Cloud-based and web-based applications are almost interchangeably used in the tech sphere today. But it is crucial to recognize the thin line separating the two.
Updated 11 October 2023
VP - Delivery at Appventurez
Dissecting the discussion on cloud app vs web app as the terms become increasingly interchangeable is crucial to highlight the specificity of features and use cases. While both cloud-based and web-based applications are excellent and share a lot of similarities, certain fundamental differences when it comes to customization and back-end infrastructure integration are to be noted.
Essentially, web-based apps, as the name suggests, are application software hosted on a remote server and accessible through browsers. On the contrary, cloud apps are web apps with advanced features and elaborate compatibility. To emphasize, it can function on a local computer without connectivity, and, therefore, a web browser is not required unless the need to upload or download data arises.
Here, a detailed analysis of both cloud-based and web-based applications to enlist the differences and specifications to aid businesses looking to develop their own apps is necessary!
Cloud apps are software programs executed in a cloud environment and accessible through a local server. It is important to elucidate the term ‘cloud’ before drawing the dissimilarities with a web app. The cloud is a metonym for the internet, and broadly, refers to stored data over the internet. In our case, this data is in form of a functioning application. Such apps can be installed on a local device or accessed through a web browser and used without connectivity unless the need to upload-download new data arises.
A cloud-based application is a standalone feature. It has been argued, however, that some cloud-integrated components are managed by the server and not locally. The codebase is such that it divides the app’s data storage into the client side and the server side server to accordingly process itself.
Although, as an advantage over a web app, most of the data is stored on the user’s local machine. Web email and note-making apps are primary examples of cloud apps that can be used to draft a mail or a note locally but require connectivity to send the mail or sync the note respectively.
Depending on this criterion of how the data storage is divided between the client and the server, and its effect on the alteration of user experience, cloud apps can be segmented into three categories.
One of the popular forms of cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivers users access to a cloud application and all of its supporting platforms and IT infrastructure via a web browser. It’s notable how SaaS and cloud computing have been accelerating the digital transformation of the global IT vertical over the years.
A SaaS application can be a great solution for your business prospects, especially when the budget is constrained and there is no room to include infrastructure maintenance charges. It also reduces purchases cost on the user’s end by removing the need to buy software entirely. However, the speed of an internet connection affects how well a service performs, users should invest in fast network hardware. Some examples of SaaS applications include –
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) applications enable users to create their own apps. These apps are also executable and manageable from the PaaS software. This is so because PaaS allows software and hardware access via a third-party service provider. This implies that users, more ideally developers, are in total control of the app data that stays on the platform. Heroku and AWS Elastic Beanstalk are great examples of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) apps.
Recovery as a Service (RaaS)
Alternatively referred to as disaster recovery as a service or DRaaS, Recovery as a Service (RaaS) application software is majorly intended for SMEs and startups to incentivize against interruptions in service. These interruptions can be anything ranging from unprecedented damage to data through disasters or cyber-attacks. RaaS effectively recovers data by duplication of datasets and infrastructure, and in turn, lessens downtime.
The Infrastructure-as-a-Service serves as a backend management platform. The overall infrastructure of your app, including the servers, databases, APIs, and networks, is stored on the cloud. This infrastructure is accessible through a control panel. Platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS rent infrastructure and facilitates the user with a wide array of features to operate and manage the application. These also include debugging and fixing hardware issues and outages.
Cloud-based applications, we can hereby conclude, in the words of renowned computer scientist Paul Maritz, is about how you compute and not where you compute. This pretty much sums up the essence of cloud-based apps and computing. Moreover, cloud apps, we learned, are mostly rendered as a service platform; whether as software, platform or infrastructure.
Owing to the numerous benefits cloud apps bring to the table, it has been predicted by Gartner that around $1.8 trillion, more than half of Enterprise IT spending would shift to the cloud by the year 2025. Established businesses and startups have recognized the efficiency of cloud computing in data storage and management and have, thus, moved ahead to immediate incorporation.
It was previously mentioned how cloud-based apps are deployed through cloud infrastructure. On the user end, this implies that the cost of service is reduced to usage criteria. Anyway, the cost-benefit ratio is exceptionally high.
In addition, there is no requirement to invest in hardware for data management or data processing. This reduces the cost to the maximum extent and fits any business requisite perfectly.
Cloud app services provide improved data security through the deployment of role-based access control, data encryption-decryption at node ends, and a single sign-on system. These are state-of-the-art technologies to protect your business data.
The encryption feature, for instance, for the communication channel and the database, is separately deployed with SSL and 256-bit AES encryption respectively.
One of the major advantages of cloud applications is an easy and efficient collaboration process. This enables users to effectively download, make changes, and transfer data through their local machines.
Office 365 by Microsoft, with software tools like MS Word, Powerpoint, Excel, OneNote, etc., is a great example that aids project collaboration.
Cloud apps are scalable and can be adjusted to suit the pace of your business expansion. Many features and options can be integrated into the cloud app effortlessly. For organizations that require scale-down or scale-up on a seasonal or quarterly basis, cloud apps are extremely reliable as it adapts to your needs.
Cloud service providers push regular updates to the firmware so that users are saved time and cost in planning and deploying the same. It further saves consultation charges for businesses that initially had to onboard or outsource it to an IT service provider.
Web apps are software applications exclusively designed to be run on a web browser. Unlike cloud apps, web apps entirely rely on the web server framework in the back end for data processing and functionality. But it must be noted that a web app is different from a website.
The architecture of a web app is such that it is hosted through a combination of scripts running on the server end and the client end. The server side or the back end is primarily responsible for handling and processing datasets and is deployable through languages like ASP and PHP. On the other hand, the client side or the front end is focused on output and rendering data into coherent visuals; and is done through HTML, CSS, JavaSciprt, and other integrative tools like Adobe Flash.
Benefits of Web Apps
Web-based applications have been providing a more delicate yet comprehensive solution against the conventional system software that needs to be purchased, downloaded, and installed on the local machine to function. Web apps are readily available, are more time-efficient, and give users control over the cost. The following are some of the many benefits that users and/or businesses can rely upon and assure a better ROI:
While both cloud-based and web-based apps come packed with their own range of features, addressing conventionality and a faster course of app load and functionality, both have noticeable distinctions. Web apps deploy on a web server and are accessible through web browsers, whereas a cloud app’s data and infrastructure is downloadable but also accessible through a web browser. It’s a web app, but with elaborate features. Other ways in which a cloud app is different from a web app are
The core architecture of a cloud app differs from that of a web app in the necessity of internet connectivity to function. To describe further, a web-based application requires a constant internet connection for its integrated tools to process input data. On the contrary, cloud apps can execute operations if locally installed without connectivity. This, however, in the case when data needs to be uploaded or downloaded doesn’t imply.
It has been mentioned previously that web apps are exclusively accessible through web browsers. The tech stack used to build a web app is stored on a web server and is such that it can only be processed through a web browser. Conversely, cloud apps do not necessarily need web browsers to function. It can be downloaded and installed on the local machine. It must, however, be noted that certain components of the cloud app are stored on a remote server.
Cloud apps, in comparison to web apps, are categorically more complex at the core of their framework. The back end is such that it enhances security, ensures uninterrupted uptime, and ensures seamless API integration. Web apps, on the other hand, are remotely stored, executed, and delivered through a web browser.
Web apps enforce an authentication and authorization process to secure access to data storage. Whereas cloud apps assures a heightened security protocol through layers of encryption, role-based access control, data obfuscation, and firewalls. It can be observed that on a comparative scale, cloud apps provide better security measures than web apps. Therefore, it becomes the go-to choice when it comes to securing large business datasets of confidential nature.
To understand the distinction between cloud apps and web apps better, it is imperative to review a few examples. Broadly speaking, services that can be categorized as web apps include e-banking, e-commerce, streaming and conferencing, and Google’s office suite platforms. Similarly, cloud apps that facilitate data syncing include services like note-making, webmail, file sharing and hosting, cloud-based CRM software like Salesforce, and Zoho’s office suite.
Take a look at the infographics below!
Web App Examples: Google Office Suite like Google Docs, list-making apps like Trello, e-commerce apps like eBay, electronic banking apps like SBI YONO, streaming apps like Netflix and Hotstar, Basecamp, etc.
Cloud App Examples: Note-making apps like Evernote, CRM software like Salesforce, file hosting apps like Dropbox, web-mail apps like Gmail and Outlook, Zoho.com, etc.
At Appventurez, we have had the opportunity to take up numerous cloud-based as well as web-based application projects. These were deployed within the stipulated time frame and as per the clientele’s instructions. When opting for cloud-based and web-based applications, budget constraints are given. Therefore, the project requires proper strategic development while maintaining client satisfaction.
As a reputable cloud application development company, our team of skilled professionals overseeing web and cloud app development consistently delivers exceptional products within the specified budget constraints of our clients. As an illustrative example of our commitment to transparency and client education, we have crafted a comprehensive guide to cloud app development. This resource serves as a valuable reference for prospective clients, providing insights into the procedures and methodologies that we diligently follow in our development processes.
Q. Between cloud apps and web apps, which is more cost-effective to develop?
On a cost-based scale of comparison, it is cheaper to develop and deploy a web-based application. The expense of backend infrastructure is minimal as the data is hosted on a web server. In addition, the cost of hiring or outsourcing a web app project that is built on HTML, CSS, and JS stack is extremely low in comparison to cloud apps.
Q. What are some similarities and differences between cloud-based and web-based apps?
Both cloud apps and web apps are excellent alternatives to traditional software that require local installation. Both are executable on a remote server and can be accessed through a web browser. However, for cloud apps, this isn’t a necessary criterion. Cloud apps, moreover, can operate without an internet connection, are built with more complexity, and provides enhanced data security features.
Q. Between cloud apps and web apps, which is easier to maintain while also providing enhanced data security?
While both cloud apps and web apps are exempt from maintenance from the user end as automatic updates are pushed by the service provider, cloud apps take the edge when it comes to data security. Unlike web apps, cloud apps provide end-to-end encryption and role-based access control facilities.
VP - Delivery at Appventurez
Expert in the Communications and Enterprise Software Development domain, Omji Mehrotra co-founded Appventurez and took the role of VP of Delivery. He specializes in React Native mobile app development and has worked on end-to-end development platforms for various industry sectors.
Posted : 2 July 2020
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