In the dynamic realm of software development, understanding the distinction between cloud and cloud native applications is essential for any organization aiming to leverage modern technology effectively. The term cloud vs cloud native encapsulates the key differences and respective advantages of each approach, offering a spectrum of options based on varying business needs, scalability requirements, and system resilience. Knowing these differences can guide businesses in making informed decisions about their infrastructure investments and software strategies, ensuring they align with long-term goals and operational efficiency.

Find below five aspects that distinguish between the two applications. 

Application design

The fundamental difference between cloud and cloud native applications lies in their design. Traditional cloud applications are often existing applications that have been adapted to run on cloud environments without being specifically designed for it. In contrast, cloud native applications are specifically built for a cloud setting from the outset, designed to fully exploit cloud computing features such as microservices, containers, and dynamic orchestration.


Scalability is another critical aspect where cloud and cloud native applications diverge. Cloud applications can scale but often require manual scaling which involves provisioning additional resources as demand increases. Cloud native applications, however, are built to automatically scale in and out seamlessly. They utilize the cloud’s elasticity by automatically adjusting to demand spikes and drops, which optimizes resource use and maintains performance without human intervention.

Deployment and management

Deployment and ongoing management of applications also differ significantly between the two. Cloud applications may not fully utilize continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) practices due to their monolithic nature. Cloud native applications, on the other hand, embrace these practices. They benefit from modern DevOps approaches that allow for frequent updates and management without downtime, using technologies to manage deployments and updates dynamically.

Resilience and fault tolerance

Resilience is another area where cloud native applications typically excel. Designed using microservices architecture, cloud native apps ensure that if one part of the application fails, the rest can continue to function. Each microservice is isolated and independent. This contrasts with many cloud applications where failures can lead to significant downtime, affecting the entire application’s availability due to its monolithic architecture.

Cost efficiency

Finally, cost efficiency in cloud vs cloud native applications can vary based on usage patterns and management. Cloud applications might run on virtual machines with reserved capacity that could lead to over-provisioning and higher costs. Cloud native applications optimize costs through containerization and using serverless computing models where you pay only for the resources you actually use and when you use them, providing a more cost-effective solution, particularly at scale. 

Final thoughts 

The choice between cloud and cloud native applications depends on a variety of factors including the specific needs of a business, existing infrastructure, and future growth expectations. While cloud applications offer a quicker, often less resource-intensive transition into the cloud, cloud native applications are designed to maximize the technological benefits of the cloud environment, promoting greater efficiency, scalability, and resilience. Understanding these distinctions helps businesses strategically navigate their digital transformation journeys, ensuring they adopt the most suitable technologies to drive their success.