6 Pillars of a Winning Strategy for Cloud-Native Development

Published On: April 8th, 20204 min read

Cloud-native development can drive a wealth of business value — if you utilize the correct strategy.

Lots of developers love to build apps on cloud platforms from Google, Amazon, Microsoft and other providers because the cloud is a fast, easy to use and cost-efficient alternative to conventional development environments. Cloud providers offer popular services in the Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Function as a Service (FaaS) categories, including AWS Lambdas and Azure Functions. Such technologies take care of most, if not all infrastructure concerns so your developers can pay more attention to building responsive, adaptive solutions that drive business results.

The great thing about the cloud is that you pay only for the resources (compute, storage, network) you use. The pay-as-you-go model encourages developers to create microservices that spin up for a specific job and then go dormant again, generating a small fee for each request. Microservices are pivotal to the event-driven performance of modern, cloud-developed applications. Each microservice operates independently and must be able to scale up easily in response to shifting user requirements and demands.

Containerization is another popular tool for cloud-native development that’s often reserved for enterprise-level applications. Containers work a bit like an operating system in that they let you implement an application and its dependencies in one place where they can operate together and are portable, allowing businesses to avoid cloud vendor lock-in.

Containers add cost and complexity, so you have to carefully weigh whether you actually need them. Many times, a cloud-native microservices-based architecture that does not utilize containers is cheaper, simpler and can easily perform the heavy lifting, even with apps that serve large audiences and contain both a wide breadth and depth of functionality.

Deciding on the use of containers is just one of the complexities of organizing and orchestrating all the moving parts in a cloud-native application. A robust development strategy is mandatory to navigating all these issues.

These are the pillars of a cloud-native development strategy:

Business need. You don’t go cloud-native because it’s a hot trend. You go there to solve a vexing business challenge. Your strategy must be able to exploit the inherent speed, agility and economy of cloud-native development to address that challenge.

Continuity. Strategy starts with the first meeting and continues through all the iterations of your cloud-based software. It’s too easy to expend all your strategic energy on getting an app up and running and then lose focus after a few release cycles.

User experience. Your cloud-based app is a digital product, not a project. Therefore, you have to think strategically about how users navigate through each of your application’s features and capabilities.  Your personas, user interface and customer experience must align with your overall strategy.

Methodology. Cloud-native development typically uses Agile methods and DevOps principles to produce software in time frames as short as two weeks. Agile teams build iterations of the software and DevOps guidelines enable a consistent, effective delivery and release cycle.

Skills. Building applications on a cloud platform requires unique experience and training. Experience in other development environments doesn’t always translate. Your strategy cannot assume you have all the skills you need in-house. It must account for training and recruiting people with talents that align with how to best meet your business goals.

Culture. The advantages of microservices and the cloud allow for nearly infinite scaling and incredibly rapid, frequent updates and improvements to cloud-developed applications. This is a totally new mindset for many organizations, especially those that have not yet embraced Agile and DevOps. You need buy-in from the ground up and the top down in order to successfully instill a culture that will exploit these advantages.

A Strategic Partner for Cloud-Native Development

At DMI, our Agile teams and DevOps expertise help clients implement comprehensive strategies for developing applications natively in the cloud.

We’ve seen it time again: Hours upon hours of meetings produce a strategy that collects dust once development starts. That’s not how we do things. We give clients the guidance they need to align their development goals with their business strategy.

Cloud-native applications should advance your business goals in every phase of development. Our decades of experience and commitment to strategic solutions ensures our clients enjoy that kind of strategic alignment.

— Kyle Klimek, vice president, application development practice