More Than 25 Commonly Used IT Acronyms Defined & Explained
If you are a business leader, you likely have a “code” that helps you communicate quickly. Whether your specialty is manufacturing, law, education, finance, engineering, or something else, the world is full of acronyms and abbreviations.
Some are rather common and readily understood (i.e. COB, OOO, and PTO). Others are more specialized and less understood like FTE, AP, AR, EPS, FIFO, IPO, ROI, ROA, and P&L. We all have a “secret language” that helps us communicate efficiently in our daily lives.
The IT world is no different. But, since our world is somewhat specialized, our acronyms are not as widely understood.
I understand and I can help. I work for Kelser, an IT managed support provider. As an “insider,” I know the IT acronyms that are frequently used and am writing this article to explain what they mean in easy-to-understand language.
Knowing these acronyms will give you a leg up when talking with your IT support team and make you more confident in your interactions with them.
At Kelser, we think it’s important to provide information that business leaders like you can use to understand our industry and make the best IT decisions for your organization. While we offer a full complement of managed IT support services, we know that isn’t the right solution for everyone.
Rather than convince you that our IT solution is what your organization needs, we focus on providing educational articles that you can use to make the best choice for you!
Correct us if we’re wrong, but we think you probably don’t really want to be inundated with a “pitch” about our services. (If we’re wrong, let us know and we’ll be happy to oblige because we really do offer an awesome complement of managed IT support and project services.)
With that being said, let’s get to those IT acronyms and definitions!
What Are Common IT Abbreviations? What Do They Mean?
Rather than just spell out what each acronym means, we’ll also provide a brief explanation.
Here, in alphabetical order, are what our team has identified as the most frequently used acronyms in IT.
This is shorthand for two-factor authentication. This is a security enhancement that requires users to provide two forms of identification (passwords or other predetermined identifiers) before allowing access. It is a form of MFA but is not the same as MFA (see MFA definition below).
Active Delivery is a model of delivering IT support based on constant monitoring and analysis. This model makes it possible to detect and mitigate issues before they become detrimental to business operations.
You may not know what this stands for, but chances are you may have experienced it. The Blue Screen of Death, officially known as a “stop” or “blue screen” error is a serious Windows error that appears as a fully blue screen. (Don’t panic! The BSoD isn’t always fatal.)
Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is a comprehensive framework that the U.S. Department of Defense developed (based on NIST 800-171, see NIST definition below) to measure the ability and commitment of government contractors and subcontractors to keep data used within the U.S. Defense Industrial Base safe from cyber threats.
The Domain Name System is the naming system for internet domain names. Like a telephone directory, the DNS uses a series of numbers to provide a unique address for each IP address.
The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is a client/server protocol that automatically assigns an IP host with its IP address and other related configuration information.
A decision support system is a computer-based information system that collects, organizes, and analyzes business data (such as sales, finance, and inventory information) for use in organizational decision-making.
Infrastructure as a Service is a cloud computing service that provides virtualized computing resources over the internet.
Internet protocol is the method for sending data from one computer to another via the internet.
Internet service providers are the companies that provide internet access.
In the IT world, KB is used to mean both “kilobytes” and “knowledge base.” A kilobyte is a measure of computer memory or data storage. A knowledge base is a technology used to store complex structured and unstructured information used by a computer system.
A local area network is a group of computers connected to each other in one physical location.
Short for multi-factor authentication, this term is like 2FA on steroids. MFA provides enhanced security by requiring two or more independent credentials before allowing users access.
These typically include something the user knows (a password), something the user has (a token), and something the user is (a biometrics identifier). The goal of MFA is to provide additional layers of security, making it more difficult for unauthorized users to gain access.
Managed services agreements are written contracts between a provider and customer that spell out the level of service a provider will deliver.
Typically used to refer to a managed services provider or managed support provider, MSP refers to an organization that provides ongoing, proactive support and management of an organization’s technology under a monthly agreement or subscription.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST’s mission (according to its website) is to "promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve the quality of life."
Power over Ethernet delivers power to devices over Ethernet cables. This means that a single cable can provide both data connection and electrical power. It’s a feature on a lot of modern wireless access points and switches.
When added to PoE, the + designation signifies an increase in the amount of power delivered over an Ethernet cable.
Software as a Service is a subscription-based software licensing and delivery service. It is also known as “on-demand software.”
Service delivery managers serve as liaisons between the technical staff and users. They translate user problems into technical terms for the engineering team and vice versa.
A service level agreement is an agreement between a provider and customer that spells out the expectation and specifics of the service the provider will deliver. It usually includes a parameter for the quality, frequency, and timeline of service delivery.
A technical alignment manager is a person who has an intimate understanding of the unique qualities of an IT infrastructure and uses their knowledge of technology to ensure that the infrastructure in place supports an organization’s strategic goals.
A virtual Chief Information Officer uses broad industry knowledge to provide strategic guidance based on an understanding of technical risk and business impact.
Voice over Internet Protocol allows users to make voice calls and transmit multimedia content using a broadband internet connection.
A virtual machine uses software to run programs and deploy applications, rather than physical computer hardware.
A virtual private network is an encrypted internet connection that allows users to send and receive information across shared or public networks as if they were communicating directly connected to a private network.
A wide area network connects a group of computers that are not physically located in the same location.
After reading this article, you have a whole new vocabulary. Going forward, you will not only understand what the acronyms stand for, but what they really mean. This will give you newfound confidence when working with your IT support team.
If you have an internal IT team, a cursory knowledge of these terms is likely all you need.
If you don’t have an internal IT team, you may be considering using an external provider for support. Be sure to compare several providers to find one that is a good fit for your organization. Wondering what questions to ask? Read this article: Best Questions To Ask Before Signing With An IT Services Provider.
At Kelser, we know that managed IT support isn’t the right answer for everyone, but if you want to know how managed IT is different from traditional break/fix solutions, we answer that question and more in this article: Break/Fix Vs. Managed IT: Cost, Reliability, Security, Productivity.
If you are already considering external providers, we invite you to explore Kelser’s managed IT support offering. Or, if you'd rather talk to a person, click on the button below and we'll contact you within 24 hours (often much sooner) to see if we are a good fit to work together.