Digital transformation is shifting from Cloud-first to Cloud-everywhere and is a race where no enterprise wants to be left behind. Cloud has become the de-facto environment for modern applications propelling emergence of cloud native technologies. This is an evolution to fully exploit benefits of Cloud by reducing cost, boost productivity, improve operational efficiency, and deliver engaging end-user services. However, cloud-native is no silver bullet for successful transformation without a well-defined model. This paper provides an overview of cloud native, when it becomes a strategic imperative for enterprise and addressing key challenges in the game changing adoption. It also provides insights on how Coforge is enabling organizations across industry segments in successful and large-scale implementation of cloud native platforms.
Enterprises across the globe are experiencing massive disruption in their business models led by forces of nature, innovation and changing consumer behaviour. At this point, it is clear this decade will be marked by universal cloud adoption moving past the “cloud-first” era to Cloud becoming ubiquitous. Gartner predicts More Than Half of Enterprise IT Spending in Key Market Segments Will Shift to the Cloud by 2025  with addressable revenue worldwide from Cloud increasing from 30% in 2019 to 52% in 2025 accounting for $1.8 trillion spend. This proliferation has already evolved into a new genre of cloud-native applications coming into existence allowing full exploitation of cloud capabilities beyond the remits of pure infrastructure hosting. Cloudnative means desegregating the sets of applications into smaller sets of microservices, containerization, serverless architecture, and CI/CD pipelines that can be set up and torn down in much more dynamic fashion. Gartner predicts Cloud native platforms (CNP) as one of the Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022 serving as the foundation for more than 95% of new digital initiatives by 2025 - up from less than 40% in 2021 .
Cloud Native Core Principles
According to Cloud Native Computing Foundation  (CNCF) Cloud native means technologies that empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach.
Figure 1 – Cloud Native Building Blocks
The key tenants of CNP are:
- Containers to allow lightweight, portable applications that run uniformly and consistently anywhere
- API and Microservice architecture consisting of loosely coupled, autonomous, and self-contained services communicating through well-defined application programming interface (API).
- DevSecOps CI/CD delivery providing automatic builds, testing, updates, rollouts and rollbacks when source code changes
- Observability for aggregating, correlating, and analysing performance data for monitoring, troubleshooting, and debugging applications
- Other features like serverless architecture, Service proxy, Distributed database, and storage, Serverless architecture and orchestration tools
Where Cloud Journey and Cloud Native intersect leading to real business outcome
Cloud adoptions are driven by Business and IT strategies. While some are still doing Rehosting / lift and shift as the migration approach, most programs which are looking for scalable efficiencies adopt Refactoring. This is where Cloud native becomes imperative. CNP empowers organizations to modernize large scale applications using public, private and hybrid -Clouds. Apart from this, organizations doing fresh development of applications are gravitating to CNPs.
Successful adoption of Cloud native platforms leads to following business benefits:
- Improved Time to market through accelerated application lifecycle, shorter release cycles
- Reduced TCO due to open-source technologies, cloud backbone and efficient scalability
- Avoiding vendor lock-in by moving out of proprietary software
- Enhanced customer experience through APIs and omnichannel digital interfaces
- Agility and speed in highly competitive marketplace enabling rapid strategic adjustments to meet rapidly changing customer demand
Software development reinvented with Cloud-native
Software development and deployment has changed drastically since containers, microservices architectures, and cloud native technology have gained popularity. Following are some of the key trends
- Development toolset and practices: There is a clear shift from monolithic to microservices pattern and adoption of serverless, event-driven architecture. This has significantly changed the tools landscape including movement from developer IDEs to Cloudhosted lightweight development workbench.
- Self-managed technical features: Non-functional features like scalability, discovery, load balancing and scalability are automated and provided by CNP. While provision of advanced features proportionally leads to complexity, cloud native platforms handle most of this as core capabilities requiring no coding or developer involvement.
- PaaS and native cloud integration: Container platforms can be hosted on public, multi or hybrid cloud environments integrating with native services. This provides complete flexibility in choice of PaaS for any enterprise.
- Cloud native infrastructure: Enterprises are adopting repeatable and automated provisioning of infrastructure, platform, and applications. Concepts like DevSecOps, Continuous Deployment and Infrastructure-as-a-code have become inherent. Kubernetes abstracts the complexity of infrastructure provisioning enabling faster time to market.
- Observability infused with Analytics: integrated observability provides insights into metrics, logs and traces not just in operations but during development phases. This provides agility to detect and respond to issues faster. Patterns, trends, and analytical insights can be further derived using advanced technologies like Machine Learning
- Kubernetes taking the core, moving to edge: Kubernetes has taken center stage with widespread adoption of the technology. According to CNCF, 96% respondents of the Annual survey 2021 are either using or evaluating Kubernetes. According to Red Hat , 88% of respondents said they use Kubernetes as their container orchestrator, with 74% using it in production. According to 51% of respondents, Amazon’s EKS is the most widely used Kubernetes platform. Also, the rise of IoT and edge-based computing has pushed Kubernetes containers to run at the edge maximizing resources.
Figure 2 - Kubernetes platform to orchestrate containers (Source Red Hat, 2021 Survey)
Key challenges faced by enterprises
We all know from experience technology disruptors come with own set of challenges. While there are best practices and guidelines on embracing cloud native development, evolution to a mature production ready ecosystem is learning journey for any enterprise. Some of the key challenges faced by organizations are:
- Defining right technology set: This is a give-in with solution models leveraging open-source. Organizations struggle to find best fit technologies, come out with architecture standards, and define consistent technology stacks as per enterprise IT standards. With larger organizations, challenges are further compounded due to fragmented implementations, heterogenous product portfolios and lack of centralized IT control.
- Lack of technical expertise: The ever changing and advancing technology landscape means need of experts who fully understand the depth of technical ecosystem and constituent components.
- Too many moving parts: Cloud native is based on loosely coupled design principles with distributed runtime components. This warrants technology consolidation, governance, automation across lifecycle, and governing standards.
- Need for constant innovation: Cloud native technologies require constant and rapid innovation. This will allow businesses to accelerate pace of change. Staying on top of new opportunities is essential to getting the most from your cloud-native approach.
Coforge differentiated approach for seamless adoption of Cloud Native
Instrumental for successful cloud native implementation is to select the right enterprise container platform which provides underlying services for Microservices support, containerization, and extendable automation capabilities. However, this only solves one piece of the puzzle.
To ensure hyper productivity and enabling organizations to navigate the process of adopting the new technology, Coforge has encapsulated its experience, competence and best practices in proprietary frameworks and solutions accelerators. These point solutions are built on open-source technologies that simplify and accelerate the Cloud native journey. The prescribed approach which has refined over multiple transformations done for large organizations is as follows.
Figure 3 - Cloud Native Development Approach
Discover & Assess: This includes due diligence of existing IT and system architecture. The most critical step is selection of right container platform. Coforge framework iEval is used to evaluate, compare and select the container platform based on technology and business needs.
Define: Vendor agnostic architecture-first approach is followed to define the technology stack, toolsets, self-service capabilities to create microservices, APIs, pipelines and services like tracing, logging, and monitoring.
Run: Adopt template driven mechanism and automation for creating / modifying CICD pipelines, infrastructure provisioning, configuration management, interservice communication and quality assurance. Horizontal features like full stack toolset integration, process automation, DevOps and Observability are automated using Coforge accelerators
Manage: Enable operations with customizable single pane dashboards, Machine Learning led insights from logs and metrics, monitoring stack to generate metrics and alerts for quick feedback during development, testing and production usage. With security a top concern for cloud native, capabilities are embedded in DevSecOps for credential management, governance policies, and other checks.
Digital transformation has become a way of life with Cloud as the biggest enabler. Cloud features in every aspect of business strategy – from operations enablement to cost optimization. This has propelled the need for constant exploration leading to evolution of Cloud Native. While enterprises are looking to fully leverage this technology to unleash true power of Cloud, they are plagued by complexity and rapid pace of technology evolution. As an ambidextrous organization, Coforge investments in proven solutions, best practices and incremental innovation fuel the modernization journey enabling enterprises for next-level digital transformation.
 Red Hat State of Kubernetes Report: https://www.redhat.com/en/resources/kubernetes-adoption-security-market-trends-2021-overview