Cloud apps versus web apps, what is the future?

In recent years the web based applications we utilise everyday on our mobile devices have been a dominant force in the market. We now have apps for just about everything, whether that is for our favourite CRM system, or a simple to-do list delivered utilising an application on our mobile devices.

However, applications in the cloud are now becoming more prevalent and, together with responsive website technology, the content we need can be delivered in an accessible form direct to our mobile devices.

Cloud applications also allow for richer user customisation and seamless integration with resilient and scalable back-end infrastructure. Something that often characterises public cloud services.

The difference between Cloud and Web applications can be a blurry line for non-technical person to grasp, but application service providers are starting to revolutionise their web applications for the cloud.

So what is a cloud app?

Essentially, a cloud application is an evolved web application. It’s is very much used to access online services via the internet like web applications, but not always dependent on web browsers to work. It’s possible for customisable, multi-tenancy cloud applications to be available over the web browser from service providers, but invariably the web-interface is used as alternative access points to the custom built applications for services online.

  • Cloud apps can be associated with the following characteristics:
  • Data will be stored in the cloud or a cloud like infrastructure
  • A huge variety of interfaces for various user requirements
  • Can be cached locally for full-online usage
  • Can be used via a web browser or custom built for desktops, tablets and mobile phones
  • Can access a wider range of services

So what is a web application?

These type of applications are almost exclusively designed to be used from a website browser. Using a combination of script like ASP or PHP and client-side using HTML, Javascript and Flash – these are the commonly used scripts for developing a web application.

Cloud apps are web apps in the sense they can be used through web browsers but most certainly not all web apps are cloud apps. You very often find software sellers are bundling multiple applications and selling them as ‘cloud’ apps simply because cloud technology is the latest popular framework for online applications, but the functionality will always be limited in comparison to the level of customisation you can have with pure cloud applications.

The software vendors falsely think that because the application runs on the web, it qualifies to be a cloud application. This is not necessarily the case, and for a web app to evolve into a cloud based application, it would and should exhibit certain properties

  • True multi-tenancy to meet the needs of the customers or consumer
  • Support for virtualisation technology. Web application should be built to support this or certainly re-engineered to do so.

Developers who are looking to move into the cloud application arena now have rich development platforms to choose from, whether they start from scratch or migrate their existing web applications.

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