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Cloud based, Cloud-enabled and Cloud-native applications explained

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Ever since cloud became a major rage, enterprises have been frantically migrating their business-critical workload and data over it. COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown gave a further push to its mass adoption across geographies. Cloud based, cloud-enabled, and cloud-native software have become the common buzzwords in the IT industry, sometimes used interchangeably. However, they differ from each other on a fundamental level. Let us begin by understanding their definitions:

Cloud-based applications – Cloud, in simple terms, refers to the storage location for applications, software, databases, or servers. Hence, cloud-based applications are software that have their underlying database and servers stored on the cloud. As a result, such applications can be accessed from anywhere and through any device.

Cloud-enabled applications – A cloud-enabled application is an application that was developed traditionally on monolithic architecture but was later migrated to the cloud environment. For the cloud migration, it is necessary to change some characteristics of such applications for them to reap the benefits of the cloud. The following are the most common ways of migrating the applications to the cloud:

  1. Lift and shift model – This approach involves moving your application’s underlying resources from an ‘on-premises’ data center to the cloud as-is. In this option, the application codebase remains the same. The infrastructure is migrated to cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), including cloud-based storage, compute, and network resources.
  1. Re-platforming - This approach is also known as “lift-tinker-and-shift”. In this approach, a developer might make a few cloud (or other) optimizations in order to achieve some tangible benefits. However, they are not changing the core architecture of the application.
  1. Re-architect – In this approach, the legacy monolithic application is re-architected according to the microservices model and containerized to roll out modern DevOps practices. This involves decomposing or dividing monolithic application into a collection of services that can be built, deployed, and managed independently.
  1. Re-building – Contrary to other approaches, in this approach legacy application codes are re-written keeping cloud-native environment in mind. Outdated legacy platforms are replaced with modern framework. This approach might consume a lot of resources. However, in the long-run, it yields maximum benefits for being a true digital-native organization.

Cloud-native applications – Such applications are built on the cloud to leverage various advantages of cloud computing and are based on micro-services. When an application is “cloud-native,” it is specifically designed to provide a consistent development and automated management experience across private, public, and hybrid clouds.

What are the benefits of hosting applications in the cloud?

  1. Low costs, high ROI – Hosting applications in the cloud removes the extraneous burden of investing in dedicated servers, security systems, backup, and storage. This, in turn, reduces the overall setup cost of the application. Also, configuring applications in the cloud is way easier and reduces the overhead on IT operations as it minimizes the cost of maintaining these applications.
  2. Increased mobility – Owing to the ‘Work from Home’ model, mobility now holds more importance than ever. It is an integral requirement of a hybrid workplace. Hosting of applications in the cloud makes them easily accessible across organization from anywhere and through any device.
  3. Advanced security – Gone are the days when cloud was considered to be less secure. Cloud services providers sign stringent SLAs with their customers that clearly lay down the security guidelines that will be followed to ensure highest level of safety. The cloud service providers have cyber security experts to perform penetration testing, threat assessment, security audits, and defense mechanism against DDOS and risk mitigation.
  4. Scale on demand – One of the most basic benefit of hosting applications in the cloud is the flexibility and scalability that it offers. Cloud offers ‘pay-per-use’ model, which allows enterprises to pay for storage, network, and computation services that they actually use. Also, it allows enterprises the flexibility to scale up their cloud capabilities during peak demand time and return them to normal whenever they need, thereby reducing wastage of resources.

In conclusion, cloud based, cloud-enabled or cloud native – whatever approach an organization may select, cloud offers tremendous benefits and returns on investments. It has many advantages over hosting applications on-premise. In this multifaceted business environment, enterprises need to rationalize their complex, ineffective, expensive IT systems into a simpler, efficient, and cost-effective IT portfolio. To achieve this, the IT landscape must be aligned with the organization’s business objectives and should be flexible enough to survive trying times. Cloud is certainly one such solution.

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