Nowadays, the cloud is firmly embedded in the public consciousness as an indispensable component of digital-first businesses. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of confusion regarding how it works or the value it has for business owners and customers. To help you decide whether your company needs cloud mobile app development, our team has prepared a detailed list of benefits it brings to the table.
The Surging Popularity of Cloud Mobile Apps
In the last decade, cloud-based services have been on a steady upward growth trend. Even the modest projections estimated 18% annual growth of the market. These predictions held true throughout 2020, despite a steep dive taken by the global economy. The perception of the technology among businesses is also optimistic, with 97% of respondents in a Deloitte survey planning to utilize the potential of the cloud to increase safety, resilience, and quality of their services. To understand the reasons for such a meteoric rise, let’s look at what cloud-based applications are and what benefits they offer to businesses.
What Are Cloud Mobile Applications?
Cloud-based applications, or cloud apps for short, are services that rely on remote storage and processing power. In a sense, they can be considered a part of the broader group of web-based services that emerged with the popularization of remote technology. However, there are subtle differences between cloud apps and web apps that you should understand to choose the one that will work for you.
Like web apps, cloud mobile applications work with data that is stored on a remote server and need an internet connection to function properly. Nevertheless, they only depend on remote resources to assist their operations, so the majority of processes and tasks are accomplished on a local device. This gives them a critical advantage over web apps: a cloud app will retain most of its functionality when offline – they just won’t be able to access data in the cloud.
To use a familiar example, let’s look at Google Docs. This word processing a
nd collaboration tool runs completely on the web and stores documents in the cloud. Naturally, if you have no Internet connection, you won’t be able to use it at all. Office 365, on the other hand, is installed on your local machine but has extensive integration with cloud servers. This means you won’t be able to synchronize your documents with the cloud but can still work with the documents locally. So in a sense, cloud allows you to have your cake and eat it by combining the responsiveness and autonomy of a native app with the versatility and reliability of a web one.
How Do Cloud Apps Work?
Fundamentally, cloud apps rely on a remote data center that belongs to a third party. This data center will provide its hardware for storage, computing, or other tasks that would otherwise need to be done locally. Depending on the proportion of work offloaded to remote resources, these apps fall into three categories:
Software-as-a-service (SaaS): The most common type and the one that is most readily associated with cloud technology. Google Docs mentioned above is perhaps the most common example. In a SAAS, both the hardware and the service that runs on it are provided by a third party. All maintenance is performed on the side of the provider as well, which is convenient when you don’t have time to manage another piece of infrastructure, but still it can be a limitation if you need a feature that isn’t there.
Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS): A bare-bones version of SaaS, in which the provider supplies the hardware side of the infrastructure and keeps it in a working condition but the software is developed by a mobile app development company. This is a more liberal approach in which you are essentially given the cloud but it’s up to you how to use it. IaaS is particularly valuable when no suitable ready-made solutions are available on the market.
Platform-as-a-service (PaaS): This one is best described as a middle ground between SaaS and IaaS. In PaaS, you get the infrastructure along with some middleware and maybe an operating system to run it. You still need to develop the end-user application (or delegate the task to enterprise app development Singapore) but the bulk of the work is already done for you. PaaS can be a great shortcut if you want to remain in control of development without having to do everything from scratch.
Benefits of Cloud Mobile App Development
At the early stages of development, cloud-based mobile apps were viewed as a clever workaround for underpowered devices that couldn’t handle enterprise-grade tasks. However, as the technology evolved, it became clear that they have tremendous potential for business applications. Eventually, they have found their way into numerous domains, including:
- Inventory management
- File storage
- Data analysis
- Customer relationship management
- Order entry
As technology matures, more fields will probably be added to the list in the future. The reason for such a surge is the sheer amount of value they bring to the table. What follows is an overview of the main cloud mobile app benefits for businesses.
One of the major advantages of cloud apps and perhaps one of the most compelling factors for businesses in general. Application development, deployment, and maintenance are a costly process, so total expenses can get out of hand. With cloud apps, most of these expenses are taken care of. Not only do they eliminate the need to purchase equipment for the app infrastructure, cloud services also provide all the necessary maintenance and administration. With the PaaS and SaaS models, you can also save on development costs, as you get some of the software that is already pre-configured to run smoothly on the remote server.
Of course, the costs of administration and maintenance will already be included in the cloud service’s price tag. However, the majority of providers nowadays offer a range of flexible pricing models and try to keep them down to stay ahead of the competition, so you have good chances of finding an option that will cost less than doing the same in-house.
As one might expect, paying for service implies some warranties to come from a service provider. When you use a cloud infrastructure, the availability and service up-time become the responsibility of the cloud’s owner. And it’s not only their word that guarantees it – cloud services have immense resources to deliver on the expectations.
In most data centers, the load is distributed between multiple servers, which allows redistributing the operations in case of malfunction. Of course, it is possible to do the same internally, although it would cost far more than the ready-made cloud solution.
When conceptualizing your first application, one of the questions you’ll have to decide on early is Android vs iOS app development. This is because the development process for each platform has its own cost, so choosing the wrong one might end up in expenses with no returns. With cloud-based apps, the difference becomes far less substantial as the bulk of work is handled remotely. This doesn’t mean you will get two products at the cost of one, but it will help keep cloud development costs to a minimum, broadening the reach of your service.
In addition to optimal cost and resource distribution, the ready-made nature of cloud apps offers another valuable resource – time. Even when you work with a professional app developer from Singapore on a moderately complex task, it will take some time before the product is launched. If someone else makes it to the market in the meantime – you may have wasted all that time for nothing. The relative simplicity of cloud mobile app development and deployment will give you the competitive edge your business needs.
Once your service gains traction, you will have to keep up with the growing demand. Even if the app is built with scalability in mind, you’ll still need to provide the necessary resources for it to handle all the requests. The most straightforward method – buying more servers – is also the least efficient one. While additional hardware will improve performance during the peak load, it will stay idle most of the time, serving as a costly backup. Cloud services, on the other hand, can scale on demand thanks to load balancing. The best part? You only pay for what you use.
In the public consciousness, cloud technology remains strongly associated with security breaches, mostly because the media love eye-catching sweeping generalizations. In reality, an appropriately set up cloud infrastructure offers exceptional security both to users and businesses. The former have fewer chances to lose their data when their phone is lost or compromised. The latter can utilize enterprise-grade security solutions to protect sensitive information.
What’s more, cloud storage allows for granular access configuration, so users and administrators will only see what they are authorized to. Finally, cloud service providers usually include backup functionality as a part of their offer, so the system can recover from a major failure with no data lost. Remember – it is your reputation here that’s at stake, so running a stable and secure service will pay off in the long term.
Standardization and Integration
As cloud has become so ubiquitous, other services strive to stay compatible with their functionality by making their product compatible with major players in the market. For a business, this means easier integration of new features, which is useful for scaling. This covers anything from supporting data formats of other popular apps for users’ convenience to database integration on the side of a business. As long as this process is standardized, you can put more resources into cloud mobile app development and hone your product to perfection.
Future of Cloud-Based Mobile Apps
Cloud-based applications continue to win the sympathies of both businesses and users. The former appreciate the efficiency, security, and scalability it offers, while the latter enjoy the convenience and stability of the service. In this light, cloud mobile app development can be viewed as a worthy investment that will bring value to all parties involved. So don’t delay and build successful mobile app today to stay ahead of the curve in the future.