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The Three Things Cloud-Native Startups Buy Instead of Build

To win in today's marketplace, you need to build high-quality web software faster and smarter than your competitors. Cloud-native startups achieve a pace and agility that traditional companies can't match by buying what they don’t want to manage or build.

This article identifies and explains the three things cloud-native startups buy, and why.

1. Infrastructure

Speed matters most for any startup, because you need to deliver working software to production as quickly as possible to validate the concept. Cloud-native startups don't start with configuring their servers or container images or (even worse), implementing their own microservices platform. The major cloud providers offer an out-of-the-box orchestration platform. As an engineer, it’s enough to pick your favorite programming stack and hit the deploy button. The platform supports all the main programming stacks and handles deployment, versioning, and scaling. It also manages security patches, so you’re always running the most secure version of the OS and application server.

2. Monitoring and logging

To maintain your software in a production environment, you need constant monitoring of your application logs and metrics. A cloud-native startup will buy a cloud-based monitoring system. For eighty euros a month and up, you can ship all your application logs and metrics to or the cloud offering from Elastic. Both provide machine-learning features which alert you before your system starts failing, even if you don’t see it coming.

3. Continuous delivery

Having a fast and efficient software production process means you have to implement continuous delivery. When you have to ensure that every change can immediately go to production, there's a lot of automation involved. Creating the infrastructure that powers continuous delivery is a lot of work. Again, cloud-born startups will choose to buy instead of build. For instance, Google App Engine supports incremental feature rollouts out-of-the-box. And when it comes to turning your source code into deployable software, the service can build, test, and integrate every change. Also making great strides in this competitive market is the CI/CD product, a Silicon Valley startup from Dutch origins.

If you use multiple products from various vendors to compose your system, you need to watch out for lock-ins which make it difficult to replace any one of the parts. Fortunately, there’s a current trend of cloud vendors offering increasingly similar services based on the same standards. Avoid this risk and increase your system’s agility by architecting your system with replacement in mind, so you can change vendors when the need arises.

Closing Notes

Thinking smart about what to buy and what to build enables cloud-native startups to deliver more value with a smaller development team. Instead of building, they buy infrastructure, monitoring and logging, and a continuous delivery pipeline. This allows them to avoid lock-in by architecting for replaceability, and achieve more agility and speed than traditional companies.

This article is part of the Urgent Future report 
Cloud - It's a Golden Age.

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