A cloud-native application is a program created in the cloud and designed to take advantage of the full capabilities of cloud architecture. Cloud-native applications offer a variety of incredible benefits, such as better performance, reduced cost, increased scalability, and improved reliability. Long gone are the days of application downtime due to hardware/software updates or bugs in the modules; cloud-native applications are designed to be fault-tolerant, self-healing, and offer limited-to-no maintenance for developers and engineers. These applications allow for horizontal scaling by automatically adapting to changes in the workload without incurring any downtime. Cloud-native applications are created to be more reliable than traditional applications because they have been made high availability by using modern technologies and leveraging services like continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
Why do cloud-native applications matter?
In today’s fast-paced digital market, the demand for powerful and reliable computing power is higher than ever—which make cloud-native applications ideal solutions to modern problems. The speed with which applications are developed and deployed is crucial to gaining a competitive edge for any business.
In a cloud-native platform, both the software and the data are always accessible in a web browser or mobile app. There are no hardware or operating system restrictions to accessing work. These applications offer continuous deployment, the ability to frequently deliver software improvements (bug fixes and new functionality) to users without any downloads or installations. In addition, these platforms have eliminated the problem of software version incompatibility as every cloud native user is always on the latest release.
The distinction between cloud-native platforms and cloud-hosted platforms (sometimes referred to as cloud-based platforms) is important: Many software vendors claim their products are 100% cloud-powered, but are only providing a cloud-storage add-on solution to their previous platform. While cloud-hosted applications can offer significant incremental benefits over those hosted on-premise, cloud-native applications can transform how your team collaborates, operates, and delivers results.
Cloud-native product development software provides all the business benefits of Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms: reduced hardware and IT overhead, rapid scalability, instant deployment, more robust security, simplified integrations, and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). They also transform the way that teams work across every stage of a product’s lifecycle.
Attributes of cloud-native applications include speed, scalability, reliability, and easy access to the latest product features without disruption or unforeseen downtime due to software updates.
Cloud-native applications are designed with a high degree of automation. That means less time spent managing infrastructure, running tests, and provisioning updates.
Cloud-native applications utilize the elasticity of the cloud architecture to offer continuous integration and delivery of scalable software in dynamic environments (public, private, and hybrid cloud).
Cloud-native applications use a single source of truth for data, allowing multiple users to collaborate on the same project at the same time without the risk of managing various versions of the same design document.
Explore Additional Benefits
Unprecedented 24/7 visibility
Business leaders can check on the up-to-the-minute progress of a design project without waiting for a formal design review. Real-time business analytics track design activity by project or by person, and also provide an aggregate feed of multiple project updates throughout the organization. These insights help companies identify potential bottlenecks as they happen and enable them to take early corrective action.
Tighter IP security
Product development companies can provision partners and suppliers while keeping them outside the corporate firewall. Users of cloud-native software have tighter control over who can access or edit their intellectual property (IP) in the first place. Because product designs only live in one central secure place in the cloud—a single source of truth—there are no uncontrolled copies stored on hard drives or in email accounts. Companies can instantly grant and withdraw design access to partners as needed.
A comprehensive edit history records every design change ever made, allowing teams to instantly revert back to any prior stage of the design. This “infinite undo” capability encourages teams to boldly explore more alternative ideas as there is no fear of losing past work and having to recreate it.
More-efficient tech support
The same real-time collaboration tools that engineers use to streamline their work with each other can also be used by companies to get better technical support from PTC. Instead of emailing files and screenshots back and forth, an engineer can communicate live with tech support inside their design document at the exact spot where they have questions. Because the CAD models in cloud native product development software can revert to any previous state, the customer issue is much easier to reproduce.
Faster employee onboarding
Instead of dealing with licenses and software deployment, simplified user provisioning enables new employees to be up and running with their product development platform in seconds. Live collaboration tools allowing multiple people to work inside the same design document also accelerates the training process.
Real-time synchronous and asynchronous collaboration
A cloud-native architecture enables everyone on a team to instantly contribute to the most current design, with no delays due to checking design versions in-and-out of a PDM/PLM vault. There are never software incompatibility issues blocking collaboration because everyone is always using the same software version by default.
Better talent retention and recruitment
The “Work From Anywhere” nature of cloud-native software enables employees to have more flexibility with their schedules and more easily pursue a desired work-life balance. Remote collaboration tools for product development allow Human Resources to recruit the best talent in the world versus limiting their search to a 50-mile radius.
Better connected systems, departments, and partners
When design information is no longer siloed, engineering teams and manufacturing partners can address design for manufacturability (DFM) concerns earlier in the product development process, reducing time, cost, and risk due to retooling. Procurement and supply chain partners can also more easily resolve supply chain disruptions, like part availability issues, with a fast and formal process.
PTC's Cloud-Native Platforms
PTC is delivering cloud-native applications to accelerate product development in the CAD and PDM (Onshape), PLM (Arena, Windchill+), and augmented reality (Vuforia Expert Capture) space. These solutions empower organizations to be more agile while dramatically improving their productivity.
Learn more about PTC’s SaaS strategy.
Read our enterprise SaaS insights to explore the benefits of SaaS, the tipping point for SaaS in product development, and more.