Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cloud Computing terms that you must know

Editor's note on July 22, 2015: This cloud glossary was first written by Deb Shinder and published March 16, 2010. Since then, new cloud terms have entered the industry's vernacular, and some terms have changed or are no longer used. James Sanders has added to and revised this list to reflect current trends and products. You can still read Deb's original version after the article break.

Advertising-based pricing model

A pricing model whereby services are offered to customers at low or no cost, with the service provider being compensated by advertisers whose ads are delivered to the consumer along with the service.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

Part of Amazon Web Services (AWS), EC2 provides scalable computing capacity in the cloud, which developers can use to deploy scalable applications.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)

Part of AWS, S3 allows for the storage and retrieval of data. It can also be used to host static websites.

Apache Hadoop

An open-source software framework for distributed storage and processing of large sets of data.


The organizational unit of Amazon that provides a variety of cloud services. AWS operates from 11 physical locations across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Content delivery network (CDN)

A distributed system consisting of servers in discrete physical locations, configured in a way that clients can access the server closest to them on the network, thereby improving speeds.

Cloud portability

The ability to move applications and data from one cloud provider to another. See also Vendor lock-in.


A group of linked computers that work together as if they were a single computer, for high availability and/or load balancing.

Consumer cloud

Cloud computing offerings targeted toward individuals for personal use, such as Dropbox or iCloud.

Consumption-based pricing model

A pricing model whereby the service provider charges its customers based on the amount of the service the customer consumes, rather than a time-based fee. For example, a cloud storage provider might charge per gigabyte of information stored. See also Subscription-based pricing model.

Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS)

An open standard for controlling content and document management systems and repositories using web protocols.

Customer self-service

A feature that allows customers to provision, manage, and terminate services themselves, without involving the service provider, via a web interface or programmatic calls to service APIs.


Open-source software that automates the deployment of applications inside virtualized software containers.

Elastic computing

The ability to dynamically provision and deprovision computing and storage resources to stretch to the demands of peak usage, without the need to worry about capacity planning and engineering around uneven usage patterns.

Hardware as a Service (HaaS)

Also see IaaS.

Hybrid cloud

The combination of a public cloud provider (such as AWS) with a private cloud platform. The public and private cloud infrastructures operate independently of each other, and integrate using software and processes that allow for the portability of data and applications.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Cloud infrastructure services in which a virtualized environment is delivered as a service by the cloud provider. This infrastructure can include servers, network equipment, and software, including a complete desktop environment such as Windows or Linux.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft's cloud platform that provides a myriad of Platform as a Service (PaaS) and IaaS offerings, including Microsoft-specific and third-party standards, for developers to deploy cloud applications and services.


Software that sits between applications and operating systems, consisting of a set of services that enable interoperability in support of distributed architectures by passing data between applications. So, for example, the data in one database can be accessed through another database.


The existence of multiple clients sharing resources (services or applications) on distinct physical hardware. Due to the on-demand nature of cloud, most services are multi tenant.


A free and open-source cloud computing software platform used to control pools of processing, storage, and networking resources in a datacenter.


Cloud platform services, whereby the computing platform (operating system and associated services) is delivered as a service over the internet by the provider.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Cloud application services, whereby applications are delivered over the internet by the provider so the applications don't have to be purchased, installed, and run on the customer's computers. SaaS providers were previously referred to as application service providers.


An online SaaS company that is best known for delivering customer relationship management (CRM) software to companies over the internet.

Service migration

The act of moving from one cloud service or vendor to another.

Service level agreement (SLA)

A contractual agreement by which a service provider defines the level of service, responsibilities, priorities, and guarantees regarding availability, performance, and other aspects of the service.

Social networking service (SNS)

Used in enterprises for collaboration, file sharing, and knowledge transfer; among the most common platforms are Microsoft's Yammer, and Salesforce's Chatter. Often called enterprise social software to differentiate between "traditional" SNS platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn.

Software plus services

The combination of cloud-hosted services with locally running software. This method allows for using the local system for processing power while relying on cloud operations for software license verification, portable identities, syncing between devices, and file storage.

Subscription-based pricing model

A pricing model that lets customers pay a fee to use the service for a particular time period, often used for SaaS services. See also Consumption-based pricing model.

Utility computing

A provisioning model in which services are available as needed, and users are charged for specific usage, in a manner similar to municipal utilities such as electricity or water.

Vendor lock-in

Dependency upon a particular cloud vendor and low ability to migrate between vendors due to an absence of support for standardized protocols, APIs, data structures (schema), and/or service models.

Vertical cloud

A cloud computing environment optimized for use and built around the compliance needs of specialized industries, such as healthcare, financial services, and government operations.

Virtual private cloud (VPC)

A private cloud that exists within a shared or public cloud, e.g., the Amazon VPC that allows Amazon EC2 to connect to legacy infrastructure on an IPsec VPN.

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