In today’s scenario, the nature of IT is changing from an inward-directed, process automation focus to an outward-directed, business offering focus. This change from “support the business” to “be the business” is the reason behind the rising demand for cloud native apps.
This poses many challenges to the existing IT industry, including changes in development and operations processes, learning the language and behaviour of a minimum viable product (MVP), building teams that mix IT and business personnel, and finding the right skills mix.
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All the traditional application architectures, operations, and pace of development are completely inadequate in this new world and in order to get all the details right in the process of developing applications to support the new “be the business” focus, here are a few elements that can help IT professionals along the way:
1. The New Microservices Architecture
Speed is one of the highest priority requirements for cloud native apps, creating demand for rapidly delivering and iterating application functionalities. But, the traditional application architecture acts like a hurdle in this process. All of the code that makes up the application is bundled into one monolithic executable. This makes deployment much more complex because now, for any code change, no matter how small, it’ll require a rebuild of the entire executable. This further requires integration and testing of the code from the developers or even development groups involved in building the application, even if the code didn’t change. Losing track of time in integration and testing, the worst part is the fact that development teams can release new features only during a “release window,” because the overhead of the integration process restricts how often releases can occur. So, instead of a single large executable, microservices deconstruct a single application into a number of separately executing functional components which makes the process much easier.
But moving to a microservices architecture raises issues of its own. You’ll face 2 primary challenges: how to partition functionality into individual services, and how to connect the individual microservices so that the aggregate serves as a complete application.
2. API Exposure
RESTful APIs can be used to handle communication in microservices-based applications as they offer an interface that you can call by way of a standardized protocol. This makes it easy for external callers to know how to format a service request. It is known that APIs are quite straightforward, but in practice, there are several elements that are vital to make APIs a viable connectivity mechanism, including API versioning, throttling, circuit breakers, and data caching.
These 4 elements show us that moving to a microservices architecture imposes additional requirements beyond merely exposing an interface mechanism. But despite these complexities, APIs are here to stay as they are more useful, flexible, and convenient than any other interface mechanisms.
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3. DevOps for Automation Across the Application Lifecycle
DevOps is an attempt to break down the barriers between different IT groups that have unique processes that focus on internal optimization. It is key element that substitutes automation for manual processes. In fact, the goal for the introduction of DevOps is to reduce the time between when developers write the code and when you place it into production.
Implementing DevOps processes is not trivial and most organizations start with one of these two ways:
– Address a widely known pain point in the application lifecycle.
– Assess the overall application lifecycle via a technique referred to as value chain mapping (VCM).
In most IT organizations, testing is performed by a QA group that is thinly staffed and underfunded. This restricts its testing to manual functional testing to ensure that application functions operate correctly. That said, IT organizations also wait to perform QA until just before deployment, which results in last-minute application rework or, worse, deployment of unsatisfactory code. This way of working for “support the business” applications was still acceptable but not with “be the business” applications.
Application quality can never be an afterthought which is why QA testing must be a core part of the development process. In fact, it must be performed earlier in the process so that issues can be identified and addressed before they cause a panic response or application outages. What you’ll need is an automated test execution environment that you can call as soon as new code gets checked in. This shift to developer-driven functional testing frees QA groups to focus on three other aspects of testing that have been neglected for far too long: Integration testing, Client testing, and Performance/load testing.
Conclusion: One phrase often used for the new application paradigm is “cloud-native apps.” This term characterizes applications that typically have more rapid release cycles, highly erratic workloads and use DevOps as an inter-group process methodology.
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