There are many similarities in cloud and web-based applications, but one difference that makes the former far superior to the latter — cloud applications provide a richer user experience due to more avenues for customisation made possible due to a back-end infrastructure that can be scaled up or down, depending on the organisation’s needs.
The architecture of cloud applications is based on the principle of storing and accessing data on the Internet. Cloud applications eliminate an organisation’s dependence on hard drives for data storage purpose. Cloud-based applications can be accessed anywhere and at any time with an active Internet connection. Further, even during downtime or offline hours, cloud apps can cache data so that it is available offline. Cloud apps can be accessed and used on web browsers or can be custom built for mobile devices like tablets and phones, and facilitate access to a greater variety of services.
Web applications, on the other hand, are designed to be used almost entirely on web browsers, and in a sense can be viewed as a subset of cloud-based apps. Web-based applications offer limited availability and scalability because all user data and business processes are stored in one data center. Naturally then, what follows is that web apps are rendered unusable if connection with the remote data center is unavailable for some reason.
Some of the key advantages of cloud methodology are:
Simplicity and scalability
Since the infrastructure is managed and maintained by third-party cloud service providers, organisations enjoy instant scalability depending. Business processes are not affected by sudden rise or fall in demand.
Seamless sharing and access to data
In cloud-based applications, data is saved on an online cloud and can be accessed by all authorized users instantly. Cloud computing also allows mobile access to data. Given that a projected 6.1 billion smartphones are projected to be in use globally by 2020, ease of sharing and access to data is already an important consideration for businesses.
Since cloud hosts are tasked with the storage and security of vast volumes of sensitive user data of scores of organisations, they ensure that their servers are secured using the most cutting edge infrastructure security measures available to cloud computing technology. Such services can be expensive and accessible only to very large organisations, if invested on an individual level. But by signing up with a reliable cloud service provider, even smaller organisations can ensure that their data is secured by security infrastructure far superior to in-house systems that most small and mid-sized businesses can afford. Cloud service providers also ensure that data on their servers is backed up more frequently, in case of disaster, when recovery and restoration of data is required urgently.
Speedier response to business needs
Cloud technology allows for a lot of customizations, and can be deployed at a very fast pace after testing and updating. This makes business processes as a whole more agile, with greater focus on reducing the time to market, which in turn can give organisations a great competitive advantage.
Allows for gradual adoption
Most organisations have legacy systems, infrastructures and applications. Cloud computing allows these legacy systems to be re-calibrated one component at a time, gradually, so that the switch to cloud is as disruptive as possible for both employees and users.
Reduced costs and increase in savings
Cloud services providers offer pay-as-you-go facilities that allow businesses to buy only as much data storage space as they need at any given point, which eliminates the risk of under-utilization once heavy investment in on-premise storage infrastructure is made. With cloud hosts, organisations also don’t need to invest in IT teams to look after infrastructure maintenance and security. Since access to the company’s data is far easier once the switch to cloud has been made, new projects can be started and implemented much faster than when legacy systems are in use. The savings in time can lead to a significant positive impact on the company’s financials.