November 24, 2023

4 minutes

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Future proofing your business with cloud native technologies

The growth of cloud technologies has been one of the significant changes in how business systems are delivered in the past decade. In 2022, worldwide spending on public cloud was $169 billion, with AWS and Azure making up just over 60% of that number. Much of that growth has been in infrastructure that provides the foundation for cloud-native software, as up-and-coming companies find ways to deliver technology without major investments in hardware. So, why is this such a clear choice for many? 

Let’s start with a look at what we mean by cloud-native development. Before the advent of cloud services, software was generally developed as a single codebase and deployed to dedicated on-premise hardware. Wide Area Networks could deliver these systems to distributed locations and we could also host them on dedicated hardware in data centres designed to be resilient and secure. This approach is very predictable, but has always presented challenges in scalability, efficient resource utilisation, and a tricky path to upgrades. 

As soon as developers gained access to on-demand resources from cloud providers, they began to design ways to exploit this to achieve that scalability and be more flexible in their ability to deliver changes and innovation, no longer constrained by the sunk cost of the data centre. They created Microservices, a method of breaking down applications into many smaller codebases that are independently manageable and deployable, providing more agility in upgrades and providing that scaling option. Over time we saw the introduction of Containers, which facilitate portability through providing a consistent environment for applications, and services like Kubernetes which automated these activities. Cloud-Native is the term for designing applications from the ground up to take advantage of cloud infrastructure, rapidly evolving capabilities in cloud platforms and microservices. 

So far, so techy. What does this really mean for businesses and organisations and how they exploit technology to provide a better, more efficient service to their clients? That scalability issue is one that has so often been a constraint, where a business experiences sudden growth (or, in some cases, a downtrend) and their technology does not have the capacity or capability to support the demand. A classic example of this from the recent past was MySpace. It was the dominant social media platform before Facebook, but its success outstripped its ability to provide a consistent and reliable service, leaving the door open for those that followed. 

This example is from the technology industry, but the lessons are valid everywhere. There are many ways a competitor can steal a march on your company, such as: 

  • You cannot react quickly enough to a customer requirement. 
  • You cannot provide enough capacity to service a customer requirement. 
  • Your competitor provides a new service that you must match within a short period of time. 
  • Your competitor reduces their cost base, leaving you unable to sustain acceptable margins. 
  • You suffer a security issue through rushed implementations, affecting your reputation. 

The issues of scalability and speed to react are common to so many stories of how a new business has gained a foothold in an industry they come to dominate, and for every winner there is a loser that did not have those attributes.  

Taking that last example a little further, it’s understood that cloud-native development provides a better way to build security in to your software development process. The isolation of individual microservices and containers provide barriers to security breaches spreading across an application, and the automation of testing and vulnerability scanning through DevSecOps methods are all benefits that can be derived from this approach. 

Taking a cloud-native approach to your technology investments isn’t without downsides, and it would be silly to pretend otherwise. The learning curve for these technologies is significant, which incurs cost of change for internal teams. New processes and governance must be considered to manage costs of cloud services and software maintenance. Utilising cloud-native components has the effect of “lock-in” to a particular cloud vendor, which may not be an optimal outcome. It is worth considering all the pros and cons before launching into a new strategy. 

However, taking all this into account, the benefits of speed and scalability, along with the innovation opportunities that are available to your business and the inherent reliability of cloud native applications should be a compelling reason to invest in the possibilities offered by this technology approach, especially if you recognise any of the scenarios listed above, or have designs on growing your market share at the expense of slower-moving competitors. 

We have many examples from the recent past of how Jumar has helped our customers take these steps and deliver immediate benefits to their customers and employees, with positive implications for both the top- and bottom-lines. To explore how you can protect yourself from competitive pressures and set yourself on the path to taking a larger market share through this investment, get in touch.