Terms and Acronyms

Cloud storage terms you should know.

In the cloud? Know the lingo.

As cloud data storage and management grows in popularity, there’s an ever-growing list of terms and acronyms you need to know. Here we have assembled a list of the most commonly used. Don’t see a term you think should be on the list? Please let us know.



All-flash Array - An all-flash array (AFA), also known as a solid-state storage disk system, is an external storage array that uses only flash media for persistent storage. Flash memory is used in place of the spinning hard disk drives (HDDs) that have long been associated with networked storage systems. See our all-flash array solution.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Amazon Web Services is a suite of cloud computing services that make a comprehensive cloud platform offered by Amazon.com. AWS offers over three dozen cloud services spanning the IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS models of cloud computing, and is the most popular cloud service provider, with nearly 30% global market share in cloud IaaS, as of 2015. Well-known AWS services include Amazon EC2, Amazon Elastic Beanstalk, and Amazon S3. See how we work with AWS.

ALUA - Asymmetric Logical Unit Access, is an industry standard protocol for identifying optimized paths between a storage system and a host. ALUA enables the initiator to query the target about path attributes, such as primary path and secondary path. It also allows the target to communicate events back to the initiator.

Application – An application is a group of computer programs designed to allow a user to perform a set of functions or tasks.

Application Programming Interface (API) – An application programming interface (API) is an interface that allows the user to access information from another service and integrate this service into their own application. Through a set of defined requests, the asking application is allowed to access limited pieces of the called upon application’s functionality. APIs are used to share limited functionality between programs. One example of an API is the Facebook share button on this page, another is Yelp’s use of Google maps to display nearby restaurants.

Azure – Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service created by Microsoft for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. See how we work with Azure.


Backend database – Any database that is accessed indirectly by the user.

Big Data – A broad term used to describe unconventional data sets which are either too large or too complex to be dealt with using traditional data-processing techniques.


CIFS - Common Internet File System (a version of Server Message Block), is a dialect of SMB. That is, CIFS is a particular implementation of the Server Message Block protocol, created by Microsoft.

Cloud Application – An application that runs in the cloud.

Cloud Backup – Cloud backup is the process of backing up data to a remote, cloud-based server.

Cloud Computing – Cloud computing is the delivery of information technology services over a network, usually the internet. In the cloud computing model, infrastructure, data, and software are hosted by the vendor and delivered to the user as a service, much like a utility company would deliver water or electricity.

According to the official NIST definition, there are five essential characteristics of cloud computing: on-demand self-service provisioning of resources, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service.

The three main cloud computing models are infrastructure as a service, software as a service, and platform as a service.

Cloud Management Platform (CMP)  A cloud management platform (CMP) is a product that gives the user integrated management of , private, and hybrid cloud environments.

Cloud Marketplace - A cloud marketplace is an online marketplace, operated by a cloud service provider (CSP), where customers can browse and subscribe to software applications and developer services that are built on, integrate with, or supplement the CSP’s main offering. Amazon’s AWS Marketplace and Microsoft’s Azure store are examples of cloud marketplaces.

Cloud Migration – Cloud migration is the process of transferring all of or a piece of a company’s data, applications, and services from on-premise to the cloud.

Cloud Native – Applications developed specifically for cloud platforms.

Cloud Washing – Cloud washing is a deceptive marketing technique used to rebrand old products by connecting them to the cloud, or at least to the term cloud.

Cloud Service Provider (CSP) – A Cloud Service Provider (CSP) is a company that offers a cloud computing service, such as PaaS, IaaS, or SaaS, to individuals or other businesses.

Cloud Sourcing – Cloudsourcing is the act of replacing traditional on-premise IT operations with low-cost cloud-based services.

Cloud Storage – Cloud storage is a model of computer storage in which data is stored in facilities (often multiple facilities) managed by a hosting company (cloud service provider) and is accessed remotely by the user via a network.

Container – A container a virtualization instance in which the kernel of an operating system allows for multiple isolated user-space instances. Unlike virtual machines (VMs), containers do not need to run a full-blown operating system (OS) image for each instance. Instead, containers are able to run separate instances of an application within a single shared OS.

Content Delivery Network (CDN) – A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of distributed services that deliver content to a user based on the user’s geographic proximity to servers. CDNs allow speedy content delivery for websites with high traffic volume or large geographic reach.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications allow a business to manage relationships with current and future customers by providing the business with tools to manage sales, customer service, and technical support roles.SaaS CRM applications, such as Salesforce.com, are very popular.


Data Migration –  The process of moving data between two or more storage systems, data formats, warehouses or servers.

Database – A database is an organized collection of data.

DevOps –  An amalgamation of “development” and “operations,” DevOps is the combination of tasks performed by an organization’s applications development and systems operations teams. The DevOps software development method emphasizes collaboration, communication and integration between developers and other IT personnel with the goal of streamlining software development and quality assurance.

DRaaS - Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide failover in the event of a man-made or natural catastrophe.


ECB - External Controller-based (ECB) Data Storage, the disk technology is typically housed in high-availability enclosures, outside a host-based server. The other major type of data storage is host-based storage, also known as direct-attached storage (DAS); this can be further divided into internal and external storage.

Elasticity – In cloud computing, elasticity is a term used to reference the ability of a system to adapt to changing workload demand by provisioning and deprovisioning pooled so that provisioned resources match current demand as well as possible.

Enterprise Application – An enterprise application is an application (or software) that is intended for large scale use by a (large) business.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software allows a business or organization to manage a suite of integrated applications which are used to collect, manage, and store data on a variety of business activities. ERP solutions are often offered as a service.

Extensibility -  The ability of a cloud solution to add new runtime and framework support via community buildpacks.


FAT - file allocation table (FAT) is a file system developed for hard drives that originally used 12 or 16 bits for each cluster entry into the file allocation table. It is used by the operating system (OS) to manage files on hard drives and other computer systems.

FC - Fibre Channel, is a high-speed network technology (commonly running at 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 128 gigabit per second rates) providing in-order, lossless delivery of raw block data, primarily used to connect computer data storage to servers.

Federated Database –  A system in which multiple databases appear to function as a single entity. However, the databases typically involved in this kind of system exists independently of the others. Once the different databases are “combined”, one federated database is formed.

FRU - field-replaceable unit (FRU) is a printed circuit board, part, or assembly that can be quickly and easily removed from a computer or other piece of electronic equipment, and replaced by the user or a technician without having to send the entire product or system to a repair facility.


Google Cloud Platform (GCP) – Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a comprehensive cloud platform offered by Google, Inc. that consists of both infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings.

Guest Machine – A guest virtual machine (Guest VM) refers to a virtual machine that is installed, executed and hosted on the local physical machine. A guest virtual machine is implemented on the local workstation or server, and is powered entirely by the machine hosting it. A guest virtual machine runs simultaneous to the host machine. The two share hardware resources but the guest VM has a separate guest operating system, which executes on top of the host machine operating system through a hypervisor.


HDD -hard disk drive, hard disk, hard drive, or fixed disk, is an electromechanical data storage device that uses magnetic storage to store and retrieve digital information using one or more rigid rapidly rotating disks (platters) coated with magnetic material.

HPC - High-performance computing, is the use of parallel processing for running advanced application programs efficiently, reliably and quickly. The term applies especially to systems that function above a teraflop or 1012 floating-point operations per second.

Host Machine – A host machine is a piece of physical hardware that hosts virtual machines.

Hybrid Cloud – A hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment that is comprised of a mix of private cloud, public cloud, and on-premises solutions. In a hybrid cloud, private and public cloud infrastructures remain distinct from one another but are bound together by technology that allows data and services portability between them.

Hypervisor – A hypervisor or virtual machine monitor (VMM) is a piece of software that allows physical devices to share their resources among virtual machines (VMs) running on top of that physical hardware. The hypervisor creates, runs and manages VMs.


Infrastructure – Information technology (IT) infrastructure is a combined set of hardware and virtual resources that support an overall IT environment.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a model of cloud computing in which the vendor hosts virtualized computing resources, as well as network and storage resources, and provides them to the user as a service via the internet.

Integrated Development environment (IDE) – An integrated development environment (IDE) is an application that provides a programming environment for developers. An IDE typically includes a code editor, automation tools, and a debugger.

IOPS - Input/output operations per second (only useful when combined with response time and (application) workload)

iSCSI - Internet Small Computer Systems Interface, an Internet Protocol (IP)-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities. It provides block-level access to storage devices by carrying SCSI commands over a TCP/IP network.

iSER - iSER stands for "iSCSI Extensions for RDMA". It is an extension of the data transfer model of iSCSI, a storage networking standard for TCP/IP. It uses the iSCSI components while taking the advantage of the RDMA protocol suite.




Linux – Linux is an open-source operating system, built on Unix that is used for the majority of cloud services.

Load Balancing – The process of distributing computing workloads across multiple resources, such as servers. In cloud computing, a load balancer acts as a reverse proxy and distributes application traffic to multiple servers in order to prevent any single application server from becoming a point of failure.


Managed Service Provider (MSP) – A managed services provider (MSP) is an IT services provider that provides fully outsourced network, application, and system services across a network to clients.

Microservices – Microservices or microservice architecture is a way of designing applications in which complex applications are built out of a suite of small, independently deployable services. These ‘microservices’ run their own processes and communicate with one another using lightweight mechanisms such as language-agnostic APIs. Microservices are independently deployable and scalable, and can even be written in different languages.

Microsoft Azure – Microsoft Azure, formerly known as Windows Azure, is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Azure was originally launched as a PaaSsolution but now provides both PaaS and IaaS services. See how we work with Azure.

Middleware – Middleware is software that connects software components or enterprise applications.

Multi-Cloud – A multi-cloud strategy is the concurrent use of separate cloud service providers for different infrastructure, platform, or software needs. A multi-cloud approach can help prevent vendor lock-in, and may help an enterprise deal with diverse workloads and partners. However, a multi-cloud approach can complicate many processes, such as security and governance, and a Cloud management platform is recommended for this approach.

Multi-Tenancy – Multi-Tenancy is a mode of operation for software in which multiple instances of one or many applications run in a shared environment. In a cloud computing model, pooled physical and virtual resources are dynamically assigned and reassigned to tenants according to consumer demand.


NAS - Network Attached Storage. Good at secure file sharing. Can become siloed. Scale-out NAS potentially good at scale. Bad at extreme scale.

NFS - Network File System, a file system developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc. It is a client/server system that allows users to access files across a network and treat them as if they resided in a local file directory.

NTFS - New Technology File System, is a proprietary file system developed by Microsoft. Starting with Windows NT 3.1, it is the default file system of the Windows NT family.

NVMe - Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) is a host controller interface and storage protocol created to accelerate the transfer of data between enterprise and client systems and solid-state drives (SSDs) over a computer's high-speed Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) bus.


Object storage - Very scalable, suited to unstructured data and large datasets, potentially good for analytics via rich metadata. Lacks high-end performance and data protection is slow across clusters. Can be very cost-efficient, hardware-wise.

OLTP - Online transaction processing (OLTP) is where information systems facilitate and manage transaction-oriented applications, typically for data entry and retrieval transaction processing.

On-Demand Self Service – A cloud computing service model by which a customer can provision additional cloud resources on-demand, without involving the service provider. Resources are typically provisioned through an online control panel.

On-Premise – On Premise technology is software or infrastructure that is run on computers on the premises (in the building) of the person or organization using the software or infrastructure. Microsoft Office Suite is an example of on-premise software because it needs to be installed on the computer that runs it, while Office365 is not, because it is accessed via the internet and run remotely.

Open Source – Open Source is a development model in which a product’s source code is made openly available to the public. Open source products promote collaborative community development and rapid prototyping. OpenStack and CloudFoundry are examples of an open source cloud computing platform.

Open Stack –  OpenStack is a free, open-source cloud platform that is primarily deployed as an infrastructure as a service offering.


PaaS - platform as a service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model in which a third-party provider delivers hardware and software tools -- usually those needed for application development -- to users over the internet. A PaaS provider hosts the hardware and software on its own infrastructure.

Personal Cloud –  An example of cloud washing, Personal Cloud is a marketing term often used to describe network attached storage (NAS) devices. A NAS device is a computer  connected to a network that provides data storage services to other devices on the network.

Platform – In computing, a platform is defined as a computer system that applications run on, or as a base of technologies on which other technologies (such as applications) are built.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a model of cloud computing in which a vendor provides the hardware and software tools necessary to create, deploy and manage applications at scale to the user via the internet, as a service.

Private Cloud – A private cloud is a cloud infrastructure that is provisioned for use by a single organization comprised of multiple users. A private cloud cab managed and operated by the organization, a third party, or some combination of them, and it can exist on or off premises.

Public Cloud – A public cloud is a cloud infrastructurethat is hosted by cloud services provider and is made available to the public via the internet.



REST - Representational State Transfer is the architectural style that defines a set of constraints to be used for creating web services. Web services that conform to the REST architectural style, or RESTful web services, provide interoperability between computer systems on the Internet.

Resource – In computer science, a resource is any component within a computer system that is of limited availability.

RDMA - In computing, remote direct memory access is a direct memory access from the memory of one computer into that of another without involving either one's operating system. This permits high-throughput, low-latency networking, which is especially useful in massively parallel computer clusters.

RPO - The recovery point objective (RPO) is the age of files that must be recovered from backup storage for normal operations to resume if a computer, system, or network goes down as a result of a hardware, program, or communications failure.

RTO - RThe recovery time objective (RTO) is the targeted duration of time and a service level within which a business process must be restored after a disaster (or disruption) in order to avoid unacceptable consequences associated with a break in business continuity.


SAN - Storage Area Network (the network itself). Good at transactional and database workloads. Can be expensive.

SATA - Serial ATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or SATA) is a standard for connecting and transferring data from hard disk drives (HDDs) to computer systems. As its name implies, SATA is based on serial signaling technology, unlike Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) hard drives that use parallel signaling.t

SAS - SAS is a software suite developed by SAS Institute for advanced analytics, multivariate analyses, business intelligence, data management, and predictive analytics. SAS was developed at North Carolina State University from 1966 until 1976, when SAS Institute was incorporated

SDS - Software-defined storage (SDS) is a marketing term for computer data storage software for policy-based provisioning and management of data storage independent of the underlying hardware.

Scalability – Scalability is the ability of a process, system, or framework to handle a growing workload. In other words, a scalable system is adaptable to increasing demands. The ability to scale on demand is one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing.

Service Level Agreement (SLA) – A service level agreement (SLA) is a contractual agreement between a customer and a cloud service provider (CSP) which defines the level of service, availability and performance guaranteed by the CSP.

Shared Resources – Shared Resources, also known as network resources, are computing resources that can be accessed remotely through a network, such as a Local Area Network (LAN) or the internet.

Software as a Service (SaaS) – Software as a service (SaaS), is a model of cloud computing in which applications (software) are hosted by a vendor and provided to the user as a service. SaaS applications are licensed on a subscription basis and are made available to users over a network, typically the internet.

Storage as a Service (STaaS) – is data storage capacity delivered on a pay-for-consumption “utility” basis, analogous to the way that compute resources are acquired from public cloud providers. Payment for STaaS is generally taken as operating expense (OpEx). This contrasts with traditional storage, which is generally purchased as a long-term depreciable capital asset (CapEx).

Because SaaS applications can be accessed at any time, at anyplace, and on any platform, they have become a popular model for delivery of many business applications. A well-known example of SaaS is Microsoft’s Office 365, which provides Microsoft’s famous suite of productivity software— including MS Word and Excel— as a service.

Software Development Kit (SDK) – A Software development kit (SDK), also known as a developer’s toolkit or devkit, is a set of development tools that aids or allows the creation of applications for a certain platform. SDKs typically include APIs, sample code, documentation, debuggers and other utilities.

Software Stack – A software stack is a group of applications that work in a specific and defined order to achieve a common goal.

SMB -  SMB. Stands for "Server Message Block." SMB is a network protocol used by Windows-based computers that allows systems within the same network to share files.

SPC - The Storage Performance Council (SPC) is a non-profit corporation founded to define, standardize, and promote storage subsystem benchmarks as well as to disseminate objective, verifiable performance data to the computer industry and its customers.

SSA - An array-based SSD is a solid state drive manufactured in a form factor that can be installed in a typical storage array. SSD arrays are designed to match up with typical hard-disk drive form factors – 3.5 inches, 2.5 inches, or 1.8 inches. 3.5 inch and 2.5 inch SSDs are the most common.

SSD - solid-state drive, a storage device containing nonvolatile flash memory, used in place of a hard disk because of its much greater speed.

SWIFT - Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), also called SSH File Transfer Protocol, is a network protocol for accessing, transferring and managing files on remote systems.



User Interface (UI) – User interface (UI) is the way that the user and computer system interact.

User Experience (UX) –The nature of a user’s interaction with and perception of a system.

User Space – The memory area of an operating system where application software executes.


Vendor Lock-in – Vendor lock-in is when a customer finds themselves “locked-in” or stuck with a certain cloud service provider (CSP). Vendor lock-in is characterized by extreme difficulty in moving from one cloud vendor to another, usually due to lack of standardized protocols,API, data structures, and service models.

Vertical Cloud – A vertical cloud is a cloud computing solutions that is built or optimized for a specific business vertical such as manufacturing, financial services, or healthcare.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) – Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a desktop operating system hosted within a virtual machine.

Virtual Machine (VM) –  A virtual machine is a software computer that runs an operating system or application environment, just as physical hardware would. The end user has the same experience on a VM as they would on dedicated hardware.

Essentially, a VM is a machine within a machine. By running VMs, a hardware computer can run multiple instances of the same operating system. Applications running on separate instances cannot interfere with each other, so if one app crashes, it will not affect apps on other VMs.

Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM)

VSS - Volume Shadow Copy Service (Microsoft), Shadow Copy is a technology included in Microsoft Windows that allows taking manual or automatic backup copies or snapshots of computer files or volumes, even when they are in use. It is implemented as a Windows service called the Volume Shadow Copy service.


WebDAV - (Web Distributed Authoring And Versioning) Enhancements to the HTTP protocol that turn the Web into a document database that enables collaborative creation, editing and searching from remote locations.




ZIOS - Zadara Intelligent Object Storage