What is a Cloud Application?

cloud application

Cloud applications are the new standard in software sales and development. They allow more flexibility, better security, and increase accessibility for users.

But what is a cloud application ? What different options are available? More importantly, which is the right one for your organization? Let’s break it down.

What is a Cloud Application?

A cloud application is an Internet-based program where some, or all, of the logic and data storage is processed in the cloud. The user interacts with the application via a web browser or a mobile application, and the data processing is managed by the local device and a cloud computing solution.

From the user’s perspective, a cloud application behaves a lot like a standard website. It can be hard to notice a difference. However,the computing and data processing needs are handled by the cloud via an API (application program interface) or a hybrid of both.

Cloud Application Designs

There are three ways that cloud applications are designed:

  1. A local device runs a browser, and the application looks like a classic web solution using HTML sent by the cloud server to the local device. In this case, the logic, the data, and the formatting of the output are controlled by the cloud servers. A well-known example of such an application is DropBox , where the user interacts with the application in a web browser to upload and interact with their files. However, all of the data processing and storage happens remotely via the cloud.
  2. The local device runs a browser. When the application is started, the browser-based application is then downloaded, and run on the local device. The local application handles some of the processing and makes API calls to the cloud services for additional processing and data support. An example of this sort of design is Google Docs. In Google Docs you can configure the system to allow you to continue editing a document after closing your internet connection. The changes are then stored locally and synced with the cloud once your internet connection is restored.
  3. The local device runs a native application, which handles some of the processing, and the native application uses APIs to send and receive data to the application on the cloud server. An example of this type of application design is when a smartphone app is loaded onto your phone, which then runs the program. These are often designed so that if an internet connection is lost, the application can still function by storing the changes locally. Once the connection is restored, any new data will be synced with the cloud.

Cloud Application Categories

Generally, cloud application services fall into one of three categories:

  1. SaaS – Software as a Service

SaaS is the most common category and the one that most users are already familiar with. A SaaS cloud application is a third party application. The third party not only supplies the hardware for running the application, but also the software application itself. Using a SaaS solution eliminates the need to buy expensive equipment or licensing or additional support for the hardware and software. An excellent example of this is Google Workspace.

  1. IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service

An IaaS application is designed by a software designer who provides the middleware (the software that operates between the OS and the application). A third party then provides infrastructure and support via the cloud. An example of an IaaS cloud application is Google Cloud Compute Engine , which allows developers access to the same infrastructure that Google uses for their on-demand products.

  1. PaaS – Platform as a Service

PaaS cloud applications are similar to IaaS cloud applications. The main difference is that PaaS applications also include some of the software, middleware, and operating systems. The PaaS supplier takes care of supporting the hardware and keeps the software up to date. The developer provides the applications and the application support. Google Cloud App Engine , another sub-product of the Google Cloud Platform, is a great example of a PaaS cloud application.

Benefits of Cloud Applications

Reduced Costs:Since the majority of the processing power and storage is handled remotely, cloud applications could reduce the cost of your infrastructure. You won’t have to maintain your own servers or worry about application support onsite. Depending on what software you are using locally, subscribing to a similar SaaS product could drastically reduce your licensing costs as well.

Increased Accessibility: Cloud applications aren’t tied to a single machine. This allows secure access and interaction with the application from a wide variety of devices.

Reliability and Security:When applications are hosted with trusted partners such as Google, data is safely and securely backed up remotely. This makes it easier to ensure that everyone in an organization is working from the same version of the cloud application. Cloud applications will also have access to more computing resources. This allows for rapid and dynamic scaling without an increase in capital costs.

Get Started with Cloud Applications

If your organization is ready to move to the cloud, or there is a cloud application you want to use, get in touch today.

 

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