These days, cloud native is all the buzz. It’s constantly shouted about by the major cloud vendors such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, with amazing references from companies such as Uber and Netflix about how it transformed their businesses. But, do you need to use public cloud to unlock it?

Cloud-native technologies empower organisations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments, such as public, private, and hybrid clouds.

Source: Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

If you were to talk to a cloud provider or even a software developer consuming cloud platform as a service (PaaS) services, you would think that cloud native means public cloud. This idea comes from the fact that the first cloud-native technologies were born in the public cloud, but the CNCF's own definition of cloud native specifies that these technologies run in public, private, and hybrid cloud environments.

So, what does it mean to be cloud native then? If we look again to the CNCF definition, it states that cloud-native techniques "enable loosely coupled systems that are resilient, manageable, and observable". Combined with automation, they allow high impact changes to be made frequently and predictably with minimal effort. For example, if you were to use an automation pipeline and infrastructure as code (IaC) to deploy several web servers on a virtualisation platform with software-defined networking and utilised virtual load balancers and continuous deployment, is this cloud native?

A private cloud platform utilising VMware NSX-T allows for dynamic networks and load balancers to be provisioned on request via industry-standard IaC tooling while logging all traffic in those networks for continuous visibility, which also sounds a lot like a cloud-native technology.

Maybe you know someone who’s told you about all the cloud-native services they consume today. Generally, you might hear about Google Firebase, which not only removes infrastructure from a developer’s equation but provides a few common core functionalities to speed up development time and reduce time to value. What if I told you there were several alternative offerings that didn’t require you to use the public cloud? Supabase is an alternative to Firebase. It's an open-source option that can be consumed as a PaaS but you can host it yourself as it simply runs on a few Docker containers. Another option would be Red Hat's OpenShift and IBM's Cloud Paks which build on top of Kubernetes, a cornerstone of cloud computing, and allow developers to focus on their code and the delivery of their business outcomes.

Datacom’s approach to cloud and application modernisation is part of #RightCloud journey, where cloud isn’t just a destination but a new way of working regardless of the platform you consume (public cloud, private cloud, on-premise, co-location or software as a service (SaaS)). Datacom #RightCloud brings together the best platforms and technologies to achieve your business outcomes, rather than locking you into a specific service because it’s the current buzzword.

Ben Thomas has 10 years of industry experience working with customers to deliver business-focused outcomes through the strategic use of technology. Since 2018, he also has been recognised as one of Microsoft's most valuable professionals (MVP) in cloud and data centre management.

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