Cloud Technical Glossary

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This site replaces the former Compute Canada documentation site, and is now being managed by the Digital Research Alliance of Canada.

Ce site remplace l'ancien site de documentation de Calcul Canada et est maintenant géré par l'Alliance de recherche numérique du Canada.

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Term Description
Apache HTTP Server A web server software. See
CALM Cloud Account Lifecycle Management. Our process for managing the allocation of cloud resources.
Ceph Distributed data storage platform, our standard storage software on the cloud, including for generic volume storage.
CephFS Ceph File System, or a file system with Ceph storage, which allows data sharing on multiple instances (virtual machines, VM). Currently only available in the Arbutus cloud.
cloud A pool of hardware supporting virtualization. This can be thought of as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
compute cloud An allocation type, corresponding to a cloud quota to use compute type flavors intended for instances (virtual machines, VMs) which will be running for a limited time and may require more CPUs or memory (RAM) during their entire lifespan. Flavors have labels beginning with “c”.
CVMFS A distributed read-only content distribution system often used for managing software.
ephemeral local disk Virtual disk which is created and destroyed along with an instance (virtual machine, VM). An ephemeral disk is created when a virtual machine is launched without the specification of a volume.
flavour The OpenStack term for a predefined specification of the compute, memory, and storage capacity of a new instance (virtual machine, VM).
floating IP An IP address that can be associated with an instance (virtual machine, VM) to allow external access.
Horizon The dashboard for OpenStack clouds that can be used for viewing and managing a user's cloud resources.
host The physical resources supporting an instance (VM, virtual machine).
image Short for "Virtual disk image". The cloud platform provides a set of prepared base operating system images. An image is used to create a new boot volume or ephemeral disk when launching a new instance.
instance A virtual server in the cloud infrastructure. Also known as a Virtual Machine (VM).
IPV6 Internet Protocol version 6, a communications protocol and successor to IPv4.
object storage Persistent storage space for large amounts of data. Typically read access only, e.g. images and data sets. Available on Arbutus cloud only. Offered as S3 and Swift protocols. Allocated in TB
OpenStack The software suite used on our clouds to control hardware resources such as computers, storage and networking.
persistent cloud An allocation type for persistent instances (virtual machines, VMs) that are expected to run indefinitely and have low or bursty CPU requirements. Flavors have labels beginning with p*
RAC Resource Allocation Competition. Program via which PIs can request storage and compute resources beyond what can be obtained via the Rapid Access Service (RAS).
RAS Rapid Access Service. Service by which Principal Investigators can request a modest amount of storage and cloud resources without having to apply to the RAC.
S3 Simple Storage Service. A type of object storage.
security group A group of rules controlling network traffic to and from an instance (virtual machine, VM). A security rule can be applied as a whole to one or more instances.
service portal We host many research web portals which serve datasets or tools to a broad research community. These portals generally do not require large computing or storage resources, but may require support effort by our technical team. Groups applying for a service portal often use our clouds, generally require a public IP address, and may (or may not) have more stringent up-time requirements than most research projects.
shared file system storage Persistent storage space offered as a Unix-compliant file system that can be mounted across multiple hosts in a tenant. This is useful for sharing data across multiple hosts. Service runs on CephFS and requires either a Fuse driver (Windows/Linux) or the CephFS kernel driver (Linux) for access. Allocated in TB.
snapshot A copy of a volume that can be used as a backup or to launch another instance (virtual machine, VM).
SSL Secure Sockets Layer. A protocol to allow encrypted communications over networks. SSL is now deprecated, and should be replaced by TLS (Transport Layer Security) wherever possible.
SWIFT Another type of object storage.
tenant A group or user's allocation of cloud resources (now called a Project).
TSL Transport Layer Security. The successor of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).
VCPU Virtual central processing unit. An instance (virtual machine, VM) can have one or more CPUs assigned to it, each of which is seen as a single physical CPU core by the operating system.
VGPU Virtual graphics processing unit. An instance (virtual machine, VM) can have one or more VGPUs assigned to it.
virtual machine See "instance."
volume An allocation of storage resources that can be attached or detached to/from an instance (virtual machine, VM), exposed as a block device (a virtual disk)
volume storage A persistent cloud storage type providing virtual disk functionality to virtual machines running in the cloud. Implemented with Ceph software. Allocated in GB.