Cloud Apps vs. Web Apps: Understanding the Benefits and Differences
In mobile app development, many people use the terms cloud apps and web apps as if they were the same. This confusion is somewhat understandable because both types of apps are web-based – they both run on the web. But there is a crucial difference. Web apps depend on a browser to operate, whereas cloud-based apps do not.
Here’s a simple example. If you purchase a product from an e-commerce store, using that store’s app, you are using your browser and the store’s in-house computer system. If you are buying a software download from a company whose apps are in the cloud, you will not be going through your browser or the company’s computer system, but connecting directly to the cloud server where that piece of software is stored.
Defining The Differences Between Cloud Apps vs. Web Apps
What is a Cloud App?
The “cloud” is a computer architecture that stores and allows access to software and data over the web without a company having to use its hard drive systems. The cloud service provider has computer systems that are used by its customers.
Anyone who is accessing information or programs online will be using the cloud without even knowing it. Using the cloud for computing can occur anywhere, from any device, as long as there is an internet connection.
Clouds can be public or private. Public clouds are large and tend to have multiple clients making use of the providers’ services. Private clouds are usually those set up by large enterprises, because of the sheer amount of traffic and data these companies must house there.
A service provider houses cloud-based applications, and these providers have a pretty sophisticated system that allows heavy use, provides security, and handles all integrations among the data and programs of a specific client. The client stores all of the data for an app, and it can be accessed even offline. A web browser can access these apps too.
One typical example of cloud-based apps is email. Large enterprises, of course, such as Salesforce, Evernote, Dropbox, and every social media platform, operates in the cloud. They have too much data to attempt to use in-house servers. These apps are not entirely in users’ phones – they are used to access applications and data in the cloud.
Advantages of Cloud Apps
- Cloud apps improve collaboration by allowing groups of people to quickly and easily share information via shared storage.
- Cloud allows us to quickly and easily access store information anywhere and anytime using an internet connection.
- An internet cloud infrastructure increases organization productivity and efficiency by ensuring that data is always accessible.
- Cloud-based apps reduce both hardware and software maintenance costs for organizations.
- Cloud offers massive storage capacity for storing essential data such as documents, images, audio, and video in one place.
- Data security is one of the biggest advantages of cloud-based applications. Cloud offers many advanced features related to security and ensures that data is securely stored and handled.
Disadvantages of Cloud Apps
- Vendor lock-in is the biggest disadvantage of cloud-based applications. Organizations may face problems when transferring their services from one vendor to another.
- Service providers have complete ownership and management of cloud infrastructure, so cloud users have less control over the function and execution of services within a cloud infrastructure.
- Although cloud service providers implement top-tier security standards to store important information, before adopting cloud technology, you should acknowledge that you are sending all your organization’s sensitive information to a third party.
- With cloud infrastructures, users access data from the cloud with an internet connection. If internet connectivity is poor, users cannot access these data. However, we have no other way to access data from the cloud.
What is a Web App?
As stated, web apps run on web browsers. The architecture is simple – there is server-side scripting and client-side scripting. The user depends on the webserver to access services, and the application must be downloaded and housed on the device. In comparison, cloud apps do not function in a user’s device, but instead, they operate in the cloud, and users access the content that way.
A typical example of a web app is a mid-sized e-commerce store. Another example might be a bank. The bank has a website, and a customer can access it via a browser, which then communicates with the bank’s servers, which in turn retrieves information. The bank’s servers hold all of the data. Likewise, businesses in other sectors, such as the writing services, Top Essay Writing, and Classy Essay, have their servers and can handle the demands quite easily.
As is apparent, the core difference between web-based and cloud-based apps is how they are accessed. Beyond that, though, cloud-based apps provide the owners with many other functions and elements that are valuable.
Advantages of Web Apps
- Web apps are relatively easy to maintain because they use a common code base across multiple mobile platforms.
- Web apps can be built for all platforms as long as they can run in an appropriate web browser.
- Compared to other types of apps, web apps are less expensive upfront.
- Web apps don’t adhere to standard operating system protocols and don’t require approval from the app marketplace; they can be released at any time and in any format.
- Updates to web apps don’t need to go through an app store, meaning the user doesn’t have to manage updates manually. The newest version always loads when a user opens a web app.
Disadvantages of Web Apps
- Web apps have a much smaller scope when it comes to leveraging device features and hardware.
- A browser is required to run a web app. Users have to take more steps to use a web app, whether searching for the page or typing in a URL. Either way, more effort complicates the user experience.
- Users interact with different web browsers, and the usage patterns and performance metrics used to create a product roadmap are more challenging to collect.
- Unless a web app marketed well, web apps have poor discoverability because they don’t have an app store listing.
- Web apps are slower and much less responsive than other types of apps.
- Web apps are less interactive and intuitive compared to native apps.
- There are fewer branding opportunities with web apps. An app store listing presents an invaluable opportunity to convey an app’s unique value proposition.
Which Type is Best for Business Use?
Choosing between a web app and a cloud app depends upon the business and its needs. As a business scales and its servers become overloaded, it has a choice – keep adding more hardware to meet the demands of users and customers, along with in-house needs, or move to the cloud, pay the subscription fees, and be able to scale on demand. The apparent other benefit is that the risk of downtime is minimal to non-existent when an app is in the cloud. Should in-house servers experience problems, or if traffic becomes too heavy, a basic web app will not function. Adding to these benefits, the fact that disaster recovery no longer needs to be a concern.
Yet, many organizations choose to continue with web apps, with their internal servers. Others have combination web-based apps and other functions that are in the cloud. Sue O’Donnell, IT Director for Studyker, says this, “we have a combination of web-based and cloud-based apps, and it works well for us. Some of our apps require absolute security, and others would devastate us if they crashed. We backup these applications in the cloud.”
Other relatively small businesses have chosen to stick with web-based apps, using additional security and backup methods. John Schilling, IT associate for Write Scout and Ashley Adams, IT Director of Subjecto, have formed a partnership in this regard. “We have both stored our backups of critical data, information, and apps with one another,” says Schilling. “It’s great not to have to worry about disaster recovery,” says Adams.
Web-Based Apps vs. Cloud-based Apps: Having the Best of Both Worlds
Are there businesses that choose to have both web-based and cloud-based apps? Yes, most certainly. While some companies use a combination of different types of apps, as mentioned above, others have the same apps, both as web-based and in the cloud. While the trend is certainly toward the cloud, these businesses find value in doing both.