8 min read

Web Application vs Enterprise Application - Are they the same?

Are enterprise applications and web applications the same thing? We go into depth on how they differ.

Tim Davidson
Author
Tim Davidson

Once upon a time, enterprise applications operated in a very specific way. They ran from a self-managed server somewhere in the office and often required a client to be installed on each machine. However, this definition hasn't been accurate for a while.  

These days, the cloud dominates everything. Enterprise applications run on the cloud because it's easier to scale globally, avoids the need to do on-site troubleshooting, and opens up a range of modern tools.

So what is the difference between an "enterprise application" and a "web application"? Technically, a web application can be an enterprise application, but an enterprise application doesn't have to be a web application.

There are a handful of other differences to expand on that we're going to cover in this article.

What is an enterprise application?

An enterprise application is a type of software that is designed specifically for large organizations and businesses. These applications are usually complex, with a wide range of features and functions that are meant to help businesses streamline their operations, improve efficiency, and make better decisions. Some examples of enterprise applications include human resources management systems, customer relationship management systems, and supply chain management systems.

Enterprise applications are typically designed to be used by a large number of employees within an organization, and are often integrated with other business systems and processes. They are also typically more expensive and require more maintenance than other types of software, due to their complexity and the large number of users.

Defining features of enterprise applications:

Complex architecture

Since they process large amounts of data, enterprise apps have a complex architecture than other types of software.

There's a trend of businesses moving towards a MACH (Microservice, API-first, Cloud native and Headless) architecture, allowing them to stay flexible but also adding complexity to their site's construction. The distributed design means that different parts of the application are run on different servers or devices.

This approach can improve scalability and performance, as different components can be scaled up or down as needed. While the modular design allows for the application to be broken down into self-contained components that can be developed and maintained independently. This makes it easier to update and maintain the application, as changes can be made to individual components without affecting the entire system.

Customizable

Enterprise applications are often highly customizable to meet the specific needs and requirements of an organization. This may include the ability to integrate with other systems, add or remove features, and adjust the user interface. For example, an enterprise application for managing customer relationships might allow users to customize the layout of the dashboard, add new fields to forms, or integrate with other business systems.

Scalability

Enterprise applications need to be able to handle large amounts of data and users and be able to scale up or down as needed. This is important because an organization's needs may change over time, and the application needs to be able to handle an increase or decrease in usage. For example, an enterprise application for managing orders may need to be able to handle a sudden increase in orders during the peak season.

Integration with other systems

Enterprise applications can be integrated with other systems and software used by an organization, such as CRM, ERP, and HR systems. This allows the application to share data and functionality with other systems, which can improve efficiency and reduce the need for manual data entry.

Regular Maintenance and updates

Enterprise applications require ongoing maintenance and updates to fix bugs, add new features, and ensure that the application remains secure and reliable. This may include patches, version updates, and new releases.

Workflow and process management

Enterprise applications may include features for automating and managing business processes and workflow. For example, an enterprise application for managing customer orders might include a workflow for processing and fulfilling orders, with different steps being triggered based on certain conditions.

Analytics and reporting

Enterprise applications may include tools for analyzing and reporting on data, such as dashboards and custom reporting. These tools can help organizations to track performance, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions.

Pros of enterprise applications:

Customizability

Enterprise applications are often highly customizable to meet the specific needs and requirements of an organization. This can make them more effective at addressing the unique challenges and needs of an organization.

Advanced security measures

Enterprise applications may include advanced security measures to protect sensitive data and processes, which can help to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data.

Robust user management

Enterprise applications often have complex user management systems to handle permissions, roles, and access controls for different users within an organization, which can help to ensure that users have the appropriate level of access to data and functionality.

Cons of enterprise applications:

High cost

Enterprise applications may be more expensive to develop and implement compared to web applications or other software. This can make them less cost-effective for organizations with limited budgets.

Complex architecture

The inherent complex architecture of enterprise applications makes it difficult to deploy and maintain these types of applications. This can increase the time and resources required to support the application. Usually, enterprise applications are built using two major design patterns – modular and distributed architecture.

With the modular design, the app is divided into smaller, self-contained components that can be developed and maintained independently. This can make it easier to update and maintain the application, as changes can be made to individual components without affecting the entire system.

In the distributed architecture, different parts of the application are run on different servers or devices. This design pattern is optimized for scalability and performance, as different components can be scaled up or down as needed.

Limited accessibility

Enterprise applications may be limited to use by authorized users within an organization, which can limit their accessibility compared to web applications that can be accessed by anyone with an internet

What is a web application?

A web application is a software program that runs on a web server and is accessed over the internet through a web browser. It’s designed to be used through a web browser, which means that it can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, without necessarily having to install it.

Web applications are built using a variety of technologies, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for the user interface, and server-side languages such as PHP, Python, and Ruby for the backend. They may also use databases to store and manage data. They enable businesses to establish an online presence and expand their market reach.

Web application features

Accessibility

Web applications are designed to be accessed from any device with an internet connection, which makes them highly portable and convenient to use. This means that users can access a web application from any device with a web browser, such as a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. This can be especially useful for users who need to access the application while on the go or from multiple devices.

Multi-platform compatibility

Web applications are typically compatible with a wide range of devices and web browsers, which makes them accessible to a larger audience. This means that users can access a web application from different types of devices and operating systems, as long as they have a web browser installed.

Ease of use

Web applications are often designed with a focus on usability, which means that they are easy to use and navigate. This can make them more user-friendly and appealing to a wider audience.

Low cost (relatively)

Web applications may have a lower cost compared to traditional desktop software, as users do not need to purchase and install software on their devices. This can make them more cost-effective for users, as they do not need to pay for software licenses or upgrade fees.

Automatic updates

Web applications may automatically update with new features and bug fixes, which can be more convenient for users compared to installing updates manually. This can help to ensure that users always have the latest version of the application and can take advantage of new features as they are released.

Cloud-based

Web applications are often based in the cloud, which means that they are accessed and run over the internet rather than on a specific device. This can make them more reliable and scalable, as users do not need to worry about installing or maintaining software on their own device.

Responsive design

Web applications are designed to be responsive, which means that they can adapt to different screen sizes and devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This can make them easier to use on different types of devices and improve the user experience.

Differences between enterprise and web applications

There are several key differences between enterprise applications and web applications:

Deployment

Enterprise applications may be installed on a local server or accessed through a private network, while web applications are accessed over the internet and run on a web server. This means that enterprise applications may be more difficult to deploy and require more infrastructure and resources, while web applications can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.

Scalability

Enterprise applications may need to be able to scale up or down to meet the specific needs of an organization, while web applications are typically designed to handle a large number of users. This means that enterprise applications may require more resources and infrastructure to support larger numbers of users, while web applications can be more easily scaled up to meet increased demand.

Security

Enterprise applications often have more robust security measures in place compared to web applications, as they are dealing with sensitive data and processes. Enterprise applications may include authentication, authorization, and encryption to protect data and prevent unauthorized access, while web applications may have fewer security measures in place.

Integration with other systems

Enterprise applications are often designed to integrate with a wide range of other systems and software used by an organization, while web applications may have limited integration with other systems. This means that enterprise applications can more easily share data and functionality with other systems, which can improve efficiency and reduce the need for manual data entry.

Customizability

Enterprise applications are often highly customizable to meet the specific needs and requirements of an organization, while web applications are typically less customizable. This means that enterprise applications can be more easily tailored to the specific needs of an organization, while web applications may be more limited in terms of the features and functionality that can be added or removed.

Maintenance and updates

Enterprise applications may require more extensive testing and planning before updates are released, while web applications may have more frequent updates and maintenance. This can make it more challenging to keep enterprise applications up to date, as changes may need to be carefully coordinated with other systems and processes. However, the more frequent updates of web applications can also make them more nimble and able to adapt to changing needs and requirements more quickly.

Frequently asked questions

Q: What are some common examples of enterprise applications?

A: Here are some examples of enterprise applications:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
  • Human resources management systems
  • Supply chain management systems
  • Financial management systems
  • Project management systems

Q: Can enterprise applications be customized to meet the specific needs of an organization?

Yes, enterprise applications can often be customized to meet the specific needs and requirements of an organization. Enterprise applications are designed to be highly flexible and scalable and can be tailored to the unique processes and needs of an organization. This can include customizing the user interface, adding or removing features and functionality, and integrating with other systems and software used by the organization. Customization of enterprise applications is typically done by the vendor or a third-party developer with specialized expertise.

Wrapping up

Overall, enterprise applications and web applications can be used to support the operations and processes of organizations. However, they have several key differences, including the way they are deployed, their scalability and security measures, their integration with other systems, and their customizability.

Enterprise applications are typically designed for use by large organizations, such as corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions, and are customized to meet the specific needs and requirements of these organizations. Web applications, on the other hand, are accessed over the internet and are designed for a wider audience. Both types of applications have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, and the best choice for an organization will depend on its specific needs and requirements.

Written by
Tim Davidson

Tim Davidson

Tim is the face of the company. When you want to kick off a new project, or an update on your existing project, Tim is your man!

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