Cloud-native, cloud-enabled, and cloud without any additions – three terms that mean completely different things. Many laypeople get mixed up or have wrong ideas about products that they want to rely on in times of digital change.

We explain the differences and reveal the advantages for companies that use cloud-native applications.

Cloud-Based Applications

Let’s start with the noun cloud without word couplings. In its actual definition, the term cloud, broken down in simple terms, only refers to the storage location for applications, software, databases, or servers. 

Cloud applications are software for end-users that can be accessed and used via the cloud. Applications in the cloud are therefore location-independent and computer-independent, which is why they are particularly interesting for companies but are also increasingly becoming the standard in the private sector.


A cloud-enabled application is an application that has been moved to the cloud but was originally developed for use in a conventional data center. This is typically legacy and enterprise software. For the relocation, it is necessary to change some characteristics of the application or to adapt them for the cloud. A common method for cloud migration is the “lift and shift” process. In contrast, It has already been designed with the cloud principles of multi-tenancy, elastic scaling, and simple integration and management in mind.


Cloud-native, on the other hand, is an adjective and describes the operation or conceptual approach of applications that use various advantages of cloud computing and are based on micro-services. So it’s a term that describes the way applications are designed, made available, and managed.

The decisive difference is therefore that cloud-native, despite the name, initially has nothing to do with the location. On the contrary: there are also license-based on-premise solutions that are exactly the opposite of software-as-a-service.

Cloud-Native vs. Cloud-Enabled Applications

As mentioned, cloud-native applications benefit from the core advantages of cloud computing (e.g. agility) without necessarily being at home in the cloud.  The overriding goal behind the use of such applications is to make their development faster, more flexible, and better. At the same time, known risks in the development process and ongoing operations can be reduced. Either way, a cloud-native application is able to migrate to the cloud itself at any time and is usually also highly scalable. In short: A cloud-native application development is a concept for the creation, execution, and optimization of company-relevant applications.

When experts speak of cloud-enabled applications, on the other hand, they mean applications that were once developed “classically” but have been appropriately adapted for operation in the cloud. Good examples of this are in-house enterprise solutions or systems that have evolved over time. Explained figuratively, such applications can be compared to a house. A house that was built 30 years ago and is now is modernizing, for example with a new solar system on the roof.

By the way, If you are interested in exploring Secure Cloud-Native Applications, here is a complete guide with everything you need to know.

Benefits for Companies

The conceptual approach behind such applications brings many advantages, especially for growing companies. The applications are independent of operating systems or specific hardware, can be easily ported and impress with their high availability. All of this can secure real competitive advantages and offers a high degree of flexibility at all times. The latter is an important argument in the age of digitization.

The independence from cloud-native applications goes a step further. Companies also remain as flexible as possible when it comes to service providers and partners. Moreover, the risk that ongoing operations will suffer from configuration or operating errors are reduced, so you see: a change can be more than worth it.