Modern Applications is what we refer to cloud-native software built with today’s agility, performance and security needs in mind. It is a useful way to classify application migration or redevelopment projects that are more than just a ‘cloud migration’.
Ultimately, Modern Applications are about more than just the underlying infrastructure. They are about your business and your users getting exactly what they need, when they need it.
Following these five essentials for developing modern applications will improve the reliability and security of your applications, and allow you to build and release better products faster.
1. Serverless computing
You and your developers need to focus on building applications and delivering results to your customers. If you spend too much time managing servers and plumbing, you can’t do that.
Serverless computing can help you eliminate the distractions of provisioning, maintaining, and administering servers for backend components.
It will reduce infrastructure management overheads so that your team can focus on delivering value to your customers. This enables you to iterate faster.
Last but not least… serverless computing also reduces your ‘Total Cost of Ownership’ (TCO).
Why AWS Serverless?
The vast majority of our customers leverage AWS Serverless as their platform of choice. Amazon are well and truly the leaders in this space, both in terms of how long their serverless technology has been available and in the depth and breadth of available services.
Serverless isn’t restricted to compute. A truly serverless play includes databases, storage, message queues, etc. The AWS Serverless platform caters to all of them. For example:
You can use AWS Lambda if you need computing resources without managing servers.
Amazon S3 lets you use secure and scalable object storage.
If you need a NoSQL database, then Amazon DynamoDB can help. On the other hand, Amazon Aurora Serverless can help if you need an SQL database.
Amazon Athena, a serverless interactive query service, can help you with analytics.
You can access the Amazon API Gateway for API management.
AWS Serverless platform helps with application integration, orchestration, and developer tooling too.
2. Cloud application security
Going back a few decades – security wasn’t the concern for developers it is today. Applications were being written for client-server architectures where security was primarily the responsibility of the system administrator: now, it’s often down to the developer, and the controls put in place by their IaaS or PaaS vendor.
Application security needs to be high on your priority list, especially if you are operating in a heavily-regulated sector: this applies for a surprising number of digital-native businesses the minute they start accepting credit card payments. Even if you operate in a sector with less regulation, you need to protect your users and your application’s reputation. Hackers exploiting application security vulnerabilities is the last thing you want, no matter how trivial the results.
Securing modern applications is easier said than done though. You probably plan to iterate at speed, which involves frequent deployments. Your development and testing teams might have geared up for this. Security teams need to match this speed, however, that’s not easy. You need thorough security and compliance testing, reviews, etc. That takes time. As a result, you run the risk of either schedule slippage or application security vulnerabilities.
You need DevSecOps. This involves front-loading security and compliance testing instead of treating them as the last item on a checklist. While DevSecOps needs human expertise, automation is important too.
AWS cloud security solutions can help you. On AWS, you can control how your data is stored and who can access it. Identity and access control and real-time monitoring give you this control. AWS cloud security solutions help you to automate security tasks, which is what DevSecOps needs.
On AWS, you are using infrastructure that meets stringent security standards. Comprehensive tooling solutions and security/compliance controls are the other advantages.
3. Microservices architecture
Are you building an application that provides multiple independent services? If you build a large, monolithic application in this case, then you will face multiple constraints. Each service also might have entirely different demand profiles. If one service experiences a spike in demand, then you need to scale up the entire architecture.
What if you need to enhance only one service? A monolithic architecture will require you to modify the entire application, test, and deploy it. As your application grows, this adds complexities. You won’t be able to iterate at speed. A bug in one service will require analysing the entire application. Your entire application may become unavailable if only one component experiences a failure.
Microservices architecture can help you. In this architectural pattern, you build individual components. Each of them offers a separate service. You don’t couple these microservices together. They interact using interfaces and APIs. You enhance one microservice and not the entire application. If you find a bug in one microservice, you need to fix that alone. You need to scale one microservice only when you expect a spike in demand.
AWS microservices capabilities can help you to implement this architecture. It offers Amazon ECS (Elastic Container Service) if you need containers. If you need Serverless computing, then you can use AWS Lambda. AWS solutions in areas like storage, database, networking etc. can also help you to implement the microservices architecture.
4. Purpose-built databases
You could use a ‘one-size-fits-all’ database, however, you can’t do that for modern applications. Your team might need to implement multiple distinct use cases. One might need a document database, whereas another might need a time-series database. You need purpose-built databases.
AWS purpose-built database solutions can help you. These solutions include fifteen purpose-built databases, therefore, you will find one that caters to your use case. You can choose from a document, key-value, time-series, ledger, in-memory, relational and several more databases.
AWS offers scalable databases that are fully managed. These are performant and enterprise-class databases. You can use a relational database for a traditional application, whereas a time-series database will be better for an IoT application.
A few examples of AWS purpose-built databases are as follows:
Relational: Amazon Aurora, Amazon RDS, and Amazon Redshift;
Key-value: Amazon DynamoDB;
Document: Amazon DocumentDB, which is compatible with MongoDB;
Time-series: Amazon Timestream;
Ledger: Amazon QLDB.
5. Continuous delivery automation
Modern application development requires speed. You need to convert ideas into functional products fast. Furthermore, you need to iterate at speed to enhance your product quickly. Manual build management, testing, and deployment take too long to meet your needs.
At the same time, you need quality. Frequent releases shouldn’t mean ‘lowering the guard’ and letting defects reach users of your app. You need to automate enough processes so that your team can focus on speed as well as quality. This is what makes continuous delivery automation so important.
It takes considerable skills, collaboration, and adequate tooling support to establish an effective CI/CD environment. AWS CodePipeline can help you. You can automate your release pipelines using this fully-managed service. AWS CodePipeline automates key processes like build, test, and deployment.
You need to define a release model. Subsequently, AWS CodePipeline helps you to channelise your build, test, and deployment when you change code. Integration with third-party services like GitHub is easy. The resulting automation expedites your releases while helping you to maintain quality.
Modern Applications with PolarSeven
To increase agility and innovation speed, more businesses are modernising their applications with AWS and taking their operations straight to the cloud. There is no correct way to modernise, so you must choose the right methods and apps for your business. At PolarSeven, this is our core mandate. We have worked alongside many clients, examining their business needs, then building and deploying apps to suit.
We are experts in building cloud-first applications that deliver noticeable business value. To learn more about our capabilities, please visit our solutions page and get in touch.