Cloud Aware vs Cloud Native: 5 Differences You Need to Know

Updated July 25th, 2023
Cloud Aware vs Cloud Native

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Cloud aware is a traditional system that has been reconfigured to operate in a cloud environment. They capitalize on some of the benefits of the cloud but are not fully optimized for it. On the other hand, cloud native applications are built from the ground up to not only exist on the cloud, but also to exploit all its potential and functionalities.

Cloud-native applications are woven into the very fabric of the cloud environment, leveraging its inherent scalability, resilience, and agility. In this article, we will uncover the nuances between these two types of applications and explore why they cannot, and should not, be mistaken for one another.

Let’s dive in!

Table of contents #

  1. Defining cloud-aware and cloud-native
  2. Differences between cloud-aware and cloud-native
  3. Business implications of cloud-aware vs cloud native
  4. Advantages of cloud native
  5. Distinguishing cloud native from DevOps
  6. Distinguishing between cloud native and kubernetes
  7. Summarizing it all together
  8. Related reads

Defining cloud-aware and cloud-native #

In the ever-evolving landscape of cloud computing, two terms have emerged that often lead to confusion: Cloud-Aware and Cloud-Native.

While they may sound similar at first, they represent distinct approaches to leveraging cloud technologies. Understanding the nuances between these two concepts is crucial for businesses and developers as they embark on their cloud journey.

In this section, we will dive into the definition of both “Cloud-Aware” and “Cloud-Native” paradigms, shedding light on their individual characteristics, benefits, and use cases.

What does cloud aware mean? #

Cloud aware is a term that is generally used to describe applications or systems that have been specifically designed to acknowledge and leverage some aspects of cloud computing. These are often legacy applications that have been modified or adapted to take advantage of the cloud’s elasticity, scalability, and other benefits. However, they may not fully exploit the range of services and capabilities that cloud platforms offer.

What does cloud-native mean? #

On the other hand, ‘cloud native’ describes applications or systems built specifically to run in the cloud environment from the ground up. These applications embrace the cloud’s capabilities to the fullest extent, incorporating services such as micro-services, containers, server-less functions, and infrastructure as code (IaC). The fundamental goal of a cloud-native approach is to optimize scalability, resilience, and speed of deployment.

Detailed differences between cloud-aware and cloud-native #

When comparing ‘cloud aware’ and ‘cloud native’ applications, the key differences lie in their design principles, adaptability, scalability, resilience, and deployment strategies.

1. Design principles #

Cloud aware applications are typically traditional applications that have been migrated to the cloud and adjusted to use some cloud features. In contrast, ‘cloud native’ applications are designed from the beginning to thrive in a cloud environment, adhering to principles like microservices architecture, containerization, and continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines.

2. Adaptability #

Cloud-aware applications have a limited ability to adapt to the dynamic nature of the cloud environment as they still rely on some traditional IT infrastructures. Cloud native applications, however, are inherently adaptable due to their decoupled and modular nature. They can adapt quickly to changing business requirements and customer demands.

3. Scalability #

While ‘cloud aware’ applications can utilize the cloud’s scalability to a certain extent, ‘cloud native’ applications are built to natively support horizontal scaling. They can rapidly scale out (add more instances) or scale in (remove instances) depending on the demand, ensuring efficient use of resources.

4. Resilience #

Cloud aware applications, due to their monolithic nature, are less resilient compared to ‘cloud native’ ones. In a ‘cloud native’ application, if one microservice fails, it doesn’t necessarily bring down the entire system, contributing to a much higher overall system reliability.

5. Deployment strategies #

Cloud aware applications typically follow traditional deployment strategies, which can be slower and require more management. In contrast, ‘cloud native’ applications leverage CI/CD practices for frequent, reliable, and automated deployments. They also utilize infrastructure as code (IaC) to automate the provisioning of infrastructure, which improves consistency and reduces errors.

In conclusion, while both ‘cloud aware’ and ‘cloud native’ applications leverage the benefits of the cloud, ‘cloud native’ applications are designed to fully exploit the potential of cloud computing, offering improved scalability, resilience, and deployment speed.

However, the choice between ‘cloud aware’ and ‘cloud native’ depends on an organization’s specific needs, resources, and cloud maturity.

From selection to impact: Business implications of cloud-aware vs cloud native #

The choice between adopting a cloud aware versus a cloud native approach can have significant implications for business operations, agility, costs, and future growth. Both strategies provide their unique advantages and cater to different business needs and stages of cloud maturity. It’s important to understand these differences and their impact on your business to make an informed decision.

Let’s explore the business implications of choosing either cloud aware or cloud native applications.

Business implications of cloud aware applications #

  • Gradual transition

For businesses with significant legacy infrastructure, transitioning to a cloud aware approach can be a more manageable first step. It allows organizations to start reaping some benefits of the cloud without having to fully redesign their applications.

  • Limited costs upfront

The initial costs of making an application cloud aware are generally lower than redesigning an application to be cloud native, as fewer architectural changes are required. However, these applications may not fully leverage the cost-efficiencies of the cloud in the long run.

  • Compatibility

Cloud aware applications are often more compatible with traditional IT processes and systems, which may be beneficial for organizations with existing IT investments or regulatory requirements that necessitate a slower transition to the cloud.

  • Reduced agility

While cloud aware applications can leverage some features of the cloud, they typically don’t offer the same level of agility, scalability, and resilience as cloud native applications. This can limit the organization’s ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions.

Business implications of cloud native applications #

  • Optimized scalability

Cloud native applications can scale up or down rapidly in response to changes in demand. This flexibility can be a significant advantage for businesses facing variable workloads or rapid growth.

  • Resilience

Cloud native applications can offer improved resilience due to their distributed, microservices-based architecture. This can lead to increased uptime, better customer experience, and less business disruption.

  • Faster time to market

With methodologies like CI/CD and DevOps, cloud native applications allow for faster development, testing, and deployment of new features, helping businesses innovate and respond to market changes more quickly.

  • Long-term cost efficiency

While transitioning to cloud native may require more significant upfront investment, the long-term cost efficiencies can be substantial. This is due to the pay-as-you-go nature of cloud services, as well as efficiencies gained from the ability to scale resources up or down as needed.

  • Enhanced competitiveness

Embracing the cloud native approach can give businesses a competitive edge, allowing them to leverage the latest cloud technologies, innovate rapidly, and adapt quickly to changing market and customer needs.

In conclusion, the choice between cloud aware and cloud native applications depends largely on an organization’s specific needs, resources, and strategic goals. While the cloud aware approach can offer a more manageable and less disruptive transition for some businesses, the cloud native approach can provide superior scalability, resilience, and long-term cost efficiencies, leading to enhanced competitiveness in today’s fast-paced digital landscape.

Harnessing the power of the cloud: Advantages of cloud native #

Cloud native computing is a model of software development and delivery that has emerged as a dominant paradigm in the digital transformation era. It leverages modern technologies, design patterns, and methodologies, and optimizes them for the cloud.

The cloud native approach provides businesses the opportunity to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. But what makes it a preferred choice for many organizations?

Let us look into advantages of cloud native:

  1. Improved scalability
  2. Enhanced resilience
  3. Speed and agility
  4. Cost efficiency
  5. Easier maintenance and updates
  6. Developer productivity

Let’s delve into the key advantages of embracing a cloud native approach.

1. Improved scalability #

Cloud native applications are designed to scale seamlessly as they are made up of individual microservices running in containers. These applications can rapidly scale out (add more instances) or scale in (remove instances) depending on the demand, ensuring efficient use of resources.

2. Enhanced resilience #

Since cloud native applications follow a microservices architecture, if one part of the application fails, it does not necessarily bring down the entire system. This can lead to improved application availability and a better user experience.

3. Speed and agility #

Cloud native applications leverage practices such as continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) which enable developers to make small, frequent updates to software without disrupting its operation. This can lead to faster innovation, quicker response to market changes, and improved competitiveness.

4. Cost efficiency #

Cloud native applications can be more cost-efficient as they take full advantage of the cloud’s pay-as-you-go model. Applications can scale up during peak demand and scale down during off-peak times, ensuring you only pay for the resources you actually use.

5. Easier maintenance and updates #

Since cloud native applications are typically composed of independent, loosely coupled microservices, updates or changes can be made to one microservice without affecting the others. This allows for easier maintenance, quicker updates, and less risk during deployment.

6. Developer productivity #

Cloud native tools and methodologies, like microservices, containers, and DevOps, can improve developer productivity by breaking down complex applications into smaller, manageable services, allowing for parallel development and reduced interdependencies.

In conclusion, adopting a cloud native approach comes with a host of benefits, including improved scalability, resilience, speed, cost efficiency, and developer productivity. While the transformation to being cloud native can be a significant undertaking, the long-term benefits for most organizations can be substantial.

Understanding the landscape: Distinguishing cloud native from DevOps #

Until now, while we have understood the differences between ‘cloud aware’ and ‘cloud native,’ let us now quickly explore the differences between ‘cloud native’ and DevOps.

Detailed differences between ‘cloud native’ and DevOps #

Comparing ‘cloud native’ and ‘DevOps’, we see that they aren’t directly comparable as one is an architectural style, and the other is a methodology or culture. However, they do intersect in many ways and aim to achieve similar goals of accelerating software delivery, improving scalability and resilience.

  • Architectural style vs methodology

Cloud native is an architectural style that pertains to how applications are created and deployed. It’s about the design, implementation, deployment, and operation of applications.

On the other hand, DevOps is a methodology or culture that focuses on the process, bringing together development and operations to ensure continuous delivery of software.

  • Intersection and synergy

While they have different focuses, there is a lot of synergy between cloud native and DevOps. The principles of DevOps, such as CI/CD, automated testing, and infrastructure as code, play a crucial role in managing cloud native applications.

Similarly, the cloud native approach enhances the DevOps process by providing the technology (like containers and microservices) to better implement DevOps practices.

  • Infrastructure management

DevOps methodologies often utilize ‘Infrastructure as Code’ (IaC) to automate the setup and deployment of systems, which can be done in both on-premises and cloud environments.

Cloud native goes a step further, leveraging not only IaC, but also services like managed databases, serverless functions, and other fully-managed services offered by cloud providers.

  • Scalability and resilience

While DevOps processes contribute to the scalability and resilience of software by promoting smaller, more frequent updates and enabling faster recovery from any potential issues, the cloud native approach specifically designs applications to fully exploit the inherent scalability and resilience of the cloud environment.

Cloud native and DevOps are two sides of the same coin. They both aim to modernize software development and operations, with cloud native focusing more on the architectural style and technologies used, while DevOps focuses on the processes within the organization. In a sense, cloud native can be seen as an enabler of DevOps, providing the technology that makes DevOps processes more effective.

Diving deep into modern computing: Distinguishing between cloud native and kubernetes #

Now that we’ve explored what ‘cloud native’ is, let’s take some to explore the differences between cloud native and Kubernetes.

Detailed Differences Between Cloud Native and Kubernetes #

When comparing ‘cloud native’ and ‘Kubernetes’, it’s important to remember that they operate on different layers of the technology stack, with one representing an approach or philosophy (cloud native), and the other being a specific tool used to implement this approach (Kubernetes).

  • Approach vs tool

Cloud native is a way of building and deploying applications that fully exploit the advantages of the cloud computing delivery model. It’s an approach that can be realized using a range of technologies, methodologies, and architectures.

On the other hand, Kubernetes is a specific tool or technology that is often used in the process of building cloud native applications. It’s a container orchestration platform that simplifies the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications, which are a key part of many cloud native systems.

  • Technology scope

While Kubernetes is a powerful tool, it is just one part of the cloud native landscape. A comprehensive cloud native strategy often includes other technologies and methodologies such as microservices, serverless functions, CI/CD pipelines, and DevOps practices.

Kubernetes can be used to manage containerized microservices in a cloud native application, but it doesn’t cover all aspects of the cloud native approach.

  • Containerization and Orchestration

A core part of the cloud native approach is the use of containers to package and isolate application processes with their dependencies. Kubernetes comes into play here as an orchestration platform to manage these containers.

It handles tasks like scheduling containers to run on specific nodes, managing the application’s network configuration, scaling applications up and down, and rolling out updates or rollbacks.

In conclusion, cloud native is an approach or philosophy to building and running applications that fully leverage the benefits of the cloud computing model, while Kubernetes is a tool that can be used to implement this approach. They are not mutually exclusive or competing concepts, but rather Kubernetes is a part of the larger cloud native ecosystem.

Summarizing it all together #

Cloud aware applications are adjusted to operate in the cloud but aren’t designed to fully leverage cloud capabilities, providing a simpler transition for legacy systems. In contrast, cloud native applications are built from the ground up to take full advantage of cloud’s elasticity and scalability, utilizing modern technologies like microservices and containers.

The choice between these two approaches significantly impacts business operations, scalability, costs, and adaptability. While cloud aware offers compatibility and reduced upfront costs, cloud native excels in long-term cost efficiency, resilience, agility, and competitiveness.

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