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A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Cloud & Azure Lingo

By Heather Robinette

We’ve put together a list of some common cloud and Microsoft Azure terms to help you learn and better navigate the cloud. If you know of any terms you think we should add to our list, feel free to email them to and we’ll get them added! We plan to continue to update this blog as new terms come up. Make sure to bookmark this page for future reference!

And if you want to learn more about Microsoft Azure, make sure to check out the Top 50 Microsoft Azure Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2020

AWS (Amazon Web Services)Also known as the Amazon Cloud, this is the business unit of Amazon dedicated to the cloud.

Azure Region - Microsoft Azure uses the concept of an “Azure Region” as opposed to an “Azure datacenter” for each Azure location. Each Azure Region consists of multiple buildings, or datacenters. Each Region is at least the size of a city block. As a result, each Azure region stores three copies of any data you store within that Azure Region. Typically, your data is stored in more than one building within the Region. Source: MyCloudIT Blog

Cloud - The cloud is not a physical entity, but instead is a vast network of remote servers around the globe which are hooked together and meant to operate as a single ecosystem. These servers are designed to either store and manage data, run applications, or deliver content or a service such as streaming videos, web mail, office productivity software, or social media. Instead of accessing files and data from a local or personal computer, you are accessing them online from any Internet-capable device—the information will be available anywhere you go and anytime you need it. Source: Microsoft Azure

Cloud Native – Cloud native is a term used to refer to how an application was built. In this case, it was developed specifically for the cloud.

Container - is a virtualization instance in which the virtualization layer runs as an application within a shared operating system, enabling the use of multiple isolated user-space instances. As opposed to virtual machines (VMs), containers don’t require a full OS for every instance.

Elasticity – Elasticity is the ability to retain full functionality but be able to increase and decrease the size as needed over time. For long term needs, see Scalability

Geographic Redundancy - You can configure your infrastructure to be stored in one Azure Region (locally redundant), or you can enable geo-redundant storage. Geo-redundant storage automatically replicates your infrastructure to another Azure Region. Geo-redundant storage means that Azure will store at least six copies of your data. Three copies in your local Azure Region and another three copies of your data in the geo-redundant Azure Region.  You cannot choose which Region your data is replicated to, Azure chooses that, but your replica region is always within the same “geo-political” boundary as your original Azure Region. Also note that replication is not instantaneous, there could be a latency delay of typically 15 minutes. You choose your default Region, and then if you enable geo-redundant storage, Azure will replicate your data to the paired region. For example, if you store your data within the North American East US region, your replicated data will be replicated to the West US Azure Region. Source: MyCloudIT Blog

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) – Also known as the Google Cloud, this is the cloud platform offered by Google.

Hosted Application – A web based software application that is able to run on a remote server and can be accessed via the internet.

Hybrid Cloud – A method used for deploying cloud resources that involves both public and private clouds. An organization can opt to use both types of clouds depending on what their needs are for their infrastructure.

Infrastructure – IT infrastructure is the hardware and virtual resources that support an overall IT environment.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) - IaaS is the capability to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run the software. Companies can choose to optimize their IT infrastructure by adopting an IaaS.

Lift and shift - Common cloud migration option that replicates in-house apps in the cloud without re-design.

Managed Service Provider (MSP) – A managed services provider (MSP) is an IT services provider that provides fully outsourced network, application, and system services across a network to clients. This is a great alternative to having a fully staffed IT department when it may not be cost effective.

Microsoft Azure – Also known as the Microsoft Cloud, Azure provides a variety of services including Platform as a Service (PaaS) and IaaS offerings.

Multitenancy – The ability to share resources across multiple clients on physical hardware (typically a server). This is fairly common and can be found with the Public Cloud.

On-Premise – On-Premise technology is software or infrastructure that is run on computers at the location of the person or organization using the software or infrastructure.

Pay As You Go – A cost model for cloud services that is subscription-based, but is also consumption-based. This is becoming more common and allows new and small businesses the ability to start and run a business because they no longer require up-front capital for hardware and software.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) - A PaaS model consists of the software and hardware infrastructure to run applications, such as using Microsoft Windows Azure to deliver legacy apps. IT professionals can use existing skills with Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft.NET to build applications and services hosted in the cloud. They are less constrained by resources such as memory and processing power in the cloud, but IT professionals must think architecturally about how to design the application. 

Private Cloud – A method used for deploying cloud resources that isn’t shared and is typically hosted on-premises.

Public Cloud – A method used for deploying cloud resources that involves sharing resources over the internet. While the resources are shared, the company’s data is not.

Scalability – Scalability is the ability to maintain full functionality despite a change in size. Cloud scalability is focused on long term needs. For short term needs, see Elasticity

Service Level Agreement (SLA) – An agreement between a service provider and a customer that defines the level of service, responsibilities, and guarantee of availabity, performance, and other areas of service.  In most cases, companies will offer a type of SLA.

Service Provider – A company that provides a public or cloud service. Sometimes also called a Cloud Service Provider.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – SaaS is an application delivered over the internet so that physical applications don’t have to be purchased, installed, and ran on the computer.

Subscription-Based Pricing – A type of pricing model that lets customers pay for a service during a period of time instead of a one-time large sum. This is a typical model for SaaS services.

Vendor Lock In – Even if you want to move to another cloud vendor, the dependency on the current cloud vendor is enough that it would be difficult to change thus locking you in with the vendor.

Virtual Machine (VM) – A virtual machine is a software computer that runs just as physical hardware would, but it can be on any physical machine. The end user has the same experience on a VM as they would on dedicated hardware, but they no longer need to worry about the OS or configurations of their physical machine.

Windows Virtual Deskotp (WVD) - Windows Virtual Desktop is a comprehensive desktop and app virtualization service running in the cloud. It’s the only virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that delivers simplified management, multi-session Windows 10, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) environments. Deploy and scale your Windows desktops and apps on Azure in minutes, and get built-in security and compliance features. Source: Microsoft Azure

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Tags: Microsoft Azure

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