Glossary of Cloud Computing Terms

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Cloud computing has become inundated with technical jargon and industry buzzwords. The ClearScale Glossary is your guide through this confusing technical terminology, providing you clear definitions of cloud computing terms.

a
Access Control List (ACL)
An access control list (ACL) includes the rules used to govern access to digital environments.Organizations use two types of ACLs, filesystem ACLs and networking ACLs, to control traffic flow, grant or deny permissions, and monitor activity in and out of certain systems.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a third-party provider of public cloud computing services. The platform offers over 175 cloud-native services, including Big Data tools, database solutions, Internet of Things (IoT) applications, and more.
Application Programming Interface (API)
An application programming interface (API) enables disparate applications to communicate directly with one another according to predefined rules. There are many types of APIs, including Web APIs, Composite APIs, Internal APIs, Open APIs, and Partner APIs. The two most commonly referenced APIs are REST and SOAP APIs, both of which are Web APIs. Organizations use APIs to extend functionality to other systems and gain access to capabilities that fulfill unmet business requirements.
Application Modernization
Application modernization describes the process of updating legacy software with new capabilities and features to create incremental business value. Organizations typically modernize outdated applications through replatforming, refactoring, or rehosting efforts, which may involve significant changes to core architecture.
Application Refactoring
Application refactoring involves making significant changes to the configuration and source code of an existing application to align with business needs. Through refactoring, organizations can add new features, enhance performance capabilities, reduce costs, and more. Although refactoring does not change an application’s external behavior, it is a more complex process than replatforming or rehosting.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a discipline within computer science that focuses on creating smart machines that can execute tasks that humans typically perform. Recently, advances in cloud computing technology have made AI capabilities more accessible. Organizations of all sizes can now build and deploy powerful AI programs that automate manual activities, reduce costs, and create new value.
Auto-scaling
Auto-scaling is a cloud computing function by which resources are allocated automatically to applications based on real-time demand. The emergence of cloud computing has enabled more organizations to take advantage of auto-scaling and optimize resource consumption across multiple cloud services.
Availability Zones (AZs)
Availability Zones (AZs) are isolated, logical data centers available to Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers. AZs come with independent cooling, networking, and power, enabling users to achieve redundancy for critical applications. By hosting applications across multiple AZs, organizations buffer their customers from performance issues and eliminate any single points of failure that would otherwise persist.
b
Big Data
Big Data describes the massive amount of information created in the world today with ever-increasing velocity. Organizations collect, store, and process Big Data through advanced data management techniques, many of which are available through the cloud. With Big Data analytics, organizations can extract valuable insights from structured, semi-structured, and unstructured datasets.
Blockchain
A blockchain is an open, immutable, and distributed digital record of information that promotes accountability and transparency amongst all parties. Although originally designed to support digital currencies, organizations use blockchain technology today for numerous applications.
c
Cloud Application
A cloud application is a web-based program that relies on the power of cloud computing and related capabilities for data storage, logic processing, and more. Processing for cloud applications is typically executed by local devices and cloud computing solutions. Users interact with cloud applications through Internet browsers.
Cloud Computing
Cloud computing describes when computing services, such as data storage, networking, analytics, server hosting, etc., are delivered over the Internet. Cloud computing offers many advantages over on-premises computing, including lower operating costs, flexible resource allocation, and improved scalability.
Cloud Migration
Cloud migration is the process of moving on-premises IT infrastructure, including databases, applications, and other components, to the cloud. Migrations enable organizations to fulfill ever-evolving business requirements and take advantage of cloud computing capabilities. Cloud migrations can be highly complex endeavors that require significant planning and expertise to execute successfully.
Cloud-native
Software services, business applications, and IT systems that are cloud-native are explicitly designed to run in dynamic cloud environments. Whereas on-premises applications may need to be modernized for the cloud, cloud-native applications work immediately in cloud environments. They are also generally more agile and scalable than legacy technologies.
Cloud Service Provider
Cloud service providers offer cloud computing services, networking, and infrastructure over the web. Organizations use third-party cloud service providers to outsource much of the effort associated with maintaining on-premises IT. Today’s leading cloud service providers offer cost-efficient and scalable data storage, analytical tools, and more, all through the Internet.
Compute
In modern computing, compute refers to computational activities that require processing resources beyond what is available through internal memory. Organizations must be aware of their existing computing capacity and the computing power they need to support critical business activities.
Containers
Containers are software units that enable organizations to run their applications quickly and reliably in different computing environments. Containers group all runtime elements together, including code, system libraries, and settings, into lightweight and secure packages. Organizations use containers to decouple applications from their native environments so that they can be deployed easily and consistently anywhere.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a group of geographically distributed servers that collaborate to deliver content over the web. CDNs enable organizations to rapidly transfer assets, such as HTML pages, stylesheets, images, and videos to end users. Today, CDNs deliver a vast majority of the world’s web content.
Continuous Integration/Continuous Development (CI/CD)
Continuous Integration and Continuous Development (CI/CD) refers to a set of practices used by DevOps teams to automate activities related to application building, testing, and deployment. Through CI/CD, DevOps teams can constantly innovate, deliver new features to market, and deploy updates in an iterative fashion. CI/CD is considered a best practice in modern cloud computing.
d
Database
A database is a collection of data that is stored digitally in a computing system. Traditionally, databases were used to store structured information, although modern cloud-based databases enable organizations to store semi-structured and unstructured data. Organizations typically use database management systems to retrieve, manipulate, and manage their data.
Data Lake
A data lake is a centralized, digital repository capable of storing both structured and unstructured data. Data lakes are highly scalable, making them valuable for Big Data analytics and applications. They can also ingest information from on-premises sources or real-time streams.
Data Pipeline
Data pipelines are used to streamline the processes involved in moving information from one location to another. For example, data pipelines can automatically extract, transform, load, combine, and validate data for further processing. At a time when organizations are collecting more information than ever, data pipelines help eliminate errors and bottlenecks.
DevOps
DevOps encompasses the practices, tools, and philosophies regarding how to deliver software applications and services quickly to customers. The DevOps model enables organizations to innovate rapidly and launch tailored offerings by empowering development and operations teams to work together across the lifecycle of applications.
Docker
Docker is a widely used technology for building and deploying containers. Docker containers simplify the complexities associated with packing, shipping, and running applications in any computing environment.
e
Elastic Computing
Elastic computing refers to a system’s ability to scale processing, memory, and storage capacity with changes in demand. Organizations that implement elastic computing don’t have to worry about capacity planning or peak usage scenarios. Instead, they can trust their IT infrastructure to acquire computing resources dynamically.
g
Google Cloud
Google Cloud is a third-party provider of public cloud computing services. Launched in 2008 by Google, Google Cloud Platform offers a variety of cloud solutions for data management, infrastructure modernization, smart analytics, and more.
h
High Availability
In the computing world, high availability refers to the quality of an application or infrastructure to continue performing despite disruptions. Highly available systems use redundant hardware and software to minimize service interruptions and mitigate single points of failure. When failures do occur, highly available infrastructure relies on failover processes and backups to maintain operations.
Hosted Application
A hosted application is software that runs on third-party infrastructure rather than on-premises. Hosted applications can be accessed from anywhere in the world through the Internet. In the age of cloud computing, more organizations are using hosted applications to minimize the complexities and costs of maintaining on-premises infrastructure.
Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid cloud refers to a computing environment that uses a combination of private and public cloud services or on-premises infrastructure. Organizations use the hybrid cloud approach to optimize IT architecture around digital transformation goals. For example, a company might use a public cloud provider for its on-demand cloud resources, a private cloud for security purposes, and on-premises infrastructure for compliance reasons.
i
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is one of the primary types of cloud services that provide users with instant computing, storage, and other IT infrastructure delivered through the Internet. IaaS solutions typically scale with demand, allowing organizations to pay only for what they use. Doing so minimizes the complexity of having to purchase and manage on-premises infrastructure.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the collective mass of physical devices that can connect to the Internet and communicate with one another. Through the IoT, organizations can automate the information-gathering process and use the intelligence to improve their products, create new sources of value, and deploy tailored pricing.
k
Kubernetes
Kubernetes is an open-source platform from Google that organizations use to manage containerized workloads and services. In addition to being portable and extensible, Kubernetes comes with support, tools, and services to help developers run their production workloads at scale.
l
Load Balancing
Load balancing is the process of spreading network traffic over multiple servers to ensure that no one server is entirely responsible for supporting an application. Through load balancing, organizations can distribute processing resources as needed to improve the performance and responsiveness of modern applications. Load balancing techniques include Round-robin, Least Connection, Resource Based, Weighted Response Time, and more.
m
Machine Learning
Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence concerned with building smart computer algorithms that improve over time. Organizations use machine learning to identify patterns in massive datasets and use those insights to enhance performance. Machine learning is responsible for many software services today, including recommendation engines, social media feeds, and voice assistants.
Managed Service Provider (MSP)
A managed service provider (MSP) is a third-party company that provides ongoing services to help organizations maintain their IT infrastructure. MSPs generally offer network, security, and application support services through an existing data center or another third-party IaaS provider.
Management and Governance
In the cloud computing world, Management and Governance refers to implementing adequate protections and oversight for IT infrastructure. Through management and governance, organizations monitor the integrity of their applications, perform audits, analyze resource consumption, manage costs, and more.
Microservices
Microservices describes a method of software development that aims to compartmentalize application functions so that they can deploy, run, and scale independently. Unlike monolithic applications, microservices are loosely coupled and flexible when it comes to implementing updates or fixing errors.
Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure is a public cloud computing platform released in 2010. Commonly referred to as Azure, the service enables organizations to build, test, launch, and manage modern applications hosted in Microsoft-managed data centers.
Multicloud
Multicloud describes the circumstance in which an organization uses more than one cloud vendor for the same type of cloud deployment. For example, a company might use one public cloud service for its on-demand computing needs but a different public cloud provider for a unique application that fulfills a specific business need. Many organizations implement multicloud deployments to gain redundancies and avoid vendor lock-in.
Multi-tenant
Multi-tenant architecture, or multitenancy, refers to a type of software architecture commonly used in cloud computing to deploy several single instances of software from one physical server. Through multitenancy, organizations can securely and dynamically serve multiple customers on one server via independent instances.
o
Orchestration
In computing, orchestration describes the process of scheduling and integrating automated tasks across disparate systems. Organizations can orchestrate workflows between on-premises and cloud infrastructure, as well as streamline the execution of complex, interconnected workloads.
p
Private Cloud
A private cloud describes a cloud environment and resources that are used exclusively by a single organization. Private clouds may be deployed from an on-site data center or hosted by a third-party managed services provider. The advantage of using a private cloud is that organizations can customize management, governance, and other operating elements to their unique needs.
Public Cloud
A public cloud describes a cloud environment that is owned and operated by a third-party provider. Public cloud resources are delivered over the Internet to “tenants” that all share hardware, storage, and network devices. The advantage of using a public cloud provider is that organizations don’t have to purchase or maintain critical IT infrastructure.
s
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a software delivery model by which vendors license access to their data and applications through the Internet. Generally, SaaS vendors host and maintain their own code, databases, and services. Customers then pay for on-demand access, enabling them to fulfill certain business requirements without building something in-house or committing to long-term contracts.
Scalability
In computing, scalability refers to the ability of an application, network, organization, or process to adjust up and down quickly with demand. For example, scalable applications can support rapid increases in utilization, thus providing high-quality experiences for users regardless of network traffic or resource demand.
Security, Identity, and Compliance
In cloud computing, security, identity, and compliance are concerned with securing workloads and applications adequately in the cloud. Typical priorities across these areas include protecting data, managing permissions, safeguarding infrastructure, monitoring cyber threats, and maintaining data privacy compliance.
Serverless Computing
Serverless computing is a cloud computing approach in which users rely on third-party providers to dynamically allocate machine resources from their own services. Organizations pay only for the computing resources they use without having to manage, provision, or maintain any servers themselves.
Storage
In the cloud computing world, storage refers to digital space that organizations lease from third-party cloud vendors. With cloud storage, organizations don’t have to purchase or maintain storage infrastructure themselves. Instead, they can rely on vendors to manage capacity, security, and more, paying only for what they use.
v
Virtualization
Virtualization refers to technology that organizations use to deploy virtual instances of something abstracted from physical hardware. Through virtualization, organizations can use their IT infrastructure more efficiently by distributing capacity that would otherwise go unused across different tenants or environments.
Virtual Machine
A virtual machine is a digital computing environment that behaves like a physical computer. Virtual machines use software, rather than hardware, to run apps and programs, enabling developers to test applications in isolated environments.
Virtual Private Cloud
A virtual private cloud is an isolated environment with access to on-demand computing resources within a broader public cloud environment. Organizations use virtual private clouds to gain privacy and control over their data, applications, and code without sacrificing scalability and other advantages of using public cloud platforms.
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