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IT Glossary of Cloud Computing Terms

“Cloud” is certainly a technology buzzword these days. Everyone seems to toss out the word in casual statements, usually something like, “Oh good, my files are saved. They’re in the cloud!” Sure, you know that your files are saved somewhere “out there,” but do you really know what the cloud is or what it does (or could do) for your business? Better yet, if asked to have a discussion about your business’ cloud strategy, would you know common terms associated with cloud computing? If you’re considering optimizing your business with cloud technology, be sure to familiarize yourself with the below cloud computing terms and their definitions so that you can have informed conversations with cloud service providers and IT professionals.


An application or application program is a computer program or group of computer programs designed to perform specific functions for the end user.

Application Programming Interface (API)

An application programming interface or API is a computing interface that allows two applications to interact or integrate one service into another application, such as an eCommerce site offering payment options through PayPal.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence or AI is the ability of a computer system to use math and logic to simulate human reasoning, learn patterns, and problem-solve.

AWS (Amazon Web Services) offers Amazon Web Services, a comprehensive cloud platform with various cloud services, including compute, storage, databases, analytics, networking, IoT, and more.


Azure or Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform with PaaS and IaaS services for building and managing applications.

Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS)

Backend-as-a-Service or BaaS is a cloud service model where clients can outsource the backend development and maintenance (including cloud storage and push notifications) of a web or mobile application to a vendor so that the client can focus on front-end development.

Back-end Database

A back-end database is a database that stores data but does not include end-user application elements so users must access it indirectly through an external application.

Big Data

Big Data describes a large volume of data received at high velocity and with such variety that it is too complex for traditional data processing applications.

Business Analytics Tools

Business analytics tools include application software that collect data from different business systems and compile the data into a repository for analysts to review.

Business Intelligence (BI) Tools

Business Intelligence (BI) Tools are types of application software that access and analyze data to identify trends and new business opportunities.


Cloud is used to reference remote servers that users access via the Internet to utilize software and applications that are not hosted locally on a computer.

Cloud Application

A cloud application is an internet-based software program that a user can access via the cloud.

Cloud Backup

Cloud backup or online backup is the process of sending a copy (or image) of data and applications to a remote, cloud-based server.

Cloud Bursting

Cloud bursting is a deployment model where applications are run in a private cloud but will redirect to public cloud when the demand exceeds the capacity of the private cloud.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computer system resources over the Internet.

Cloud Computing Types

Cloud computing types include software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

Cloud Management Platform (CMP)

Cloud Management Platform or CMP is a software that allows the user to manage cloud computing products and services across public, private, and hybrid cloud environments.

Cloud Migration

Cloud migration is the process of transferring data, applications, and services from on-premises servers to cloud infrastructure.

Cloud Native

Cloud-native applications are applications that were specifically developed to exist in the cloud.

Cloud Service Provider (CSP)

A cloud service provider or CSP is a company that provides a cloud-based platform, networks, applications, or storage services.

Cloud Sourcing

Cloud sourcing is the process of outsourcing IT assets to a third-party cloud hosting provider.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a model of data storage where data is stored at an off-site location on remote servers and accessed through the cloud via the Internet.

Cloud Washing

Cloud washing is when a vendor rebrands an old product by associating it with the cloud.


A container is a standard unit of software in which the application code and its dependencies are packaged so that they can run on any computing environment.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A content delivery network or CDN is a collection of geographically distributed servers that help deliver content and improve web page load time by decreasing the distance between the user and the server.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A customer relationship management or CRM software or application helps businesses manage relationships with current and prospective clients by organizing tasks, deadlines, and data.

Data Migration

Data migration is the process of permanently moving data from one location to another.


A database is a collection of data or information that is usually stored and accessed by a computer system.

Database Sharding

Database sharding is a way of partitioning a portion or shard from the overall database.

Data Center

A data center is a building(s) or space devoted to housing computing equipment that stores and processes high volumes of data and applications.

Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)

Desktop-as-a-Service or DaaS is where a provider hosts the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for a client or business and streams the desktop virtualization solution with all its applications to the user’s devices.


DevOps is the practice of automating processes between software development and IT operations teams.


Elasticity or elastic computing is the ability of a system to adapt to workload demand by supplying or retracting resources.

Enterprise Application

An enterprise application is designed for a corporate environment.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP comprises software or systems that manage business processes such as accounting and project management.

Federated Database

A federated database is a type of meta-database management system that allows several databases to function as one.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Google Cloud Platform or GCP is a suite of public cloud computing services offered by Google.

Host Machine

A host machine is physical hardware which runs a virtual machine or VM, which utilizes the host machine’s memory, storage, and processor.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment that can combine public and private clouds as well as on-premises servers.


A hypervisor, also known as a virtual machine monitor or VMM, is a computer hardware, software, or firmware that creates and runs virtual machines, also called guest machines.


Infrastructure or cloud infrastructure comprises the hardware and software components needed for cloud computing.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure-as-a-Service or IaaS is a cloud computing service that delivers compute and storage over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

An integrated development environment or IDE is a software application of tools  computer programmers use to develop software.


Linux is an open-source operating system that lies underneath all the other software on a computer and is used for most cloud services.

Load Balancing

Load balancing is the process of distributing network traffic across a  server farm.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is the process of computer algorithms using math and statistics to identify patterns and make decisions.

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

A managed service provider or MSP is a company that provides IT services across a network to its clients.


Microservices is an architectural style where an application is developed as a collection of services that are independently deployable.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure, formerly called Windows Azure, is Microsoft’s cloud platform of services including IaaS and PaaS.


Middleware is software that connects software components and applications and lies between an operating system and applications.


Multi-cloud is the use of two or more cloud computing platforms from different providers.


Multitenancy is a cloud computing architecture where multiple customers of a vendor utilize the same computing resources.


NoSQL is a database that is built to be scalable and flexible to handle large volumes of changing data.

On-Demand Self Service

On-demand self service allows customers to purchase and access cloud resources without human interaction from the service provider.


On-premise technology and solutions refers to software or infrastructure that is in the building of its user.

Open Source

Open source software is publicly accessible code that anyone can view, modify, and distribute.


OpenStack is a free, open-source cloud computing platform often deployed as IaaS.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Platform-as-a-Service or PaaS is a computing platform offered by a cloud provider via the Internet and allows users to develop and manage their own applications without needing to build their own infrastructure or platform.

Private Cloud

A private cloud is a cloud infrastructure accessed by select users via the Internet and not made available to the general public.

Public Cloud

A public cloud is a cloud infrastructure hosted by a cloud services provider that makes it available to the general public via the Internet.


Scalability in cloud computing is the ability to increase or decrease resources to adapt to workloads.

Serverless Computing

Serverless computing is where a cloud provider allocates and manages servers on behalf of its customers.