WhatsApp, one of the leading messaging platforms, has introduced two versions of its API: WhatsApp Cloud API and WhatsApp On-Premises API.
These APIs allow businesses to leverage WhatsApp as a communication channel. But what’s the difference between WhatsApp Cloud API Vs. WhatsApp On-Premises API?
In this article, we will explore the key differences between these two versions and help you understand which one suits your business needs.
Understanding WhatsApp Cloud API
WhatsApp Cloud API, launched by Meta in 2019, is the cloud version of WhatsApp Business API provided directly by Meta, allowing businesses & developers to build on top of WhatsApp to customize their experiences and respond to customers quickly & easily.
WhatsApp Cloud API can be used for medium or smaller businesses since developing WhatsApp Cloud API does not require to be hosted by a third party with additional costs.
Advantages of Using WhatsApp Cloud API
- Scalability: The Cloud API provides unlimited scalability, allowing businesses to handle many messages and customer interactions efficiently.
- Easy Implementation: The cloud-based infrastructure makes it easier for businesses to integrate WhatsApp into their existing systems and processes.
- Automated Backups: With the Cloud API, businesses can rely on automatic data backups, ensuring integrity and peace of mind.
- Reduced Maintenance: Since WhatsApp maintains the infrastructure, businesses do not need to invest in dedicated hardware or employ a technical team for maintenance.
- Limited control: As the Cloud API is hosted on WhatsApp’s infrastructure, businesses have limited control over customization and configuration. They must adhere to WhatsApp’s guidelines and restrictions, which may only sometimes align perfectly with their needs.
- Dependency on the third-party provider: Since WhatsApp manages the Cloud API, businesses rely on WhatsApp’s service availability and performance. Any downtime or issues with the API may affect the businesses’ messaging capabilities.
- Privacy concerns: Using the Cloud API means entrusting customer data to WhatsApp’s infrastructure. While WhatsApp maintains a high level of security, businesses should consider their data privacy policies and compliance requirements.
Also Read: What is WhatsApp Business API?
Exploring WhatsApp On-Premises API
WhatsApp On-Premises API, also known as WhatsApp Business On-Premises API, is the predecessor to the WhatsApp Cloud API.
It required businesses to collaborate with a third party, usually WhatsApp BSP (Business Service Provider), to access and host the API on their servers.
The third party or BSP will cover all the developing process & their maintenance.
Enterprises or bigger companies mostly use WhatsApp On-premise API since its system is more scalable and customizable than the WhatsApp Business app.
Key features of the WhatsApp On-Premises API
- Enhanced customization: The On-Premise API gives businesses more control over customization and configuration. It allows organizations to tailor the API to their unique requirements and integrate it seamlessly within their existing infrastructure.
- Data control and privacy: With the On-Premise API, businesses have complete control over customer data, which may be crucial for organizations with strict data privacy regulations. They can ensure compliance and implement additional security measures as needed.
- Independence from third-party service: By hosting the API on-premise, businesses are not reliant on WhatsApp’s infrastructure. They have more autonomy and can mitigate risks associated with third-party service dependencies.
- Higher Maintenance Costs: Hosting and maintaining the infrastructure requires dedicated resources, including hardware, software updates, and technical expertise.
- Upfront Investment: Businesses need to invest in infrastructure setup, which can be costly initially.
WhatsApp Cloud API Vs. WhatsApp On-Premises API: Comparing Key Differences
Even though there are some differences in the system and infrastructure, it is essential to note that the differences between Cloud and On-premises API do not affect end-users.
Below are several significant differences between on-premise WhatsApp Business API & WhatsApp Cloud API.
For On-Premises API, your businesses and a selected BSP needs to host the API software on your/their servers and in data centers.
In the case of the Cloud API, Meta hosts the API on their servers. This impacts numerous factors, including access, pricing, maintenance, etc.
In the case of WhatsApp Cloud API, Facebook offers direct access to the Cloud API in a matter of minutes.
On the other hand, with WhatsApp Business API, the BSPs usually act as intermediaries to help businesses get approved for WhatsApp Business API service. Meta’s initial business model required businesses to go solo or through a BSP to get WhatsApp API.
However, this could be time-consuming as well as financially difficult for many businesses, so Meta decided to offer WhatsApp Cloud API as a quicker and more cost-effective way to get WhatsApp API.
With Cloud API, all the software upgrades are performed by Meta. In other words, the new features and security updates will be available automatically without any action necessary on your part.
Developers don’t need to do setup, maintenance, or scaling work; the code changes required to adapt to longer-term API changes will be minimal.
As for the On-Premises API, the individual businesses and their BSPs must perform API software upgrades periodically.
In On-Premises WhatsApp Business API, businesses or their chosen BSPs must pay the costs of setting up and maintaining their servers per message sent or conversation, following WhatsApp’s API pricing rules.
In the case of the Cloud API, Meta pays for the cost of hosting. A business will only need to pay per message sent or conversation. This makes the Cloud option more attractive to smaller or medium businesses.
The table below highlights the key differences between WhatsApp Cloud API and WhatsApp On-Premises API:
|WhatsApp On-Premises API||
WhatsApp Cloud API
|Hosting||Server hosted by BSP or partner||Meta-owned server|
|Maintenance||BSP performs software upgrades||Meta performs updates|
|Costs||Business incurs BSP server costs||Meta pays for hosting|
|API Protocol||REST API||Graph API|
|Throughput (per second)||Varies based on hardware and setup||Up to 256 requests per second|
|Disaster Recovery and High Availability||Available with business-managed servers||Handled by Meta’s infrastructure|
|Control||Collaboration with BSP for access and management||Direct access from Meta|
Choosing the Right Solution
To determine the right solution for your business, consider the following factors:
- Budget: Evaluate the costs associated with hosting and maintenance.
- Integration Requirements: Assess the need for integrating with other business applications.
- Throughput: Determine the message throughput requirements.
- Disaster Recovery: Consider the importance of disaster recovery and high availability.
- Media Messaging: Decide if media messaging is essential for your business.
- Control: Consider whether you prefer Meta’s direct control or working through a BSP.
WhatsApp Cloud API and WhatsApp On-Premises API offer different approaches to accessing and utilizing WhatsApp Business as a communication channel.
Consider your business requirements, technical capabilities, and budget constraints before choosing the right solution. Make an informed decision based on your needs to maximize the benefits of using WhatsApp for your business.
Mekari Qontak is a leading Business Solution Provider (BSP) that offers a comprehensive platform for businesses to utilize both the WhatsApp On-Premises API and the WhatsApp Cloud API. With Mekari Qontak, businesses can seamlessly integrate WhatsApp as a communication channel into their existing systems and processes.
Whether you host the API on-premises or leverage the cloud infrastructure, Mekari Qontak provides the tools and support for a smooth implementation. Get started today!