DevOps processes APIs Serverless architecture CI/CD pipeline Containers Containers are a staple of cloud-native development. They provide the application with libraries, lightweight runtime, and dependencies that allow for application portability, meaning it can run as a stand-alone environment and be moved in and out of the cloud. Containers offer additional mobility and allow developers to effortlessly release and update apps, as well as focus more closely on the app itself, while the infrastructure is in hands of the operations team. Container orchestration is the management of these deployments across the enterprise. Microservices With the traditional, monolithic application development, the development, deployment, and management of the app are easier at the initial stages. But the bigger the app, the harder it is to solve any problems or add new features. That's where the microservice-based approach to software development comes in. It breaks down an app into the smallest components, microservices, that are independent of each other but work together towards the same tasks. Microservices usually run in containers which makes them an application payload for a container. This allows adding new features or functionality more quickly and easily, as well as minimizes the risks. DevOps As with any application development, one of the important components is the people and the automation processes that help them work together. To make this collaboration more efficient, cloud-native development adopts a DevOps culture. DevOps as an approach to software development and a new management culture adopt certain practices and work environment that supported by tool allows organization achieves their business goals faster and without the compromising the high-quality standards. By automating the software development routine, it reduces the time and effort typically spent on manual tasks. APIs Application programming interfaces (APIs) are sets of tools, definitions, and protocols that integrate, communicate and connect application software with services with simplicity, flexibility, safety, and control and without having to build new connectivity infrastructure. APIs can be private (only used internally), partnered (shared only with specific partners), or public (allow third parties to develop apps and interact with your APIs). Serverless Serverless architecture means that you don’t have to manage any servers, virtual machines, or containers. Despite what the name might suggest, there are still servers, of course, but the task of handling them falls on your cloud infrastructure provider. This allows you to execute the code in a form of functions at automatically provisioned infrastructure and environment. Any major cloud provider offers serverless nowadays: AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Microsoft Azure Functions, IBM/Apache’s OpenWhisk or OpenFaaS which is opensource under Linux Foundation governance. CI/CD Establishing continuous integration and continuous delivery processes is the essence of DevOps and cloud-native development. With a CI/CD pipeline, a series of steps are performed to deliver a new version of the software. It introduces automation and monitoring to improve application development, at the integration and testing stages, as well as delivery and deployment. The main advantage of this approach is in the better quality of applications, and faster and more stable updates. Choosing cloud vendors Another important step on your cloud journey is choosing a reliable cloud services provider. Luckily, there’s plenty to choose from. The ‘big three’ are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure. AWS has been on the market the longest and currently dominates it with a 32% market share, followed by Microsoft which has 18%, and Google – 6%, as a recent report suggests. Other reliable cloud providers worth considering are IBM Cloud, Oracle, Heroku, Rackspace. With so many to choose from, today companies often opt for using additional cloud providers, not to replace one with another but to cover different requirements, such as costs, managing risks, etc. Why go for cloud software development: key advantages As more and more organizations choose to adopt cloud, here are some of the deciding factors for opting for cloud software development: Reduced cost As cloud application development operates on the pay-as-you-go model, it means that you will be paying only for the cloud services that you are using. This allows to control expenses and not overspend where there’s no need. At the same time this approach requires to take into account carefully cost modelling during solution architecture design. Increased flexibility With cloud software development, cloud scalability is a part of the package, which means that you can easily scale up or down if need be. Better agility Another innate feature of cloud development – CI/CD means that developers can rapidly test and introduce new features in mere minutes or hours, not weeks or months, which nurtures innovation and helps beat the competition. Fast disaster recovery Cloud's ability to bounce back rapidly in case of meltdown adds up to the business’s ability to be more competitive and offer a better quality of services for their clients. To have this advantage in full, solution should follow IaC(Infrastructure-as-Code) principles which means that all the IT infrastructure components to be deployed in programmatic way. Effective collaboration Communication and sharing within the organization are also sufficiently improved with cloud computing, as anyone related to the project can easily access the same files from any location. This, in turn, improves collaboration and internal processes. Before you move to the cloud: challenges of cloud software development But with all fairness, it is also important to note the challenges that might come up on your cloud transformation journey. Here’s what you need to be aware of: Security concerns Although most of the security heavy lifting is done by the cloud services provider, security is still a top priority and concern. Depending on the domain you are operating in and the level of sensibility of your data, you might need to consider a hybrid or multilevel type of cloud, with workloads being split between public and private clouds. Culture shift Cloud software development brings a lot of relatively innovative ideas to what you’d consider a standard approach to software development, for instance, the adoption of DevOps culture. This inevitably leads to some reorganization within the structure, shifting of some roles and responsibilities which will require strong management skills. Compliance Another top concern when moving your product to the cloud is meeting GDPR and other security regulations that you will have to look closely into. At the same time such regulations valid for on-premises traditional solutions as well. Finding the right talent If your team hasn’t got previous experience in working with cloud development, you might want to consider looking for a software development partner that will help you handle all the issues and challenges that might arise on your way and help with an efficient time and cost-effective transition to the cloud. Conclusion Cloud native development has been the talk of the town and one of the leading tech trends for several years now and with everything happening in the world and the continued need for businesses to go online and digitalize, it will remain that way. This can be easily explained, cloud software development comes with numerous benefits such as extended flexibility, scalability, effective use of the resources, and speed of innovation. However, it comes with some challenges as well. You will have to be prepared to deal with various APIs integrations, planning of data architecture, as well as dealing with security and compliance. Symphony Solutions, as a trusted cloud software development partner, can help you make the most out of this technology and make your cloud adoption a smooth journey.