Modern enterprises understand the need to move away from developing monolithic applications to ones that make best use of the cloud to enable business acceleration at scale and speed. That means transforming development to more resilient cloud native architectures that can be readily deployed to cloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid environments.
What does it mean to be cloud native? Here’s how the Cloud Native Computing Foundation defines it:
“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.”
Put plainly, cloud native solutions make use of technologies that effectively utilize cloud technology infrastructure, and enable the inherent best characteristics of the cloud through:
- Microservice architectures – Applications composed of loosely coupled services that can either self-correct or isolate failure while the remaining services continue to operate.
- Lightweight – Technologies like containers (e.g., Docker) and serverless that can be deployed and terminated quickly on demand.
- Automated Orchestration – Using orchestration technologies such as Kubernetes to distribute and manage application microservices.
- Declarative Configuration – Using infrastructure-as-code technologies to provision cloud environments.
- Elasticity – Leveraging the power of the network to expand and release resources as needed.
- Scalability – Using the reach of worldwide networks to provide concurrent service to and from anywhere.
Speedway to Cloud Native Development
What will you need to accelerate your path to cloud native development? Solutions that enable these 7 practices are essential:
Universal Binary Repository Management
Cloud native is polyglot development – runtimes such as Java, Node.js, Go, Python, and Ruby are readily available, but others like .NET, C/C++, and Rust are options as well. At JFrog, we see half of all our enterprise customers using 12 distinct package types or more.
Maintaining a single source of truth for all your packages, binaries, and images is a massive enabler of efficiency and uniform best practices that will streamline all of your development – not just for cloud native apps – and help speed delivery.
Shift Left Security
Helping developers avoid using unacceptably vulnerable software components as early as possible – a shift left strategy – helps speed your apps safely out the door. Helping assure that no build is ever created using open source packages with known vulnerabilities saves substantial remediation costs in advance.
A Software Composition Analysis (SCA) tool can inform developers when any of their code’s dependencies – as well as the transitive dependencies those components rely on – open the app to known security threats. But that vigilance doesn’t stop with your own code. You also must be able to reveal vulnerable components that lurk in any third-party resources – such as base images from a public resource like Docker Hub.
Private Container Registries
Most cloud native development relies on containerization – even some serverless compute engines, such as AWS Fargate and Google Cloud Run, work with containers. That means you’ll need to be able to create and manage your own private registries for Docker and OCI-compliant images that you can control access to. When those registries are part of a universal binary repository manager, it’s easy to build immutable images that pass through the stages of your development pipeline toward production release.
Proxy Docker Hub
The base images you will use from Docker Hub or other public repositories can easily be the more significant portion of your containerized microservice. Ensuring site reliability and speedy access is a vital key to maintaining release velocity, but can face challenges of poor connectivity, slowdowns, and site downtime.
Proxying these external registries helps eliminate network latencies inherent in physical distance or an unstable service connection, and keeps builds running as fast as possible. The proxy also protects against disruption due to connectivity breaks or if the remote site itself is unavailable.
Software Bill of Materials
Metadata stored from your builds and SCA forms the basis of a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) — a machine-readable inventory detailing all the items included in an application and their origin — for every release put into production cloud clusters.
An SBOM makes it easier for developers to understand dependencies across complex projects with many components, monitor for vulnerabilities both known and newly discovered, and ensure license compatibility to reduce legal and financial exposure.
Helm Chart Registries
Helm charts – declarative manifests for your containerized apps – help you define, install, and upgrade even the most complex Kubernetes application. Container images, Helm charts and Kubernetes go hand in hand is a common trio of technologies used by organizations adopting cloud native development. With a Helm Chart registry/repository alongside your other components your K8s applications can be deployed easily and reliably.
Infrastructure-as-code configuration files are an essential part of your cloud native artifact ecosystem. IaC tools like Terraform, Puppet, and Chef help automate the provisioning and maintenance of the cloud environments where your Kubernetes applications will run. Your IaC modules are a key part of your software supply chain and software delivery into production K8s, so you will need to be able to maintain access-controlled registries for these files.