Cloud computing is a huge industry and it isn’t showing signs of slowing down. In 2013, the market was estimated at $160 billion.
In a study by Mimecast in 2010, it was discovered that 7 out of 10 companies that employ cloud services were willing to move their new applications to the cloud. Although security is one of the major concerns of most companies turning to cloud, this has been addressed as security continues to be strengthened and improved upon by cloud providers.
What is a Cloud-Based App?
Cloud-based apps are software developed to help in certain tasks. The difference between cloud-based and other apps is that cloud-based is hosted on the Internet on a remote server that is not the user’s own. This enables users to access these apps whenever an internet connection is available.
Most of these cloud-based apps are easy to use and require minimal knowledge of IT. Ready-made apps are available for most businesses but there are some that are easily customisable to meet business needs. These apps are used by companies with both small and large employee populations.
Cloud Apps Compared to Web Apps
People often confuse cloud apps with web apps. However, there is a big difference between the two.
It is said that a cloud-based app is an evolved version of a web app. Cloud apps are used to access online services, however, they are not exclusively dependent on web browsers to work.
Features of a cloud-based app may include:
- Data stored in cloud
- Data cached locally to be used for full-offline mode
- Can be used via web browser, desktop or mobile app
- Used to access wider range of services
- Offers support for different user requirements
Well-known cloud apps you may be familiar with include Evernote, Salesforce, Dropbox and NetSuite.
Web apps, on the other hand, can only be accessed through web browsers. Developers use server side script and client side script in developing web apps. This makes it accessible from anywhere as long as a web browser is present.
Well-known web apps include different electronic banking apps, shopping apps, EBay and WebEx.
Although some may claim that their web apps are cloud apps, they do not offer the functionality of most cloud apps. For a web app to be a fully functional cloud app, it has to have:
- Multi-tenancy in supporting consumer needs and requirements
- Support for virtualisation
Cloud-Based App Benefits
Cloud based apps provide businesses the opportunity to adapt to quick changes without disrupting the usual business conditions. Agility may also mean that it’s easy to use, customisable and can be integrated with existing technologies.
Most cloud-based apps offer continuous visibility and offer quick responses to changed requirements.
Since cloud apps don’t need to be installed on a device, it saves time for the user. Cloud-based doesn’t require downloading or upgrading and is easy to use.
There will always be threats to the security your data. You can never predict what will happen to your business in the event of a security disaster. This risk is even higher when it affects in-house servers and computers. Often, when bugs hit, data can be wiped and back-ups are at risk. Therefore, many businesses choose to rely on cloud-based apps which are fast to act in the event of disasters, and are able to reinstall your entire system to a previous state.
Updates can cause hours of delay or even set a business back days. This can cause serious problems, especially if your business is concerned with hourly service to your clients.
Cloud-based apps operate on a monthly service payment, ensuring upgrades are done in the background constantly. While you do business, your software is being upgraded without your manual prompt.
Cloud-based apps require minimum outlaying capital expense. It’s a pay-as-you-go service. Small businesses are taking advantage of this feature since they can set up their systems minus the big cost of capital expense.
Given this positive aspect, small and medium sized businesses now see this as an opportunity to compete in the global market.
Some software packages can only be accessed on specific computers. Cloud-based apps, however, are built to encourage usage across devices when the need arises. Users can use this capability to log-in from other devices anywhere in the world through the Internet and access the data they need.
Since cloud provides opportunities for employees to use the app on various devices and in unlimited locations, collaboration is enhanced. Project management become an easy task. Employers now have the flexibility of hiring employees from all over the world and still working on the same project simultaneously.
Improved End-user Experience
Utilising cloud-based apps helps users benefit from data exchange and transaction, especially when using mobile devices. Users may flock to businesses that feature the easiest or most reliable interaction system between customers and staff as well as those that have fast-performing websites and good applications.
Cloud-Based Apps and Productivity
Cloud-based apps have the ability to help improve businesses in so many ways. With so many benefits, more businesses are migrating their infrastructure to the cloud. And with the addition of mobile devices, more businesses are empowered especially in terms of productivity.
Other apps may be hindering the integration of accounts for most employees, but various cloud services offer businesses the chance to access apps from multiple devices. This feature also includes added security. Further, the ability to provide one portal for all employees and end-users may help them continue unfinished jobs from wherever they happen to be located, improving productivity while letting go of lengthy processes.
All of these aspects of cloud-based apps are empowering IT departments in most businesses. Although IT frustrations and problems are not altogether eliminated by cloud solutions, they are certainly reduced, and IT teams can spend less time managing the systems and more time completing more important tasks, such as improving user support or experience.
Cloud-Based Apps in the Market
Today, thousands of cloud-based apps are in the market and are meeting the needs of various clients. They’re easily customisable and user friendly. This gives most developers the ability to focus less on managing and developing internal systems and focus more on other services and user experience.
Since there is fierce competition in the field of cloud services, more and more features are being integrated by different providers. So it’s safe to say that cloud-based services offer a more effective service overall.
Mobile Apps in the Cloud
Most mobile application developers today are looking at cloud as the next plausible option to draw in users. Future mobile apps are expected to have more back-end services stored in the cloud. By 2016, according to a Gartner study, 40% of mobile apps will include these back-end services hosted in the cloud.
For consumers, apps hosted in the cloud can give them more leeway and freedom than experienced with other apps. This is especially true for apps that usually eat up memory space of smartphones. The introduction of mobile apps hosted in the cloud will help give consumers the chance to free up memory that usually is consumed by the application itself and the huges amounts of data it generates during use.
With the onslaught of Big Data today, the cloud certainly is the best choice for app developers. It benefits the users and it benefits business.