The idea that companies are “born in the cloud” has become popular in recent years.
Cloud computing technology has been around long enough that not only some of the most exciting startups wear this badge of honor, but also established executives.
The Australian success story “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) is a great example of this – the company has highlighted its “born-in-the-cloud” status and relies on the public cloud for computing power and storage and management of important customer and other business data. In this model, there are no hardware constraints that could be an obstacle to scalability – just an elastic cloud that can grow in Australia’s one-to-watch industry following the record-breaking $ 39 billion acquisition of BNPL player Afterpay .
This new generation of companies follows the idea of Cloud native, with a direct and increasing impact on how precisely the applications we rely on to live, work and play are developed.
Cloud-native applications are described by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation as “scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private and hybrid clouds”. They are designed to be decoupled from restrictive constraints and meet the needs of businesses looking to start and expand in the cloud, as well as others moving to the cloud. New technologies such as containerization, Kubernetes, serverless computing and microservices are the main drivers of this change.
But the shift can’t just be limited to the apps themselves. Underneath the service of all apps we use is an infrastructure layer that supports them. Just as you might only see a sink, toilet and shower in a bathroom, you know that none of these would work without the pipes below.
The infrastructure must also be cloud-native. Old infrastructure was built for the old way of building applications, and even the old businesses grew. It doesn’t fit the new, digital, unicorn-filled Australia that is unfolding before us.
Cloud-native storage has similar properties to the apps it supports – it has to be portable, scalable and dynamic. It must be equipped to properly manage data for stateful apps: that is, a program that stores data from one activity for seamless use in another, while addressing the data storage challenges that arise in the promised scalability of cloud-native environments can.
There are six key operational areas where cloud-native storage must be a priority in order to compete with the cloud-native world.
Hypergrowth businesses can’t wait for long sales cycles to end to acquire new infrastructure that can take months to deploy. Cloud-native applications can be built quickly to meet this challenge, but you also need cloud-native storage that scales easily to manage the data of these fast-growing applications and businesses. Technically speaking, scalability can be broken down into four key areas: client scalability (number of users accessing the system), capacity scalability (increasing the storage capacity in a deployment), throughput scalability (increasing the amount of data processed per second) and cluster availability ( Deploy additional components in a storage cluster).
Unsurprisingly, performance is important in a cloud-native environment. Essentially, systems need to work well and performance needs to be predictable, even though growth and app demand are unpredictable. This means you can complete reads or writes quickly, do a large number of saves per second, and provide a high throughput rate for fast save or retrieve.
Consistency is the key. This can be defined in an IT environment by whether reads quickly return the correct data after it has been written, updated or deleted. When data is available immediately after the change, it is extremely consistent. Any delay moves the dial on only ultimately consistent. This makes the read delay a recovery point objective (RPO).
The damage from data loss has become all too real for Australia as major broadcasters, government departments and other high profile organizations have all been victims of security breaches in recent months. A report from Cloudian found that many traditional defenses fail to protect data from the scourge of ransomware, resulting in the need for an immutable backup of the data. Cloud-native storage must withstand the increasing threat of cybercrime. It’s about more than just access – durable platforms are designed to ensure that data can be securely stored over a longer period of time. This requires multiple layers of data protection, multiple layers of redundancy, and the ability to detect data corruption and automatically restore or reconstruct data.
As highlighted above, it is important that cloud-native storage is not bound by the limitations of the past. Cloud-native apps are by definition portable, and to support this agility, storage systems must be provisionable on demand. This means a software-defined, scale-out approach that enables organizations to quickly increase capacity without the need for new appliances. Remember how easy it is to add a second piece of baggage to a flight (for those currently able to fly, of course) – that’s how simple it is required.
After all, cloud-native storage must be highly available – data must be accessed immediately, regardless of where an error has occurred. Cloud-native storage systems should be able to repair and recover failed components, manage redundant copies of data on another device, and handle failover between devices.
Businesses are now building on the apps they deploy and use to stay and grow. The environment in which this happens is changing, and it’s important that the storage – the pipes – behind it also change to accommodate this new reality.
Regardless of whether it is a company that is moving or was born in the cloud and doesn’t know anything about a non-cloud world – and doesn’t have to – a modern, cloud-native storage base is essential.
James Wright is Regional Director A / NZ, ASEAN and Oceania for object storage company Cloudian.