Dictionary of the Cloud: Common Tech Terms & What They Mean



This glossary gives you the rundown on some of the most common terms associated with cloud technology

Learning about any new technology will generally require familiarity with the terms and phrases that describe it. Since cloud computing is a relatively new concept, we thought we’d make it easier for you to follow industry developments by creating a “dictionary” that explains some of the most common jargon.

All Cloud Environment

A company, organization or individual that uses a web-based application for all tasks instead of relying on software installation and computer storage. While these environments are not all that common, there is a big industry push toward making this a long-term goal. An all cloud environment would allow a user to access all of his or her work, programs and data from any device.


Anything-as-a-Service, also known as XaaS, refers to the growing number of services that are available online via cloud computing. These types of services have allowed many companies to move many of their mission critical tasks and applications off-premise as opposed to managing them locally.


Also referred to as “the cloud,” this term describes a type of internet-based computing where different services (servers, storage, apps) are delivered to an organization’s computers and devices through the internet. Rather than having local servers or personal devices, this type of computing relies on shared resources. So “the cloud” is really just another way of saying “the internet.”

Cloud App

A cloud app is a type of software application that is accessed via the internet instead of a local computer.

Cloud Backup

A type of cloud storage, this term refers to backing up critical data to a remote, cloud-based server where it is stored and accessible from the various distributed and connected resources that make up a cloud. A third-party entity called a cloud backup service provider will generally manage and distribute this solution from a central data center.

Cloud Backup Solutions

Cloud backup solutions allow organizations of all sizes to store critical data and computer files in the cloud using a storage service provider instead of storing it locally or on a physical hard drive.

Cloud Computing

A type of computing that relies on sharing a pool of computing resources to perform complex tasks as opposed to using local servers to handle different applications. Cloud computing allows companies of all sizes to harness the power of high-performance computing resources to increase efficiencies in the workplace.

Cloud Computing Reseller

A company that purchases a pool of hosting resources from a cloud provider and resells them to additional customers.

Cloud Database

A type of database that clients can access from the cloud, which is delivered to users on demand through the internet from a service provider’s servers. Also referred to Database-as-a-service (DBaaS), cloud databases allow for optimized scaling and effective resource allocation.

Cloud Management

The software and technologies that allow organizations to operate and monitor the apps, data and services that reside in the cloud. Organizations will use cloud management tools to ensure that cloud computing-based resources work optimally and interact properly with users and other services.

Cloud Migration

The process of transitioning some or all of a company’s data, apps and services from on-premise storage to the cloud, where information will be provided on-demand over the internet.

Cloud Portability

The ability to move apps and associated data between cloud providers or between public and private cloud environments.

Cloud Provider

A service provider that offers storage or software solutions through a public network, usually the internet.

Cloud Server Hosting

A type of hosting where on demand service is provided by multiple connected servers that comprise a cloud, rather than a single or virtual server.

Cloud Storage

The storage of data in an online cloud. Data is stored and made accessible from the multiple distributed and connected resources that comprise a cloud.


A form of infrastructure where companies outsource the management of their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to a third party cloud provider. This type of solution is also referred to as hosted desktop services, and allows companies to outsource their complete hardware and software needs to cloud providers. Desktop-as-a-Service is often shortened to DaaS.

Hybrid Cloud Storage

The combination of public and private cloud storage. Some critical data remains in the enterprise’s private cloud, while other data is stored and accessible from a public cloud storage provider.


Computer infrastructure that is delivered as a service. IaaS is replacing the traditional method of buying software and servers directly. It’s popular in data centers where software and servers are purchased as a fully outsourced service and generally billed based on resource usage.

Mobile Cloud Storage

A type of cloud storage that allows data from an individual’s mobile phone or tablet to be stored in the cloud and accessed from anywhere.


Multiple customers utilizing the same public cloud.

On Premise

A software delivery model that requires users to install and operate a licensed or purchased copy of independent software using in-house servers and computing infrastructures. It is the most common traditional method for using enterprise and consumer applications. An increasing number of businesses are moving away from expensive on-premise options in favor of on-demand, cloud-based services.

Online Backup

Data from a hard drive that is also stored on a remote server or computer using a network connection. An attractive option for many size organizations because it offers off-site storage with few hardware requirements.

Private Cloud

A cloud computing platform that is managed within a corporate firewall, under the full control of a company’s IT department. This allows companies to utilize many of the benefits of cloud computing in a more secure environment.

Private Cloud Storage

A type of cloud storage where enterprise data and cloud storage resources reside within the enterprise’s data center and behind the firewall.

Public Cloud

A multi-tenant cloud computing environment offered by third party cloud service providers where services like servers, data storage and applications are delivered through the internet. Allows organizations to pay for the resources they need without the cost of purchasing, managing and maintaining on-premise hardware and software infrastructure.

Public Cloud Storage

A type of cloud storage where an organization and their data storage provider are separate, with data being stored outside of a company’s data center.


Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is a type of software delivery that allows companies to utilize business level applications completely online. SaaS solutions allow companies to utilize enterprise level software from anywhere, by simply paying a monthly fee.

Storage Cloud

The collection of numerous distributed and connected resources that are responsible for storing and managing data in the cloud.

Feeling up to speed?

Good, but don’t get too comfortable. While these are some of the most common terms being used today, new terms will be created and some will become obsolete as cloud technology continues to evolve. This guide should help you build the foundation you need today to understand the developments of tomorrow.

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