A Definitive List of Top Cloud Computing Terminologies


Cloud storage isn’t something that is new in the current era of mobility. Businesses are increasingly resorting to the cloud in an effort to reduce deployment and maintenance costs, while avoiding new hardware costs. Most users know what a cloud provider or database is, but there are some technical terms like IaaS, Saas, PaaS and XaaS they aren’t familiar with.

We’re here to make sure that’s no longer the case, what follows is an explanation of some common terminologies everyone should know before embracing this fascinating technology.

Top Cloud Computing Terminologies


IaaS stands for Infrastructure-as-a-Service, referring to the use of any cloud by a business to store important data. Organizations often invest hugely in infrastructure and servers, spending a lot of money on their maintenance as well. IaaS provides a viable alternative to the traditional method of in-house storage by offering organizations what they needed (hardware wise) at a much lower rate.

With IaaS, organizations can be flexible enough to meet demands when high and scale down when the demand becomes low — without wasting server resources. Which was the norm when companies had to buy physical hardware for one-time events.


PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) is an area of cloud computing mostly used by developers. PaaS offers a cloud-based platform, enabling users to easily create software applications and test them. One of the inherent advantages of PaaS is that it allows one to manage hardware, software and deployment capabilities at a much lower cost without the need to buy any additional hardware.

Normally, PaaS can be used in four ways:

  • Customize existing SaaS applications like Microsoft Word
  • Develop standalone apps in a proper development environment
  • Application delivery to test users
  • Offering open source software for the PaaS applications to run smoothly


API or Application Programming Interface, helps one computer request information from another computer and can be used by applications (like Google Maps) to collect location information. The information requested can be small or lengthy, depending upon the needs and requirements the application the API is working for.


SaaS or Software-as-a-Service is quite a popular term compared to the others in this article. It is operated mostly by end users and can be opened and accessed via web browsers. Most often, monthly subscriptions pave the way for primary SaaS feature and members can avail themselves to cloud services with ongoing upgrades.

Google Docs and Microsoft 365 are both excellent examples of SaaS applications that many people use on a daily basis. Today, SaaS is popular because it ensures reduced IT costs and the ability to deploy programs including CAD, Office and other collaboration software easily.


Known as Unified-Communication-as-a-Service, the term denotes multi-channel programs that we often use across a range of devices like tablets, smartphones and computers. Some popular examples include Instant Messaging, Speech Recognition and Voice Messaging.


In XaaS, X refers to any product or service. In short, XaaS deployment means using “anything” as a service. If there is a service that is capable of delivery outside the ambit of a retail delivery store, it can be included in this model.

PaaS, SaaS and IaaS are all forms of XaaS, but there are other specific business models too, including Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) and Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS).

SPI Model

Users get confused when they hear this term. It denotes common computing models in use that include PaaS, IaaS and SaaS.

Data Center, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud

Data centers (owned by cloud-based companies) store consumer data and refer to the various servers and service-based equipment owned by a company to store data. A lot of cloud-based companies actually have a number of data centers in different geographic locations; to guard against data center failures and ensure the protection of all data.

Organizations often need data that’s secure and cannot be accessed by anyone. Private cloud offers the best answer and gives all company employees real-time access to data, enabling them to work and share projects.

Private cloud resources are restricted to those within the parent company or organization; and ensures complete control. Naturally, the costs of private cloud services are higher compared to public cloud services.

While private cloud restricts server access to third-parties, public cloud ensures that multiple-parties can use the same server resources. As these parties share resources, overall costs are reduced for everyone involved.

When it comes to the cloud, a common question arises as to what should organizations do to ensure they can meet the demands of increasingly sporadic traffic? While private cloud service is an option for organizations looking to have individual servers, there often come times when businesses need additional resources.

Hybrid cloud solutions are the answer. They combine both public and private clouds into a single synergy and offer various forms of cloud storage, backup and services through a single access point.

While organizational resources mostly rest in the private cloud, data can overflow to the public cloud at times of increased internal traffic.

Utility Computing

Utility computing is a great way for businesses to further reduce IT costs. Most often, businesses do not use the extra resources available to them. With utility computing, organizations only pay for the resources that they have used up in a particular month. The usage is often billed with respect to bandwidth activity and data storage levels.


Not all instances of the word “client” denote to a person. While a simple term, in the cloud world client refers to physical devices that are required to enter the cloud. Often, these devices are the tablets and PCs that we use.

Cloud Migration

This refers to the process of transferring all company data and resources from physical devices to the cloud.

Understanding How It All Sticks Together

Cloud computing is something that’s still new today. While most developers confine themselves to creating apps in the cloud, organizations seek to reduce their IT costs and secure data, while individuals would rather use the cloud for storage and backup.

Knowing cloud terminology can ensure that things are easier for you to understand down the road. After all, how many cloud terms were you actually aware of– out of all the above?