Cloud lingo


By now, my constant references to IT cloud service give no excuse to anyone who has read my column to profess ignorance of what it is. But the new technical language that has spread from this technology does need some explanation. I shall try my best to avoid reference to any technology speak here, so that the average user can at least have an idea when reference is made to the subjects here.

Technical users, of course, can research some of these subjects in more detail, if interested. So, just as an introduction, cloud services are hosted Internet-based services that provide shared computer processing resources, applications and data to computers and other devices on demand. The services on offer come in a wide range of configurations, the most widely being the following. Most of these are self-explanatory and this is not a comprehensive list, with new packages on offer almost weekly. Software As A Service (Saas) is the most widely used of the product portfolio by most of us.

Examples include Microsoft Office 365 (O365) which enables users to access all the widely used Office applications online for a minimal charge. Gmail and Google Apps are other widely used product in this bracket. Infrastructure As A Service (Iaas).


Infrastructure As A Service (Iaas) offers computing infrastructure, physical or virtual machines and other resources like storage and virtual local area networks via the internet. Examples of storage options—again widely used—include the various storage options, including Dropbox and Microsoft One Drive, which offer large amounts of data in the cloud. Platform As A Service (Paas) offers a complete platform in the cloud including operating systems, processing power, programming languages, databases and web servers.

Cost is minimal, you do not even need to have the operating system or the programming applications (often very expensive to purchase) on your local device. Windows Azure is one such example, and I predict this will be more widely used locally as a means of accessing development resources at a minimal entry level cost. This enables startups and innovators to get on stream and not be restricted by excessive set up costs.

Now, cloud services are deployed in the three main ways. Private cloud is usually used or managed internally by one organisation only, and requires capital costs and a preparation for virtualising the business environment. Public cloud services are usually offered over a public network to a data center. Security and reliability is a greater concern here. This includes an intensive scrutiny of the service provider of this type of service, as users and organisations are likely to be mainly dependent on this service for ongoing business continuity.


Finally, hybrid cloud is a mix of both types of service with one or more cloud service providers. For example, some organisations may seek to maintain business sensitive data on premise in a private cloud configuration, with many other services in the public cloud distributed between one or more cloud service providers. Some of the more commonly used phrases include the following. There is Vertical Cloud Computing, which is a collection of cloud tools and applications aimed at a specific vertical market, such as manufacturing. Personal Cloud Storage means storing a user’s data in the cloud and providing access to this data from anywhere. Personal cloud storage also often allows the syncing and sharing of stored data across multiple devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers.

ICloud fits neatly into this bracket as does a whole raft of other online storage options, many of them free for personal use. Utility Computing charges for a cloud service very much in the same way as a utilities provider such as Escom or a Water Board. You only pay for the services you use. And finally, there is a Cloud Broker (SyncIT being an example of this) where there is an agent that works between clients and the cloud service provider, to ensure the smooth running and realised efficiencies of such a partnership. I hope this has helped you pick up the techno speak to go out there and impress friends, family and colleagues.

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