Every once in awhile an innovative technology comes along that completely changes both the way we interact with computers, and the dynamics of how we conduct business. The latest technology to do this is related to the cloud. Many of the popular programs we use have some cloud elements to them. The only problem is there’s a lot of confusing terminology that goes with this technology.
Here are 10 of the most common cloud terms and what they mean.
- Cloud. Cloud is the general term applied to anything that uses the Internet to provide an end user (in most cases, you) a service. Your information is hosted on a company’s servers and is accessed via an Internet connection. A good way to think of it is it’s equivalent to ordering delivery from a restaurant. Say you want Thai food, but don’t have the ingredients, so you have someone else do all the work and bring it to you.
- Cloud OS (operating system). A cloud operating system is an OS delivered via the Internet. The OS isn’t physically on your system, it’s located in a company's servers and you use a physical computer to access it. Windows Azure is an example of a cloud OS.
- Cloud provider. A company that provides a cloud service, storage and servers, usually for a fee. Google is one of the most well known cloud providers.
- Cloud storage. A cloud service that allows users to store data in another location, away from their computer, and access it using the Internet.
- Disruptive technology. A technology that’s so different and innovative it changes the way things are done. The cloud is a disruptive technology as it’s changed the way business is being done.
- Data center. What IT companies call the building where cloud servers are housed.
- IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service. This is the term used to describe any virtualized service being offered to a user. This can include virtualized servers, maintenance and software.
- PaaS - Platform as a Service. This term is used to describe any computing platform being offered over the Internet, normally the OS and related software. Google Chrome OS is considered to be a PaaS.
- SaaS - Software as a Service. The term applied to a single piece of software that’s offered over the Internet. Users access the software using the Internet and don’t need to install it on their computer. Gmail is considered to be SaaS.
- Client. Despite what many believe, the client is not the person who buys a cloud service. It’s what a user uses to access the cloud service. Computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones are all clients.