Let’s Talk About Cloud Agnostic vs. Cloud Native

4 Min Read

If your business is having a cloud agnostic vs. cloud native discussion, our guide to the pros and cons of each can help you decide the best option for your organization’s cloud requirements. However, it’s not necessary to pick one over the other—you can divide applications between the two options with appropriate management in place.

As the cloud evolves, and use of the cloud matures, businesses often search for ways to extract the maximum flexibility and agility from cloud service providers. These searches have led to the increased adoption of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments, and—more recently—cloud services that businesses can deploy on their on-premises infrastructures.

For a couple years, there’s also been an ongoing discussion about the relative merits of cloud agnostic vs. cloud native applications. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s for each business to determine whether they can tolerate the disadvantages in order to benefit from the advantages—or whether they should balance workloads between the two.

Cloud agnostic vs. cloud native: definitions

Before launching into the advantages and disadvantages of cloud agnostic vs. cloud native, it is best to define what these two terms mean. The term “cloud agnostic” is generally regarded to refer to applications and workloads that can be moved seamlessly between cloud platforms—and between on-premises infrastructures and cloud platforms—without being bound by operating dependencies.

For now, we’ll be using the generally accepted definition of cloud native, which is “an approach to building and running an application that exploits the advantages of the cloud delivery model.” This doesn’t mean cloud native applications can’t be moved seamlessly between infrastructures, but generally, they’re architected to be platform-specific.

The pros and cons of cloud agnostic and native applications

The biggest advantage of running a cloud-agnostic application is that you’re assured of a consistent and standard performance whatever platform the application is deployed on. Limitless portability between platforms also means you can easily migrate on-premises applications to the cloud, avoid vendor lock-in, and maximize redundancy—all of which are important considerations for many organizations.

Single cloud-native applications take advantage of the strengths of the underlying platform. Therefore, they have access to all the cloud provider’s services, which can result in better performance, better efficiency, and lower costs. They are also considerably easier to log, monitor, and manage using cloud providers’ native management tools.

The disadvantages of cloud-native applications are the advantages of cloud-agnostic applications. You’re not assured of a consistent performance if you migrate cloud-native applications to another cloud; and, if you maintain a single cloud environment, you’re at risk from vendor lock-in and service outages. 

It doesn’t have to be an “either-or” decision

There doesn’t have to be a winner of a cloud agnostic vs. cloud native comparison. Organizations can select which applications would be best served by a cloud-agnostic architecture, and which would be best served by a cloud-native architecture, and run both. This compromise will mean that some apps benefit from consistent performance, while others have access to the unique services they need.

Logging, monitoring, and managing both cloud agnostic and cloud native apps should be done as one using a multicloud management solution. Using cloud providers’ cloud-native tools will not give you the visibility you need to ensure cloud-agnostic apps running on different platforms are running as efficiently, as cost-effectively, and as securely as possible.

Decisions about cloud agnostic vs. cloud native, or which cloud management solution to choose, shouldn't be made in a silo. To help drive success, leading organizations are establishing a formalized Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE)—a cross-functional team that supports and governs an organization's cloud strategy. This team ensures best practices and policies are consistent and successful across security, engineering, finance, and any other teams with a stake in the organization's cloud operations.

To learn more about establishing a Cloud Center of Excellence, see our complete whitepaper: The Next Generation of Cloud Management Starts with a Cloud Center of Excellence

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CloudHealth Tech Staff, Cloud Tech Journalist

The CloudHealth Tech Staff team is made up of industry experts who report on trending cloud news, offer cloud management best practices, and compare products and services across the major cloud providers. As a part of CloudHealth, the CloudHealth Tech Staff come from all different backgrounds making them unique leaders in this industry.

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