Cloud Native Applications are Getting Smart – The New Stack

Pierre Fricke

Pierre joined D2iQ in 2022 leading product marketing. Pierre is responsible for leading D2iQ’s company story, announcements, analyst relations, and driving visibility. Most recently, Pierre served as Senior Director of Product Marketing for private cloud at Rackspace. In this role, Pierre led the effort to produce a unified private cloud marketing strategy and message. In addition, Pierre held product marketing roles at IBM, EnterpriseDB and JBoss Middleware.

Businesses everywhere are under pressure to drive innovation and performance that can speed them to new heights. State-of-the-art technologies and methodologies such as multicloud, Kubernetes, cloud native applications, AI/ML, data integration, and DevSecOps are enabling companies to achieve a new level of business performance and velocity. In fact, velocity and agility are fundamental to leading in today’s marketplace. As Gartner predicts, “By 2025, cloud native platforms will serve as the foundation of more than 95% of new digital initiatives.”.

While cloud native applications have been all the rage in recent years, three trends are changing the nature of cloud native application development and delivery, on Day 2 and beyond. This new generation of cloud native applications are smarter, reaching to the edge, and are more secure.

Cloud native platforms and the applications built on them get a lot of attention. That’s because cloud native applications, DevOps processes, and technologies that make them possible deliver a level of business and IT agility with speed that is unparalleled.

But now we see cloud native applications getting smarter by incorporating another disruptive technology: artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML).

AI/ML enable organizations to process and understand the large volumes of data bombarding them and their customers every day. This level of data integration and processing using smart machine-learning models enable a new level of intelligent and sophisticated applications that understand customers, value chains, and ecosystem trends better than ever before.

Smart cloud native applications hosted on a flexible Kubernetes and multicloud infrastructure deliver the ability to innovate and lead in every market. Failing to acquire Kubernetes and AI capabilities will put your organization at risk of falling behind competitors who are mastering these technologies.

Smart cloud native applications build on Kubernetes and, by incorporating AI/ML, enable you to achieve your vision by:

  • Providing access to the latest cloud native technologies while enabling a variety of multicloud and hybrid-cloud, on-premise, edge, and air-gapped configurations that are best suited for your organization and application requirements.
  • Delivering a platform suitable for DevSecOps so that the organization increases its agility to respond and even drive change in their market.
  • Increase the ability of your applications to process all relevant data in the business moment, driving a level of intelligence and learning in your applications and organizations not previously achievable.

Smart Cloud Native Applications Reach for the Edge

One of the ways cloud native applications get and stay smart is to continually integrate and intelligently process the right data for the specific application available, including at the edge of the network and from the Internet of Things (IoT).

As IDC relates in a Forbes article, by 2023, ”more than half of new enterprise IT infrastructure will be at the edge, which is five times greater than what it is today. Similarly, Gartner predicts that 75% of enterprise-generated data will be “created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud by 2025.”

Kubernetes is the foundation of a smart cloud native application platform and set of management tools that enable easier, faster, and manageable incorporation of edge data and applications into the enterprise product and service streams. This is why it makes it ideal for edge computing scenarios that often require IoT solutions to have the ability to quickly deploy new features and updates to meet customer and market demands.

This promise of even smarter cloud native applications using all available and relevant data may be stymied by a range of challenges. These challenges include limited network availability, compute and power limitations, and no tolerance for downtime; however, they can be overcome.

Smart Cloud Native Applications Get More Secure

Smart cloud native application architectures and DevOps processes enable more data, intelligence, and agility to be applied to business processes to deliver better outcomes. But this is an even more tempting target for bad actors working to penetrate out-of-date security technologies, processes, and implementations not designed for this smart cloud native world.

As the NSA/CISA Kubernetes hardening guidance notes, “Traditional IT infrastructures have more inherent vulnerabilities than do modern cloud native containerized infrastructures.” At the same time, a Kubernetes virtualized infrastructure “can provide several flexibility and security benefits compared to traditional, monolithic software platforms.”

Air gapping your networks, as Gartner analyst Augusto Barros notes, “is probably one of the most effective controls (not fail-proof, however; think Stuxnet, for example) to protect highly sensitive systems.”

Getting to a military-grade security posture isn’t easy. It involves people, processes, and technology:

  • People – The employees, partners, customers and other stakeholders accessing your company’s applications are a key focus area for strong security. They need to be trained in best practices from password management to understanding the nature of various online scams.
  • Processes – Your security processes support the good actors in maintaining strong security and prevent the bad actors from accessing your data and applications. Some of these processes include password management, active review of network management, and firewall checklists, scan containers and software images regularly.
  • Technology – The obvious technologies that enable authentication, authorization, detection and prevention should be deployed. But beyond that, consider that open source communities that are active usually have more people looking at the code and fixing it, finding and fixing security issues faster. A vendor-backed team focused on making sure their technology (e.g., AI/ML, cloud native development frameworks, Kubernetes) is secure coupled with that active community is the best of both worlds.

It is critical to your customers, partners, and the value chain at large that you present a strong security strategy and implementation to instill confidence that will incentivize these stakeholders to do more business with you.

A New Era of Smart Cloud Native Applications

Cloud native applications have been with us for a while, taking advantage of a growing menu of cloud native services, starting with infrastructure and moving up the stack into higher-level application development tools and frameworks, data platforms, and AI/ML options. Security has always been a focus in the cloud (and in the traditional data center), with newer zero trust approaches now being deployed to further improve security posture.

Smart cloud native applications bring all of this together in a new generation of applications deployed on Kubernetes across a variety of clouds, in on-premise configurations, and out to the edge. Thinking cloud native in a DevSecOps culture brings a host of benefits, including the ability to scale your business and IT, delivering smart new products and services faster and with lower risk, and incorporating a new level of agility into your business to respond to change or new ideas in hours and days versus weeks and months.

The winners in the market will have smart cloud native applications at the foundation of their business and DevSecOps processes at the core of their culture.

Image by Ebi Fleck from Pixabay.

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