Cloud native tools and processes have an image problem. When we surveyed 1,500+ IT decision makers in June 2020, 97% of them said they are already cloud native, or plan to be in the future. We then asked leaders to define “cloud native,” and answers are all over the map. Some say it’s simply being in the cloud. Others say it’s being born in it. Still others identify “cloud native” as incorporating specific infrastructure elements, like microservices and containers.
The truth is, cloud native and many of its features and benefits are misunderstood. Even the definition from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) leaves some clarity to be desired:
“Cloud native technologies 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.”
Smart IT leaders evaluate cloud operations frequently and consistently. But accurate evaluations are dependent upon accurate information. Do you have the right information, or are outdated and easily dispelled misconceptions about cloud native development keeping you from realizing its full potential?
Cloud native’s biggest misconceptions
Many of the popular misconceptions about cloud-native development prevent tech leaders from exploring cloud native practices as a path to further cloud adoption. And it’s a shame, because the benefits are real. Research has shown cloud native tools can shorten release cycles and generally help organizations develop products faster and update them more reliably. Here are the most pervasive myths, and some clarification around the real benefits cloud native can offer:
Myth #1: “Cloud native” just means being in the cloud.
This misconception is easiest to correct. Businesses that host some or all of their operations in the cloud aren't necessarily cloud native. Another misconception — shared by 28% of people we asked to define the term — is that “cloud native” means a company was born in the cloud. Also untrue. It’s possible for a company to have a significant portion of their data hosted in the cloud and not be considered cloud native. These businesses can be likened to someone living in a luxury apartment complex but never using the pool, laundry service or other amenities that make life easier. Instead, these companies have migrated to infrastructure hosted in the cloud and now consider their transformation complete.
Myth #2: “Cloudy” tools don’t make you cloud native, either.
The CNCF definition of cloud native references containers, declarative APIs and other hallmarks of a cloud native strategy. But just because you’ve incorporated one of these tools, or because your cloud provider offers them, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve tapped into the benefits of cloud native strategies. On the flip side, a business doesn’t necessarily need to use these tools to be considered cloud native. In fact, the belief that any one set of tools is a prerequisite for this strategy is false. Just because you can swing a hammer it doesn’t mean you’re a carpenter.
Myth #3: Cloud native is a one-time shift.
Like the digital transformation strategies that preceded them, cloud native strategies are not static. Instead, they require an evolution in how we think about the cloud. For one, you can’t define cloud by a simple cash ROI. Those with bona fide cloud native processes recognize that the real value lies in faster deployment times and increased agility. You also have to change your decision-making framework. Cloud technology evolves rapidly, so what may seem like the wrong strategy or technology today may be exactly what you need five years down the road. For example, using containers might not make a lot of sense for your organization right now, but it could be the key to hyperscaling down the line. It’s important to remember that a cloud native strategy might mean re-vetting. Technology & business change too rapidly for one-time decisions.
These cloud native myths extend beyond semantic arguments — they are core misconceptions about the strategy that keeps businesses from realizing major improvements. Think differently in your approach to cloud native development, and you can accelerate your time to market and adopt a cloud strategy that evolves and adapts over time. Remember this: cloud native isn’t as much about the technology as it is about the entire paradigm of computing and business operations.
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