With 90% of all companies predicted to be on the cloud by the end of this year, cloud computing has decisively moved from disruptor technology to IT mainstay. But amid the stampede to virtualisation, it pays to know that not all cloud products are created equal, in fact some are little better than lipstick on a pig. And what’s worse, some unscrupulous vendors are guilty of ‘cloud washing’ – selling unsuspecting customers poor performing ‘cloud-enabled’ products, which provide only a fraction of the benefits of cloud-native solutions.

Cloud-Native Versus Cloud-Enabled: What’s The Difference?

Cloud-native systems are the real deal, designed to enable a long list of web-centric benefits such as elastic scaling, run-anywhere functionality, single view of the truth and easy, seamless integration.

Elastic scaling, for instance, enables users to increase or decrease server capacity on demand, without the need to maintain expensive excess server capacity. While single view of the truth means employees can access the most up-to-date data and collaborate with colleagues wherever they are within an organisation. Cloud-enabled systems, however, do not live on the cloud, instead they are designed for deployment in traditional data centres, with some of their characteristics adapted for use with the software encased in an IP wrapper.

Can You Spot A Genuine Cloud-Native Product?

Is it made using microservices? These are small independent building blocks, each of which performs a specific function. The beauty of microservices is that you can remove, update and add new ones independently and quickly, safe in the knowledge that they will not adversely affect other microservices. This means that there is no need for the expensive and time-consuming testing required by non-cloud-native solutions.

Is it always up to date? Cloud-native solutions don’t need scheduled updates because, thanks to microservices, they can be constantly updated with the latest technology without the need for a wholesale upgrade. Think Facebook, it remains alive and operational as updates are applied with new and diverse functionality, regularly.

How often are updates and new features released? Do they require downtime? If updates are released annually or biannually, or need downtime, the solution is not cloud-native. With cloud-native software, both new features and critical updates are deployed quickly to all customers without downtime or disruption. In retail, for example, there is definitely no need for a pre-peak trading lock down.

How easily does it adjust to demand or stress? Cloud-native software scales automatically. It does not need any human intervention to massage or tweak the software settings for maximum performance, it simply applies more hardware as needed, on demand. It can also automatically scale down when capacity is not needed.

Fast-Changing Customer Behaviour

In today’s omnichannel world, where companies are struggling to keep up with fast-changing customer behaviour, companies need to experiment and adopt new technologies quickly and regularly. They also need to implement new systems and upgrades faster, and in a more streamlined way. Departments within organisations also need to work closer together than ever before to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

Continuously updated and seamlessly interconnected, cloud-native technology is arguably the best tool currently available to meet the challenges presented by modern omnichannel companies. Cloud-enabled solutions, however, tethered to traditional data centres, are a poor alternative.