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Cloud Computing Terms for Small Business Owners


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cloudCloud computing has been a hot IT topic for the last couple of years. Most small business owners have a basic understanding of this rapidly evolving technology, but many are still unfamiliar with much of the terminology that surrounds cloud computing.

Before delving into the some of the most common cloud-related terms, let’s first define the technology. Simply put, cloud computing technology uses the internet for tasks that were traditionally performed on a computer or corporate server. The cloud enables everything from storage to intensive processing to programs to be delivered to end-users as a service.

Here is a brief overview of cloud terminology that can help you understand the latest industry developments and trends:

Cloud – A global network, most commonly used to represent the internet.

Cloud-based Phone System – A hosted phone system that enables you to make or receive calls anywhere internet access is available.

Cloud Operating System – A computer operating system that runs in a provider’s data center but is delivered to users over the internet.

Cloud Provider – Any company that offers cloud-based systems, applications, platforms, infrastructure or storage.

Cloud Storage – A service that enables users to save data by transferring it over the internet to an offsite storage system.

Cloudsourcing – The process of replacing traditional IT services and systems with those in the cloud.

Cloudware – Software that enables running, managing, creating or deploying applications in the cloud.

Hosted Application – Any internet-based application that can be accessed via a PC or mobile device connected to the internet.

IaaS – Infrastructure services that are delivered over the internet, such as servers or network equipment.

Internal Cloud – A private cloud developed for use within an organization.

Mashup – A cloud-based application that takes data or functionality from more than one source.

On-Demand Service – A delivery model that enables customers to purchase cloud-based services as needed.

Private/Public Cloud – Private cloud services are delivered over the internet to select users or over a private internal network. Public cloud services are those offered publicly to anyone who wants to purchase them.

SaaS – Software as a service, or cloud-based applications delivered over the internet by a provider. The applications do not have to be installed or run on users’ computers.

Vertical Cloud – A cloud-computing environment designed for use within a particular industry, such as education or healthcare.

To keep up with the latest cloud-based trends and technologies and how they relate to small businesses, make sure to check back often to the RingCentral Blog for Small Business!

Originally published Aug 23, 2011, updated Aug 07, 2020

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