Glossary of Terms & Jargon Buster

API – Application Programming Interface. In general terms, an API is the code that governs the access points for a server, it is used to allow applications on different servers to interact with and query each other.

Server – A compute instance typically defined by its responses to requests made by clients. E.G. a web server will serve web pages to a client when they connect through a specified port. So when you use your browser to visit a website your browser makes a request to access the web pages available via the specific port and the webserver fulfills the request. There are many kinds of servers including: Database Servers, Storage Servers, Authentication Servers, etc.

CPU – Central Processing Unit. This is the primary component of a computer that processes input and produces an output. It runs the Operating System and applications.

RAM – Random Access Memory. A good analogy for RAM is short-term memory. RAM is where a computer loads and stores information that it needs right now or in the near future. The more RAM you have the quicker your computer will perform as the information is ready to hand and does not need to be loaded.

Virtual Machine – This is an emulation of a computer system. There are many reasons you may want to use a virtual machine such as: accessing potentially infected files in an environment that is sandboxed from the rest of your network. Or running multiple Operating systems on the same physical machine.

AWS – Amazon Web Services. AWS is a cloud provider, we use their platform to deliver cloud based services and solutions to our clients.

Compute – This is the processing of information and running of applications. A computer is a machine that computes.

Storage – In IT terms storage broadly describes the storage of data. This can be storing images, files, information, etc, in a number of ways. Different ways of storing this data also allow different ways of accessing the stored data, you may want this data readily accessible at a moment’s notice or you may want to safely archive that data and never access it at all.

Database – A database stores and (important!) indexes data. The indexing allows the ability to very quickly look up information contained in the data. Normally on certain fields in a table you define.

Migration – In cloud computing migration typically means migrating your IT to the cloud. This can be migrating your data to a cloud based database, moving your web application into the cloud or moving your entire infrastructure from on-premises to the cloud.

Regions – In AWS, Regions are physical locations around the world. Each region consists of multiple, isolated and physically separate AZ’s within a geographic area.  

AZ – Availability Zones. An AZ is one or more discrete data centers with redundant power, networking, and connectivity in an AWS Region. All AZs within a Region are interconnected with high-bandwidth, dedicated metro fibre. All traffic between AZs is encrypted. The network performance is sufficient to accomplish synchronous replication between AZs.

Edge Locations – To achieve lower latency while delivering content to end users Amazon CloudFront’s Global Edge Network utilises 199 Edge Locations (and counting) and 11 Regional Edge Caches. An Edge location is where end users access content and services on AWS.

Global Infrastructure – This refers to the world spanning network of Regions and Availability Zones you have access to on AWS.

Availability – Availability (and High Availability) in AWS is the idea of being able to access services and resources anywhere, anytime. It also requires a component of reliability too. For High Availability a service needs to not only be always-on but also not lose connection or go offline whilst in use.

Redundant – the idea of redundancy is to have in place a system with multiple backup plans. One way to look at this is when camping you can take 3 torches with you, if you fall and break your first torch, you still have light. If your second torch runs out of battery then you still have light. This is redundancy.

Durability – Durability is vital in the cloud it means even if you cannot access it your data is still safe and secure.

Scalability – Having the ability to scale your applications to meet demand.

OPEX – Operational Expenditure. Day-to-day expense of keeping a business operational.

CAPEX – Capital Expenditure. Major purchases for assets to be used over a long time.

Serverless – If you imagine a server being a machine that provides a service, traditionally you’d pay for the server or the server and the service. With Serverless you only pay for the service not the server. 

TCO – Total Cost of Ownership. TCO highlights the cost savings of AWS vs On-premises IT Infrastructure.

Auto Scaling – This is the ability to scale your applications to automatically meet demand.

Load Balancing – Load balancing is redistributing traffic to maintain a balanced level of traffic across your compute instances, this ensures no one instance is overwhelmed and helps maintain availability.

Fault Tolerant – The ability to tolerate faults and continue to keep running and serving content despite losing resources or services.

Low Latency – Sometimes referred to as High Throughput it describes the ability to process a high volume of data with minimal delay. Latency is the time it takes to process a given amount of data, the lower the latency the quicker data is processed.

JSON – JavaScript Object Notation. A programming language used in AWS Services that uses human-readable text.

YAML – Yet Another Markup Language. YAML is a superset of JSON and is used for writing things like CloudFormation Templates

SSD – Solid State Drive. Persistent data storage

HDD – Hard Disk Drive. Traditional data storage that utilises magnetic disks.

OS – Operating System. System software that manages a computers basic functions and allows users to easily interact with their machine. 

Disk Image – A copy of the entire contents of a storage device. This could be a hard drive for example. A use case could be to distribute operating systems.

AMI – Amazon Machine Image. A type of disk image used in AWS.

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service. 

PaaS – Platform as a Service.

SaaS – Software as a Service.