What are cloud-native applications?

Cloud-native applications are designed to capitalize on the scalability and flexibility of the cloud. In contrast to traditional monolithic applications, cloud-native applications are built using multiple, independent microservices that are deployed in cloud environments.

Cloud-native development takes an agile approach to creating new applications. Using a DevOps-based continuous delivery model, software development teams can quickly, iteratively and automatically add new features to an application.

Improve agility to address rising demand for new applications

Requests to enhance current applications, create new user experiences and develop new applications are increasing. To keep up with rising demand, your application development team needs a way to accelerate the creation, deployment and scaling of applications.

By adopting the right architectures, practices and technologies, your team can better meet these changing expectations with cloud-native development. In a recent research study, teams aligned with “the enterprise outlook on cloud-native development” experienced the following from adopting a cloud-native approach:

  • Increased efficiency and higher productivity
  • Improved data security
  • Improved user satisfaction

Recent research on cloud-native development

Companies eager to innovate their customer experience see the value of adopting the cloud-native development model.


of cloud-native adopters report improved app performance and reduced downtime


of cloud-native adopters report quicker app development and time to market

Two approaches to cloud-native

Adopters of the cloud-native model often use it to build data analytics and business intelligence applications.

Approximately three out of four non-cloud applications will move to the cloud within the next three years — most commonly through either lift and shift or modernization for the cloud. Extending existing applications is the most popular method to modernize an application with the cloud.

Selecting the right architecture, implementing the right practices and adopting the right technologies can put you on the path to cloud-native application development. But there are still some decisions ahead:

  • Should you modernize your existing application or build new?
  • What are the best ways to mitigate security risks?

Addressing these and other questions can help you maximize the agility, flexibility and efficiency that cloud-native application development can offer.

Core elements

Architectures designed for the cloud, practices that enable collaboration, and technologies that enable composable and extensible app development

Build with microservices to iterate each component independently

Architecture: Build with microservices

Optimize development by building on a microservices architecture that allows smaller development teams to iterate on each component independently. Your organization can continuously and rapidly improve the application and respond to new feature requests; running microservices in containers amplifies these benefits. You can iterate a single microservice without changing the entire application.

Photo of workers using agile practices

Practices: Implement agile and 12-factor methodologies

Success with cloud-native development relies on the adoption of agile practices and methodologies that allow your team to easily run, build and manage applications while improving user experience through continuous experimentation.

Technology: Capitalize on automated toolchains and container orchestration

By implementing a DevOps toolchain that automates key development tasks, you can support continuous integration, deployment and delivery. Automation not only speeds up processes; it reduces risks by minimizing opportunities for errors.

For container environments, using an orchestration solution such as Kubernetes with a DevOps toolchain enables you to automate the deployment, scaling and management of the containers running microservices.