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Talkin’ Tech: Cloud Computing

Defining key terms for understanding the basics of this emerging technology

Cloud computing continues to be a hot trend in technology and is a great option for budget-minded and resource-constrained small businesses. Cloud-based services offer a more cost-effective solution for accessing applications and hardware on demand and provide small businesses with greater flexibility. In fact, many smaller companies are using cloud services without realizing it. And therein lies the challenge—there’s a general lack of understanding when it comes to cloud computing.

In this installment of our Talkin’ Tech series, we define key terms to help you understand the basics of cloud computing. If there’s a term we didn’t include that you’d like defined, please let us know!

Cloud Computing Glossary

  • Cloud: A graphical metaphor for a global network, most commonly used to represent the Internet.
  • Cloud computing: A general term referring to anything that involves consuming services delivered over the Internet, ranging from web-based email to centralized storage to online productivity applications; it’s typically divided into three categories—Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). (See definitions below.)
  • Cloud provider: A service provider that offers software, infrastructure, or platform services over the Internet via a private or public network, usually for a fee.
  • Cloud Security Alliance (CSA): a non-profit organization that promotes best practices for providing security assurance within cloud computing as well as education about its uses.
  • Cloud storage: A model where data is stored, managed, and backed up remotely and made available to users over a network, typically the Internet. The three primary models of cloud storage are public cloud storage, private cloud storage, and hybrid cloud storage.
  • Cloudsourcing: A combination of the words “cloud computing” and “outsourcing,” cloudsourcing allows companies to leverage services in the cloud, such as storage, to provide computing capabilities they don’t have on site.
  • Hosted applications: Web-based applications that run on remote servers and can be accessed via the Internet.
  • Hybrid cloud: Combines aspects of both public and private clouds. For small businesses, this is likely to be a virtual or private cloud that provides access to dedicated resources hosted by a service provider in a public cloud.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): A service provider owns, houses, and operates computing resources for the customer—such  as servers, storage, and networking equipment—and delivers these capabilities as a service.  Sometimes referred to as Hardware as a Service.
  • Pay as you go: Pricing for cloud services that includes both subscription-based and per-usage-based models, meaning you pay only for what you need.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Delivers computing platforms, which can include hardware, operating systems, storage, and networking capacity, as a service over the Internet by a provider.
  • Private cloud: A proprietary network that’s built and managed by one company as a means for providing hosted services to a limited number of people (e.g., employees) behind a firewall.
  • Public cloud: Owned and operated by a cloud service provider, public clouds are open to any company that wants to subscribe to the cloud-based service. Public clouds are particularly well-suited to small companies that don’t have the expertise or financial resources to maintain a private cloud.
  • Service Level Agreements (SLA): A contractual agreement that defines a provider’s level of service, responsibilities, and guarantees regarding availability and performance of the cloud service.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS delivers applications over the Internet, eliminating the need to purchase and install programs on individual machines.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Talkin’ Tech series when we’ll define the terms related to security.

Is there a technology category you’d like us to focus on in the future? Let us know!

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1 Comments.


  1. Thanks Jeff for defining these key terms. I agree cloud computing is the new emerging technology and during the initial stages Google Inc is all set to capture a high market share. The integration of Google Docs service in Gmail has made cloud computing services offered by Google very popular. Anyways waiting for your next installment to know more about cloud computing. Although some “Cloud Providers” demand a fee for giving access to their services but I would prefer free services.

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