If you use these two terms interchangeably it may be correct, but not entirely. Yes, they are very much the same in several aspects, which is why many people tend to see them as one and the same thing. However, they have many key differences — at times subtle, in other instances pronounced — and they can impact on your choice of apps.
Before we delve into our main discussion, let’s look into the future. Total revenues for both web and cloud apps market are expected to be sustained from 2016 to 2021, which hovers around 320 billion. However, revenues from web-based apps are predicted to decrease from $200+ million to less than $200 million by 2021, whereas cloud spending is expected to continue increasing in the coming years and will reach $159 billion in 2021. The question is, why are businesses using fewer web apps and more cloud apps?
Below, we have spelled out the critical differences between cloud apps and web apps, which will help you deduce the answer to our question above. Take note, there will be situations where a web app may be more suitable for your need, that’s why you need to read the differences below and put them into the context of your requirement.
Simply put, web-based applications are designed so that they run in a web browser. The web applications are created through the integration of calligraphy (from a user) like Java and Adobe Flash and script (from a server). The browser in the web relies on the elements of the web server installed in the device to allow the online web services to function. As long as there’s an internet connection, you can use any web-based app from anywhere at any time.
On the other hand, cloud-based apps are the more advanced forms of web-based apps. Because they came from web-based apps, they need to become web applications first, develop, and mature, before becoming cloud-based apps. Although these two apps rely on internet browsers to run, cloud-based apps are not totally reliant upon web browsers to function, like multi-tenant ones. Being the “evolved” web apps, cloud-based apps commonly have advanced features like access to a more extensive array of services like application development solutions, storage, and on-demand computing cycle. Aside from allowing data storage in a cloud, users can also locally cache data, meaning they can store data completely offline.
Comparing web-based apps and cloud-based apps is both easy and hard. It is easy because they both share many things in common. It is hard because these shared things have subtle differences. Take a look:
Knowing the similarity and distinctions between these two types of apps actually has important and practical uses. One important use is that because, until today, there are still some customers and even app vendors themselves who wrongly consider that since their apps run on the web, they’re already qualified to be called as cloud-based apps. Any web-based app has the inherent structure and capacity to evolve into a cloud app, but as long as they don’t have the rich features and customization provided by cloud-based apps (as shown in the infographic), they should be treated as web-based apps.
Moreover, unlike web-based apps, cloud apps can run completely or partially offline, which make them functional for platforms that need plenty of calculations, or which require to run steadily in environments with poor internet connections. Although there are still significantly more web-based apps for collaboration work, cloud-based apps are becoming the preference for collaboration-intensive processes. Nevertheless, because web-based apps work efficiently when internet connectivity is reliable, they will likely remain as the app of choice for transaction platforms like booking services, information-sharing portals, bulletin boards, and e-commerce websites.
Finally, maybe the best way to appreciate the differences between these two types of apps is by simply checking the very apps that we use regularly. The most common web-based apps are very the websites that need a reliable internet connection or else they will not function. Popular websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Wikipedia are perfect examples. On the other hand, cloud-based apps still function even when offline and when the internet connection is restored, sync in the background. Slack, Dropbox, and Evernote are some of the in-demand cloud apps.
Overall, cloud apps are more robust, scalable and flexible. But it doesn’t mean they are the right apps for all your needs. As a rule, web apps may be more suitable for simpler tasks like survey software for small business, while cloud apps tend to tackle more complex processes like enterprise accounting solutions.
The massive enterprise technology market of web-based apps is already in a momentous shift into cloud computing. Here are their main classifications, functionalities, and top vendors today:
The future of IT — and of how businesses use and benefit from technology — is really in the cloud. Although web-based apps still dominate the market as of today, the surging number of businesses embracing cloud technology clearly indicate that more and more companies are becoming aware of the serious advantages that cloud-based apps and cloud innovations as a whole offer.
Still, because web-based technology is likely to remain dominant in the coming years, businesses deploying web-based apps must ensure that their corporate websites, including other related sites like landing pages and business blogs, are optimized and responsive to ensure that their technology spending is maximized. They’ll do well to recognize that cloud adoption is important to small businesses and, in fact, to businesses of any size.
Having an optimized website does not only ensure that web-based apps run smoothly but also helps in providing your customers a positive user experience, which easily translates to actual sales and even facilitates repeat purchase and customer loyalty. In fact, there are many web-based apps that most likely be more than enough to address some of your operational needs. In case you’re now looking for a cloud-based app for your business, such as to help you in your management tasks or to help your team improve revenues using cloud sales apps, it’s good practice to get a free trial first.
Lastly, if you’re a small business and interested to invest in cloud software, you can start by understanding the variety of options available to you. Check our ultimate SaaS guide for small businesses here.
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