What is a Cloud Native Platform?

In this blog, we'll explain what a cloud native application platform is and why it's important to businesses as they go ...

In this blog, we'll explain what a cloud native application platform is and why it's important to businesses as they go through digital transformation projects. Many software-as-a-service (SaaS) products claim to be cloud-based, but as you'll find out, that's not always as clear-cut as it might seem. If you’re about to make a decision about purchasing software, take care to understand the differences that this article highlights as it might impact your business in the future.

What Is A Cloud Native Application Platform?

Businessman hand working with a Cloud Computing diagram on the new computer interface as concept-Aug-02-2022-11-04-28-56-AMIf you take a broad look at how software has developed for businesses over the years, you'll know that at the beginning most applications were written for in-house or in-your-data-center computer systems. With these applications, many of them were custom written for a particular organization. Slowly, larger software houses created applications that were used by multiple businesses, but you still deployed that software in your own data center.

The typical approach in your own data center is that there are high-speed WAN connections to all of your organization's remote offices. At this time, very few people worked from home; almost all knowledge workers were office based.

As these types of applications grew in functionality, so did their needs for storage and computing power. Complex, high-performance systems were built to house these applications. Often customers had server clusters set up to run these applications and provide a leave of resilience regarding hardware failure.

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A couple of decades ago, the internet emerged as a new possibility for application developers. Starting with relatively simple apps, some companies started to make applications that were used by many organizations across the globe.

Those software vendors that had previously had large applications running in corporate data centers needed to do something to take advantage of the surge in internet-based demand for applications. Unfortunately, most of those software vendors simply 'moved' their application to a cloud data center which was made publicly accessible.

These applications often suffer from several problems when they're trying to scale to a massive audience globally:

  • Chatty applications. Lots of data is sent to and from a client application (even an internet browser), leading to capacity problems even in data centers with large internet pipes. It is sometimes difficult, if not impossible, to use these applications on anything but the fastest internet connections.
  • Difficult to scale for performance. These applications often consume high CPU levels even when used by a single or a few customers. Once that is multiplied by thousands or tens of thousands of customers, larger and large server machines or clusters are needed. These are (and were) very expensive and complex and required additional expensive infrastructure to support them.
  • Difficult to scale for storage. Many of these applications have a single database. Some were modified to a single database per customer, but even with some very large customers, there are storage capacity concerns. This in turn often leads to applications requiring faster and faster-specialized disk arrays to host the storage needed.

These applications are not born in the cloud, for the cloud, nor do they embrace the cloud properly. Effectively in many cases, it's the same application that required expensive on-premise hardware, but now it's in a publicly accessible data center. Often little optimization was performed, and in many cases, there might be significant application re-engineering to take advantage of the cloud functions properly.

Also, in the last few years, a new breed of application has emerged which is born and developed with the cloud in mind throughout the whole application, including its design, development, and deployment. These applications scale easily and quickly and often use lower-cost replaceable and expandable storage and computing resources. They are usually linked with open-source initiatives and have APIs in mind to talk to and work together with other applications as needed from time to time.

These applications are known as cloud native applications. For more information on cloud native applications, look at this Wikipedia article.

It's worth noting that these definitions go hand in hand with the information we've written before about generations of archive migration solutions (and created a video overview). Many people who have been around the computer software industry for years will recognize these generational differences in almost every type of business application they've encountered.

What Is The Difference Between Cloud And Cloud Native?

One of the easiest ways to see the difference between cloud applications and cloud native applications is to compare them across features and design decisions:


Cloud Based

Cloud Native

Ease of deployment of the application

Sometimes browser-based, sometimes an application must be installed on an end-user machine. This can be problematic in large organizations and might not be available for all platforms.

Usually browser-based. Broad support across many different browsers on many other platforms and devices.

Security / Division of customers' data

Sometimes concerns are raised about the separation of data.

Division of data designed in from the beginning. Usually possible to have data in appropriate geos or multi-geos.

Scalability of computing resources

Often becomes a bottleneck, with busy customers impacting other customers on the same physical resources.

Built to be easily scaled up and down, as required.

Scalability of storage

Limitations can be reached for large enterprise customers.

Designed to be very dispersed, usually on cheaper, mass-produced hardware.

Ease of performing maintenance

Interruptions to using the software can occur whilst updates are installed, or hardware changed.

Interruptions hardly ever occur because of the cloud native architecture


Expensive because you may need to purchase specific, expensive hardware to run the application. You may need to have licensing for parts of an application that you do not require.

Cheaper because you’re usually paying just for licensing of the application.


Why Is Cloud Native Important To Your Business?

There are many advantages to having your business applications running on software and applications designed to be cloud native. Here are a few:

Cloud Native Applications Require Minimal Resources

We've all used applications that require long or complex installations, requiring specific versions of Windows or macOS. Even with cloud-based applications, there might be support for only some versions of Windows and no Apple Mac or Linux alternatives. These applications also might have a large installation footprint. Cloud native applications are not usually this way – though, of course, some differences exist!

Most cloud native applications are written with a web browser front-end in mind. No, or little installation is required, and since the application is often browser-based, it can be used on many different operating systems and devices with ease. The same application can often run on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone.

Cloud Native Applications Are Usually Agile For Bug-Fixing

 Since the entire application is running in a cloud environment, bug fixes and deployment of them is usually very easy and quick. Often a bug fix can be rolled out to a staging environment before it's made live to one or more customers, with the ability to roll back changes should a knock-on problem be discovered or the original fix deemed unsuitable.

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Cloud Native Applications Are Usually Agile For Enhancements

Just like bug fixing, new enhancements to an application can be delivered to a staging environment first of all. Once proven in that environment, which is often part of the live environment where customers are working, one or a few customers can receive the enhancement.

It's not unusual for some customers to run with these enhancements for a while before the enhancement is made available to all customers. Of course, it doesn't have to be that way... the enhancement can be rolled out to all customers at the push of a button if that's what the application provider wants to do. 

The key to both the bug-fixing and enhancement process is that it's quick to implement the change and quick to roll back if needed. Compare that with traditional in-house or cloud based applications which might take extended times to even deliver a simple bug fix.

Cloud Native Applications Are Usually Fast

Along with using minimal resources at the client end, cloud native apps are designed with minimal resources and high performance for the server side. Vendors often want thousands if not tens of thousands of customers to use the feature-rich environment, and so time is taken to ensure that minimal server-side resources are required as much as possible.

It's also usual to see that cloud native applications scale out easily and scale back depending on demand on the infrastructure. It's all done almost instantly, and end-users will probably not even notice that it has happened.

Cloud Native Applications Require Minimal Bandwidth, Helping Remote/Hybrid Workers

In the past, many applications have been seen by IT network administrators to be very 'chatty' on the network. This is okay in some corporate environments, where there is high-speed connectivity to almost every employee wherever they are located across the globe.

But these days, with many workers being remote or hybrid, and connectivity to corporate applications taking place over 3G or 4G networks, a cloud native application, which has been designed with minimal bandwidth requirements, is very important.

Why is Kubernetes Cloud Native?

Kubernetes is a framework that has been adapted by leading software vendors like Google, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, and many others. The framework defines building blocks to provide mechanisms to deploy, maintain, and scale applications making it easier for software developers to embrace the benefits of cloud native applications.

It was designed originally by Google, with the cloud at the very heart of its services, and has since been adopted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

Using Kubernetes means that application developers can focus on building and running their own specialized applications and use components in the framework to provide scalability and deployment benefits that were traditionally hard to achieve.

There is a wealth of information about Kubernetes on Wikipedia in this article.

For our development team, learning Kubernetes and using its power was truly eye-opening and revolutionary. We've written before about how our development team embraced Kubernetes. Take a look at that article for lots more information about how we've embraced the standard. 

In this article, you've seen how powerful a cloud native platform is when it comes to you, your organization,and the applications that you need to use for your business to succeed. As your enterprise-sized organization grows, and possibly acquires other organizations, having a cloud-native approach to software is essential to help maintain your leading edge, to succeed and it can help increase profits by providing access to information quickly on almost any device and platform.

Is your business using in-house applications? Are you using cloud based applications that are starting to reach capacity when it comes to computing power or storage? Review applications used throughout your organization and see how they fit into the on-premise, cloud, and cloud-native categories. Take a look at cloud native applications and see how they'll benefit your organization. 

With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast, and seamless. 

If you would like to learn more about how to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project, visit our website, or contact us.

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