Technology moves faster than many businesses are able to keep up with. Just a short decade ago, concepts like containerization and ‘cloud-native’ were relatively unknown. Today, they’re one of the driving forces behind smooth and seamless e-commerce, and with good reason. One of the things that makes the cloud-native approach stand out is that, unlike monolithic legacy systems, it’s actually designed with agility and scalability in mind.
In this article, we’ll quickly recap what cloud-native means, the increasingly prominent role that Kubernetes is playing in orchestrating cloud-native development and deployment, and the top 5 reasons you might want to consider it for your e-commerce business.
What do we mean by cloud-native and what is Kubernetes?
If you were to ask three different people at your next boardroom meeting what ‘cloud-native’ means, you’ll likely get three different answers - and all of them will probably be correct to some extent. Cloud-native is a concept that’s designed to challenge how we think about building complex critical business systems. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation defines it as:
“Technology that empowers 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.”
If you run an e-commerce business, you’ll know how much users have come to expect a flawless user experience with rapid responsiveness and innovative, personalized features. For today’s consumers, downtime is something that happened in the 00s’ and is inexcusable in 2021.
Benefits of cloud-native apps
Cloud-Native is about speed, agility and scalability. And, in order for businesses to develop and deploy rapidly in the cloud, they need to embrace containerization. Containers are a form of digital packaging that allow developers to deploy small independent pieces of software that can then be strung together to form an overall function or user experience. Kubernetes is a modern cloud-native container orchestration tool and one of the most popular open-source projects in the entire world. Indeed, Kubernetes has become almost indispensable for any businesses considering cloud-native development and deployment. In fact, Kubernetes has an almost 80% share of the containerization market.
So what are the benefits of using cloud-native apps with Kubernetes?
1. Say goodbye to downtime, for good.
As an e-commerce retail business, you know all too well how important it is to keep all available channels open to the customer at all times. Over the course of the past few years, the multi-touchpoint experience has become normalized and users expect to be able to jump from your app to your website, or pause and resume their buying journey, as and when it’s convenient for them to do so. However, they also want up-to-date content, cutting edge-features, a nice UI and an up-to-date catalogue. So how does your business roll out updates without interrupting the experience for hundreds, thousands or even millions of users?
Containers orchestrated with Kubernetes allow for constant and seamless update rollouts, allowing you to add in new features such as buttons, products or other changes to the front-end, without needing to take your website or app offline. With Kubernetes, whenever a new feature or update is rolled out a backup of the old image is automatically created. That backup is only destroyed once the new image is fully operational. This enables your development team to test and trial new features and roll them out when they’re ready at zero risk.
2. Scalable on demand
Most retailers that navigated through the pandemic will have felt the need to scale up quickly to meet a spike in consumer demand for e-commerce. Kubernetes can easily scale the number of containers in use depending on the needs of an application. Elastic up and downscaling is one of the hallmarks of a cloud-native offering and distinguishes it from other solutions that, while hosted in the cloud, can’t offer this flexibility.
3. Lower operational costs
Kubernetes has the ability to determine which ‘worker nodes’ a set of containers should run on depending on what is required and the resources available. While legacy applications would be resource-hungry no matter the workload, Kubernetes will only deploy and use what is currently needed. In this way, retailers will find it easy to scale up their operations at a moment’s notice, safe in the knowledge that they’re only spending that extra computing resource when they need to.
4. Built-in security for APIs
Kubernetes bases its security on the four C’s of cloud-native security - Cloud, Cluster, Container and Code. Since most cloud-native applications are designed around microservices and APIs, applications are only as secure as the weakest link in the chain of services that comprise the entire application. Kubernetes actually brings with it its own built-in security benefits. For instance, containers are usually not patched or updated with Kubernetes; instead, container images are replaced with completely new versions. This enables strict version control and allows rapid rollbacks if a vulnerability is uncovered post-launch.
5. Cloud portability
Being ‘in the cloud’ isn’t enough these days. Modern businesses are taking that one step further by optimizing their presence in the cloud, usually combining private and public cloud in what’s often referred to as a multi-cloud solution. This has all sorts of benefits, from added security in key areas of the business to lower overall running costs. However, so-called hybrid cloud portability is a problem that businesses have only recently started solving - largely thanks to Kubernetes. The difficulty with using different cloud environments for app hosting and development is that they end up leaning on different operating systems with different dependencies. Kubernetes is ‘environment-agnostic’, making it the tool of choice for many businesses that want the freedom to migrate between cloud environments.
To find out more about cloud-native apps, containerization and the benefits of Kubernetes, get in touch with Emporix today by clicking here.