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 The distributed data storage platform for our clouds; includes volume storage.
CephFS (Ceph File System) A filesystem with Ceph storage, which allows data to be mounted simultaneously on multiple OpenStack instances. Currently only available with Arbutus. See
cloud When referring to our cloud services, short form of IaaS cloud.
compute cloud Type of resource allocated to support OpenStack instances intended to run for a limited time, usually with a very high sustained usage of CPU and memory. Flavours for these resources have labels beginning with c*. Currently only available on Arbutus, Béluga and Cedar. Compare with persistent cloud.
CVMFS (CernVM File System) A read-only content distribution system often used to manage software.
ephemeral local disk Virtual disk which is created and destroyed along with an OpenStack instance. An ephemeral disk is created when an instance is launched without the specification of a volume.
flavor OpenStack term for a predefined specification of a new instance. A flavor can define sizes for RAM, disk, number of cores, and so on.
floating IP Internet Protocol address that can be associated with an OpenStack instance to allow external access.
Horizon OpenStack cloud dashboard that is used for viewing and managing cloud resources through a Web browser. See
host Physical server supporting virtual machines.
image Image of a virtual disk used to create a new boot volume or ephemeral disk when creating an OpenStack instance.
instance OpenStack virtual machines are called instances, mostly because they are instances of an image that is created upon request and that is configured when the instance is launched.
IPV6 (Internet Protocol version 6) A communications protocol successor to IPv4. See
object storage Object storage (or object-based storage) is a storage type that manages data as objects, as opposed to other storage architectures like filesystems which manage data as a file hierarchy, and storage types where data is managed as blocks. Each object typically includes the data itself, a variable amount of metadata, and a globally unique identifier. Offered as S3 and Swift protocols. Allocated in TB. See Currently only available with Arbutus.
OpenStack The software suite used on our clouds to control hardware resources such as computers, storage and networking.
persistent cloud Allocation type for persistent virtual machines that are expected to run indefinitely and have low or bursty CPU requirements. Flavours for these resources have labels beginning with p*. Currently only available on Arbutus, Béluga and Cedar. Compare with compute cloud.
project In our infrastructure, a project represents an allocation of cloud resources to a group or user. Sometimes referred to as tenant.
RAC (Resource Allocation Competition) Our program via which PIs can submit a request for storage and computer resources beyond what can be obtained via the Rapid Access Service (RAS). The requests are evaluated by a committee of peers.
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. See
security group A set of security rules that control network traffic and can be applied as a whole to one or more instances.
service portal Our infrastructure hosts many Web research 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 efforts from our technical team. Groups applying for a service portal often use our clouds, generally require a public IP address, and may have more stringent up-time requirements than most research projects.
shared filesystem Persistent storage space offered as a Unix-compliant filesystem that can be mounted across multiple hosts in a project. This is useful for sharing data across multiple hosts. Our service runs on CephFS and requires either a Fuse driver (Windows/Linux) or the CephFS kernel driver (Linux) for access. Allocated in TB.
snapshot Copy of an OpenStack volume that can be used as a backup or to launch another instance.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) A protocol to allow encrypted communications over networks. SSL is obsolete and should be replaced by TLS (Transport Layer Security) wherever possible.
SWIFT A type of object storage. See
tenant See project.
TSL (Transport Layer Security) See SSL.
vCPU (virtual central processing unit) A vCPU represents a portion or share of the underlying, physical CPU that is assigned to a particular virtual machine.
vGPU (virtual graphics processing unit) A virtual machine can have one or more vGPUs assigned to it. Each of them is seen as a GPU by the operating system. Additional configuration may be required for use.
virtual machine Virtual server in the cloud infrastructure. In OpenStack, active virtual machines are called instances.
volume Storage resource that can be attached to or detached from an OpenStack instance, like a virtual disk.
volume storage Type of persistent cloud storage providing virtual disk functionality to OpenStack instances running in the cloud. Implemented with Ceph software. Allocated in GB.