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The Importance of Being Native


Guest Post: Vedanta Barooah, Master Enterprise Cloud Architect, HP Helion


I often encounter customers who are trying to adopt a cloud platform, as well as others who have already moved. They often expect their workloads to suddenly scale and perform much better while saving those millions of dollars monthly. It does not take long for many cloud adopters to realize that the cloud platform of their choice is not living up to its promise, and they wonder “What went wrong?”  More often than not, it’s not the cloud platform, it’s how they design and run applications on it.


With the enterprise moving toward cloud computing, and with a plethora of platforms to choose from, it may be very tempting to randomly select a tool, figure out an application and the servers it exists on, and move all instances to similar sized compute on a self-deployed private or readily available public cloud environment. But is that all migration to cloud entails?    


When moving to cloud, it is important to understand application architecture, and also recognize that a poorly performing application will not magically improve performance when it is in the cloud. And, in my experience I have seen applications actually perform worse in a more dense multi-tenant hosting architecture than on traditional dedicated hardware or a fairly well managed virtualized environment. So what can be done to make the post-migration experience better?


IaaS is not virtualization, but it’s close to it. Beyond just moving an instance to an equivalent sized compute on the cloud, consider the amount of automation required to have that instance actually perform and scale as required. Compare automation features that a cloud platform provides to features your application can really use, and how much of it has to be developed from scratch. Increasing compute capacity for an instance will only increase application efficiency to a point. Then the performance curve will be lateral, just like in legacy platforms.


To gain true cloud performance and efficiency, there needs to be a shift in thinking to adopt cloud native application architectures, where services are foundational building blocks. Relying on services will not only allow applications to scale wide and parallelize for performance, but it will also help manage cost by instantiating compute only when needed. A cloud native application offloads infrastructure functions like high availability and load balancing to the platform, which allows more room for application function performance within the compute instance it resides in. Consolidated infrastructure services in multi-tenant architectures make applications robust and easier to manage.


The experience of hybrid cloud can be truly enhanced by making applications cloud native. Cloud native architectures allow for applications to decouple and be distributed across private and public cloud environments. It also allows DevOps to move applications back and forth depending on business and performance requirements. For example, a cloud native application which can scale wide can be run on-premise in lean seasons and can use the robustness of off-premise public cloud during those peak periods.


Any enterprise trying to adopt cloud computing should write new applications aligning to cloud services from the get go, as this will nurture cloud native application architectures from the ground up. For applications that are migrating from traditional platforms, look at services that can be offloaded to the cloud platform and infrastructure. Substituting application services with cloud services will not make them truly native, but will at least make them cloud enabled. For true cloud native application functionality consider refactoring your application – it might seem like a behemoth effort, but as you go down the path you will soon realize it is not. You will truly thank yourself you took the time to build a rock solid application architecture which keeps up to the promise of cloud.      


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Senior Manager, Cloud Online Marketing
About the Author


I manage the HPE Helion social media and website teams promoting the enterprise cloud solutions at HPE for hybrid, public, and private clouds. I was previously at Dell promoting their Cloud solutions and was the open source community manager for OpenStack and at Rackspace and Citrix Systems. While at Citrix Systems, I founded the Citrix Developer Network, developed global alliance and licensing programs, and even once added audio to the DOS ICA client with assembler. Follow me at @SpectorID

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