At the end of the day... What is Cloud Native?

Stop what you’re doing and text 10 of your colleagues. Ask them to define the term “Cloud Native”. Good chance you’ll get 10 different answers.

I took this citation out of Microsoft’s attempt to define Cloud Native. And that’s exactly how I feel. Defining Cloud Native is HARD.

So I researched further and went straight to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), and checked what they provide as Cloud Native definition:

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.

I feel like, however, the CNCF stack, projects, and methodology are deeply container-focused. At the same time, whenever I hear a cloud vendor speaking about cloud-native, I’m under the impression that it pretty much means serverless.

But isn’t cloud-native just an organization/application/operation that was born in the cloud?

How would you define Cloud Native?

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Personally I would define cloud native as an application, or even organization that operates in complete independence of traditional on-premises technologies or constraints. Perhaps it’s too broad of a definition, but this would encompass a lot of deployment options and technologies that leverage the cloud(s)

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Definitions can be broad. It’s tough to me, though, that everyone and every organization have their own one, though. It feels like the early days of Cloud Computing, where it took a while to have the NIST definition as the accepted one.

Maybe NIST will help and define Cloud Native? :sweat_smile:

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For me a Cloud Native project is a project that is being built in the cloud, using cloud services (i.e serverless services) from day zero as opposed to legacy projects that are built in an on-prem context and sometimes lift-and-shifted to the cloud. These latter projects would typically use only EC2 and their owners would be extremely proud that they are in the cloud, because now they can hang out with the cool cats.

There are also Cloud Native companies, that have no servers running in their offices (if they have an office), they use cloud tools/services to perform their day-to-day activities. And if needed, they would use public cloud providers infrastructure to build their own services or integrations.

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For me it’s mostly cattle not pets mentality. If you can’t burn it to the ground and start over easily or scale it almost infinitely with the click of a button, it’s not cloud native.

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That being said @marykay25, if I use Vagrant, Cheff, Puppet, or any other way to automatize my configuration across servers, even if on-premises, meaning I can destroy them and recreate from the ground up with 0 interaction, am I doing cloud native?

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@raphabot that would be private cloud right? So I’d say yes.

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