The origins of cloud computing date back to at least the 1950s, when multiple users in academic or corporate settings shared physical access to a single large-scale mainframe computer with multiple terminals. Today, however, a far more advanced type of cloud computing is transforming the digital landscape.
Modern cloud platforms enable scalable, on-demand access to shared computing resources including networks, software, storage, applications, and services. The cloud is replacing many traditional instances of physical software and hardware by allowing users to download or connect to pre-existing (and physically distant) digital systems, which are maintained, updated and upgraded by the provider rather than the end user.

As cloud computing revolutionises the industry, a tremendous amount of confusing acronyms have popped up.

Here we explain the 10 most common cloud acronyms:

1. SaaS (Software as a Service)
SaaS is software on-demand. Users can subscribe to rent finished, centrally hosted software on a pay-as-you-go basis. Salesforce and Oracle are the two largest providers today, specializing in Customer Resource Management (CRM) software.

2. PaaS (Platform as a Service)
As a resource for developers, PaaS provides the hardware and software infrastructure needed to create, run and manage custom-built applications. These platforms are scalable, flexible, and rented on a pay-as-you-go basis. Amazon Web Services and Google are amongst the largest PaaS vendors.

3. IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
Purchased in a similar way to utilities, like electricity and water, IaaS is virtual hardware companies can purchase instead of owning and operating their own data centres. IaaS provides self-service access to remote data centre infrastructures that can be used for virtual server space, bandwidth, IP addresses, storage, or network connections. Physically, these resources are usually drawn from a distributed network of servers, which the cloud provider is responsible for maintaining. However, unlike SaaS and PaaS, users are responsible for managing and upgrading applications, middleware, and operating systems. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine are the leading providers of IaaS.

4. MaaS (Monitoring as a Service)
MaaS is a framework of tools and applications that monitor specific aspects of services, servers, systems or applications in the cloud. The primary use is data collection about performance and real-time functioning of IT components.

5. XaaS (Anything as a Service)
The acronym XaaS (often pronounced “zass”), is a collective term that refers to the services that are available across the internet, rather than being provided onsite or locally. XaaS is at the core of cloud computing. The most common examples of XaaS are: SaaS, IaaS, MaaS, CaaS, PaaS or any combination of these services. XaaS services are usually controlled by a service level agreement (SLA), where the client and vendor work together to agree how the services will be provided.

6. CAMP (Cloud Application Management for Platforms)
Designed to facilitate interoperability between cloud environments, CAMP simplifies the management of multiple cloud applications. Because every PaaS includes its own API (application programming interface) to upload, configure, and monitor applications used on that platform, when PaaS systems from different vendors are used in conjunction, the APIs conflict. CAMP was produced as a collaboration between leading PaaS providers to resolve the incompatibilities between their platforms.

7. MDM (Mobile Device Management)
A cloud service primarily driven by the growing workplace trend of BYOD (bring your own device), MDM distributes applications, data, and configurations to a variety of devices (including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and mobile printers). MDM thereby facilitates compatibility and security in distributed networks, such as company networks where employees work remotely on a variety of devices using different operating systems.

8. HPC (High Performance Computing)
HPC means aggregating computing power in the cloud in order to create a virtual supercomputer used to solve large, complex problems. HPC refers to systems that function at over 10^12 operations per second.

9. DaaS (Desktop as a Service)
Also called remote desktop, DaaS is a cloud service that allows users to remotely access their desktops from a number of devices. DaaS provides continuity between many devices, and is often used by companies with employees who work remotely and/or BYOD.

10. iPaas (Integration Platform as a Service)
When companies use multiple SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS from different providers, they encounter a problem of integration. These IT systems cannot communicate with one another and data cannot be shared seamlessly across the cloud ecosystem. Used to solve this issue, iPaaS is a platform that integrates cloud applications with one another and the company’s pre-existing software systems.

Written by Emily White