Cloud-Native Software: What it Is, How We Got Here, and Why it Matters

To realize the benefits of cloud-native software, an application must actually be cloud-native—designed to run in the cloud, interacting with disaggregated cloud services, fully manageable as code—to deliver the expected benefits.

Network Computing, Contributor

May 6, 2024

1 Min Read
business person holding a cloud in his hands

Here’s a fun game to play with your tech industry friends. Next time you’re in a group waiting for an elevator or in line to get coffee, ask, “What does ‘cloud-native’ mean?” You might be surprised by the range of responses you get, even among savvy technologists.

Something that’s “born in” the cloud? Designed specifically for the cloud? Yes, to both, but those answers barely scratch the surface of what cloud-native encompasses. The full answer is a surprisingly far-reaching tale, stretching back to early computing systems and encapsulating just how far we’ve come.

At the same time, the journey to cloud-native software is more relevant to current business considerations than a simple history lesson. If you’re involved in managing or purchasing applications for your organization, knowing what it means when software is cloud-native—and when it’s not—can make a huge difference for your business.

Setting the Scene

To begin our journey, let’s go back to the infancy of modern computing. Specifically, to 1975, on a plane traveling to Albuquerque, where a young Paul Allen is furiously scribbling on some paper. Allen is on his way to meet with executives at MITS, an early microcomputer company, to pitch the BASIC interpreter that he and Bill Gates have written for the Altair 8080. If he seems a bit rattled, it’s because he’s just realized that his program is written on paper tape (an early form of storage), and he has no way to actually load it into the computer’s system memory.

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