How cloud native technologies empower businesses to build and run scalable applications

As technology continues to evolve and advance in innovations, industry experts delved deep into why it is important for developers to build, manage, and deploy cloud-native and hybrid applications on Azure using their favourite tools and frameworks.
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Today, developers across the globe are bringing their ideas and innovation to build products and solutions that are powering the next wave of business growth. These innovative solutions make it possible for businesses to deliver a hyper personalised customer experience. Thus, it is important to empower these developers with world-class tools and cloud services that allow them to build the applications of the future.

Platforms like Azure are working towards building intelligent applications that are infused with AI to provide advanced insights. To discuss these developments in detail, Microsoft and YourStory co-curated a roundtable discussion titled ‘Cloud Native Applications: Build for scale using containers and managed DB on Azure’, featuring Santosh Desai, Co-founder and CTO, Blowhorn; Ramkumar Sundarakalatharan, Head of Engineering, Itilite; Ravi Teja Chilukuri, CTO, Sentienz; Subir Sarbabidya, CEO - India & Global Product Leader, Maistering B.V.; and Dahnesh Dilkhush, CTO, Microsoft Azure, India.

Cloud-native apps: Opportunities and challenges

Cloud-native applications are the latest wave of digital disruption, according to experts. “Every organisation had different challenges with databases – setting up a database performance, tuning it at scale, etc. So having a managed database has reduced problems,” said Santosh.

Developing a cloud-native application is very different from that of traditional methods. Ramkumar believes when organisations get into cloud-native application development, factors such as salaries or vendor lock-in are easier to overlook. Highlighting the concerns that companies face while adopting these apps, he said, “Cloud-native concepts are difficult to communicate for a diversity when they come from a multiple ecosystem like AWS, Azure or Google Cloud Platform (GCP). There’s also a bit of a communication overhead that had led to sometimes costly or time consuming overwrites. Another concern is the cost projections of serverless architectures and microservices, and business security.”

There are various reasons that make cloud native computing more cost effective.

With microservices, the agility of businesses is directly translated into cost. The ease of the complete process end-to-end right from development to deployment, and scaling, has trickled down to various benefits. “Productivity has increased, and the architecture has simplified which means easier maintenance and fewer resources to deploy,” shared Ravi, talking about how cloud native computing is based on containerisation and virtualisation of software.

From the business of building and deploying applications, Subir essentially focuses on a few key design principles – the application is loosely coupled, it is asynchronous, and it is self sustaining. “And adding to that is the newfound flexibility of cloud-native DevOps whose advantage lies in seamless automation in continuous development, integration, and deployment,” he said.

For developers, who are at the centre stage of writing code and working with data, what does the cloud native application stack really offer them? “In the cloud native world, the bouquet of services – setting up of the web server, security, writing the right API construct, managing databases, indexing, version upgrade - in their own goodness are managed by the cloud provider. What you have to start thinking about is your application code, data, and the broader architecture,” explained Dahnesh Dilkhush, Chief Technology Officer - Microsoft Azure, India.

Therefore, it is important to connect all the technology issues to the actual outcomes for customer satisfaction.

Advantages of low-code development

Delivering a lot with fewer lines of codes written is an obvious advantage to developers. “At ITILITE, we do hackathons, and one of our categories is a no-code hack. As a matter of fact, when there is a new feature request from the business units, we discuss and figure if it can be done with no-code. If it is doable, one person from either the product or engineering function sits with the business user and figures out the flow and we take it running for some time, and then build it in a scalable fashion,” added Ramkumar.

For Ravi, a developer himself, the main advantage of low-code development is convenience and flexibility. The era of low-code development, according to Subir, is the era of the citizen developer – one who is not trained as a software developer but is still able to use tools to produce functionalities or applications. “I see a tremendous opportunity of empowering and unleashing the citizen developer in almost every employee with an advanced level of computer understanding. Several factors need to be managed at the backend while we make the front end most seamless for the user,” said Subir.

It's important to provide the right tools to developers at the right time to make sure the applications are available to market really quick. Dahnesh shares a classic example of Code Spaces, where you can technically have your visual studio code inside a sandbox available on the browser or on the desktop. “Now you are empowering the developer with choices; you're not only at your desktop or the laptop, but in case you are at a shared workspace, you could use a browser and continue coding and collaborate with other peer coders as well,” he shared.

Key trends to watch out for

Santosh notes three key tenets that are going to redefine the cloud – data is growing at a faster pace, user interfaces are changing, and sustainability is preferred along with cost. “Serverless, computing containers is a trend to watch out for. There will also be a multi-cloud environment, where you can route your request, depending on where the workload is. And this will happen via edge computing. Composable applications will also be on the rise, where we will look for products being sent out as a module that can be simply embedded,” he highlighted.

For Ramkumar, the rise of cloud interoperability, specifically on cloud native, is particularly interesting. “People are starting to use serverless for something as critical as authentication or authorisation services, which was probably unheard of even two years back,” he said.

While Ravi mentioned that multi-cloud abstractions and low code would be a game changer, Subir added that the future is about managed hybrid. From an application and usability standpoint, low-code development and managed application development and deployment coexist in a governed manner.

“When you build and deploy applications today, the large mission-critical pieces you pick up using cloud native serverless, microservices architecture, and deploy them using these huge apps that you build with professional developers. And then, within that ecosystem, you introduce a whole low-code development framework for citizen developers for picking up things that are department- and user-specific, so that it doesn't upset the other ecosystem. And these two coexist in harmony and work with each other,” explained Subir.

In the context of the cloud native application stack, concludes Dahnesh, there is going to be a lot of interest and excitement on low code to ensure that applications go to market very fast, along with an architecture-first approach.

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