Cloud Computing Glossary: 21 Terms You Need to Know Before Splurging on the Cloud

Cloud Computing Glossary: 21 Terms You Need to Know Before Splurging on the Cloud

November 11

Cloud computing has gotten too big to ignore. Consumers and companies alike are keeping their eyes peeled to determine whether it’s a viable solution to their storage, application, or infrastructure requirements. Rapid evolution of both the technology and terminology around this trend can easily lead to a state of confusion. This mini cloud computing glossary will help you navigate your way through all the jargon as you size up different vendors and solutions.

1. Cloud application: A software program that is installed on a remote server and delivered over the internet. The software can typically be accessed from a web-based interface on any device with an internet connection. Category wise, cloud applications range from email marketing platforms to office productivity suites.

2. Cloud computing: A concept that makes computing resources available on an on-demand, pay-as-you-go basis from a massive flock of networked servers. The cloud may deliver storage capacity,  applications, and various network resources based on individual needs.

3. Cloud Delivery Network (CDN):  A large collection of global servers deployed over the internet. The network is designed to distribute content in high availability, high-performance fashion as resources can literally be sent to millions of end users in milliseconds.

4. Cloud hosting. A form of internet hosting that allows customers to harness website capacity, bandwidth, and other resources from virtual servers on an underlying infrastructure compromised of physical servers. It is viewed as a more flexible and scalable alternative to traditional shared and dedicated hosting as clients can tap into the amount of resources they require while only paying for what they use.

5. Cloud Operating System (OS): A scaled down, web-based OS that provides access to music, email, file storage, and other back-end cloud services. JoliCloud, SilveOS, and Zero PC are some of the most well known cloud operating systems.

6. Cloud Service Provider (CSP): A firm that provides one or more cloud computing services to clients. These services are typically delivered from a multi-tenant infrastructure that uses virtualization to isolate one user environment from another.

7. Cloud reseller: A firm that purchases that purchases cloud computing services from a larger parent company and resells those services to clients of their own. In many cases, the reseller is able to sell the solutions under their own brand without customers being aware of the parent company’s involvement.

8. Cloud storage: A storage system that resides on a cloud infrastructure. Cloud storage services are offered by numerous third-party companies and allow users to save specified amounts of data over the internet.

9. Cluster: A group of connected computers that work together to perform a single task to maximize the performance and availability of the service at hand. In cloud computing environments, clusters can be scaled via APIs that allow users to add or subtract machines based on individual needs.

10.  Database-as-a-Service (DaaS): A hosted database service operated from a cloud infrastructure. DaaS gives clients the ability to control their databases and scale on demand while removing the burden of maintaining the database system and underlying hardware.

11. Elasticity: Refers to the ability of a given cloud component to increase or decrease resources based on a scale that is as close to specific usage needs as possible. An example could involve a company that needs to double its amount of bandwidth at peak hours during the day, and then drop it by half when traffic is slow during the evening to control costs.

12. Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS): A service model that allows customers to procure hardware on a leased or licensed basis. This type of service is still fairly popular with managed service providers who allow clients to install and operate the equipment in their own facility for a fee they often roll into a monthly subscription. By reducing upfront costs, HaaS can be a cost effective way for SMBs to accommodate immediate hardware needs.

13. Hybrid cloud: An environment that integrates one or more publicly accessible cloud infrastructures with a private cloud maintained in-house. The public cloud may be used to support everyday business email operations while the private version handles top-secret data behind a tightly controlled firewall. Hybrid clouds can be managed by systems that allow for the centralized administration of both environments.

14. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): A cloud computing service that delivers storage, servers, applications, and other network resources on demand, typically in a virtualized format. IaaS is billed on a pricing model that charges customer for the amount of resources they use.

15. Multi-tenancy: Refers to an arrangement that involves multiple customers using the same public cloud service. Cloud security and privacy concerns are mainly tied to multi-tenancy as a single attack could technically compromise several other people using the service. However, public cloud services remain popular while multi-tenancy improves simplicity, flexibility, and cost efficiency for the vendor.

16. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): A cloud computing service that delivers computing platforms as a resource or service on-demand. These platforms may include operating systems, web servers, databases, and other tools used to build applications. PaaS is commonly used by developers who need the ability to create custom apps without the hassle of managing the many platforms the task requires.

17. Private cloud: An environment that delivers computing resources over a private network or the internet. Even in the latter case, private cloud resources can be delivered by third-party vendors who exclusively distribute services to a single organization.

18. Public cloud: An environment that delivers computing resources over the publicly accessible internet. These services can be used by anyone and blended with private infrastructures for maximum flexibility. Most commercially available cloud services are delivered from a public infrastructure.

19. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): A cloud computing service that delivers software applications over the internet. Since these cloud apps are run and maintained on remote servers, organizations save local resources while eliminating the technical challenges of managing the software. SaaS is typically billed on a subscription-based, or per-user basis.

20. Subscription-based pricing: A pricing model that allows customers to buy cloud services for a certain amount over a specific time period. A SaaS provider, for example, may charge $9.99 per month to use a video editing app for six months, and then require renewal at the end of the period.

21. Utility computing: A leased method of procuring computing resources comparable to electricity and other residential utility services. It is often used to describe the cloud concept, which is a form of utility computing.

There are plenty more terms where this batch came from. Still, with a good understanding of the essentials, you’ll be able to easily follow the cloud convo when vendors and colleagues get all techie on you.

Photo Credit: David Spinks via Flickr