2019 Guide to Cloud-Based vs. Cloud-Native Applications
For years, organizations have been moving their software and systems into the cloud. According to Gartner the market for cloud solutions is growing at almost 20 percent per year. If you use a computer or a smartphone, you are almost certainly interacting with the cloud, whether you are aware of it or not.
There is no question that having the software you use in the cloud provides serious benefits compared to having it hosted on a physical server in your building. Software vendors understand this of course, and many (if not most) are racing to get their applications into the cloud as fast as they can so they can slap the “cloud-based” label on them in order to sell more copies. But, as a consumer, it’s important that you read the fine print on that label. Not all cloud applications are built the same, and it pays to understand the differences so that you know what your options are and what is best for your organization.
Cloud and SaaS… Synonyms, Right?
Before we jump into the different types of cloud applications, there are two key terms we need to get some clarity on: cloud and SaaS. Cloud is a term used to describe a network of remote servers used to store, manage, and process data. It’s this aspect of being used for performing work that separates “the cloud” from “the internet” in general. Most of the sites you visit on the internet exist to help you consume or share information, or to make a purchase. Cloud resources like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, or AWS (Amazon Web Services) are designed to enable online work.
SaaS, which stands for software as a service, utilizes the cloud, but it is a software licensing and delivery model. In other words, what is often referred to as a “SaaS-based” application is software that “lives” in the cloud and is accessed via the internet and a web browser, typically on a subscription basis. This is as compared to a traditional “on-premises application,” which is software that is installed on a computer in your building.
In short SaaS is the delivery mechanism for software and the cloud is where the software lives.
SaaS offers a number of advantages over the on-premises approach, including:
- No hardware to buy, install, maintain, or update.
- No software to install, maintain, or update
- Little IT staff involvement (and none in many cases)
- 100% web based, anytime, anywhere accessibility
- Fast deployment and setup
- Increased scalability (i.e., if you need more cloud resources, you can get them easily)
- Budget-friendly pay-as-you-go pricing
- More innovation from the provider and faster evolution of the product
- Updates performed by the provider with no intervention on your part needed
- High reliability (SaaS solutions typically come with “uptime” guarantees, meaning the provider ensures they are always operational)
- Reduced risk (the data in SaaS solutions is typically copied to one or more servers as a precaution)
While the above benefits are all possible with SaaS-based applications, that doesn’t mean a vendor’s product will necessarily provide them. This is, in part, related to the concepts of cloud-based and cloud-native SaaS applications. In a nutshell, cloud-based applications are brought to the cloud; cloud-native applications were born there.
Cloud-based applications are legacy applications that were designed to run on the purchasing organization’s physical servers and that have been modified to run in the cloud. This is a common practice for legacy software vendors. It is much cheaper and easier to do this than to rewrite an entire application from the ground up for the cloud.
The benefit of cloud-based application is that they can take much of the burden of maintaining hardware and updating software away from your IT staff. These tasks are handled by the vendor. They also typically offer a subscription-based licensing model so you can pay as you go.
However, because cloud-based apps were not created specifically to be run in the cloud, they have limitations. Sometimes the application may not be completely web-based, which means that instead of doing everything from a web browser, there is still software to install on the user's local machine to access it. This can cause compatibility issues if the user is on older hardware, using non-Windows operating systems (e.g., Mac), or on a mobile device. In fact, it can mean that a user simply can’t access the software until an investment in new hardware/software is made.
Another limitation of cloud-based apps is that deployment and setup is frequently quite involved because each customer uses a unique “instance” of the software. The result is that it takes much longer to setup and deploy a cloud-based application (hours or days) as compared to a cloud-native application, which can be up and running in minutes.
Cloud-native applications are created from the ground up to take full advantage of cloud computing. They are multi-tenant, which means that a single instance of the software can serve multiple clients. This allows the software vendor to take advantage of true “economies of scale” in labor and computing resources, allowing them to price their offering very competitively.
A multi-tenant approach also allows for much quicker setup and deployment of the cloud-native software. Since there is only a single instance of the application for multiple organizations, new customers can be added rapidly. Users can have access to the software and begin using it in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days with legacy, cloud-based apps.
Cloud-native apps also provide characteristics known as scalability and redundancy. This means they can easily expand to accommodate a growing scheduling operation and are redundant so if something goes wrong you won’t experience any down time or data loss.
Finally, cloud-native apps can be updated by the vendor very quickly. This is where cloud-native apps really shine. There is no need for the provider to revise multiple instances of the software. The application is updated once, and all the new features are instantly available to all customers. Consequently, the provider can add new functionality to the product quickly and efficiently. With cloud-native apps, gone are the days when you had to wait months or years for new features to be delivered and then endure a painful upgrade process.
Mazevo: Cloud-Native All the Way!
At Mazévo, we’re strong advocates of the cloud-native approach and have written our room scheduling application that way. It required a significant investment of time and effort upfront, but now the solid foundation we’ve built allows us to deliver on the promise of the modern cloud. From getting access in minutes to ongoing enhancements that empower them to do their work faster and more effectively, our clients are leveraging all the benefits of a cloud-native event scheduling system.
Intrigued? Want to learn more about what it means to use a cloud-native room scheduling application? We’re happy to give you a demo. Contact us today!