6 Differences Between Cloud Native Architecture and Cloud Independent Architecture
There’s not much debate anymore about whether an organization benefits from migrating at least part of its overall software architecture to the cloud. However, there is still debate surrounding the architectural approach organizations should take to design reliable and resilient cloud-based application systems.
Often, organizations turn to one of two main approaches: a cloud-native approach, where organizations commit to working within the confines of a proprietary cloud platform, and a cloud-agnostic approach, which emphasis on portability and functionality in most, if not all. , cloud environments.
The choice between a cloud-native and cloud-agnostic approach has become increasingly important with the rise of multi-cloud strategies. The decision will have a huge impact on an architecture’s ability to survive in the cloud.
What is a cloud-native architecture?
The cloud-native architecture approach encourages developers to build applications that work natively in a particular cloud environment. While some organizations maintain their own private cloud platforms, most of the time this involves a proprietary third-party platform provider like AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, Alibaba Cloud, or Oracle.
In this approach, software teams benefit from sophisticated features and plugins within the proprietary cloud platform, as well as the stability of managed services. Developers and other application managers are freed from the burden of numerous back-end configurations and integration issues and can usually rely on vendor support in the event of a major local outage.
Therefore, however, developers can design apps and services that can only work on a specific cloud platform. While it is possible for some of these proprietary platforms to maintain cross-functionality, particularly as multi-cloud spreads, porting these applications to another platform will likely require extensive code refactoring and application rebuilds.
What is a cloud-agnostic architecture?
A cloud-agnostic architecture strategy focuses on designing applications that can run seamlessly in any cloud environment. Cloud-independent apps and services don’t depend on the limited toolchains of a single major cloud platform. Instead, they can integrate with a completely custom mix of vendor-provided and open-source tools. While this arguably presents a degree of risk in terms of tool compatibility and standardized application management, it frees the organization from vendor lock-in.
The flexibility and freedom of a cloud-agnostic approach appeals to many organizations, which is why it has gained traction in many development workshops. However, developing a vendor-neutral application or service requires more work to create and integrate all the required functionality, which can be a cumbersome task for development teams.
Cloud-native or cloud-independent architecture
While both architecture approaches lead to the same goal – hosting distributed applications in the cloud – the cloud-native approach offers development teams a very different experience than the cloud-independent approach. While there are many points of comparison to consider, below are six key areas of application development and architecture management where the differences between cloud native and cloud agnostic are hard to ignore:
Proprietary cloud service providers (CSPs) typically charge enterprise customers based on a combination of licensing and data storage requirements, allowing organizations to follow a pay-as-you-go model rather than pay flat-rate subscription fees. On top of that, CSPs like AWS, Azure, and Oracle offer dedicated cloud cost management services that help organizations control cloud-related expenses.
With the cloud-agnostic approach, however, organizations are on their own. Since cloud-neutral architectures have greater accessibility to open-source tools, some argue that they provide more direct control over costs and the ability to adjust spending as needed. However, it does require organizations to carefully track expenses to ensure money isn’t wasted on tools or platform services that the development team isn’t using. On top of that, the organization is responsible for the cost of recovery from major application failures, which can add up to a hefty bill.
Cloud-neutral approaches generally offer more development flexibility than cloud-native approaches. Indeed, with cloud-agnostic architectures, developers are not limited to the capabilities or tools of a proprietary cloud platform. Additionally, the cloud-independent architecture often incorporates open-source tools, libraries, and integrations that are constantly evolving to reflect emerging development trends.
On the other hand, cloud-native applications can benefit from a proprietary platform’s built-in provisions for security, networking, monitoring, and other underlying architectural issues that tend to thwart efforts. significant development. AWS CodeCommit and CodePipeline are examples of powerful toolsets that only those who subscribe to the platform can take advantage of.
It should be noted that automation and DevOps platforms such as Jenkins and Gitlab provide a viable level of support for independent and cloud-neutral application releases. However, the cloud-agnostic lifestyle will inevitably require developers to build and integrate features on their own, which can be a time-consuming and costly process that requires significant levels of in-house expertise.
3. Time to market
A cloud-native strategy will often enable faster time-to-market for application releases than a cloud-neutral strategy, thanks to the range of pre-built templates, tools, and out-of-the-box frameworks that most vendors include in their proprietary platform. For example, Google Cloud Platform’s Cloud Build service lets developers build, deploy, and test out-of-the-box applications, and even provides a streamlined system for rapid multi-cloud deployments.
The complexity of calibrating a cloud-agnostic architecture to support new applications and features means projects can take some time to get started. Because of this, organizations can risk losing a competitive advantage.
Cloud-agnostic architecture is arguably the best option when it comes to scaling applications and services. Indeed, in a cloud-agnostic architecture, applications and services can move across cloud platforms, meaning they can quickly scale to meet demand.
This is particularly useful when migrating from on-premises architectures to the cloud, as having a cloud- or platform-agnostic architecture eases the transition while keeping core business services on-premises. Open source tools such as Helm charts for resource creation or Prometheus for monitoring work the same regardless of the cloud platform they are used on.
The cloud-native architecture makes the most of CSP tools, and the cost of these tools will include support for things like security enforcement, back-end management, and ongoing application monitoring. With a cloud-agnostic approach, on the other hand, you could be paying for tools you never use.
There can also be orchestration challenges associated with cloud-agnostic architectures where applications run on multiple platforms. For example, it can be difficult to create a unified orchestration layer that can effectively handle the complexities and differences of each cloud platform.
Developing applications and services to work in any production environment, as is the case with cloud-agnostic architectures, can provide a good amount of redundancy and recovery speed in the event of a failure. To further minimize downtime, you can switch services to another platform while a platform is undergoing maintenance or experiencing a disruption.
Cloud-native strategies, on the other hand, often carry the risk of vendor lock-in. If a CSP decides to dramatically increase prices or discontinue services, companies with cloud-native architecture may be left behind.
When to use each approach
Cloud-native and cloud-agnostic approaches aren’t mutually exclusive, and you don’t necessarily have to go all out when choosing a strategy. It’s technically possible to use each approach for different business teams with unique needs.
A common approach is to adopt a cloud-agnostic strategy when development teams focus on core business applications and services, so that the continuity of your business model does not depend on the competency or survival of a vendor. of clouds. You can then leverage the speed and cost-effectiveness of cloud-native architecture to run ancillary applications and services in the cloud.
You can also start with a cloud-native-only approach to quickly bring consumer-facing web applications to market, then slowly migrate to a cloud-neutral architecture once you’ve established business stability or acquired the specialized resources. needed to create a cloud-agnostic environment. Infrastructure. For example, the slow introduction of some of the previously mentioned open-source tools could protect you from vendor lock-in, which can give you the best of cloud-native and cloud-agnostic architecture.