Web 2.0. Enterprise 2.0. Social Media. SoLoMo (a term which apparently makes writers want to commit seppuku).
Web Apps. Native iOS Apps. Native Android Apps. HTML5.
We’ve steadily moved into a new phase of applications, where the debate is not Web Apps vs. Native Apps. An example would be Evernote. Would you classify it as a web application? A mobile application? A desktop application? Is it all of the above since Evernote has web, mobile and desktop interfaces? This new paradigm of cross-platform and cross device applications is everywhere – we just don’t have a good catchphrase yet.
Internally, we’ve been calling them “Cloud Apps.”
- Are optimized to the available screen resolution and form factor
- Use local device resources like cameras and GPS
- Synchronize data so when you switch devices, you’re still up to date
And of course, Cloud Apps have a great user experience, partly because they are much more in tune with the endpoint devices than browser-based applications. But to us infrastructure nerds, the real difference is in the backend. Michael Galpin got to the heart of the matter:
“The most important factor in the success of those [Yahoo, Google, Amazon, eBay web-based] apps was that their data was in the cloud. They brought information and interactions that could not exist simply as part of a non-connected desktop app.”
The point is to have connected apps, regardless of the type of front end. How the apps are connected is what’s interesting.
In order to deliver Cloud Apps, developers have had to:
- Build and maintain different apps for each platform
- Build their own user and data management capabilities
- Define their own synchronization “data target” for each of the different apps
Everyone has built their own stack, typically as a public cloud. This single stack approach works really well for consumers (as Apple has proven), but creates an even bigger challenge for Enterprises than traditional Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Where SaaS created a stark choice: “adopt us and outsource your application data,” Cloud Apps go even further, extending the data outsourcing to end user devices. So cool Cloud Apps like Evernote not only store what you write directly into the application, but also collect additional data from your smartphone or tablet like images, calendar information, location, etc. The gap that SaaS created with Enterprises becomes a chasm with Cloud Apps, where much more data is in play. And it’s not just the loss of control over data that Enterprises can’t tolerate – it’s also the loss of user management, policies around access and other rights management.
We’re left with a landscape where Enterprises can’t get the innovation of Cloud Apps and Cloud App vendors can’t sell to the Enterprise. So it’s not a Web vs. Native debate. Nor is it a Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud debate. It’s something new.
A few questions to the readers:
- Are you perceiving the change to Cloud Apps?
- What is your favorite Cloud App and can you use it in your company?