Why Federal Agencies Should Embrace Cloud Native Architectures

By Vinay Katari

Embracing CNA & Microservices

The emergence of cloud computing, big data, and agile engineering are transforming the way software systems are built. The ability to rapidly develop loosely coupled, flexible, and web-scale systems using microservices, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and devops accelerates the development and deployment cycle, while reducing the maintenance overhead associated with application maintenance.  Federal agencies are constantly faced with new demands for new and innovative services that mirror the latest and greatest solutions in the private sector. This requires fresh thinking, especially given federal budgetary constraints. With increased demands to get more value for IT budgets spent, it’s important for agencies to embrace modern and open source technologies using Cloud Native Architectures (CNA) that provide microservices, devops, and PaaS out of the box. Services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda and API Gateway are “server-less” microservices that dramatically reduce development and maintenance effort, thus reducing costs. Furthermore, the integration of development, operations, automated testing, deployment, and security reduces cost and increases quality. This also decreases manual handoffs, making processes repeatable. The following can all help agencies realize the benefits of becoming cloud native:

  • Adopting architectural patterns (e.g., those prescribed by the 12 Factor manifesto);
  • Building independently deployable services or microservices via containers (e.g., Docker)
  • Employing an API-first approach
  • Building anti-fragile applications that become more robust when subjected to stress

The direct benefits of buidling applictions using microservices are illustrated below:

“Ultimately, the most important point is that the cloud enables IT to be delivered more cost effectively” - Stephen McGibbon, CTO Microsoft EMEA

 

Private industry tech giants such as Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have been reaping the benefits of cloud native applications and microservices for over a decade.  However, all successes come with challenges that need to be overcome.  Migrating to a microservices model requires full-stack technical expertise, extensive automation, and use of tooling through the entire SDLC. This includes development, testing, deployment, and operations, all of which are critical to delivering cost savings, security, and operational reliability benefits.