7 min

Why You Should Consider Creating Cloud-Native Apps

In this panel from BTEX 2022, experts discuss recent trends, benefits and challenges of going cloud-native.

What's Inside
Panel of experts talking about cloud services and cloud native applications.

“Cloud-native is about building apps with speed, agility and resiliency,” says Andy Jennings, Senior Cloud Solution Architect, CDW Canada, speaking at a panel at CDW’s 2022 Business Technology Expo. “It’s all about leveraging cloud-native technologies to design and construct applications that have resiliency built in, which makes it easier for clients to actually add and remove components of an application and upgrade them with amazing speed.”

“Cloud-native technologies are really helping leaders to be able to innovate applications in terms of using containers, serverless and microservices architectures,” says Dalia Daoud, Partner Solution Architect, AWS. “We are starting to see our clients take full advantage of on-demand delivery and global deployments, leveraging elasticity and being able to enable improvements in terms of developer productivity, business agility, utilization and cost savings.”

Common security challenges in the cloud

“The biggest challenge with cloud-native security is the tight coupling of applications to middleware, operating systems and infrastructure,” says Adam Fournier, Areas Director Solution Engineering, VMware Tanzu. “When a security vulnerability comes along, it makes it very difficult to adapt and patch. We are helping customers with how they can automate and extract away the infrastructure, decouple layers from an application and automate the testing across those.”

“The ever-increasing demand, especially around the pandemic, on these applications, has definitely exposed different vulnerabilities that a lot of application developers have never had to deal with before,” Fournier says. “Architecture as code tends to be the most beneficial way that you can do all the other security things from a cloud perspective and make sure the application adapts to those and leverages them.”

“Security has become front of mind for all organizations as we’re moving to this hybrid model,” says CDW’s Andy Jennings. “How do I make sure that the connection between the cloud and the on-premises environment is secure?”

Jennings suggests that organizations should recognize there are going to be vulnerabilities and use tools to ensure that they’re monitoring systems to move quickly and fill those gaps. And when it comes to ransomware, more organizations are looking into zero-trust security to make it harder for adversaries to access the environment.

Redeploying apps and containers can also help remove persistent threats, according to Fournier. “If I continuously redeploy my apps in an automated fashion, and just change things on a regular basis, that makes it a lot harder for zero-day attacks.”

How to optimize your hybrid work strategy with cloud-native services

“The pandemic has definitely changed the way that we work,” says Dalia Daoud from AWS. “Leveraging cloud-native services has helped enable rapid deployment.” For example, a virtual computer lab can provide students with the resources they need to learn from home, or a Desktop as a Service solution can help provision a Windows or Linux desktop in just a few minutes. “All of these are methods and services that help you eliminate managing hardware inventory, OS versions and patches.”

“The hardest part you have to consider is low bandwidth areas,” says Adam Fournier from VMware. “The more I can make sure that data is staying in the cloud, and I’m able to do things remotely, that will help performance.”

Organizations have also built proxies for systems that can live in the cloud. “I can use cloud-native technologies and apps so that everyone connects to that proxy, and I can set that up properly so that I don’t have to worry about bandwidth and can keep my workforce going in a productive manner,” says Fournier.

How to integrate newer systems with legacy infrastructure

“VMware is trying to make it easier to take a VMware-type infrastructure and move it to AWS or Microsoft Azure,” says Fournier. “The biggest challenge is what we call data gravity. There is a certain part where a new system has to connect to something that’s still back on-prem and is hard to move, and it slows everything down. Understand app dependencies, where things are and learn how to move things in a simpler fashion, so that when you get to the more complex systems, you know what’s going to work and what’s not.”

“Being a part of VMware Tanzu, we’re always looking at the apps, because the app sits between what the business is trying to do and what IT strategy has to look at. So we always start from an app perspective,” Fournier adds.

“Clients tend to pick the most strategic application they have, and they want to get it into the cloud,” says CDW’s Andy Jennings. “But let’s take a look at what your environment really looks like, what can we move easily to the cloud, with the lowest risk and highest reward?”

“What we need to figure out is if we can move some sort of front end of the database into the cloud, and then we can set up a gateway, so we can have access to the back end. Nobody wants to do a ‘Select All’ on 5TB of data! Maybe it’s better to parse out the last year of information, park it in a cloud data warehouse, and have these two systems communicate with each other. As things time out, it moves up into the cloud in a continuous cycle.”

“We often think of hybrid infrastructure as including the cloud along with other edge nodes and on-premises data centres, but the way our customers consume a hybrid offering is with the same APIs, control planes, even the same hardware,” says Dalia Daoud. “The ability to leverage cloud-native architecture has been able to fulfill a lot of our biggest use cases.”

Are containers an essential part of a cloud-native strategy?

“Not everything is designed to run in a container,” says Adam Fournier. “We try to think of it more as a landing zone, so there’s maybe a container, bare metal, virtualized…it all depends on the app architecture.”

“A container has to have some sort of resilience, is it designed to be self-healing, and is it able to scale dynamically? If it’s a steady-state workload that you can predict, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a container, especially if I don’t have to worry about resiliency,” Fournier says.

“The most important thing is talent. Do you have the skills to do it? Pick the apps, pick the workloads first, then make sure you build the skillsets up because hiring for people who know containers is non-trivial. Use a small group to build a larger strategy and figure out which apps make sense for containers, versus trying to take a 5TB database and shove it in a container.”

“We all know that container adoption is rapidly growing, and more and more clients are wanting to move with speed, to focus on innovation and delivering systems to really have more efficient productivity,” says Dalia Daoud from AWS. “If what you value as a customer is being able to run containers without having to worry about servers or clusters, we have a serverless container offering which is much easier to run.”

“By moving to a controlled and repeatable environment and embracing automation, we’re seeing a lot of productivity and a dramatic increase in quality, stability as well as security,” says Daoud.