What does cloud native mean?

By Brynne Henn - July 28, 2021

Cloud native refers to the platforms and applications designed to be used in a cloud environment.

Think of all the times you’ve stored files on a physical computer or hard drive, but couldn’t access them outside because you didn’t have them with you. Or all those times you’ve had to reinstall entire operating systems or software in order to take advantage of updates.

Reasons why businesses might prefer cloud-native applications:

  • They’re available wherever you are, even worldwide
  • They manage enormous amounts of data (think petabytes and exabytes)
  • They scale instantly, even for billions of users
  • They respond swiftly to market demands
  • They reduce costs and software development risks

Read on to learn how exactly cloud-native development makes this all possible.

What is the difference between cloud and cloud native?

At its simplest:

  • A cloud is where an application resides (think servers)
  • Cloud native describes how an application is built and run (think services)

Cloud platforms allow you to store and access your data and run software online, on demand. Contrast this to memory cards and other hardware you need to have to access data physically.

There are four types of clouds:

  • Private clouds: Whether located on-site at your organization’s data center or hosted by third-party cloud service providers, they are dedicated solely to your business.
  • Public clouds: The most common type of cloud, hosted online by third-party cloud providers.
  • Hybrid clouds: A cloud combining a private and a public cloud. They always involve a private cloud.
  • Multiclouds: Cloud computing involving more than one public cloud service. If they include a private cloud, they can be considered both a hybrid cloud and a multicloud.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), a collective of major open-source projects seeking to make cloud computing available to everyone, officially states:

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.

These techniques enable loosely coupled systems that are resilient, manageable, and observable. Combined with robust automation, they allow engineers to make high-impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal toil.

What are the benefits of a cloud-native data warehouse?

Cloud-native data architectures offer businesses and their DevOps—or the collaboration between development teams (i.e. coders) and operations teams (i.e. code implementers)—several benefits:

  • Flexibility: The isolation of containers enables DevOps to focus on quickly building, testing, and updating applications and services on an ongoing basis.
  • Scalability: Being set up as loosely coupled microservices makes cloud-native applications elastic, meaning they can be dramatically scaled up or down as needed.
  • Resilience: Because individual microservices are self-contained, even if one fails or is removed entirely, the application as a whole stays functional.
  • Efficiency: Because containers are event-driven and use only the computing power they need to respond to specific triggers, they are quicker and cheaper to manage and deploy.
  • Speed: Businesses can move faster to build and launch the apps they need to meet customer needs.
  • Portability: Except in special cases, cloud-native apps aren’t tied to any particular platform, operating system, or machine. That means you can access them at your convenience, however you like. On the same token, you don’t have to worry about updating servers to support your apps either.
  • Observability: DevOps can easily gauge an application’s internal states by looking at its external outputs.
  • Automation: Because so much of cloud computing can be automated, DevOps can remove the element of human error and focus on meeting bigger business needs.

Cloud-native data architecture & your business

Let’s go into how exactly cloud infrastructures help your DevOps and your business as a whole to be more agile than traditional monolithic architectures:

Modular architectures

Applications are made of autonomous building blocks called microservices that can be put together like Legos to form a working whole. Gone are the days of changing an entire stack of code to fix or update an application.

Why this helps your business: Microservices architectures allow for continuous delivery, where you can release apps in short product lifecycles while still continuing to improve specific services. You don’t even have to take an application offline to update it. Instead, simply modify or swap out individual microservices as many times you need.

Serverless operation models

Cloud-native apps rely on containers, a.k.a. “Docker containers” for the application development company that made them popular. These are packages of microservices and all their dependencies, or in-tandem workflows.

Why this helps your business: Containerization makes apps extremely portable, meaning they can operate on any and all platforms that support containers. That includes everything from a smartphone or a laptop to a supercomputer. No need to build out an entire server for your apps.


Container-orchestration layers like Kubernetes provide a framework to automate how containers are run and managed. For example, let’s say a workflow requires containers A, B, and C to deploy, in that order. If container A fails, Kubernetes can prevent downtime by restarting or replacing it, on its own without human input.

Why this helps your business: With container-orchestration layers handling so much workflow management automatically, you can free up your time and attention for greater business objectives and processes.

Application program interfaces (APIs)

APIs allow different software to communicate and tap into each other’s functionalities. Need a secure checkout system for your store? Use an API to connect with Paypal to process transactions, instead of building out your own. Want to give your users a UX-friendly way to log in to your app? Use an API to connect with Facebook or Google.

Why this helps your business: Adding new features to your apps is easy with APIs because you can integrate new software without even having to understand fully how they work. These savings in time and money in turn make for more effective collaboration between your business and IT teams.

Schedule a demo with Sisu today

While on-premises data platforms have certainly evolved, it takes the agility, economy, and adaptability of cloud data exploration to stay current and competitive in today’s market. Worrying about cutting IT costs is a thing of the past. Now you can maximize all the best technologies to grow your business and solve problems for your customers.

Want to see firsthand how cloud-native data architectures can help facilitate getting from the “what” to the “why” for your most pressing organizational needs? Schedule a demo with Sisu today.

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