Adopt Cloud Native to Build Applications Smarter and Faster

By Kantesh Shanbhag, Principal, Open Source Practice, Infosys

Stiff competition from digital upstarts and technology-savvy companies is pushing established enterprises to become more agile and nimble. These organizations must put customer experience first by ensuring more streamlined customer journeys in a cost-effective manner. For business teams to meet these objectives, IT systems and their supporting ecosystem need to evolve to handle the ever-changing business needs.

Cloud native application development is emerging as one of the most effective ways for organizations to revamp IT systems and realize incremental business benefits. A cloud native approach can help companies develop lightweight and independent business capabilities at a pace faster than traditional application development. A 2018 survey found that the use of cloud native technologies in production had jumped by 200% during the past year.1 These technologies empower businesses to build and run scalable applications in public, private and hybrid cloud environments and take full advantage of the capabilities that cloud environments offer.

We are seeing clients across domains looking at migrating their workloads to the cloud by reengineering their applications as microservices running on containers. This makes IT systems more elastic, durable, responsive, and available. For example, a U.S. online bank wanted to increase agility and reduce time to market to succeed in the competitive online banking space but was not able to do so with its existing monolith application landscape. They modernized their legacy systems with cloud technologies and redesigned their applications as microservices on containers. This has helped them bring down costs and improve customer experience.

Pillars of cloud native application development

Containers, microservices, APIs, DevSecOps, and continuous delivery practices are the pillars of cloud native development. Business applications are designed as loosely coupled stateless microservices, packaged in lightweight containers and powered by open source technologies across the layers of cloud native architecture.

Container-based deployments on cloud infrastructure, both public and private, enable easy scaling of applications and workloads, making it possible to handle peak business demand and IT loads with minimal additional infrastructure cost. According to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, the number of respondents using containers in production increased from 23% in 2016 to 84% in 2019.2 DevSecOps helps companies make faster, more frequent and more secure changes to applications to keep pace with business demand. Open source technologies can accelerate the adoption of use cases, cost-effectively.

These cloud native technologies and architectural patterns help build loosely coupled systems that are resilient, manageable and observable. They deliver benefits like:

  • Improved time-to-market through an accelerated application development lifecycle, enabled by container and modern DevSecOps processes
  • Cost advantages through open source technologies that also avoid vendor lock-in
  • Enhanced customer experience through APIs and highly available mobile-first applications
  • Ability to scale up and down on demand to manage varying workloads at incremental costs only for the duration of the scale-out

Challenges in cloud native adoption

Migrating to a cloud native technology ecosystem needs a nuanced approach to address various challenges related to technology, people and process transformation. These include:

  • Choosing the right technology – With numerous technology options available in the market, organizations find it extremely challenging to select the best fit as per their requirement. The underlying objective should be to choose the right architecture and technology stack that align with the business objectives and provide a cohesive development platform that supports present and upcoming technologies as they mature.
  • Finding the right skillset – According to Forbes, the current IT skills gap is exacerbated by the increasing industry-wide migration to cloud native technologies.3 The ever-evolving technology and component landscape makes it difficult for delivery teams to gain expertise in a specific technology area. This has contributed to a dearth of experts who fully understand the intricacies of any given technology.
  • Ensuring seamless operations – Cloud environments present unique challenges to operations teams that need to have the right set of tools for visibility and control so that the IT systems are always available, secured and efficiently handle workloads.

How Infosys and Red Hat make cloud native easier to implement

Red Hat offers organizations a suite of robust and more secure open source products that facilitate the adoption of cloud native technology. Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s leading enterprise Kubernetes platform, provides an enterprise-grade platform to build, deploy and run container-based applications. Built with Kubernetes at its core, Red Hat OpenShift supports cluster management, platform services, application services, and developer services. These are key capabilities for organizations transitioning to cloud native architecture. OpenShift works with all the major public cloud providers and decouples the existing solution from the underlying cloud infrastructure.

Developers can configure OpenShift, provision the required software and integrate tools to make the best use of the capabilities provided by the platform. For developers who are new to the cloud native way of application development, this can be a challenging task. They may end up spending a lot of their time on non-development activities.

Infosys Cloud Native Development Platform uses an architecture-first and developer-centric approach to abstract and automate much of this complexity. The platform encodes Infosys expertise, experience and best practices, thereby simplifying and accelerating the entire cloud native journey for organizations.

Infosys Cloud Native Development Platform is pre-integrated with a wide variety of robust open source technology components. This helps developers hit the ground running from day one, allowing them to focus on writing code to meet customer requirements without worrying about technology integration, software deployment, CICD pipeline setup, etc. It also alleviates the difficulty of finding the right IT skills as most of the technology-related complexities are handled by the platform. The platform also integrates metering, logging and monitoring tools, thereby giving operations teams transparency.

The Infosys Cloud Native Development Platform coupled with Red Hat OpenShift as the enterprise container platform enhances the developer experience and improves developer productivity and operational efficiency. This modernization approach helps organizations:

  • Accelerate application development with containers
  • Build agility and efficiency in the cloud native application development process
  • Streamline IT operations by providing a unified interface from multiple data sources, thus mitigating risk and reducing cost

A case in point is a UK-based energy and utility leader that was struggling to support its newly acquired customer base after a major acquisition. The key challenges were the inability to scale, delayed delivery of products to market, lack of digital experience, and inability to leverage IT to get an edge over competition. They leveraged Infosys Cloud Native Development Platform to modernize their legacy systems with cloud technologies and redesign their applications as microservices on containers. The new approach has helped them reduce costs, increase speed of product releases and deliver a rich customer experience while saving on development effort by 40%.

To know more about the Infosys-Red Hat cloud native development solution, click here.

References

1. CNCF Survey: Use of cloud native technologies in production has grown over 200%

2. CNCF Survey 2019: Deployments are getting larger as cloud native adoption becomes mainstream

3. The Cloud Talent Drought Continues (Is Even Larger than You Thought)