What You Need to Know About Emerging Architectures for Digital Transformation

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We are seeing through many real-world examples that business technology has been the backbone of successful digital transformations of organizations. In this blog, I plan to write about emerging cloud native architecture and IT practices that are helping enterprises transform their business operations. The term Cloud Native encompasses modern ways of efficiently building and managing technology organization at scale to deliver business’s digital services faster.

While traditional applications built upon monolithic architectures have their own advantages like simpler design, testing and debugging, they suffer when elastic scalability and application agility are required. Monolithic applications tend to have different application components tightly-coupled; due to the risks involved in updating the monolithic applications, IT teams resorted to infrequent feature upgrades, driving end-users and developers away.

In the pre-smartphone era, the benefits of building monolithic architectures of applications and infrastructure outweighed their shortcomings. But, the advent of smartphones and their impacts on consumer behaviors are making organizations rethink about how they build and operate their applications or business services. Every business now wants to meet, serve and grow its customers where they are – mobile.

As highlighted above, microservices-based architecture allowed splitting up of application into smaller manageable services, which can be developed, deployed and scaled independent of each other. Building applications with microservices architecture improves developer productivity, simplifies application life cycle, and increases scalability in an efficient manner. Developers love it. As application updates are done frequently, end-users love it.

Adoption of microservices is often accompanied by two other significant technology transformations that make the implementation of microservices feasible and scalable:

Application Portability with Containers

Container technologies such as Docker isolate software from the execution environments by allowing developers to package software including its dependencies.  Manual deployment of containers is not feasible when you start dealing with hundreds of containers and infrastructure nodes. Container scheduler and orchestration platforms such as Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, Apache Mesos, and Cloud Foundry enable IT Operators to easily deploy, scale and auto-heal services running in containers.

Cloud Native Infrastructure

Much like monolithic applications, traditional infrastructures are rigid, expensive to own, complex to operate and inefficient to scale. Microservices-based application architectures require a transformative infrastructure approach in order to enable the hardware abstraction, elasticity and software-based automation.  So, what are some of the characteristics of a cloud native infrastructure?

  • Cloud infrastructure is software-defined, hardware-agnostic and built upon industry standard hardware. Container Orchestrators will be able to easily match generic requests for compute, memory and storage made by application services only with industry standard hardware.
  • Cloud native infrastructure is heavily virtualized, multi-tenant and elastically scalable. Elastic scalability without affecting the availability of services is of paramount importance in modern architectures. Only software based infrastructure solutions can enable the hardware abstraction and elastic expansion ‘on the fly’, allowing seamless life cycle operations of both hardware and software.
  • The infrastructure must be programmable too with a RESTful API for easier integration into automated development, deployment and operations workflows. Modern IT teams that are practicing agile development and Continuous Integration (CI)/Continuous Deployment (CD) should be able to integrate infrastructure resources easily into their workflows without manual intervention.
  • What about data life cycle management for enterprise data? Cloud native and containers were a thing of stateless applications in the beginning. But, that’s rapidly changing. Stateful applications like databases can also benefit from better image management, runtime isolation and simplified life cycle operations offered by containers and container orchestrators (CO). Extensibility of container technology to data centric stateful applications requires a cloud native storage with enterprise features.

Are you excited as we are about the cloud native transformation? Feel free to check out the white paper for more details on containerizing stateful applications with Dell EMC ScaleIO. Also, the {code} team at Dell Technologies has got a lot of tutorials to help you get started.

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