When it comes to technology descriptions, you’ve probably seen the term “cloud” referred to in a number of different ways. Cloud services. Cloud native. In the cloud. Cloud compatible. Cloud first. While these terms sound like they’re all describing the same technical concept, there are big differences in what they mean. For the average business user it can get a little confusing! Today, we break down some of the more popular cloud terms to help explain what they mean (and what they don’t).
Let’s Review: What is Cloud Technology?
Generally speaking, when you see the term “cloud technology,” it’s in reference to technology that’s being stored in a place other than the end-user’s machine, while still granting the user access to all its capabilities. Instead of leveraging hardwired technology specific and localized to your physical network, you instead access the capabilities of the technology using the internet—i.e., accessing them through the cloud—at the scale, size and capacity you need them.
This allows for access to high-powered systems and services in a customizable way that might not otherwise be possible.
Cloud-native technology means the technology was built in and for the cloud. It’s optimized to be used that way and provides distinct benefits including cost savings, improved performance, resiliency and scalability. For more about cloud-native technology, check out our post here.
Cloud compatible technology typically refers to technology that is used in the cloud, although it wasn’t designed that way. Oftentimes these technologies were built as server-based technologies but are now being applied to the cloud environment. A “cloud compatible” technology can work in the cloud, sometimes even similarly to a cloud-native product, but there is more to consider.
While “cloud compatible” offerings do provide access to the cloud, the true benefits of cloud technology aren’t usually realized—key benefits like scalability and cost reduction. This is because, although the system is working within the cloud, it wasn’t built for it.
Essentially, cloud compatibility is just a way of saying that an existing system can be applied to a cloud environment. But, while it can work, it doesn’t mean it necessarily should. And it definitely will not work in the same capacity as cloud-native tech.
In most cases, the infrastructure includes cumbersome monolith architecture to work around. This not only inhibits scalability, it means extraordinary downtime for updates and slower functionality overall. These interruptions can be costly, and sometimes not worth the upheaval—meaning sometimes business users are forced to choose between either fewer product improvements or a lower functioning system. Not ideal choices.
Like “cloud compatible,” “cloud ready” usually refers to an existing, localized system that is used in a cloud environment. Cloud-ready technology was generally not designed for the cloud either. Although with cloud-ready claims, they have usually been tested and used in the cloud at some point in development, lending a little more credence to the claim.
However, the same shortcomings exist as with cloud compatible services though, as the entire premise for cloud ready is still based on using legacy systems. It often requires a great deal of IT involvement and investment, and upgrades and integrations can be lengthy.
In most cases the claim of “cloud-first” isn’t in reference to a service or product, but rather to a business strategy that aligns with cloud-native initiatives. This term is about describing the approach and organization will take as they implement new technologies in an effort to shape business outcomes.
Get Started with Cloud Technology
The use of “cloud” in marketing and product descriptions is a trendy one, no doubt. And while there are some technical overlaps with some of these terms and how they interact with the cloud, only authentically cloud-native solutions deliver the full scope of benefits.
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