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Back to Basics: 10 Cloud Technology Terms to Know

By Charlene Haddad | Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

As technology changes, it can become overwhelming to keep up with. That’s why we’ve decided to take a step back in today’s blog article to go over some of the basic vocabulary involved in cloud computing. Here are 10 terms to get you started:

Cloud Computing
Services or applications that are hosted in a web-based repository known as the “cloud”; the service is often hosted by a third-party provider who then provides access to that service to users on an on-demand basis via a network connection. This alleviates that firm from having to purchase and maintain costly infrastructure in-house.

Data Center
A facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems; typically includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant communications connections, environmental controls and security features. The Update Institute classifies data centers into four tiers based on the percentage of availability and uptime.

A strategy used to protect data in transit; the information is transformed into an unreadable format - called ciphertext - transported to its destination, then transformed back into a readable format so that it can be viewed by the recipient. The primary goal of data encryption is to assure the recipient of the confidentiality, authentication, integrity and non-repudiation of data stored on computer systems or transmitted over the Internet and other networks.

Hosted Applications
Applications that reside on servers that are located externally and accessed via the Internet, as opposed to a more traditional model in which applications are installed directly onto a local server or an individual PC. Hosted applications are typically managed by the service provider, and hence are routinely updated with the most stable version and backed by continual technical and customer support. Most hosted applications require no client-end installation, and are designed to be accessed via the Internet or operating system.

A system of using multiple sources, devices or connections so that no single point of failure will completely stop the flow of information. Data structures without redundancy are called fracture-critical, meaning that a single broken point will collapse the entire system.

Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements no. 16 (SSAE 16) is the new auditing standard put forth by the Auditing Standards Board (ASB) of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It will replace SAS 70 as the reporting standard for reporting on controls at service organizations and will now require a description of the system in place and a written statement of assertion from management.

Service Level Agreement
An agreement or contract in which a service provider defines the services and levels of guarantee regarding availability, performance, and other aspects of the cloud services. Service providers are required to meet the levels outlined in the contract, though contracts allow for revision annually to convene and determine if any changes should be made. Service level agreements are also a good way of benchmarking the service received and how good of a fit the service provider is for the company.

The creation of a virtual version of something, such as a hardware platform, operating system, storage system, or other resources, instead of a real, tangible version.

Virtual Private Network
A network that uses public telecommunication infrastructures, such as the Internet, to provide remote users access to the organization’s central network. VPNs allows employees to connect while travelling, allowing companies to have one overarching network regardless of geographic location and without compromising security.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Allows companies to integrate voice, data services and applications over a single converged IP network to achieve a more flexible, robust network infrastructure; describes a group of technologies used to make voice calls over IP networks. The ability to run all communications, both data and voice, on a single network allows for significant cost savings and are just as secure as the Internet connection in place.
For more terms check out our Cloud Computing Dictionary on the Cloud Forum.

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Photo Credit: Deviant Art

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