When it comes to food, the term “normal” has no meaning. Anyone selling processed food can define “natural” in any way they want. It’s either that or nothing. Similarly, cloud app is a concept with a hazy definition that isn’t always a good indicator of the type of app, product, or service you’re getting.
SaaS, or “software as a utility,” refers to an application that is designed to run on a web server. The benefits of SaaS are that these applications do not need to be loaded on a local computer and are mostly platform-independent, meaning they can run in the browser of a Windows computer, Mac, or handheld device–basically any device with a browser. Data may be held on-site or in the cloud. When data is stored centrally, it is simple to keep it secure from former workers, and local backup and server needs are significantly reduced.
The benefit for the publisher is that the software will be marketed as a subscription service, essentially eliminating piracy.
Cloud computing in science computing refers to the use of program on a scalable computing network that allows many machines to work on the same task at the same time. This has been used for signal processing as well as measuring how proteins fold in three dimensions, which is very useful for developing novel drugs that line up with a program three-dimensional protein linked to a disease or disorder. In science, cloud programs will use hundreds or thousands of machines at the same time to operate on a single topic.
The word “cloud app” is now being used by commercial applications in a less descriptive manner. A true cloud app is a software-as-a-service product that operates on many machines for redundancy but not necessarily for processing capacity. If required for that program, it could be scalable.
Consumer beware: much of what is marketed as a cloud product is software-as-a-service with online storage, or, in some cases, conventional software mounted on a local computer and attached to a server that manages a payment for the product. Except for the opportunity for business managers to remotely uninstall app subscriptions and usage, there are no cloud benefits for users of those items.
Even a small program that will be used by one user will be cloud powered, with replication, and running on several servers, when purchasing a program that can run on the Internet. To do so, the creator just needs to purchase cloud hosting from an online Web server provider that offers the service. The servers are redundant either globally to offer faster access to customers in separate locations or simply to provide more redundancy. In the event that one server fails, the machine can continue to run on another. As a result, cloud storage includes backup servers, which improves the internet service’s stability. Those servers are unlikely to be located in the same place.
If, on the other hand, you’re paying a developer to migrate a business application to some kind of cloud app, you can inquire about where the program will be hosted. It can be run on two computers or on Amazon Elastic Cloud, which can be used to build a large-scale network with a scalable program with high levels of redundancy. Using two servers for a program with a dozen users might be sufficient, but a full-scale system is more suited for anything like an airline reservation system, which would handle large amounts of simultaneous transactions with real-time tolerance for hardware and communications failures.