Benefits of cloud native
The benefits of cloud native technologies, tools, and ways of working are:
Risk mitigation, high standardization around tools and technologies in cloud native reduces risk in several ways: organizationally (more knowledge transfer pathways and redundancy among engineers),
Reduced maintenance burden, cloud native technology is very conducive to automation and software-driven operations, which means less reliance on engineers for maintenance of requirements.
Lower CAPEX and OPEX costs. As a direct result of reducing risk and maintenance burden, adopting cloud native can significantly reduce CAPEX (upfront procurement required to conduct business) and operating expenses (ongoing costs associated with conducting business).
Enhanced security, adding security components to the Kubernetes-based cloud native platform can bring multiple layers of peripheral defense to your application without making any code changes to the application itself.
Developer-friendly experience that supports the DevOps way of working. This modern approach to application development and operations shifts operational responsibility onto application developers, eliminating inefficient inter-team communication bottlenecks.
All in all, cloud native technologies, tools, and ways of working enable you to increase your development efforts without increasing the size of your team. Assuming, of course, that you don't shrink your development team too much by requiring them to perform platform operations as well.
Without getting too philosophical, cloud native means using the cloud the way it should be, as it should be, not against it, hence the name.
There are other benefits, of course, greatly improved developer experience, ease of hiring and retention of talented developers who want to use the latest and greatest tools, being on the cutting edge of technology development is great for these tech people, and CNCF is an attractive community. All major companies rely heavily on cloud native to remain competitive, both in terms of providing successful and scalable online services in a cost-effective manner and in terms of the attention of engineers.
How does cloud native provide these benefits?
Essentially, cloud native relies on two foundations: standardization and automation.
Standardization around how software is deployed ensures that technology and tools are equally effective regardless of the underlying technology. Programming languages, underlying operating systems, cloud infrastructure… All of this once had a big impact on how software was deployed and operated, but is now abstracted away by standardization.
Automation has always been a desirable feature, but the high degree of automation we see today is a direct result of the rigorous standardization embodied in cloud nativity. Custom and fragile automation solutions are a thing of the past, and well-designed cloud-native applications can be highly automated by following standardized interfaces.
The task of operating software in a production environment has been greatly simplified due to standardization and automation. In fact, we've seen fully automated software distribution rise to levels that were previously feasible and available only to a few deep tech companies. Such process and tool support has become a commodity for companies of all sizes.
What are the pitfalls or biggest pitfalls of cloud native?
The benefits sound ok, but surely something is wrong?
None of the benefits of cloud native come out of thin air. Someone still has to provide the platform on which these technologies live. Because while platform technologies like Kubernetes offer developer-friendly abstractions that offer attractive cloud-native advantages, the cloud-native platform itself must be managed.
It is unreasonable to ask application developers to manage your Kubernetes platform because the skill requirements are completely different. The ability to make user-friendly applications or use databases efficiently to please end users does not overlap at all with the ability to solve performance or memory leaks deep within the operating system.
A more cost-effective way to take advantage of cloud native is to use the workbench as a service. Note, however, that the "shared responsibility model" of cloud providers means that most traditionally hosted Kubernetes services have a limited scope. With this, you can still manage the platform and troubleshoot. Given that Kubernetes is really just the foundation of a platform, your developers will be spending time dealing with an unknown number of problems that they should have been working on more efficiently, frantically googling troubleshooting suggestions to keep the platform running well.
In contrast, a fully hosted Kubernetes platform-as-a-service (KPaaS) product means that you need to pay a predictable cost to have a fully available and fully up to date Kubernetes platform.
It's like renting a car, service and warranty included, rather than building it yourself and having to maintain it. The former is predictable and suitable for those who want to focus on the core task of owning a car, focusing only on where to go. For those who need to maintain the platform themselves (relatively cost saving). But it also means standing in a ditch with smoke coming out of your engine and watching someone else zoom by on the freeway in a taxi.
There are considerable benefits for companies that adopt cloud-native technologies, tools, and ways of working. In fact, by 2022, major innovative and agile companies are already using them, so not doing so puts them at a disadvantage. Standardization and automation both help reduce risk and cost, and a properly configured Kubernetes-based platform can make your applications more standardized and streamlined.
The problem is that operating these platforms yourself means that your team of engineers is responsible for providing a safe, reliable, and performing environment for your applications. If your organization aims to deliver software services, the benefits may outweigh the cost of managing the additional operational and maintenance burden of the underlying platform.
The most cost-effective way to reap revenue is to have a team of experienced experts manage the platform and cloud infrastructure and provide a truly effective cloud-native Kubernetes platform service.