Mini-glossary: Cloud computing terms you should know

A familiarity with cloud computing terminology will help you follow the industry’s developments. This glossary offers a rundown of more than 10 cloud terms.

Advertising-based pricing model

A pricing model whereby services are offered to customers at low or no cost, with the service provider being compensated by advertisers whose ads are delivered to the consumer along with the service.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

Part of Amazon Web Services (AWS), EC2 provides scalable computing capacity in the cloud, which developers can use to deploy scalable applications.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)

Part of AWS, S3 allows for the storage and retrieval of data. It can also be used to host static websites.

Apache Hadoop

An open-source software framework for distributed storage and processing of large sets of data.


The organizational unit of Amazon that provides a variety of cloud services. AWS operates from 11 physical locations across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Content delivery network (CDN)

A distributed system consisting of servers in discrete physical locations, configured in a way that clients can access the server closest to them on the network, thereby improving speeds.


A metaphor for a global network, first used in reference to the telephone network and now commonly used to represent the internet.

Cloud portability

The ability to move applications and data from one cloud provider to another. See also Vendor lock-in.

Cloud provider

A company that provides cloud-based platform, infrastructure, application, or storage services to other organizations and/or individuals, usually for a fee.


Replacing traditional IT operations with lower-cost, outsourced cloud services.

Cloud storage

A service that allows customers to save data by transferring it over the internet or another network to an offsite storage system maintained by a third party.


Software that enables creating, deploying, running, or managing applications in the cloud.


A group of linked computers that work together as if they were a single computer, for high availability and/or load balancing.

Consumer cloud

Cloud computing offerings targeted toward individuals for personal use, such as Dropbox or iCloud.