Glossary of Cloud Computing Technology

“To know, what you know and what you don’t know, that is true knowledge”
~ Confucious ~



Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Amazon Web Services is a suite of cloud computing services that make a comprehensive cloud platform offered by AWS offers over three dozen cloud services spanning the IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS models of cloud computing, and is the most popular cloud service provider, with nearly 30% global market share in cloud IaaS, as of 2015. Well-known AWS services include Amazon EC2, Amazon Elastic Beanstalk, and Amazon S3.


Application – An application is a group of computer programs designed to allow a user to perform a set of functions or tasks.


Application Programming Interface (API) – An application programming interface (API) is an interface that allows the user to access information from another service and integrate this service into their own application. Through a set of defined requests, the asking application is allowed to access limited pieces of the called upon application’s functionality. APIs are used to share limited functionality between programs. One example of an API is the Facebook share button on this page, another is Yelp’s use of Google maps to display nearby restaurants.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) – The capability of a computer system to imitate human intelligence. Using math and logic, the computer system simulates the reasoning that humans use to learn from new information and make decisions.


Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS) – A third party offering of Artificial Intelligence (AI) outsourcing that enables organizations and individuals to experiment with language, vision and speech understanding capabilities without a huge initial investment and with lower risk. AI typically involves a vast range of algorithms that allow computers to solve complex tasks by generalizing over data. AI as a service allows users to upload data, run complex models in the cloud and receive results via a cloud platform or API, significantly reducing development time while improving the time-to-value.


Application Programming Interface (API) – An interface that enables users to access information from other services or applications and integrate this information into their own application. The access is granted via a set of defined requests, routines and protocols. APIs have become essential tools for building software.


Availability Zones– Are data center locations isolated from each other as a safeguard against unexpected outages leading to downtime. The zones are typically geographically distinct. Businesses can opt to have one or multiple availability zones globally depending on their specific needs.



Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) – Backend as a service (BaaS), or mobile backend as a service (mBaaS) is a model of cloud computing in which the vendor provides web and mobile application developers with tools and services to create a cloud backend for their applications. BaaS vendors typically use custom SDKs and APIs to give developers the ability to connect their applications to backend cloud storage and features such as user management, push notifications, and social network integration.


Backend database – Any database that is accessed indirectly by the user.


Big Data – A broad term used to describe unconventional data sets which are either too large or too complex to be dealt with using traditional data-processing techniques.


Business Analytic Tools  – Tools that extract data from business systems and integrate it into a repository, such as a data warehouse, where it can be analyzed. Analytics tools range from spreadsheets with statistical functions to sophisticated data mining and predictive modeling tools.


Business Intelligence (BI)  – Refers to technologies, practices, and applications for the collection, analysis, integration, collection, and presentation of business information. BI tools access and analyze data sets and present analytical findings in charts, graphs, dashboards, summaries, maps, and reports to offer managers, executives, and other cooperate end-users with detailed intelligence about the state of their business. The need for BI emerged from the concept that decision-makers with incomplete or inaccurate information tend to make worse decisions than if they had more information. Companies that utilize BI practices can translate their collected data into insights for their business processes. The insights can then be used to generate strategic business decisions that enhance productivity, accelerate growth, and increase revenue.


Business Intelligence (BI) tools  – Tools that process large amounts of unstructured data in books, journals, documents, health records, images, files, email, video, and so forth, to help you discover meaningful trends and identify new business opportunities.


BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) – A growing trend towards the use of employee-owned to connect to organizational networks and access work-related systems and potentially confidential or sensitive data. It is part of a larger IT consumerization trend in which consumer hardware and software are being brought in the enterprise. BYOD can occur under the radar in the form of shadow IT; however, more and more organizations are leaning towards the implementation of BYOD policies. More specific variations of the term include bring your own apps (BYOA), bring your own laptop (BYOL) and bring your own apps (BYOA).


Cloud Application – An application that runs in the cloud.


Cloud Architect – IT professionals charged with building and deploying strategies, plans and applications relating to and within an organization’s increasingly complex cloud technologies. They typically report to senior-level staff, such as an IT director, while also fostering relationships with customers and working closely alongside other members of the technology team, including developers and DevOps engineers. It is a constantly evolving field, and the job requires someone who can keep up with the latest technologies and trends. 


Cloud Automation  –  A term that refers to the tools and processes an organization utilizes to reduce the manual efforts linked to the provision and management of cloud computing workloads. Automation seeks to make all cloud computing activities as efficient and fast as possible via the use of different software automation tools which are directly installed on the virtualization platform and controlled through an interactive interface. For most enterprises, their cloud computing resources are too complex to manage and control in real-time. As organizations continue to move their operations into the cloud, the role of cloud automation will become more crucial. 


Cloud Backup – Cloud backup is the process of backing up data to a remote, cloud-based server.


Cloud Bridge – Refers to a secure IPSEC VPN tunnel that connects two or more cloud environments to facilitate communication between them. It’s commonly used to connect private infrastructure to a service providers’ infrastructure, in order to power communication between private and public clouds. The consequent hybrid cloud environments allow users to leverage and benefit from both cloud types. 


Cloudburst – A quality of service metric used to gauge the scalability and performance of cloud applications within hosted cloud platforms. A positive cloudburst indicates that the cloud-based application is efficient and capable of managing application scalability. A negative cloudburst indicates an inability to handle a spike in demand. 


Cloud Computing – Cloud computing is the delivery of information technology services over a network, usually the internet. In the cloud computing model, infrastructure, data, and software are hosted by the vendor and delivered to the user as a service, much like a utility company would deliver water or electricity.

According to the official NIST definition, there are five essential characteristics of cloud computing: on-demand self-service provisioning of resources, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service.

The three main cloud computing models are infrastructure as a service, software as a service, and platform as a service. 


Cloud Computing Types –  There are three main cloud computing types, with additional ones evolving—software-as-a-service (SaaS) for web-based applications, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for Internet-based access to storage and computing power, and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that gives developers the tools to build and host Web applications.


Computer Grids –  Groups of networked computers that act together to perform large tasks, such as analyzing huge sets of data and weather modeling. Cloud computing lets you assemble and use vast computer grids for specific time periods and purposes, paying only for your usage, and saving the time and expense of purchasing and deploying the necessary resources yourself.


Cloud Foundry –  Cloud Foundry is an open-source cloud platform as a service that was originally developed as a joint venture between VMware, EMC, and General Electric, and is now owned by Pivotal Software.


Cloud Load Balancing  –  The process of distributing computing resources and workloads across several application servers that are running in a cloud environment. Like other forms of load balancing, cloud load balancing allows you to maximize application reliability and performance; but at a lower cost and easier scaling to match demand, without loss of service. This helps ensure users have access to the applications they need, when they need them, without any problems. 


Cloud Management Platform (CMP)  A cloud management platform (CMP) is a product that gives the user integrated management of public, private, and hybrid cloud environments.


Cloud Marketplace – A cloud marketplace is an online marketplace, operated by a cloud service provider (CSP), where customers can browse and subscribe to software applications and developer services that are built on, integrate with, or supplement the CSP’s main offering. Amazon’s AWS Marketplace and Microsoft’s Azure store are examples of cloud marketplaces.


Cloud Migration – Cloud migration is the process of transferring all of or a piece of a company’s data, applications, and services from on-premise to the cloud.


Cloud Native – Applications developed specifically for cloud platforms.


Cloud Portability – The ability to migrate data and applications between different cloud environments without disrupting standard processes and operations. Cloud portability facilitates cloud-to-cloud migration.


Cloud Washing – Cloud washing is a deceptive marketing technique used to rebrand old products by connecting them to the cloud, or at least to the term cloud.


Cloud Service Provider (CSP) – A Cloud Service Provider (CSP) is a company that offers a cloud computing service, such as PaaS, IaaS, or SaaS, to individuals or other businesses.


Cloud Security – A set of control-based measures, policies and technologies designed and implemented to protect cloud infrastructure, applications and data. To limit potential compromises, they have to adhere to a set of compliance rules. Examples of cloud security measures include password protection and data encryption.


Cloud Sourcing – Cloud sourcing is the act of replacing traditional on-premise IT operations with low-cost cloud-based services.


Cloud Storage – Cloud storage is a model of computer storage in which data is stored in facilities (often multiple facilities) managed by a hosting company (cloud service provider) and is accessed remotely by the user via a network.


Container – A container a virtualization instance in which the kernel of an operating system allows for multiple isolated user-space instances. Unlike virtual machines (VMs), containers do not need to run a full-blown operating system (OS) image for each instance. Instead, containers are able to run separate instances of an application within a single shared OS.


Content Delivery Network (CDN) – A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of distributed services that deliver content to a user based on the user’s geographic proximity to servers. CDNs allow speedy content delivery for websites with high traffic volume or large geographic reach.


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications allow a business to manage relationships with current and future customers by providing the business with tools to manage sales, customer service, and technical support roles. SaaS CRM applications, such as, are very popular.


Data Migration –  The process of moving data between two or more storage systems, data formats, warehouses or servers.


Data Breach  – A security incident in which confidential, sensitive, or otherwise protected information is accessed or disclosed without authorization. Data breaches may involve personally identifiable information (PII) or personal health information (PHI), intellectual property or trade secrets. Businesses and corporations are extremely attractive targets for cybercriminals, mainly due to the vast amounts of data that can be nicked in one fell swoop. If a data breach results in the violation of industry or government compliance mandates, the offending company could possibly face fines or other civil litigations.


Data Center – A virtual or physical infrastructure used by an enterprise to house and maintain back-end information technology infrastructure such as servers and networking systems; for the storage, management and dissemination of data and information pertaining that particular enterprise. 


Database – A database is an organized collection of data.


Data Loss Prevention (DLP) – A suite of tools designed to ensure that critical corporate data is only accessed by authorized users and there are safeguards against data leak. DLP applications utilize business rules to protect and classify critical and confidential information so that end-users cannot maliciously or accidentally share critical information. DLP policies are a crucial component of an organization’s comprehensive security measures.


DevOps –  An amalgamation of “development” and “operations,” DevOps is the combination of tasks performed by an organization’s applications development and systems operations teams. The DevOps software development method emphasizes collaboration, communication and integration between developers and other IT personnel with the goal of streamlining software development and quality assurance.


Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) –  The area of security planning that deals with protecting an organization from the effects of major disasters that destroys part or all of its resources; including data records, IT equipment and the organization’s physical space. A data recovery plan maps the quickest and most effective way work can be resumed after a disaster. 


Distributed Computing  –  Is a computing concept in which the components of a software system, such as applications and data are distributed among multiple computers to improve performance and efficiency. Distributed computing relies on network services and interoperability standards that specify how they communicate with each other. 


Data Ownership –  Having control and legal rights over a single piece or a set of data elements. The data owner is accountable for the data within a specific data domain. It defines the provision and definition of the rightful owner of data assets and the acquisition, distribution, and use policy implemented by the data owner. Data is essentially an asset that belongs to the enterprise, but it still needs to be managed. Some organizations assign ‘owners’ to their data while others shy away from the concept. 


Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) –  A method for identifying and minimizing potential privacy risks within an organization. The EU’s GDPR includes multiple new rules (and some old ones) that companies have to follow in order to keep their customer’s personal information secure. Performing a DPIA for all your high-risk data processing activities is a sure-fire way of demonstrating to authorities that your organization complies with the GDPR. 


Data Integrity  –  The overall completeness, accuracy, and consistency of data. It also refers to the safety of data in regards to regulatory compliance. All characteristics of the data have to be correct – including relations, business rules, definitions, dates, and lineage, for it to be considered complete. Data integrity is typically imposed at the database design phase via the use of standard rules and procedures. It can be compromised in multiple ways, every time data is transferred or replicated, it has to remain unaltered and intact between updates. Error checking methods and validation procedures are usually relied on to make sure the integrity of the data being reproduced or transferred is not altered. 



Elasticity – In cloud computing, elasticity is a term used to reference the ability of a system to adapt to changing workload demand by provisioning and deprovisioning pooled resources so that provisioned resources match current demand as well as possible.


Enterprise Application – An enterprise application is an application (or software) that is intended for large scale use by a (large) business.


Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software allows a business or organization to manage a suite of integrated applications which are used to collect, manage, and store data on a variety of business activities. ERP solutions are often offered as a service.


Extensibility-  The ability of a cloud solution to add new runtime and framework support via community buildpacks.


Elastic Computing – The ability to dynamically provision and de-provision computer processing, memory, and storage resources to meet changing demands without worrying about capacity planning and engineering for peak usage.


Encryption – The conversion of data into ‘cipher text’, which can only be read after it has been decrypted using a special key or password. Encryption is the most secure way to protect information assets. 


Enterprise application – An application that is built to operate in a corporate environment like a government or business. Such applications are component-based, scalable, complex, distributed and mission critical. They are typically designed to seamlessly integrate with other enterprise apps, and to be deployed across various networks (corporate networks, intranet and internet). Enterprise applications are also user friendly, and meet the strict administration management and security requirements of an enterprise. 



Federated Database –  A system in which multiple databases appear to function as a single entity. However, the databases typically involved in this kind of system exists independently of the others. Once the different databases are “combined”, one federated database is formed.


Fault tolerance – The ability of a computer system or component to continue working without loss of service in the event of an unexpected error or problem. Fault tolerance can be achieved with embedded hardware, or software, or a combination of both. 


File Server – The computer exclusively responsible for the central storage and management of files generated or required by other computers in a client/server model. In an enterprise setting, a file server enables end-users to share information over the network without having to physically transfer files using external storage such as flash disks. 



Google Cloud Platform (GCP) – Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a comprehensive cloud platform offered by Google, Inc. that consists of both infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings.


Green cloud – A buzz phrase that is used to refer to potential environment benefits cloud technology can offer society. According to research conducted by Pike Research, the rapid adoption of cloud computing can lead to a 38 percent reduction in worldwide data center energy expenditures. 



Host Machine – A host machine is a piece of physical hardware that hosts virtual machines.


Hosted Application  – Systems or components that are continuously operational without failure for a long time. The term implies that there are safeguards in place in case of component failures, typically in the form of redundant components.


Hybrid Cloud – A hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment that is comprised of a mix of private cloud, public cloud, and on-premises solutions. In a hybrid cloud, private and public cloud infrastructures remain distinct from one another but are bound together by technology that allows data and services portability between them.


Hypervisor – A hypervisor or virtual machine monitor (VMM) is a piece of software that allows physical devices to share their resources among virtual machines (VMs) running on top of that physical hardware. The hypervisor creates, runs and manages VMs.


Infrastructure – Information technology (IT) infrastructure is a combined set of hardware and virtual resources that support an overall IT environment.


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a model of cloud computing in which the vendor hosts virtualized computing resources, as well as network and storage resources, and provides them to the user as a service via the internet.


Integrated Development environment (IDE) – An integrated development environment (IDE) is an application that provides a programming environment for developers. An IDE typically includes a code editor, automation tools, and a debugger.


Internet of Things / IoT/ Internet of Everything –  An ever-growing network of physical objects provided with unique identifiers (IP address) and the ability to transfer data over a network without any human interference. IoT extends beyond computers, smartphones and tablets to a diverse range of devices that utilize technology to interact and communicate with the environment in intelligent fashion, via the internet.  







Linux – Linux is an open-source operating system, built on Unix that is used for the majority of cloud services.


Load Balancing – The process of distributing computing workloads across multiple resources, such as servers. In cloud computing, a load balancer acts as a reverse proxy and distributes application traffic to multiple servers in order to prevent any single application server from becoming a point of failure.



Managed Service Provider (MSP) – A managed services provider (MSP) is an IT services provider that provides fully outsourced network, application, and system services across a network to clients.


Microservices – Microservices or microservice architecture is a way of designing applications in which complex applications are built out of a suite of small, independently deployable services. These ‘microservices’ run their own processes and communicate with one another using lightweight mechanisms such as language-agnostic APIs. Microservices are independently deployable and scalable, and can even be written in different languages.


Microsoft Azure – Microsoft Azure, formerly known as Windows Azure, is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Azure was originally launched as a PaaS solution but now provides both PaaS and IaaS services.


Middleware – Middleware is software that connects software components or enterprise applications. Software that lies between an operating system and the applications running on it. It enables communication and data management for distributed applications, like cloud-based applications, so, for example, the data in one database can be accessed through another database. Examples of middleware are web servers, application servers, and content management systems.


Multi-Cloud – A multi-cloud strategy is the concurrent use of separate cloud service providers for different infrastructure, platform, or software needs. A multi-cloud approach can help prevent vendor lock-in, and may help an enterprise deal with diverse workloads and partners. However, a multi-cloud approach can complicate many processes, such as security and governance, and a Cloud management platform is recommended for this approach.


Multi-Tenancy – Multi-Tenancy is a mode of operation for software in which multiple instances of one or many applications run in a shared environment. In a cloud computing model, pooled physical and virtual resources are dynamically assigned and reassigned to tenants according to consumer demand.


Machine Learning – The process of using mathematical models to predict outcomes versus relying on a set of instructions. This is made possible by identifying patterns within data, building an analytical model, and using it to make predictions and decisions. Machine learning bears similarity to how humans learn, in that increased experience can increase accuracy.


Machine Learning Algorithms– Help data scientists identify patterns within sets of data. Selected based upon the desired outcome—predicting values, identifying anomalies, finding structure, or determining categories—machine learning algorithms are commonly divided into those used for supervised learning and those used for unsupervised learning. 



NoSQL – NoSQL is a set of nonrelational database technologies—developed with unique capabilities to handle high volumes of unstructured and changing data. NoSQL technology offers dynamic schema, horizontal scaling, and the ability to store and retrieve data as columns, graphs, key-values, or documents.


On-Demand Self Service – A cloud computing service model by which a customer can provision additional cloud resources on-demand, without involving the service provider. Resources are typically provisioned through an online control panel.


On-Premise – On Premise technology is software or infrastructure that is run on computers on the premises (in the building) of the person or organization using the software or infrastructure. Microsoft Office Suite is an example of on-premise software because it needs to be installed on the computer that runs it, while Office365 is not, because it is accessed via the internet and run remotely.


Open Source – Open Source is a development model in which a product’s source code is made openly available to the public. Open source products promote collaborative community development and rapid prototyping. OpenStack and CloudFoundry are examples of an open source cloud computing platform.

Open Stack – 
 OpenStack is a free, open-source cloud platform that is primarily deployed as an infrastructure as a service offering.


Personal Cloud –  An example of cloud washing, Personal Cloud is a marketing term often used to describe network attached storage (NAS) devices. A NAS device is a computer  connected to a network that provides data storage services to other devices on the network.


Platform – In computing, a platform is defined as a computer system that applications run on, or as a base of technologies on which other technologies (such as applications) are built.


Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a model of cloud computing in which a vendor provides the hardware and software tools necessary to create, deploy and manage applications at scale to the user via the internet, as a service. For a more in-depth explanation, check out our article What the Heck is PaaS Anyway?


Private Cloud – A private cloud is a cloud infrastructure that is provisioned for use by a single organization comprised of multiple users. A private cloud cab managed and operated by the organization, a third party, or some combination of them, and it can exist on or off premises.


Predictive Analytics –  A branch of advanced analytics used to make predictions about future events, via varying techniques from modeling, statistics, machine learning, data mining, and artificial intelligence. It emerged from a need to convert raw data into informative insights that can be used to understand past trends and patterns and provide a model for accurately forecasting future outcomes. It predicts what might occur in the future with an acceptable level of reliability, and includes risk assessment and what-if scenarios. 


Public Cloud – A public cloud is a cloud infrastructure that is hosted by cloud services provider and is made available to the public via the internet.




Resource – In computer science, a resource is any component within a computer system that is of limited availability.  




Scalability – Scalability is the ability of a process, system, or framework to handle a growing workload. In other words, a scalable system is adaptable to increasing demands. The ability to scale on demand is one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing.


Service Level Agreement (SLA) – A service level agreement (SLA) is a contractual agreement between a customer and a cloud service provider (CSP) which defines the level of service, availability and performance guaranteed by the CSP.


Shared Resources – Shared Resources, also known as network resources, are computing resources that can be accessed remotely through a network, such as a Local Area Network (LAN) or the internet.


Shadow IT – Software or hardware within an enterprise that is utilized and managed without the knowledge of the organization’s central IT department. Shadow IT has been propagated by the rapid adoption of consumer-based cloud services. Employees have become comfortable using services and apps from the cloud to increase their productivity. Shadow IT can introduce security risks since the hardware and software are not subject to the same stringent security measures are supported technologies. 


Software as a Service (SaaS) – Software as a service (SaaS), is a model of cloud computing in which applications (software) are hosted by a vendor and provided to the user as a service. SaaS applications are licensed on a subscription basis and are made available to users over a network, typically the internet.

Because SaaS applications can be accessed at any time, at anyplace, and on any platform, they have become a popular model for delivery of many business applications. A well-known example of SaaS is Microsoft’s Office 365, which provides Microsoft’s famous suite of productivity software— including MS Word and Excel— as a service.


Software Development Kit (SDK) – A Software development kit (SDK), also known as a developer’s toolkit or devkit, is a set of development tools that aids or allows the creation of applications for a certain platform. SDKs typically include APIs, sample code, documentation, debuggers and other utilities.


Software Stack – A software stack is a group of applications that work in a specific and defined order to achieve a common goal.


Serverless Computing – A computing model in which the cloud provider provisions and manages servers. It enables developers to spend more time building apps and less time managing infrastructure.



Testing as a Service  – An outsourcing model where testing activities associated with some of an enterprise’s business activities are outsourced to a third party that specializes in simulating real-world testing environments as per a client’s requirements. The biggest advantage of using TaaS is that it is a highly scalable model. Since it’s primarily a cloud-based delivery model, organizations don’t have to worry about free space for servers, and by leveraging a consumption-based pay model, there is less risk and a higher return on interest.


User Interface (UI) – User interface (UI) is the way that the user and computer system interact.


User Experience (UX) –The nature of a user’s interaction with and perception of a system.


User Space – The memory area of an operating system where application software executes.



Vendor Lock-in – Vendor lock-in is when a customer finds themselves “locked-in” or stuck with a certain cloud service provider (CSP). Vendor lock-in is characterized by extreme difficulty in moving from one cloud vendor to another, usually due to lack of standardized protocols, APIs, data structures, and service models.


Vertical Cloud – A vertical cloud is a cloud computing solutions that is built or optimized for a specific business vertical such as manufacturing, financial services, or healthcare.


Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) – Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a desktop operating system hosted within a virtual machine.


Virtual Machine (VM) –  A virtual machine is a software computer that runs an operating system or application environment, just as physical hardware would. The end user has the same experience on a VM as they would on dedicated hardware.

Essentially, a VM is a machine within a machine. By running VMs, a hardware computer can run multiple instances of the same operating system. Applications running on separate instances cannot interfere with each other, so if one app crashes, it will not affect apps on other VMs.


Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) –  A cloud model where the service provider isolates various public cloud components to form individual private cloud environments. It’s a public cloud environment which has been configured to support and host a private cloud environment.  


Virtualization – The act of creating a virtual rather than a physical version of a computing environment, including computer hardware, operating system, storage devices, and so forth.




XaaS –  Anything as a service is a general collective term that refers to the delivery of services overs the internet via cloud computing as opposed to being provided locally or on-premises within an enterprise. The main idea behind XaaS and other cloud services is that organizations can minimize costs and obtain specific types of personal resources by buying services from vendors on a subscription model.