Cloud computing terms

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 analysed. Analytics tools range from spreadsheets with statistical functions to sophisticated data mining and predictive modelling tools.

business intelligence (BI) tools

Tools that process large amounts of unstructured data in books, journals, documents, health records, images, files, email, video etc., to help you discover meaningful trends and identify new business opportunities.


A metaphor for a global network, first used in reference to the telephone network and now commonly used to represent the Internet.

cloud bursting

A configuration that’s set up between a private cloud and a public cloud. If 100 per cent of the resource capacity is used in a private cloud, then overflow traffic is directed to the public cloud using cloud bursting.

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 virtualised. Find out more about cloud computing.

cloud computing types

There are three main cloud computing types, and more are evolving: software-as-a-service (SaaS) for web-based applications, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for Internet-based access to storage and computing power, and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that gives developers the tools to build and host web applications.

cloud service provider

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

cloud storage

A service that lets you store data by transferring it over the Internet or another network to an offsite storage system maintained by a third party. Find out more about Azure Storage.

computer grids

Groups of networked computers that act together to perform large tasks, such as analysing huge sets of data and weather modelling. Cloud computing lets you assemble and 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.

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.

hybrid cloud

A cloud that combines public and private clouds, bound together by technology that allows data and applications to be shared between them. A hybrid cloud gives businesses greater flexibility to scale up and down and more deployment options.

infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

A virtualised computer environment delivered as a service over the Internet by a provider. Infrastructure can include servers, network equipment and software. Also called hardware as a service (HaaS). Discover the advantages of IaaS.

Microsoft Azure

The Microsoft cloud platform is a growing collection of integrated services, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings. Learn more about Azure.


Software that lies between an operating system and the applications running on it. It enables communication and data management for distributed applications, such as cloud-based applications, so the data in one database can be accessed through another database, for example. Examples of middleware are web servers, application servers and content management systems.

platform as a service (PaaS)

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

private cloud

Services offered over the Internet or over a private internal network to selected users only, not the general public.

public cloud

Services offered over the public Internet and available to anyone who wants to purchase them.

software as a service (SaaS)

An application delivered over the Internet by a provider. Also called a hosted application. The application doesn’t have to be purchased, installed or run on users’ computers. SaaS providers were previously referred to as ASPs (application service providers). Discover the advantages of SaaS.

virtual machine

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 about Azure Virtual Machines.


The act of creating a virtual rather than a physical version of a computing environment, including computer hardware, operating system, storage devices and so forth.