What are the differences between cloud-native and cloud-enabled solutions?
To remain competitive in an omnichannel world, IT leaders must carefully design cloud environments to reflect business needs and strategies. In this way, knowing the differences between cloud-native and cloud-enabled solutions is critical to long-term success, efficiency, and profitability.
Cloud-enabled solutions are technologies adapted for the cloud. They were once typically deployed in traditional data center environments but have been retrofitted and remarketed as “cloud” products. Metaphorically speaking, these solutions are rather like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Unfortunately, these cloud-enabled products often lack the agility and flexibility of their cloud-native counterparts — which are specifically designed for cloud compatibility.
So how do cloud-native vs. cloud-enabled solutions compare? Cloud-native tools work best for businesses who require an uninterrupted online presence around the clock, like multichannel retailers. These systems offer numerous web-centric features that bolster customer service and engagement, provide server scalability during periods of fluctuating traffic, and allow easy experimentation with new technologies and promotional strategies.
Cloud-native technologies offer:
- Robust functionality,
- Seamless interconnectivity, and
- Optimized business continuity
In these departments, the advantages of cloud-native technologies are simply unmatched.
Cloud-native vs. cloud-enabled (and other ‘cloudy’ terms)
What does it mean to be cloud-ready, and is it any different from being cloud-enabled? Why are there so many variations of the seemingly same terminology? Furthermore, does my application really need a server of its own in the first place — especially when the organizational plan involves hosting everything on an external service? With built-in easy access from any geographic location and from nearly any kind of device?
Confusion around the meanings of different “cloudy” phrases is commonplace. That confusion is enough to make some decision-makers procrastinate far longer than they should in migrating to the cloud! But by partnering with a professional consultant in data quality management systems, forward-thinking enterprises gain a significant competitive edge over their competitors. Let’s start with some simple definitions.
What is cloud-native?
Cloud-native systems are constructed in the cloud from scratch to harness the power of such popular public cloud environments like AWS or Azure; these systems give developers new and advanced deployment tools that allow for a more rapid evolution of the enterprise’s overall architecture. Cloud-native environments fundamentally streamline traditionally complex infrastructures in both design and administration.
In this way, Cloud-native systems are not just the latest technological fad. They are the next generation of online services delivery.
The concept of cloud-native solutions involves breaking up company services into smaller pieces or “microservices.” Microservices are small, autonomous services that work in concert to fulfill a single and more complex business purpose.
Professional data management consultants will design, implement, and deploy these microservices independently of one another while coordinating their intercommunication via APIs. These services are lightweight and stateless. So, they can scale out horizontally across multiple servers for greater capacity.
Examples of microservices include:
- An API for retrieving customer information
- A process to check if a credit card is valid
- An API for shipping orders
- A process to verify a person’s age
- A set of messages for a given topic
- A process to upload a customer’s photos
- …And so much more
Data management experts design each service so that it can be implemented and deployed as an individual unit. Because microservices are so small, they also have less impact on the overall system when one of them goes down, which is inevitable.
What is cloud-enabled?
Cloud-enabled solutions are essentially cloud-native systems that have been modified to accommodate the very particular needs of a company—but not necessarily the structure of its business. In a cloud-enabled solution, the organization’s application is deployed in the public cloud but still requires a physical server of its own for operations.
The difference between a cloud-native and a cloud-enabled system is that a cloud-native system does not require any computing infrastructure onsite. All availability strategies are handled externally by the public cloud service provider.
Businesses looking for cost savings and enhanced functionality but with numerous legacy systems in place will need to choose: cloud-native vs. cloud-enabled.
In general, cloud-native systems operate without any sort of in-house computing infrastructure and feature horizontal scaling capabilities across multiple servers. Cloud-enabled solutions still rely on internal hardware for certain operations and do not offer horizontal scalability.
What is cloud-ready?
The cloud-ready approach is a hybrid cloud solution that combines cloud environments with onsite hardware. This design allows companies to accomplish much of what cloud-native solutions offer but with the benefits of an internal infrastructure.
Enterprises that choose to be cloud-ready often build upon their existing investment in computing resources as they begin their transition into cloud computing. However, cloud-ready systems come with their share of disadvantages, too. For example, the cloud-ready approach typically requires a level of investment in cloud infrastructure that may not be possible for all companies.
In addition, cloud-ready systems will need to provide onsite data storage and backup capabilities because the associated cloud service providers may not always be 100 percent reliable. And when cloud systems have outages or crashes, they will automatically and negatively impact business continuity.
When contemplating between cloud-ready vs. cloud-native vs. cloud-enabled, partnering with a professional data management consultant saves time, money, and frustration.
What is cloud-optimized?
A cloud-optimized solution is one that is modified specifically for cloud environments. This means cloud-optimized systems work within a cloud service providers’ proprietary technologies and APIs, which also allows for compatibility with other cloud storage platforms.
Cloud-optimized solutions can simultaneously be cloud-agnostic, cloud-native, cloud-enabled, or cloud-first products at the same time. Generally, cloud service providers will offer cloud optimization as a free service to all their clients.
Cloud-optimized technology offers many of the same benefits of cloud computing without making changes to existing infrastructure or hardware.
Key considerations for cloud-optimized systems include:
- Cloud performance
- Cloud security
- Cloud storage
- Cloud backup
- Cloud disaster recovery
- Cloud testing
- Cloud development
- Cloud conferencing and other communications
- And so much more.
What is cloud-agnostic?
A cloud-agnostic solution is easily portable from Cloud A to Cloud B without producing any negative consequences or requiring potentially time-consuming modifications. What this means in practice, however, is that cloud-agnostic solutions are not always ideal for businesses looking to maximize certain benefits of the cloud, such as cost savings or enhanced functionality.
In cloud environments, some cloud service providers utilize proprietary technologies that are not interchangeable with cloud systems offered by other providers. Fortunately, cloud-agnostic solutions can react to cloud changes more quickly than cloud-native and cloud-enabled applications, but they do so at an often-substantial cost.
When evaluating cloud options for your business needs, consider whether cloud portability is a priority. If your business needs are cloud-agnostic, then cloud storage solutions that utilize proprietary cloud technology may be the best solution for your company’s budget and goals.
What is cloud-first?
The cloud-first approach is a cloud computing strategy that involves the implementation of cloud systems even before cloud-native or cloud-enabled solutions are considered. With cloud-first, the objective is to transition entirely to cloud environments and abandon all in-house computing resources.
This cloud-first approach is a difficult path to follow. Often, companies will utilize cloud-first strategies only after they have been cloud-native or cloud-enabled for quite some time.
While cloud computing can offer many benefits for businesses both large and small, there are several factors to consider when choosing which cloud solution is best for your company. A cloud-first approach may be more costly than other alternatives — especially regarding cloud storage, cloud backup solutions, disaster recovery, and other services that often come at a premium.
What is cloud-hosted?
Cloud hosting refers to cloud technologies that provide processing and storage space for cloud solutions. The cloud-hosting service provider maintains the cloud-based infrastructure as well as the cloud management software and tools. Cloud hosting costs are generally low, but cloud management fees can be higher than cloud storage or cloud backup costs. Examples of cloud-hosting providers include:
- Alibaba Cloud
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
- IBM Cloud
- Oracle Cloud
- Microsoft Azure
- And depending on the geographic location, there can be hundreds of other cloud computing providers all over the world.
Making a choice: Top 5 differences between cloud-native and cloud-enabled
Now that we have a general overview of the different cloud solutions and terminology, it’s time to decide which option is best for your organization. There are five important factors to consider:
- Ease of Use
Engineers tend to design cloud-native applications for hosting as multi-tenant instances — with a microservice architecture that can host more users, customers, or businesses simultaneously. These types of apps can provide significant cost savings because they essentially divide the system’s total price among multiple users.
Cloud-enabled solutions, on the other hand, are constructed on in-house servers, which means that they do not have multi-tenant capabilities. Therefore, these applications might be better for those organizations where data privacy is a substantial concern.
Cloud-native solutions utilize the power of cloud infrastructure in ways that legacy systems can’t. These apps, as mentioned earlier, are built and deployed within the cloud environments themselves, which gives them access to more processing resources than what they would otherwise have when running locally.
Cloud-native solutions are cheaper because they require no hardware or software investments, making them readily available at the click of a button. Meanwhile, cloud-enabled applications tend to cost more because they must go through manual upgrade procedures to accommodate evolving business demands and emerging technologies.
Ease of Use
Cloud-native solutions require no manual upgrades while being highly scalable. Furthermore, the modification of individual modules does not cause service disruptions to the associated applications.
Meanwhile, cloud-enabled solutions often require complex manual upgrades. Not only can these upgrades be rather time-consuming, but they can also negatively influence business continuity. The developer must first determine where the changes will make a negative impact. Then, they must carefully make the necessary modifications in that specific segment of code without breaking anything else within the application or causing any unintended side effects.
Implementing cloud-native applications is quick and easy because of their lack of dependence on in-house hardware or software configurations. However, cloud-enabled applications must be customized for the organization’s specific installation environment, which may cause cloud-enabled apps to be more complex and time-consuming to implement.
The differences between cloud-ready vs. cloud-native vs. cloud-enabled solutions are clear. By choosing a cloud-native architecture, businesses can be well prepared for a fast-paced, consistently evolving business environment. These applications are built to accommodate changing social and political needs due to economic necessity, weather disasters, or other business demands.
Cloud-native: Pros and Cons
Cloud-native solutions are the future. While they offer many solution-specific benefits compared to their cloud-enabled alternatives, there are a few potential disadvantages that decision-makers should consider.
Pros of Cloud-native Systems
- Cloud-native solutions are easier for the design and construction of a resilient cloud architecture.
- Cloud-native solutions offer easy maintenance.
- Cloud-native solutions provide far superior performance and efficiency compared to cloud-enabled alternatives.
- Cloud-native solutions are easily scalable. Some cloud providers like Google and Amazon even offer special features for load balancing and other functions.
- Cloud-native solutions are often the cheaper option. Hardware and software installations are non-existent, and the cloud service providers only charge businesses based on their usage and storage requirements.
- Cloud-native solutions offer easy relocation of apps from one infrastructure to another.
Cons of Cloud-native Systems
- Cloud-native solutions are not easily relocatable from one cloud provider to the next.
- Cloud-native solutions involve a dependence on native APIs, which may require a significant level of code rewriting when moving from one cloud provider to another.
Alation’s Cloud-Native Systems
Cloud-native architecture provides a strong foundation for an enterprise’s digital transformation as it embraces a growing number of new technologies. With this framework at their disposal, organizations can focus on what’s most important: developing strategic plans based on ever-evolving goals and objectives to increase data management efficiency and overall company profitability.
To learn how Alation Data Catalog is cloud-native, contact Alation today.