Cloud-native platforms are not the future – they are available now

Research shows that 75% of companies are focusing on cloud-native apps. And Gartner estimates that by 2025 more than 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021.


Children building with lego

Forward-thinking companies like Netflix, Amazon, Uber and even Lego are already winning big with strategies that take advantage of the cloud to deliver exceptional functionality and propel innovation.

Here at Education Horizons, that’s exactly what we have done with our newest student information platform, Zunia, ideal for small schools seeking a cloud based school management system.

Why did we choose to build Zunia as a cloud-native platform using a microservices architecture?

The answer? Because we know that’s how we can deliver innovative software of exceptional quality that offers amazing benefits for schools – now and into the future.

To truly understand the benefits of a cloud based educational management system for schools, we need to delve into how cloud-native and microservices work, and the unique advantages of a cloud-native microservice architecture.

Tell me more about Zunia

A quick definition of cloud-native

Cloud-native refers to the concept of building and running applications to take advantage of the cloud delivery model (where infrastructure is hosted off-site in robust, secure, professionally managed facilities).

‘Lift and shift’ apps are a good step to shift from on-premise IT infrastructure to the benefits of remote hosting. However, cloud native solutions like Zunia, have been designed and built to tap into the scale, elasticity, resiliency, and flexibility of the cloud.

Here’s how the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) defines it:


Cloud native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach.

The cloud-native approach to building and running software started with a group of SaaS (Software as a Service) companies commonly referred to as ‘born in the cloud’. Some of the most famous examples who were early adopters of this approach include Netflix, Spotify, Uber, PayPal and Airbnb.

Following their evident success, other companies looking to achieve similar digital agility and competitive advantage have adopted the cloud-native approach. These businesses, including Education Horizons, embrace modern working practices such as DevOps, agile methodology, cloud platforms, microservices, containers, all empowering continuous delivery of improvements with great end benefits for users.


Three children with laptop


Unlocking the power of microservices

Like many cloud-native apps, Zunia is built using a microservices architecture, and this is where many of the advantages come in for schools.

A microservices architecture involves breaking a monolithic (single) application into individual functions or services. Each service runs autonomously as a separate ‘microservice.’ Think of these as the building blocks for the applications. In Zunia, they are focused on specific functional areas, such as school attendance, wellbeing and finance.

These building blocks are then connected via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to form the integrated application. This whole structure is underpinned by several back-end applications, using technologies including REACT and NodeJS open source javascript code libraries. In school, you experience one platform –  the differences are located behind the scenes.

Each microservice is run in a container on a cloud-based server. For Zunia, we run our microservices on AWS Fargate, a technology that streamlines the way we work with containers. Our choice of partner is important – approaching 80% of all containers in the cloud today run on AWS (Amazon Web Services), including companies like Samsung and Expedia.


Seven reasons for choosing cloud-native applications for schools

1. Every school gets access to the best features – no matter its size

  • With cloud-native microservices apps they have been built to scale with demand, large and small schools alike can benefit from the technology.

2. Fast and cost-effective updates

  • One of the top advantages of cloud-native apps for schools, as for any enterprise, is that they are built to be highly available, resilient, and able to be regularly updated.
  • The ease of updating cloud native apps means the software developers can roll out new features to customers more frequently than before, and they can do this without affecting the rest of the application.

3. Faster releases

  • A microservice architecture means improved services and functions can be released to our customers much faster, keeping pace with educational developments. We don’t simply create a microservice, release it and then forget about it. We constantly seek to evolve the microservice to meet customers’ requirements and solve new problems.
  • DevOps methodology provides us with the framework to focus on small incremental changes automatically tested and deployed rapidly to production environments without much human intervention.

4. Easy to scale

  • Being independent, each microservice can be scaled or upgraded independently of each other, which significantly increases the agility and stability of the overall platform. Not only is it easier and less expensive to scale one part of the application, but you can do this without affecting the rest of the application.

5. More reliable and secure system

  • With a microservices platform, there is no single point of failure. The independent services are fault-tolerant and isolated from each other within their own runtime. This means that even when a failure occurs, developers can quickly isolate its impact, and one failure does not take down the entire application.
  • Look at Netflix. As the streaming service grew, Netflix realised that it needed a more reliable infrastructure with no single point of failure. It decided to migrate the IT infrastructure from its data centres to a public cloud and replace monolithic programs with small manageable software components using a microservices architecture. Not only does this mean Netflix engineers can easily change any services, which leads to faster deployments (as we explained in point 3), but it also enables them to track the performance of each service and quickly isolate any issues.
  • Like Netflix, we use AWS for Zunia, which means we benefit from strong security isolation between the containers. AWS also provides the latest security updates and enables granular access permissions for every container.

6. Auto provisioning and easier management

  • Infrastructure management is effortless with cloud-native platforms. With serverless platforms like AWS Fargate, routine tasks such as security patches, configuring networking, load balancing, allocating storage, monitoring, capacity management, and more, are all offloaded to the cloud services provider.
  • With cloud native applications, the configuration and deployment of services is automated, which means our application developers don’t have to provision servers or manage scaling for the app. All of these routine tasks are done by the cloud provider (in our case, AWS), which significantly increases the speed of deployment and ease of operations.

7. Lower cost

  • Cloud-native apps can increase developer productivity and lower operational costs. By offloading routine tasks of provisioning and managing servers, developers have more time to focus on their apps.