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52 Cloud Terms You Need to Know

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52 Cloud Terms You Need to Know

Think you know everything about the cloud? Well, check out this list of terms, phrases, tools, and providers to make sure you're on top of your cloud game.

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Although the cloud is not a new topic, it does have constantly changing services and offerings. As a means to help get ahead of the many new buzzwords surrounding the cloud, the DZone Editorial team has put together a list of what we feel are the most important cloud terms that you should know.


Apache thrift: An interface definition language and binary communication protocol.

API: Application Programming Interface, an endpoint exposed in a programming language that offers some useful feature or behavior.

Amazon Web Services (AWS): A huge suite of *aaS provided by Amazon; many services highly elastic; availability regions distributed globally; largest public cloud provider by far.

Auto-scaling: Helps ensure that you have the correct number of Amazon EC2 instances available to handle the load for your application.

Azure: Microsoft’s public cloud computing platform. Provides services such as computing, storage, analytics, and networking.


BASE (basic availability, soft state, eventual consistency): An approach to storage that divides physical or virtual storage medium into independently addressable chunks ('blocks'); increases performance by narrowing search space (specified as a path) for a particular store or retrieve operation; often accessed via logical abstraction layer that adds metadata (filesystem, DBMS).


CAP theorem: The idea that a distributed system can only provide two out of three benefits: consistency, availability, and partition tolerance.

Centralized logging solution: Either a custom managed Elasticsearch-Logstash-Kibana (ELK) stack or a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution. Having a centralized logging solution enables programmers or admins to easily view, compare, and correlate logs from different servers at the same place.

Circuit breaker: A cloud-native design pattern to build and operate resilient, scalable microservices.

Cloud architecture: The components that are required for cloud computing including a front-end platform, a back-end platform, a cloud-based delivery, and a network.

Cloud broker: (Like any other broker) abstracts away from provider details to offer users easier access to cloud computing resources; often provides simplified API and/or human UI, data lifecycle management, and focused service integrations and aggregations.

Cloud computing: Ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand access to shared computing resources; offers on-demand self-service (without human interaction), broad network access, resource pooling (dynamically assigned as workloads vary), location independence (to varying degrees), rapid elasticity, metered service (charging only for resources used); generally offered at three fundamental service levels (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS); deployed for use within an organization (private cloud), for any organization or individual (public cloud), or some combination (hybrid cloud).

Cloud migration: The process of moving applications and data from an onsite computer to the cloud. It can also include moving data from one cloud environment to another.

Cloud-native application: An application that can take full advantage of a cloud environment (e.g. scalability, high availability).

Cloud-native middleware: Middleware framework or product that natively leverages cloud-native concepts, design patterns, and cloud platforms.

Co-location: A data center that provides rental space, network connections, power, cooling, and security for servers that you manage and maintain.

Container: Resource isolation at the OS (rather than machine) level, usually (in UNIX-based systems) in the user space. Isolated elements vary by containerization strategy and often include file system, disk quota, CPU and memory, I/O rate, root privileges, and network access. Much lighter-weight than machine-level virtualization and sufficient for many isolation requirement sets.

Container image: A container image is essentially a snapshot of a container. They are created with a build command and produce a container that you can later run.

Content delivery network (CDN): Physically distributed servers that provide (often static) content along paths optimized per user; decrease transport time and overall network load; simplify per-machine resource management; prevent DoS by distributing (and thereby absorbing) requests.


Data volume: A marked directory inside of a container that exists to hold persistent or commonly shared data.

Distributed system: Any number of computer systems linked by a network.

Docker: An open source platform aimed to deploy and manage virtualized containers.

Dockerfile: A file that contains one or more instructions that dictate how a container is to be created.

Dynamic or agile environment: An environment where servers are frequently scaled up or down.


Elastic ephemeral computing: Ephemeral storage and computing via instance store volumes available on EC2.

Event-driven architecture: A pattern promoting the production and consumption of events used to integrate different parts of a system.


Functions(-as-a-Service): Cloud services that enable app serverless app management and development. Common FaaS providers include AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, and Google Cloud Functions.


Host-based intrusion detection system (HIDS): A software application that monitors and analyzes a computer system for any unauthorized activity.

Hybrid cloud: An environment that uses a combination of on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud services.


Jenkins: open source automation server with plugins to support building, deploying, and automating any project.


Kubernetes: An open-source container cluster management platform maintained by Google.


Lambda (serverless architecture): AWS cloud service that enables the building of we apps and mobile backends in a faster, more agile way.

Lift and shift: Common cloud migration option that replicates in-house apps in the cloud without re-design.


Managed DNS: An external service provider that runs authoritative DNS servers on your behalf, answering queries about your domain names.

Mesosphere: A commercial container cluster management platform based on Apache Mesos.

Metered licensing: Per-use licensing flexibility in the cloud.

Microservices: A pattern based on service-oriented architectures used to build cloud-native and independently deployable systems.

Microservices architecture: Describes applications built as collection of single-process services communicating over constrained and easily managed channels (often HTTP), where each service does one well-defined business level task or set of tasks and scales independently of other services. Microservice component boundaries map onto bounded contexts in Domain-Driven Design. The aim is to make changes easier, deployment faster, technology<->business match tighter, infrastructure more automated, conceptual and data models more flexible, and applications more resilient to failure.


Orchestration: The process of managing how containers are created and how they are connected.

Origin server: Application servers that serve content to a CDN when an object is no longer cached or has expired.


Private cloud: Dedicated to a single organization and delivers scalability and self-service through proprietary architecture.

Private container registry: A private and secure location to publish, store, and retrieve container images for software you use in your infrastructure.

Protocol buffers: Google’s language-neutral, platform-neutral, extensible mechanism for serializing structured data, similar to a smaller, faster, and simpler XML.

Public cloud: Based on the standard cloud computing model where a service provider makes applications, storage, and other resources available to the general public via the internet.


Scalability: The ability for the cloud to continue to function well when the usage and storage has grown.

Scale elastically: Delivering capacity on demand and then eliminating when it is no longer needed.

Semantic versioning: A governance scheme for how to structure a version number and when to adjust it.

Serverless: A platform providing computing, networking, and storage without the need of managing (virtual) machines.

Service discovery: A cloud-native design pattern to discover distributed microservices in a flexible architecture.


Vendor lock-in: Where customers are dependent on a single cloud provider technology implementation and cannot easily move in the future to a different vendor without substantial costs, legal constraints, or technical incompatibilities.


Web API: An HTTP endpoint designed to accept and return data, rather than HTML.

WebSocket: A computer communications protocol, providing full-duplex communication channels over a single TCP connection.

Did we miss any terms? Please let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to this list!

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cloud ,cloud computing ,serverless ,cloud native

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