There are a lot of “cloudy” terms out there now. Is cloud-native better than cloud-based? Am I considered in the “cloud” when my application is cloud-enabled? Let’s take a closer look at the difference between cloud-native, cloud-based, and cloud-enabled to tease apart these different terms.
Cloud-native is born in the cloud. Cloud-native applications are architected from the ground up to run in a public cloud like in AWS, Azure, or GCP using cloud-based technologies. These cloud technologies allow for accessibility and scalability and allow developers to continue to deliver new services more quickly and easily. Cloud-native is comprised of continuous integration, orchestrators, and container engines. Ultimately, it’s about how applications are created and deployed.
Cloud-native is a new way of architecting our applications and infrastructure; we’re breaking services into smaller and smaller pieces and reusing services wherever possible. We’re deploying our apps and infrastructure in someone else’s data center, so we have to always be thinking about failure. Having this mindset allows us to deploy new, flexible, resilient, cloud-native applications.
Cloud-based is the middle ground between cloud-native and cloud-enabled. If you want to leverage some of the capabilities of the cloud such as higher availability and scalability, but don’t want to completely redesign your application to use cloud services, this may be an approach to consider. For example, if you move your in-house web application to AWS or Azure servers, you now have a “cloud-based” application.
Once you move your application to a cloud provider, you’re no longer responsible for managing the resources for the application, so there’s no need to maintain a server or worry about backup. You also just pay for what you use. The biggest advantage of moving an application to the cloud is enabling it to quickly scale up to meet surges in demand and increase your application availability.
Cloud-enabled usually refers to applications built traditionally and then migrated to the cloud. These applications were originally designed in a monolithic fashion and depend on local resources and hardware. In the migration of the application to the cloud, the application is refactored to use virtual resources, but the underlying architecture remains the same. The application cannot take advantage of shared services or resource pools and as a result struggles to deliver the scalability and resiliency of other cloud applications.
Cloud enabled can be an approach for legacy applications or as the first step towards cloud adoption.
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These new technologies focus on a few key areas.
Cloud-native: Must think about failure, so the application must be designed to handle different failure domains. Use microservices architecture.
Cloud-based: Was built on traditional servers hosted in an on-premises data center. Was designed for availability.
- Ease of Use
Cloud-native: Applications are flexible and built to scale and because of the microservice architecture; areas of an app can be upgraded without disruption.
Cloud-based: Applications are tightly integrated, and upgrades may be needed for the entire stack, causing downtime.
Cloud-native: Faster to deploy because there is no hardware or software to deploy.
Cloud-based: Slower because of hardware provisioning or software setup.
Cloud-native: Interruptions are limited because of the microservice architecture.
Cloud-based: Interruptions can occur because of hardware migrations or specialized software configurations.
Cloud-native: Cheaper because you’re paying for licenses and storage costs in the cloud provider.
Cloud-based: More expensive because you have to own the whole stack and may need to purchase hardware, power, and cooling before the application can be deployed.
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