By Doug Lowe

The world of cloud technology is filled with new buzzwords to master. Many of these buzzwords fall into two categories: those that incorporate the word cloud and those that incorporate the phrase as a service. The former emphasizes that a particular technology is hosted in the cloud — that is, on the Internet — rather than on-premises. The latter emphasizes that the technology is subscribed to but not owned.

Note that there is often overlap between these two buzzword categories. In other words, a single type of cloud-based technology has both a cloud something-or-other and a something-or-other as a Service title.

Here are five of the most common cloud something-or-others to know about:

  • Cloud application: A complete application that is hosted not locally but on the Internet. Examples of cloud applications include Google Docs, SharePoint Online, and Yammer. Cloud applications are closely akin to Software as a Service.

  • Cloud backup: A way of backing up the data on a single computer or on an entire server infrastructure at a remote site via the Internet. Cloud backup provides the advantage of surviving even if the local site is damaged or destroyed. However, it often requires a large amount of network bandwidth to move the organization’s data over the Internet.

  • Cloud database: A database that is located in the cloud rather than on a local server. A cloud database can be as simple as a cloud-based SQL server, or it can be a complete database-driven application located on the cloud.

  • Cloud server: A virtual machine running a server operating system located on the cloud rather than on-premise. Cloud servers are closely akin to Platform as a Service.

  • Cloud storage: Disk storage that is not housed locally but instead resides on the Internet. It can be as simple as a cloud-based file server, or it can be in the form of a cloud-based file sharing service.

Here are five common something-or-others as a Service you should know about:

  • Software as a Service: A complete software application that you subscribe to rather than purchase. Such software is not purchased and installed on your own computers. Instead, the software runs on remote computers accessed via the Internet, often — but not always — via a web interface.

  • Platform as a Service: A cloud-based server that you subscribe to rather than purchase, on which you can install and run your own applications.

  • Infrastructure as a Service: Similar to Platform as a Service, except that you subscribe to cloud-based computing infrastructure such as virtual machines, disk storage, network infrastructure, and so on rather than fully configured servers. In contrast to Platform as a Service, you’re responsible for deploying an operating system to the infrastructure.

  • Desktop as a Service: Cloud-based virtualized desktops that you subscribe to rather than purchase and install on users’ desktops.

  • Everything as a Service: A generic catch-all term that emphasizes an approach to computing in which all aspects of the computing environment are subscribed to via cloud-based services rather than purchased and installed locally.