Storage Technology Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing storage and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

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    3.5" SSD (3.5 solid-state drive)

    A 3.5 solid-state drive (SSD) is a data storage device designed for the 3.5-inch hard disk drive (HDD) form factor. It fits into the drive slot as a same-sized HDD in a portable computer, enterprise server, or storage system.

  • 3D NAND flash

    3D NAND is a type of non-volatile flash memory in which the memory cells are stacked vertically in multiple layers.

  • 3D XPoint

    3D XPoint is memory storage technology jointly developed by Intel and Micron Technology Inc. The two vendors have described this new technology as filling a gap in the storage market between dynamic RAM (DRAM) and NAND flash.

  • 8-track tape

    An 8-track tape is a hard plastic cartridge about the size of an external modem that houses a continuous loop of non-digital (analog) audio data stored on magnetic tape.

  • A

    access method

    In computing, an access method is a program or a hardware mechanism that moves data between the computer and an outlying device such as a hard disk (or other form of storage) or a display terminal.

  • access time

    Access time is the time from the start of one storage device access to the time when the next access can be started.

  • active archive

    An active archive is a collection of data that is too valuable for a company to discard, but only needs to be accessed occasionally.

  • address space

    Address space is the amount of memory allocated for all possible addresses for a computational entity, such as a device, a file, a server, or a networked computer.

  • ADSTAR Distributed Storage Management (ADSM)

    ADSTAR Distributed Storage Management (ADSM) is a collective term for IBM's family of high-end software that helps a customer manage the storage devices (such as mainframe storage, PC disk drives, and Zip drives) that are scattered around the company.

  • AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface)

    Advanced Host Controller Interface, or AHCI, is a technical standard for an interface that enables software to communicate with Serial ATA (SATA) devices.

  • AIT (advanced intelligent tape)

    AIT (advanced intelligent tape) is a magnetic tape and drive system used for computer data storage and archiving.

  • all-flash array (AFA)

    An all-flash array (AFA), also known as a solid-state storage disk system, is an external storage array that uses only flash media for persistent storage.

  • Andrew file system (AFS)

    An Andrew file system (AFS) is a location-independent file system that uses a local cache to reduce the workload and increase the performance of a distributed computing environment.

  • application-aware storage

    Application-aware storage is a storage system with built-in intelligence about relevant applications and their utilization patterns.

  • archive

    In enterprise data storage, an archive is a collection of infrequently accessed data that needs to be stored for long periods of time to meet backup and compliance requirements.

  • areal density

    Areal density measures the amount of data that can be stored on a given amount of physical space on a disk drive.

  • array-based memory

    Array-based memory is an evolving solid-state storage technology similar to flash memory but with potentially greater storage capacity. The increased capacity results from the fact that array-based memory is three-dimensional (3D) while most traditional memory and storage media are two-dimensional (2D)... (Continued)

  • array-based SSD

    An array-based SSD is a solid state drive manufactured in a form factor that can be installed in a typical storage array.

  • ASPI (Advanced SCSI Programming Interface)

    ASPI (Advanced SCSI Programming Interface) specifies how an application program can communicate with a SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) device through a common SCSI device driver.

  • ATA over Ethernet (AoE)

    ATA over Ethernet (AoE) is an open source network protocol designed to connect storage devices and servers in a storage area network (SAN). ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) is a standard interface for communication between storage devices; it is known in the computer industry as Integrated Drive Electronics, or IDE. In AoE, the ATA commands are transported directly via Ethernet. That makes AoE an inexpensive alternative to Fibre Channel SANs, which require costly dedicated networks.

  • atomic storage (atomic memory)

    Atomic storage (sometimes called atomic memory) is a nanotechnology approach to computer data storage that works with bits and atoms on the individual level.

  • autoloader (or stackloader)

    A stackloader (also known as an autoloader) is a tape storage device that automatically loads tape cartridges using a robotic mechanism.

  • automated data tiering

    Automated data tiering is a type of software program that moves data files, volumes or blocks between tiered storage according to company-defined policy.

  • automated storage tiering (AST)

    Automated storage tiering (AST) is a storage software management feature that dynamically moves information between different disk types and RAID levels to meet space, performance and cost requirements.

  • auxiliary storage

    Auxiliary storage is all addressable data storage that is not currently in a computer's main storage or memory.

  • B

    bad block

    A bad block is an area of storage media that is no longer reliable for storing and retrieving data because it has been physically damaged or corrupted.

  • bare metal restore

    In disaster recovery, a bare metal restore is the process of reformatting a computer from scratch after a catastrophic failure.

  • bare-metal cloud

    Bare-metal cloud is a public cloud service installed directly on hardware with no virtualized infrastructure.

  • BEDO DRAM (Burst Extended Data Output DRAM)

    BEDO DRAM (Burst Extended Data Output DRAM) is a type of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) that can send data back to the computer from one read operation at the same time it is reading in the address of the next data to be sent.

  • big data storage

    Big data storage is a compute-and-storage architecture that collects and manages large data sets and enables real-time data analytics.

  • bit padding

    Bit padding is the addition of one or more extra bits to a transmission or storage unit to make it conform to a standard size.

  • bit rot

    Bit rot is the slow deterioration in the performance and integrity of data stored on storage media. It is also known by the names bit decay, data rot, data decay and silent corruption.

  • block storage

    Block storage is an approach to data storage in which each storage volume acts as an individual hard drive that is configured by the storage administrator. In the block storage model, data is saved to the storage media in fixed-sized chunks called blocks.

  • blockchain storage

    Blockchain storage is a way of saving data in a decentralized network which utilizes the unused hard disk space of users across the world to store files.

  • Blue Book

    The Blue Book is the informal name for the standard specification document for stamped multisession (also known as the enhanced CD or E-CD) disk format, developed in 1995 from a supplement to Philips and Sony's 1988 Orange Book.

  • brontobyte

    A brontobyte is a measure of memory or data storage that is equal to 10 to the 27th power of bytes.

  • buffer credits or buffer-to-buffer credits (BBCs)

    Buffer credits, also called buffer-to-buffer credits (BBCs), allow data communication in a Fibre Channelstorage area network (SAN) where there are long spans of fiber opticcable.

  • buffer flush

    A buffer flush is the transfer of computer data from a temporary storage area to the computer's permanent memory.

  • bus

    In a computer or on a network, a bus is a transmission path on which signals are dropped off or picked up at every device attached to the line.

  • business impact analysis (BIA)

    Business impact analysis (BIA) is a systematic process to determine and evaluate the potential effects of an interruption to critical business operations as a result of a disaster, accident or emergency.

  • byte

    In most computer systems, a byte is a unit of data that is eight binary digits long. Bytes are often used to represent a character such as a letter, number or typographic symbol.

  • C

    cache (computing)

    A cache -- pronounced CASH -- is hardware or software that is used to store something, usually data, temporarily in a computing environment.

  • cache algorithm

    A cache algorithm is a detailed list of instructions that decides which items should be discarded in a computer's cache of information.

  • cache memory

    Cache memory, also called CPU memory, is high-speed static random access memory (SRAM) that a computer microprocessor can access more quickly than it can access regular random access memory (RAM).

  • capacity management

    Capacity management is the broad term describing a variety of IT monitoring, administration and planning actions that are taken to ensure that a computing infrastructure has adequate resources to handle current data processing requirements as well as the capacity to accommodate future loads.

  • capacity optimization (CO)

    Capacity optimization (CO) is a technique for getting more data on a storage medium by analyzing the data for unique repetitive patterns that can be stored as and reassembled from shorter symbols.

  • Caringo Swarm

    Swarm is software designed to store unstructured data on an object storage platform. Unique indentifiers allow objects to be tracked using the search function.

  • carrier hotel (colocation center)

    A carrier hotel, also called a colocation center, is a secure physical site or building where data communications media converge and are interconnected... (Continued)

  • CD burner (CD recorder)

    A CD burner is the informal name for a CD recorder, a device that can record data to a compact disc.

  • CD-Bridge Disc

    A CD-Bridge Disc (sometimes just called a bridge disc) is a compact disc (CD) format that includes extra information on a CD-ROM XA (extended architecture) track, so that the disc can be played on either a CD-i (interactive) player attached to a television, or a CD-ROM XA drive attached to a computer.

  • CD-i (Compact Disc - interactive)

    CD-i (Compact Disc - interactive) is the multimedia CD format specified in 1986 (in the Green Book).

  • CD-Magneto Optical (CD-MO)

    CD-Magneto Optical (CD-MO) is a compact disc format that uses magnetic fields for data storage.

  • CD-R (compact disc, recordable)

    CD-R (for compact disc, recordable) is a type of write once, read many (WORM) compact disc (CD) format that allows one-time recording on a disc.

  • CD-R shelf life

    CD-R shelf life refers to the length of time that a burned compact disc will remain viable once data has been burned onto it... (Continued)

  • CD-ROM XA (Compact Disc - read-only-memory, extended architecture)

    CD-ROM XA (Compact Disc - read-only-memory, extended architecture) is a modification of CD-ROM that defines two new types of sectors that enable it to read and display data, graphics, video, and audio at the same time.

  • CD-RW (compact disc, rewriteable)

    CD-RW (for compact disc, rewriteable) is a compact disc (CD) format that allows repeated recording on a disc.

  • Ceph

    Ceph is open source software providing scalable object-, block- and file-based storage under a unified system. Red Hat and SUSE sell commercially supported versions of Ceph.

  • charge-coupled device (CCD)

    A charge-coupled device (CCD) is a light-sensitive integrated circuit that stores and displays the data for an image in such a way that each pixel (picture element) in the image is converted into an electical charge the intensity of which is related to a color in the color spectrum.

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an Internet Protocol-based file-sharing protocol.

  • client solid state drive (SSD)

    Client solid state drive (SSD) is a marketing term used by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and value-added resellers (VARs) to differentiate between solid state drives built for consumers and solid state drives built for the enterprise.

  • cloud archive

    Cloud archiving is a storage procurement model in which data that is no longer accessed on a regular basis is managed and backed up remotely by a cloud storage service provider.

  • cloud computing maturity model (CCMM)

    A Cloud Computing Maturity Model (CCMM) is a model that defines and analyzes the progress of an organization’s ability to deliver cloud services in key areas such as capabilities, domains, maturity and adoption.

  • cloud controller

    A cloud controller is a device that moves data between on-premises storage and the cloud.

  • cloud data management

    Cloud data management is a way to manage data across cloud platforms, either with or instead of on-premises storage.

  • Cloud Data Management Interface

    Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) is a Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) industry standard that defines the interface that applications will use to create, retrieve, update and delete data elements from the cloud.

  • cloud drive storage

    Cloud drive storage is a term that refers to the ability to mount the storage capacity provided by a cloud storage service so that it appears to the server as a normal drive letter.

  • cloud encryption (cloud storage encryption)

    Cloud encryption is a service offered by cloud storage providers whereby data, or text, is transformed using encryption algorithms and is then placed on a storage cloud.

  • cloud file sharing

    Cloud file sharing is a method of allowing multiple users to access data within a public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud.

  • cloud file storage

    Cloud file storage is a storage service that is delivered over the Internet, billed on a pay-per-use basis and has an architecture based on common file level protocols such as Server Message Block (SMB), Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Network File System (NFS). 

  • cloud file syncing

    Cloud file syncing is an application that updates files held in different locations through the cloud.

  • cloud hosting

    Cloud hosting is the process of outsourcing an organization's computing and storage resources to a service provider that offers its infrastructure services in a utility model.

  • cloud NAS (cloud network attached storage)

    Cloud NAS (network attached storage) is remote storage that is accessed over the Internet as if it was local.

  • cloud object storage

    Cloud object storage is a format for storing unstructured data in the cloud. Object storage is considered a good fit for the cloud because it is elastic, flexible and it can more easily scale into multiple petabytes to support unlimited data growth.

  • cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement)

    A cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement) is an agreement between a cloud service provider and a customer that ensures a minimum level of service is maintained.

  • cloud storage

    Cloud storage is a service model in which data is transmitted and stored on remote storage systems, where it is maintained, managed, backed up and made available to users over a network (typically the internet).

  • cloud storage API

    A cloud storage API is an application program interface that connects a locally-based application to a cloud-based storage system, so that a user can send data to it and access and work with data stored in it. To the application, the cloud storage system is just another target device, like tape or disk-based storage.

  • cloud storage appliance

    A cloud storage appliance is a stand-alone computing device or virtual machine (VM) image used to move data from a local site to a remote cloud storage service provider. 

  • cloud storage gateway

    A cloud storage gateway is a hardware- or software-based appliance that serves as a bridge between local applications and remote cloud-based storage. The appliance is located on the customer’s premises.

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or public cloud storage service.

  • cloud storage provider

    A cloud storage provider, also known as a managed service provider (MSP), is a company that offers organizations and individuals the ability to place and retain data in an off-site storage system.

  • cloud storage service

    A cloud storage service is a business that maintains and manages its customers' data and makes that data accessible over a network, usually the internet.

  • cloud testing

    Cloud testing, also called cloud-based testing, is the assessment of a Web application's performance, reliability, scalability and security in a third-party's cloud computing environment.

  • cloud washing

    Cloud washing is the purposeful and sometimes deceptive attempt by a vendor to rebrand an old service by associating the word "cloud" with it.  

  • cloud-integrated storage (CIS)

    Cloud-integrated storage (CIS) is a term that refers to a conventional storage-area network (SAN), network-attached storage (NAS) or unified storage system that tiers and/or caches data to cloud-based storage and treats the cloud storage as if it were part of the primary storage system.

  • cloudware

    Cloudware is software that runs on a remote Web server rather than on a mobile computing device, personal computer (PC) or traditional on-premises application server.

  • clustered file system (CFS)

    Clustered file systems are file systems that run on multiple storage servers and can be accessed and managed as a single system.

  • clustered network-attached storage (clustered NAS)

    A clustered NAS system is a distributed file system that runs concurrently on multiple NAS nodes.

  • COLD (Computer Output to Laser Disk)

    COLD (Computer Output to Laser Disk) is a system for archiving data such as business records and reports to one or more optical disks in a compressed but easily retrievable format.

  • cold storage

    Cold storage is a computer system designed for retaining inactive data, such as information required for regulatory compliance, at low cost and high efficiency.

  • column address strobe

    In computer memory technology, CAS (column address strobe) is a signal sent to a dynamic random access memory (DRAM) that tells it that an associated address is a column address. A data bit in DRAM is stored in a cell located by the intersection of a column address and a row address. A RAS (row address strobe) signal is used to validate the row address.

  • Common Assurance Maturity Model (CAMM)

    The Common Assurance Maturity Model (CAMM) is a global project to list the information assurance maturity of suppliers offering provisioning services (for example, cloud providers).

  • Common Information Model (CIM)

    The Common Information Model (CIM) is a computer industry standard for defining device and application characteristics so that system administrators and management programs will be able to control devices and applications from different manufacturers or sources in the same way.

  • compact disc (CD)

    A compact disc is a portable storage medium that can be used for recording, storing and playing back audio, video and other data in digital form.

  • CompactFlash card (CF card)

    A CompactFlash card (CF card) is a memory card format developed by SanDisk in 1994 that uses flash memory technology to store data on a very small portable device.

  • compression artifact

    A compression artifact is the fuzz or distortion in a compressed image or sequence of video images.

  • computational storage

    Computational storage is an information technology (IT) architecture in which data is processed at the storage device level to reduce the amount of data that has to move between the storage plane and the compute plane.

  • conductive metal-oxide (CMOx) technology

    Conductive metal-oxide (CMOx) technology is a nonvolatile storage technology that works by moving oxygen ions between conductive and insulating metal-oxide layers within a single chip.

  • Content Protection for Removable Media (CPRM)

    Content Protection for Removable Media (CPRM) is a hardware-based technology designed to enforce copy protection restrictions through built-in mechanisms in storage media that would prevent unauthorized file copying.

  • content-addressed storage (CAS)

    Content-addressed storage (CAS) is a method of providing fast access to fixed content (data that is not expected to be updated) by assigning it a permanent place on disk. CAS makes data retrieval straightforward by storing it in such a way that an object cannot be duplicated or modified once it has been stored; thus, its location is unambiguous.

  • continuous data protection (storage convergence)

    Continuous data protection (CDP), also called continuous backup, is a storage system in which all the data in an enterprise is backed up whenever any change is made.

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