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Cloud computing terms

application migration

The process of moving applications from one computing environment to another, often as part of a cloud adoption strategy. Organizations can migrate their applications from on-premises servers to the cloud as well as from one cloud to another. Learn more.

application modernization

Updating legacy applications, processes, and data management with cloud computing technologies. Modernization can help organizations improve IT performance, enhance customer and employee experiences, and accelerate time to market for new offerings and updates. Learn more.

artificial intelligence (AI)

The capability of a computer system to imitate human intelligence. Using math and logic, the computer system simulates the reasoning that humans use to learn from new information and make decisions. Learn more.

artificial intelligence (AI) vs. machine learning (ML)

“Intelligent” computers use AI to process information like humans do and complete tasks on their own. Machine learning—which is an application of AI—uses algorithms to enable computer systems to learn without human instruction and develop their own intelligence. Learn more.

big data analytics

Consists of the tools, systems, and applications that companies use to gather, process, and gain insights from vast, high-velocity datasets. These complex datasets originate from various sources, including the internet, emails, social media, and smart devices. Learn more.

business analytics tools

Tools that extract data from business systems and integrate it into a repository, such as a data warehouse, where it can be analyzed. Analytics tools range from spreadsheets with statistical functions to sophisticated data mining and predictive modeling tools. Learn more.


The process of storing important data in temporary memory more quickly and efficiently than conventionally stored data. Caching helps to optimize database costs, improve throughput, reduce latency, and boost app performance. Learn more.


A metaphor for a global computing network of remote servers that run applications, store data, and deliver content and services. The cloud enables data to be accessed online from internet-enabled devices, rather than solely from local computers. Learn more.

cloud bursting

A configuration between a private cloud and a public cloud to manage demand for cloud resources. If 100 percent of the resource capacity in a private cloud is used, overflow traffic is directed to the public cloud using cloud bursting. Learn more.

cloud computing

A delivery model for computing resources in which various servers, applications, data, and other resources are integrated and provided as a service over the internet. Resources are often virtualized, and users typically only pay for the services they use. Learn more.

cloud computing types

Although many cloud computing types exist, the three most popular ones are software as a service (SaaS) for web-based applications, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) for internet-based access to storage and computing, and platform as a service (PaaS) to give developers the tools to build and host web applications. Learn more.

cloud infrastructure

The hardware and software components used to deliver cloud computing services over the internet. These components include servers, storage, networking equipment, and virtualization technology. Learn more.

cloud migration

The process of moving some or all of a company’s resources to one or multiple locations in the cloud. Although cloud migration often entails moving resources from on-premises locations to a cloud provider’s servers, it can also entail moving resources between clouds. Learn more.

cloud migration benefits

The benefits of cloud migration are myriad. They include optimized IT costs, greater flexibility and scalability, enhanced security and compliance, improved business continuity, and simplified resource management and monitoring. Learn more.

cloud provider

A third-party company that offers cloud computing services and resources, typically on a pay-per-use basis. Well-known cloud providers include Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Amazon Web Services. Learn more.

cloud service provider

A company that provides a cloud-based platform, infrastructure, application, or storage service, usually for a fee. Learn more.

cloud storage

Groups of networked computers that act together to perform large tasks, such as analyzing huge sets of data and weather modeling. Cloud computing lets you use vast computer grids for specific time periods and purposes, paying only for your usage, and saving the time and expense of purchasing and deploying the necessary resources yourself. Learn more.

computer grids

A service that allows you to store, access, and manage data on an offsite storage system maintained by a third party. Cloud storage systems are typically scalable to an individual's or organization’s needs. Learn more

computer vision

A form of AI that emulates the way that humans see, understand, and recognize images. Computer vision uses algorithms and automation to enable computers to identify and interpret the people and objects that appear in images and videos. Learn more.


A unit of software that groups an application’s code with the configuration files, libraries, and dependencies it needs to run. Containers allow IT teams to deploy applications across different environments with minimal adjustments. Learn more.

data governance

Organizations that rely on data for business growth need a strategy to manage that data effectively and efficiently. Data governance refers to the unique processes, policies, and standards that an organization uses to help keep its data secure, private, and accurate. Learn more.

data integration

The process of combining and consolidating data from several different sources into a single system with a unified view. Learn more.

data lake

A type of data repository that captures both relational and nonrelational data from a variety of sources. Unlike a data warehouse, which can only store structured data, a data lake can store semi-structured and unstructured data in addition to structured data. Learn more.

data migration

Transferring data from one storage location, like an on-premises server, to a different location, like the server of a cloud provider. Data migration encompasses selecting, preparing, extracting, and transferring data from one computer storage system to another. Learn more.

data science scientists

Scientists who use technology, mathematical, business, and communication expertise to extract valuable information from large datasets. Data scientists use big data to uncover patterns, make predictions, and create strategies in a wide variety of fields. Learn more.

data warehouse

A central storage location for structured and semi-structured data used for reporting and analysis. Information can be sent to a data warehouse from a variety of sources, including point-of-sale systems, applications, and relational databases. Learn more.

database security

The processes, tools, and controls that organizations use to secure and protect their databases against threats and security risks. Database security protects the database itself, database management systems, physical and virtual servers, and network infrastructure. Learn more.

database sharding

A type of partitioning that lets you divide a large database into smaller databases, which can be managed faster and more easily across servers. Learn more.


At its broadest definition, a database is a collection of information that is related. In computer science, a database refers to a collection of data that is stored on a computer system. The most basic types of databases are relational and nonrelational. Learn more.

deep learning

A type of machine learning in which artificial neural networks process, learn, and make decisions based on unstructured data. It’s often used to analyze large, complex datasets, complete nonlinear tasks, and respond to inputs faster and more accurately than humans. Learn more.


The union of people, process, and technology to enable continuous delivery of value to customers. The practice of DevOps brings development and operations teams together to speed software delivery and make products more secure and reliable. Learn more.

edge computing

A technology that allows Internet of Things (IoT) devices to process data at the “edge” of a network, either by the device itself or by a local server. This improves response time on remote devices and allows businesses to get more timely insights from device data. Learn more.

elastic computing

The ability to dynamically provision and de-provision computer processing, memory, and storage resources to meet changing demands without worrying about capacity planning and engineering for peak usage. Learn more.

face recognition

A personal identification technology that relies on optical analysis to analyze an image. Face recognition can be used for face identification, grouping, and verification. Learn more.

grid computing

A service that uses a group of networked computers working together as a virtual supercomputer to perform large or data-intensive tasks. Learn more.

hybrid cloud computing

A type of computing where on-premises datacenters are combined with cloud computing products and services in order to modernize legacy resources. This allows businesses to improve IT performance, optimize costs, and instantly scale capacity up or down. Learn more.

infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

A virtualized computer environment delivered as a service over the internet by a cloud provider. Infrastructure can include servers, network equipment, and software. Learn more.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to equipment, machines, products, and devices that are connected to the cloud and configured to collect and securely transmit data. IoT helps many industries analyze data and make informed decisions about it in real time. Learn more.

Java programming language

A multiplatform, object-oriented programming language that powers applications, smartphone operating systems, enterprise software, and many well-known programs on billions of devices worldwide. Learn more.

Java Spring Boot

An extension for Spring (an open-source web application framework based on Java) that helps streamline Java app development. Learn more.


An open-source orchestration software that helps you deploy, manage, and scale containers. Learn more

Kubernetes vs. Docker

Docker is an open-source technology and container file format for automating the deployment of applications in containers. Kubernetes is open-source orchestration software that provides an API to control how and where containers run. While there’s a common misconception that you must choose between Kubernetes and Docker, they usually work well together. Learn more

machine learning

The process of using mathematical models to predict outcomes instead of relying on a set of instructions. Machine learning works by identifying patterns within data, building an analytical model, and using it to make predictions and decisions. The process bears similarity to how humans learn, in that increased experience can increase accuracy. Learn more.

machine learning algorithms

Help data scientists identify patterns within sets of data. Machine learning algorithms are selected based on the desired outcome—predicting values, identifying anomalies, finding structure, or determining categories—and are commonly divided by whether they’re used for supervised learning, unsupervised learning, or reinforcement learning. Learn more.

Microsoft Azure

The Microsoft cloud platform that features a vast collection of products and services designed to help you bring new solutions to life. Azure enables you to build, run, and manage applications across multiple clouds, on-premises, and at the edge. Learn more.


Software that lies between an operating system and the applications running on it. Middleware enables communication and data management for distributed applications. Examples include web servers, application servers, and content management systems. Learn more.

mobile app development

All of the processes involved in the development, coding, and release of a mobile application for use on portable electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, e-readers, smart watches, and handheld game consoles. Learn more.


Multicloud is the practice of using the services of multiple cloud providers to optimize workload performance, increase flexibility, and mitigate the risks of relying on any one vendor. Learn more.

NoSQL Databases

Interchangeably referred to as “nonrelational,” “NoSQL DBs,” or “non-SQL,” NoSQL databases use flexible data models that don’t rely on a fixed schema, like relational (SQL) databases do, to allow for efficient, scalable storage capable of handling large volumes of rapidly changing, unstructured data.  Learn more

open-source machine learning

Machine learning allows algorithms and statistical models in various technologies to improve performance as they’re exposed to more data. A growing number of companies have started making machine learning algorithms and software libraries publicly available, which gives developers the chance to experiment with open-source machine learning projects. This experimentation has led to the rapid growth and evolution of machine learning frameworks and libraries. Learn more

platform as a service (PaaS)

A computing platform (operating system and other services) delivered as a service over the internet by a cloud provider like Azure. An application development environment that you can subscribe to and use immediately is an example of PaaS. Learn more.


An open-source relational database that’s popular with developers and administrators for its flexibility and integrity. PostgreSQL is used across a range of fields, including financial services, manufacturing, retail, and logistics. Learn more.

private cloud

Cloud computing services offered over the internet or over a private internal network to only select users and not the general public. Learn more.

private, public, vs. hybrid clouds

A public cloud relies on cloud resources that are owned and operated by a third-party service provider, while a private cloud is used exclusively by one organization. A hybrid cloud combines on-premises infrastructure—or a private cloud—with a public cloud. Learn more.

public cloud

Cloud computing services offered over the internet by a third-party provider and available to anyone who wants to purchase them. Learn more.

quantum computing

The use of quantum mechanics to run calculations on specialized hardware. Quantum computers apply the behaviors of quantum physics to computing, including superposition, entanglement, and quantum interference. Learn more.


The basic unit of information in quantum computing. While a classical binary bit can only represent a single binary value, such as 1 or 0, a qubit (also known as a quantum bit) can represent 0 or 1 or any proportion of 0 and 1 in superposition of both states. Learn more.

relational database

An efficient, flexible type of database that stores and organizes data points with defined relationships for fast access. Data is organized into tables that hold information about each entity and display predefined categories as rows and columns. Learn more.

scaling out vs. scaling up

Vertical scaling (scaling up) lets you increase or decrease computing power or databases as needed. Horizontal scaling (scaling out) entails adding more databases or dividing a large database into smaller nodes, using a data partitioning approach called sharding. Learn more.

serverless computing

A computing model in which the cloud provider provisions and manages servers. It enables developers to spend more time building apps and less time managing infrastructure. Learn more.

software as a service (SaaS)

An application delivered over the internet by a software provider. The application doesn’t have to be purchased, installed, or run on users’ computers and instead operates in the cloud. Learn more.

SQL database

Relational databases that store collections of tables and organize structured sets of data in a tabular columns-and-rows format. SQL databases are built using a programming language called structured query language (SQL). Learn more

virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)

IT infrastructure that allows you to access computer systems from almost any device (such as a personal computer, smartphone, or tablet). This service eliminates the need for your company to provide you with a physical machine. Learn more.

virtual machine (VM)

A computer file (typically called an image) that behaves like an actual computer. Multiple virtual machines can run simultaneously on the same physical computer. Learn more.

virtual private network (VPN)

A virtual private network that establishes a connection between your computer and a remote server owned by a VPN provider. This connection creates a point-to-point tunnel that encrypts your personal data, masks your IP address, and lets you get around website blocks and firewalls. Learn more.


The act of creating a virtual version of a computing environment, including computer hardware, operating system, and storage devices. Organizations use virtualization to turn a single physical computer into multiple virtual machines that share the resources of the host machine. Learn more.