Cloud Computing Terminology Demystified

Baffled by the jargon associated with cloud computing? This glossary offers a rundown of the terms you’re most likely to come across.

Cloud Deployment Models

There are primarily 3 cloud deployment models, which are discussed below, along with scenarios in which a business could opt for each.

Private Cloud

Private cloud is cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party, and hosted either internally or externally.

This model doesn’t bring much in terms of cost efficiency: it is comparable to buying, building and managing your own infrastructure. Still, it brings in tremendous value from a security point of view. During their initial adaptation to the cloud, many organizations faced challenges related to data security. These concerns are taken care of by this model, in which hosting is built and maintained for a specific client. Security concerns are addressed through secure-access VPN or by the physical location within the client’s firewall system.

Public Cloud

In this deployment model, a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet. Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model.

This model is best suited for business requirements wherein it is required to manage load spikes, host SaaS applications, utilize interim infrastructure for developing and testing applications, and manage applications which are consumed by many users that would otherwise require large investment in infrastructure from businesses.This model helps to reduce capital expenditure and bring down operational IT costs.

Hybrid Cloud

In this deployment model, an organization provides and manages some resources in-house and has others provided externally. For example, an organization might use a public cloud service for archived data but continue to maintain in-house storage for operational customer data.

The hybrid approach allows a business to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party vulnerabilities.

Cloud Delivery Models

There are three primary cloud service delivery models:


Cloud infrastructure services, known as “Infrastructure as a Service”? (IaaS), deliver computer infrastructure (such as a platform virtualization environment), storage, and networking. Instead of having to purchase software, servers, or network equipment, users can buy these as a fully outsourced service that is usually billed according to the amount of resources consumed. Basically, in exchange for a rental fee, a third party allows you to install a virtual server on their IT infrastructure. Compared to SaaS and PaaS, IaaS users are responsible for managing more: applications, data, runtime, middleware, and O/S. Vendors still manage virtualization, servers, hard drives, storage, and networking. What users gain with IaaS is infrastructure on top of which they can install any required platforms. Users are responsible for updating these if new versions are released.


Cloud platform services or “Platform as a Service”? (PaaS) deliver computational resources through a platform. What developers gain with PaaS is a framework they can build upon to develop or customize applications. PaaS makes the development, testing, and deployment of applications quick, simple, and cost-effective, eliminating the need to buy the underlying layers of hardware and software. One comparison between SaaS vs. PaaS has to do with what aspects must be managed by users, rather than providers: With PaaS, vendors still manage runtime, middleware, O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking, but users manage applications and data.


SaaS uses the Web to deliver applications that are managed by a third-party vendor and whose interface is accessed on the clients’ side. Most SaaS applications can be run directly from a Web browser, without any downloads or installations required. SaaS eliminates the need to install and run applications on individual computers. With SaaS, it’s easy for enterprises to streamline their maintenance and support, because everything can be managed by vendors: applications, runtime, data, middleware, O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking. Gmail is one famous example of an SaaS mail provider.

Comparison of Cloud Service Models

 Additional Terms:

Data center

The data center is the department in an enterprise that houses and maintains back-end information technology (IT) systems and data stores—its mainframes, servers and databases.

Cloud Migration

The process of transitioning all or part of a company’s data, applications and services from on-site premises behind the firewall to the cloud, where the information can be provided over the Internet on an on-demand basis.

Pay as you go

A cost model for cloud services that encompasses both subscription-based and consumption-based models, in contrast to traditional IT cost model that requires up-front capital expenditures for hardware and software.


A contractual agreement by which a service provider defines the level of service, responsibilities, priorities, and guarantees regarding availability, performance, and other aspects of the service.


A software architecture where software runs on a server, serving multiple organizations (tenants), with applications designed to partition data and configurations, providing each tenant with customized, virtual application solutions.


A host operating systems program, also called a virtual machine monitor (VMM), that controls and manages compute tasks on the host hardware in the cloud, allocating resources to multiple operating systems that share the host hardware to ensure uninterrupted service for all each operating systems residing on the host hardware.

Cloud Storage

A service model in which data is maintained, managed and backed up remotely and made available to users over a network (typically the Internet).

Virtual Private Cloud(VPC)

A hybrid model of cloud computing in which a private cloud solution is provided within a public cloud provider’s infrastructure. ??VPC is a cloud computing service in which a public cloud provider isolates a specific portion of their public cloud infrastructure to be provisioned for private use. The VPC infrastructure is managed by a public cloud vendor; however, the resources allocated to a VPC are not shared with any other customer.

Auto Scaling

Auto scaling is a cloud computing feature that allows users to automatically scale cloud services, like virtual machines (VM) and server capacities, up or down, depending on defined situations.

Auto scaling also ensures that new instances are seamlessly increased during demand spikes and decreased during demand drops, enabling consistent performance for lower costs.

Utility Computing

Utility computing is a service provisioning model in which a service provider makes computing resources and infrastructure management available to the customer as needed, and charges them for specific usage rather than a flat rate. Like other types of on-demand computing, the utility model seeks to maximize the efficient use of resources and/or minimize associated costs.

This is a fairly basic list of some of the more popular terms. If you have any additional terms that you’d like to include, please feel free to add them in the comment section.


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