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Cloud Native 101

In the 21st century, it's not uncommon to hear statements suggesting our online content lives "forever in the cloud," but what exactly is the cloud? The whole impetus of this sentiment hinges on the fact that the cloud is such a nebulous term and concept, even to those who work in a digital space. As a cloud-based software company, our own team at HCL Software often asks for clarity on cloud-related products and terms. As in any industry, there are discrepancies between exact definitions and delineations when it comes to terminology and its broader applications, but there usually exists a generally accepted scope of terms. Below, we sat down with our Global Technology Director Alex Mulholland to break down all things cloud-related.


The Cloud

  1. Q: What is the “cloud” and what are some examples?

    Alex: A “cloud” is considered any shared/managed hosting environment for running applications. Some familiar applications you may recognize which utilize the cloud are: Slack, Zoom, Microsoft 365, Atlassian, Salesforce, and of course HCL SoFy!


  2. Q: Is it a capital "c" in the word cloud? As in a reference to a company or application called Cloud?

    Alex: No, the cloud is a lower-case term, as it does not belong to one company and is a general term. Businesses may use the word cloud in their names and choose to capitalize it, but the cloud and/or cloud computing is not proprietary to one company or business.


  3. Q: Can anyone access information or data in any cloud?

    Alex: That depends on which type of cloud you operate. Clouds can be public (open source access for anyone with an internet connection), private (hosted by a company in their own datacentre for private use) or hybrid (simply a combination of public and private cloud resources, such as an application which includes content retrieved from an on-prem database but has processes running on a public cloud platform).


  4. Q: What type of data/software can utilize the cloud?

    Alex: Nearly anything data-related can be “run on cloud.” A 30-year-old application could be installed on a Virtual Machine (VM) and be technically “running in the cloud.” There may be multiple VMs running on a single machine. Most applications can be run from the cloud, but some with performance-intensive data, such as video editing software or computer-intensive graphic design software and applications, are better suited off of the cloud.


  5. Q: What is the difference between “cloud-based" and “non-cloud” data management?

    Alex: Cloud-managed data means that resources (mainly the Central Processing unit [CPU], memory, and file storage) are shared across multiple applications. By contrast, “non-cloud” data would include individual setup and management of custom infrastructure just to run any given application; non-cloud means each application has fixed, dedicated, local resources.


Cloud Native

  1. Q: What is a cloud native application?

    Alex: Cloud native (applications) are modern apps that are specifically designed to take advantage of the cloud. They are specifically designed, or adapted, to take advantage of shared cloud resources and dynamic management (e.g. scaling or restarts).


  2. Q: What is the difference between the cloud and cloud native?

    Alex: The cloud is mostly about hosting what you already but in a different place - in other words, getting servers out of your own data center and into somebody else’s. Cloud native is an entirely new way of building, deploying, and maintaining applications that depends on containerization, orchestration, and other technologies to build a robust, highly-scalable/autoscaling, and incredibly reliable IT infrastructure. Your application could utilize the cloud, but not be cloud native, but a cloud native application will always utilize the cloud.


  3. Q: So how does this relate to containers or a "containerized" application?

    Alex: Containers, or standardized units of software that package up code, lend themselves well to cloud, being portable and (ideally) fast to start up. A containerized app can be 'placed' efficiently by cloud automation.


SoFy

  1. Q: SoFy is an application that is built to run within the cloud, right?

    Alex: Yes, HCL SoFy is a cloud-based Kubernetes application, whose containers are configured through Helm charts.


  2. Q: What exactly does SoFy do within the cloud?

    Alex: SoFy is a website that provides a catalog of cloud native-enabled enterprise software products aka the HCL Software cloud native product catalog (we refer to it as The Catalog). We also have tools that will package these products with platform services, into a single Helm chart that installs and configures the complete solution.


  3. Q: Who are the typical customers?

    Alex: HCL Software and SoFy customers and business partners are those who want to get started quickly with Kubernetes, to get the benefits of cloud native technologies for their businesses. Our customers utilize SoFy for many purposes including digital solutions, secure devops, security and automation, and platform components and tools, among many more. No prior cloud experience needed!


  4. Q: How do I move to a cloud native environment, without specific cloud native skills?

    Alex: You can easily and quickly move your HCL Software products to the cloud of your choice through expert assistance and unlock the full potential of your products. Our HCL Now service will assist you with cloud migration and retention, so you can quickly become cloud enabled without having to retrain or hire new staff.


Wrapping Up

  1. Q: There are a lot of specific terms in this article, where can I go to learn more about cloud-related terminology?

    Alex: A: One of resources within the our SoFy Documentation site is our SoFy Glossary. This living document is updated over time and can help you learn more about cloud-related language. If you have any feedback or there’s a word we missed, please let us know at hclsofy@hcl.com.

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We hope this blog helped you learn about the cloud and bring the concept a little more down to earth. To learn more about the cloud, cloud native, or SoFy, check out the wide variety of resources in our public-facing SoFy Doc site or request access to SoFy today!