Cloud is the engine of digitalization that enables new business models and increases customer experience and competitiveness. The cloud can best host and manage the cloud-native application, i.e., applications developed and deployed using cloud-based technologies. Cloud-native applications match the IT infrastructure of the cloud and are designed so that the organizations can gain cloud computing benefits, especially the scalability of IT services, location-independent access and overall organizational flexibility. We call an application cloud-native when it is built on microservices and container technology, designed and delivered through DevOps and continuous integration processes. Opposite from building software like a single, monolith unit, cloud-native applications are developed as a collection of multiple microservices that can be independently deployed and managed. A significant benefit is that every microservice is independently replaceable and upgradeable, and each communicates with other microservices over a network using technology-agnostic protocols. We can say that each microservice is a small standalone application. When one microservice depends on another, they communicate via APIs, which preserves the decentralized service responsibility, and the end-user feels of interacting with just one single application. Therefore cloud-native software, built on microservices, is highly resilient, manageable and observable.
The Role of Containers in Cloud-native
The microservices, which can be quickly changed, updated, configured, integrated, and managed, are best packaged into software containers. We at Micro Focus use Docker containers to ship each cloud-native ITOM product, i.e. the entire code and its dependencies. These containers can run anywhere, and this portability is one of the essential benefits and its most recognizable characteristics. The portability and the encapsulation of any workload/payload give this software type its name because the promise of software and physical shipping containers is the same: they can be manipulated using standard operations and be placed anywhere. Docker containers run consistently on any virtual or hardware platform. Software containers are typically small, so many can be packed to run on a single computer. To manage all of these containers, you need orchestration tools like Kubernetes that helps you push those containers out to different machines. When demand increases, Kubernetes will make sure the containers run and let you spin up a few more containers with a specific application. From Kubernetes, we get automated scalability. Customers that use our ITOM products in the public cloud have the option to deploy software via native Kubernetes, i.e. the public cloud providers deploy and manage Kubernetes and new clusters. AWS EKS, Azure AKS and GCP GKE are very convenient, no-sweat, no-hassle managed services.
There are many benefits that containers with orchestration and automation tools bring. Here are just a few of them.
- Portability – This is one of the primary premises. Containers can be quickly and easily moved across heterogeneous infrastructure and between the private and public cloud. This is the key enabler for all Micro Focus ITOM products to run in the public cloud or on-premise.
- Improved performance – there are gains in efficacy for memory, CPU and storage, compared to virtual machines. Containers improve performance because there is just one OS taking care of hardware calls. Containers do not have the overhead of separate OS instances, which VMs require; they can support many more containers on the same infrastructure.
- Agility – rapid application development and deployment. The containers lifecycle is measured in minutes, even seconds, compared to traditional apps and servers that span months and years. Micro Focus ITOM DevOps teams deliver new product releases quarterly! And this has very much to do with microservices, which also enables continuous integration and delivery.
- Composable, modular, reusable – containers are reusable building blocks. Developers that decide to use containers will develop their software as composable, reusable distributed applications using microservices. Services are designed in such a wat they could also be part of another application. A microservice comes in one or more containers.
- Stateless – well designed and implemented microservices are stateless! This means that all configuration and data is kept outside the container. Stateless microservices can easily scale out and be upgraded on the fly. This is why our customers can update ITOM products very quickly and at minimal downtimes.
Containers are our delivery unit, and if you run our ITOM solutions on-premises or in the public cloud, you benefit from consistent and simplified distribution, installation, upgrades, operations, scalability on-demand and automated high availability (HA) and data recovery (DR). If you use SaaS delivery of our products, either from Micro Focus or from one of our partners, you benefit indirectly from our cloud-native applications. Because only cloud-native applications delivered as a service provide you all the benefits of modern SaaS that come with deployment, management and configuration and ultimately desired cost savings.
Why are cloud-native applications best suited for SaaS delivery?
SaaS is simply defined as a software distribution model in which a provider hosts applications and makes them available to users over the Internet and where software is licensed on a subscription basis. A software provider can host the applications and related data using its own data center with servers, databases, networking and computing resources or host it in the public cloud. Micro Focus ITOM software is cloud-native and developed for speed and scale. When our products are delivered via SaaS, customers have the following extra benefits:
- Rapid onboarding and instant access to new capabilities - it is fast and easy for the Micro Focus SaaS team to update and patch software without affecting the guaranteed 99.9% uptime SLA. Our customers are always on the latest product releases without any hassles and gain the fastest TTV.
- Auto-scalability-composable architecture based on microservices and containers introduces the ability to scale horizontally not previously possible. This also enables the Micro Focus SaaS team to respond to our customers' demands faster and safely without disruptions.
- Agility and predictability in delivering new capabilities every three months. Each microservice is automated for continuous integration and deployment without disruption, making software version-less from the customer's point of view.
Cloud-native applications delivered via SaaS provides you with bigger time and cost savings than cloud-enabled or cloud-based applications via SaaS. The future and present belong to cloud-native applications because these can quickly adapt to changing business requirements. If you are looking to speed up your IT operations automation and digitalization, make sure you chose SaaS with cloud-native applications.