One debate ends, but a second begins.
The first question focused on whether an organization should be on the cloud.
High adoption rates by businesses have made this an easy question to answer. In 2015, only 30% of corporate data was stored in the cloud. Today, that number has doubled. Gartner forecasted worldwide public cloud end-user spending to reach almost $500 billion in 2022. Among this, cloud platform infrastructure like Platform-as-a-Service (PAAS) and Desktop-as-a-Service (DAAS) would grow by over 26.1%.
The conversation has now moved to a second question: should organizations choose cloud-native or agnostic infrastructures?
In both options, the cloud is the same. A cloud is a vast network of connected servers meant to operate as a single ecosystem. The cloud is provisioned through a web portal designed to manage data, run applications, run productivity protocols, and share content. The cloud allows you to access files and data from any internet-capable device – giving you the information you need at your fingertips.
However, how to deliver these benefits is now the question. Here's a deep dive into both options to help your organization choose the best method.
Applications created for, or with the development tools of, a specific cloud platform are called cloud-native architectures. While all clouds can perform the same functions, they don't all have the same base code or requirements. Developers for cloud-native applications aim to integrate unique features and plugins to launch their code on a specific platform. In this option, organizations aim to take advantage of cloud environments that are flexible, easy to develop, and recoverable in the event of data loss. These cloud platforms are often third-party providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, or Oracle.
As your business needs grow, your need for the cloud does as well. Cloud platform providers can quickly and easily scale to meet your needs. Most platforms also have a "pay-as-you-go" flexible pricing model instead of charging a monthly flat rate. This variable costing method helps organizations only pay for what they need to help optimize costs and resource usage.
Each component of the cloud is a small microservice. These blocks are responsible for running one key operation. The limited requirements help generate system efficiency and provide greater cloud performance. This means that applications load faster, files are more easily shared, and end-users are happier. Cloud platforms also have built-in capabilities to enhance security, networking, and user monitoring.
Cloud platforms offer developers tools to build applications within their platforms. These resources are designed to run within the cloud and make it possible to code applications faster and easier. This helps organizations cut down on the time it takes to create an application and can launch to market faster.
It isn't easy to move cloud applications from one provider to another. This is especially true if your team designed an application using a specific cloud provider's platform. While it is possible to code an application to be cloud agnostic and work with multiple platforms, doing so requires significant time, effort, and resources.
Cloud-native applications are dependent on the cloud where it was built. This means that the cloud platform can potentially change its structure, which could negatively impact your organization. Organizations should be aware of this risk as vendors could change their pricing model or security practices.
Cloud Agnostic Architecture
Unlike cloud-native, cloud-agnostic architecture aims to create compatible applications for any cloud environment. These code blocks are not dependent on the resources of a single cloud provider and often integrate multiple open source tools to ensure compatibility across various vendors. This approach liberates companies from having only one cloud provider, but it does increase the time it takes to design, build, and launch an application.
Developers are not limited by what a cloud platform offers or needs when developing applications. Instead, any function can be coded to meet specific needs. Many tools are available in cloud-agnostic environments, giving companies more pathways to reach their goals.
Since applications can run on multiple cloud environments, they can still run and service business needs even if a single cloud environment suffers a security breach or downtime. Critical business processes don't have to stop, as programs work independently of a platform and can be moved from anywhere to anywhere.
Organizations trade-off fast development time for platform flexibility. Developers need time to not only create applications, but also to ensure various cloud platform compatibility. This causes delays in launching applications. Further, if a mistake or error arises, it could require a significant degree of technical experience in order to resolve it.
Developers need time and resources to transcend multiple platforms, potentially delaying the deployment of the application. While costs are more easily controlled from a management perspective, development costs are usually higher upfront due to the time constraints needed to develop these applications.
The debate between cloud-native and cloud-agnostic platforms doesn't have to end in one winner. Organizations can use both approaches and use each method's benefits to cancel the other's negatives. Each method can be instrumental in helping an organization reach its business objective. The only question is evaluating which one could help them best drive their vision into action.