This paper presents a review of cloud application architectures and its evolution. It reports observations being made during a research project that tackled the problem to transfer cloud applications between different cloud infrastructures. As a side effect, we learned a lot about commonalities and differences from plenty of different cloud applications which might be of value for cloud software engineers and architects. Throughout the research project, we analyzed industrial cloud standards, performed systematic mapping studies of cloud-native application-related research papers, did action research activities in cloud engineering projects, modeled a cloud application reference model, and performed software and domain-specific language engineering activities. Two primary (and sometimes overlooked) trends can be identified. First, cloud computing and its related application architecture evolution can be seen as a steady process to optimize resource utilization in cloud computing. Second, these resource utilization improvements resulted over time in an architectural evolution of how cloud applications are being built and deployed. A shift from monolithic service-oriented architectures (SOA), via independently deployable microservices towards so-called serverless architectures, is observable. In particular, serverless architectures are more decentralized and distributed, and make more intentional use of separately provided services. In other words, a decentralizing trend in cloud application architectures is observable that emphasizes decentralized architectures known from former peer-to-peer based approaches. This is astonishing because, with the rise of cloud computing (and its centralized service provisioning concept), the research interest in peer-to-peer based approaches (and its decentralizing philosophy) decreased. However, this seems to change. Cloud computing could head into the future of more decentralized and more meshed services.
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