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A cloud application is internet-based software that is housed on servers in a remote data center managed by a cloud-service provider. Users access the software through a web browser. In a cloud app, cloud-based and local device components work together, and the processing logic and data storage mostly takes place in the cloud. Popular cloud apps provide essential services that are needed by customers across multiple industries and business sizes, including email, file storage and file sharing, word processing, accounting, and much more.

Cloud apps shift the burden of ownership from the user to the service provider, making them an attractive option for many businesses. The service provider keeps the cloud apps updated, tested and patched, and can quickly add or remove capacity to meet the needs of the client. In some cases, the data on cloud apps is backed up more frequently than it would be in an on-prem facility, and the infrastructure of these data centers is often designed and maintained to security levels that many small enterprises can’t afford.

Unlike desktop applications, cloud apps can also be accessed through many different devices and operating systems and are essentially platform-independent. This leads to significant cost savings and reduces the need for version control, testing and support for multiple platform versions of a product. Unlike web apps (like Google’s Gmail, for example) a cloud app can be used offline even when there is no internet connectivity, such as when there’s no wireless access or during an internet outage.

Cloud apps can be built by internal developers for use in their enterprise in a private cloud or shared in a public cloud like Microsoft Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud Platform. Software developers who are building cloud applications can use special application delivery platforms that simplify and speed the process.