abstract clouds representing a hybrid approach

It isn’t easy to compare and contrast cloud native vs. cloud agnostic because they’re not competing principles. In most cases, they work together to provide independence and flexibility to organizations. Cloud native is more of a philosophy that drives resilience and scalability. Meanwhile, cloud agnosticism centers on eliminating dependence upon any single provider. 

As that’s the case, it’s not unusual to see them teamed together. This combination helps companies enjoy the benefits of both while closing any of the issues that they might create. Of course, in an environment that takes advantage of both, companies need to change their culture and systems management to support them. 

Defining Cloud Agnostic vs. Cloud Native

While it’s unnecessary to choose between cloud agnostic vs. cloud native for most systems, they’re sometimes impractical based on access, availability, and resource limitations. In some cases, they may not even be an option.  

Cloud native

Cloud Agnostic 

Cloud native systems are cattle in the pets vs. cattle analogy. They’re flexible, easily replaceable, and disposable in the event of damage. By leveraging the cloud environment, it’s possible to build applications that are fully scalable and customized. These programs are often dependent on microservices and containerization. Standard tools used to support cloud native include Kubernetes, Docker, and Azure DevOps. These aid in the security orchestration, continuous integration and continuous delivery, and virtualization needed in cloud native systems.  Cloud agnostic is a process where the company builds systems that aren’t dependent on a specific provider. This is a bit more contentious than cloud native because it requires a significant time investment. Tools and infrastructure are developed with unique features that allow them to transcend platforms, so the upfront costs are usually higher. Cloud agnostic could be considered a superset of cloud native as the goal of native is making applications work across a series of platforms and processes.   
Pros
  • Scalability: It’s very easy to scale up or scale down systems to meet business needs. 
  • Resilience: As they’re comprised of microservices, cloud native environments are resilient. When a small component fails, it fails independently. 
  • Performance: Each component works on a small segment, increasing the performance of the overall system. 
  • Portability: Programs work independently of a platform and, as a result, can be moved anywhere. 
  • Consistent performance: Businesses can take advantage of a wider range of features and options, meaning that they can maximize the performance of their system.
  • Avoiding lock-in: Portability means that systems are never locked into a provider who might change terms or conditions.  
Cons 
  • Portability: It may be difficult to move applications ported to specific clouds. 
  • Management: As there are many small services, it may create more management challenges. 
  • Culture shift: Cloud native is a new way of doing things that will require a cultural shift. 
  • Misunderstandings: People often misunderstand cloud agnostic. They may think a single code will work for all platforms, when in reality, they have to rewrite it every time. 
  • Implementation barriers: Cloud agnostic has to happen at the developer level, so it’s not always possible.  

Both cloud native and cloud agnostic offer significant benefits to companies, but they also come with some drawbacks. On the upside, they’re complementary processes that can support each other. 

The Benefits and Risks of Using Both 

The most significant benefit of using cloud native and cloud agnostic together is that the pros of each cancel out their counterpart’s cons. For example, one drawback of cloud native is that applications aren’t always portable. The portability of a cloud agnostic system can help to close that gap. Meanwhile, the wide berth of features available in a cloud agnostic environment means that a company will have more flexibility in its cloud native tool development. They can customize these tools based on specific needs and scale them for the fluctuations of their business. 

There are some challenges found in an environment where both cloud native and agnostic work together. This issue is specific to the logging, monitoring, and management of systems. Agnosticism creates piecemealed programs that run independently of each other. While this is great for customizability, it’s a challenge in orchestration. It’s vital to find a way to bring these programs together and establish a single command center to monitor abnormal behaviors and issues. 

Also, it’s not always financially feasible to go entirely cloud agnostic. A company may realize significant cloud computing cost savings when they stay with the same provider for all of their needs. As long as the benefits outweigh the risks, there is no major problem in taking this path. 

Comparing cloud agnostic vs. cloud native doesn’t require choosing one over the other. They can be instrumental to success in a combined environment as they balance out each other’s limitations. However, the update to both represents a significant culture and systemic risk for businesses. Working with an expert capable of understanding the limits of a system helps companies develop a customized program that works seamlessly and maximizes efficiency across the board.  

New Context helps clients develop cloud agnostic and cloud native solutions to meet the unique needs of their organizations. Schedule a free demo or contact us online or at 1.888.773.8360 for more information. 

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