Glossary of Terms

Specialty Terminology

These terms are sometimes used to help identify the duties and responsibilities performed and the special knowledge and skills needed for a position.

  • Policy and Planning – Work that involves a wide range of IT management activities that typically extend and apply to an entire organization or major components of an organization. This includes strategic planning, capital planning and investment control, workforce planning, policy and standards development, resource management, knowledge management, auditing, and information security management.
  • Systems Analysis – Work that involves applying analytical processes to the planning, design, and implementation of new and improved information systems to meet the business requirements of customer organizations.
  • Systems Administration – Work that involves planning and coordinating the installation, testing, operation, troubleshooting, and maintenance of hardware and software systems.
  • Enterprise Architecture –Work that involves the analysis, planning, design, implementation, documentation, assessment, and management of the enterprise structural framework to align IT strategy, plans, and systems with the mission, goals, structure, and processes of the organization.
  • Network Services – Work that involves the planning, analysis, design, development, testing, quality assurance, configuration, installation, implementation, integration, maintenance, and/or management of networked systems used for the transmission of information in voice, data, and/or video formats.
  • Internet – Work that involves the technical planning, design, development, testing, implementation, and management of Internet, intranet, and extranet activities, including systems/applications development and technical management of Websites. This specialty includes positions that focus on the application of technical knowledge of Internet systems, services, and technologies.
  • Applications Software – Work that involves the design, documentation, development, modification, testing, installation, implementation, and support of new or existing applications software.
  • Operating Systems – Work that involves the planning, installation, configuration, testing, implementation, and management of the systems environment in support of the organization’s IT architecture and business needs.
  • Data Management –Work that involves the planning, development, implementation, and administration of systems for the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of data.
  • Security –Work that involves ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of systems, networks, and data through the planning, analysis, development, implementation, maintenance, and enhancement of information systems security programs, policies, procedures, and tools.
  • Customer SupportWork that involves the planning and delivery of customer support services, including installation, configuration, troubleshooting, customer assistance, and/or training, in response to customer requirements.

Information Technology Glossary

This glossary contains commonly used information technology (IT) terms. This list is by no means exhaustive.

  • ACCESSIBILITY – The process for ensuring that users have access to all content on Web pages. 
  • APPLICATION – A program or group of programs designed for end users. Applications software includes database programs, word processors, and spreadsheets. 
  • ARCHITECTURE – A design for a computer system that defines its broad outlines. The architecture may also define specific hardware and software components and how they work together. 
  • AUTHENTICATION – The verification of the identity of a person or process.
  • BANDWIDTH – The maximum speed at which data can be transmitted between computers in a network. Bandwidth is usually expressed in bits per second (BPS). 
  • CAPABILITY MATURITY MODEL (CMM) – A structured approach, generally applied to the development of software, that is used to measure the quality of software that an organization is capable of producing. 
  • CLIENT SERVER ARCHITECTURE – A network configuration in which each computer on the network is either a client or a server. Servers are powerful computers used to manage disk drives (file servers), printers (print servers), or network traffic (network servers). Clients are personal computers or workstations on which users run applications. 
  • COMMERCIAL OFF-THE-SHELF (COTS) – Hardware and software components that are available commercially rather than being custom developed. 
  • COMPILER – A program that translates source code written by programmers into object code. Object code instructs computers to execute specific actions. 
  • DATA – Distinct pieces of information, usually formatted in a special way. All software is divided into two general categories – data and programs. Programs are collections of instructions for manipulating data. 
  • DATABASE – A collection of information organized so that a computer program can quickly select desired pieces of data. A database can be thought of as an electronic filing system. 
  • DATABASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (DBMS) – Computer programs that enable users to create, maintain, manipulate, and retrieve file data and create useful reports.
  • DATA MINING – A class of database applications software that searches for relationships or patterns in a group of data. 
  • DATA WAREHOUSING – The process of storing data in a structured and organized manner that ensures its availability for queries and analysis. 
  • ELECTRONIC COMMERCE (E-COMMERCE) – The process of conducting business online or using the Internet. 
  • ENCRYPTION – The process of converting data into “unreadable code” to prevent unauthorized access. 
  • END USER – The ultimate user of a product or service. 
  • ENTERPRISE – Typically used to refer to systems or applications that serve multiple organizational levels; e.g., enterprise resource planning systems. 
  • ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE– A blueprint linking the business mission, strategy, and processes of an organization to its IT strategy. The enterprise architecture is documented using multiple architectural models or views to show how the current and future needs of an organization will be met.
  • EXTRANET – A network that allows information to be accessed by authorized users in external 
  • organizations. 
  • FILE SERVER – A computer that has been modified to store and transfer large amounts of data to other computers. 
  • FIREWALL – A combination of specialized hardware and software designed to keep unauthorized users from accessing information within a networked computer system. 
  • FIRMWARE – Computer software that has been permanently installed into a computer and that performs tasks normally associated with computer hardware. 
  • HARDWARE – Objects in a computer system that you can actually touch, like disks, disk drives, monitors, keyboards, printers, boards, and chips. 
  • INFORMATION – Data that is organized according to the context in which it is used. 
  • INFORMATION ASSURANCE – Operations that protect and defend information and information systems by ensuring their availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation. 
  • INFRASTRUCTURE – All of the components that are necessary to support IT activities; e.g., hardware, software, and networks. 
  • INTERNET – A global network connecting millions of computers. 
  • INTRANET – An internal network, based on Internet protocols, that is accessible only by users with proper authorization. An intranet’s Websites look and act just like any other Websites, but the firewall surrounding an intranet prevents unauthorized access. 
  • INTERNET PROTOCOL (IP) ADDRESS – An identifier for a computer or device on a network. The format of an IP address is a 32-bit numeric address written as four numbers separated by periods; e.g., 1.160.10.240 could be an IP address. 
  • KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT – An organized process for getting the right information to the right people at the right time. 
  • LOCAL AREA NETWORK (LAN) – A computer network designed to share data and resources among several computers. Most LANs are confined to a single building or group of buildings. A group of LANs connected in this way is called a wide area network (WAN). LANs are capable of transmitting data at very fast rates but the distances are limited, and there is also a limit on the number of computers that can be attached to a single LAN. 
  • METADATA – A description of how, when, and by whom a particular set of data was collected and how the data is formatted. Metadata is essential for understanding information stored in data warehouses. 
  • METRICS – Standards, methods, or tools for measuring and evaluating performance, typically used in referring to the measurement of systems or software performance. 
  • NETWORK – A group of two or more computer systems linked together to communicate and share resources. There are many types of computer networks, including local area networks and wide area networks. 
  • NORMALIZING – The process of organizing data to minimize duplication. The term is generally applied to database design. 
  • OPERATING SYSTEM – The program that runs other programs. Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the monitor, keeping track of files and directories, and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers. For large systems, the operating system acts like a traffic cop – it makes sure that different programs and users running at the same time do not interfere with each other. Operating systems provide a platform on top of which other programs, called application programs, can run. Examples of commonly used operating systems are Microsoft Windows and Linux. 
  • OUTSOURCING – Efforts to consider third party alternatives for providing and delivering services required by the client.
  • PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE – A set of rules that instructs a computer as to what operations to perform. Each programming language has a unique set of keywords (words that it understands) and a special syntax for organizing program instructions. The choice of which language to use depends on the type of computer the program will run on, the tasks to be accomplished, and the training of the applications developer. The term programming language usually refers to higher level languages, such as BASIC, C, C++, COBOL, and FORTRAN, as opposed to a lower-level language, such as assembly language or machine language. 
  • PROTOCOL – A standard format for transmitting data between sending and receiving devices. An example of commonly used communications protocol is TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). 
  • SERVER – A computer or device on a network that manages network resources. For example, a file server is a computer dedicated to storing files. A print server is a computer that manages one or more printers. A database server is a computer that processes database queries. 
  • SOFTWARE – Programs that instruct a computer as to how to process data and the documentation that explains how these programs should be used. 
  • SYSTEM – A combination of components working together; e.g., a computer system including both hardware and software. 
  • SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT LIFE CYCLE – The complete process of developing information systems from requirements definition through maintenance. 
  • SYSTEMS SOFTWARE – Low-level programs that interact with the computer at a very basic level. This includes operating systems, compilers, and utilities that manage computer resources. 
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS – Systems of hardware and software used to carry voice, video, and/or data between locations. 
  • TOPOLOGY – The physical configuration of a network or networks. The term is generally used to refer to where each of the component parts is located in relation to each other. 
  • VIRUS – A program which attaches itself to, overwrites, or otherwise replaces another program in order to reproduce itself without the knowledge of the computer user. 
  • WEB PAGE – A document accessible on the world wide Web. Every Web page is identified by a unique Uniform Resource Locator (URL). 
  • WEB PORTAL – A Website that offers a broad array of resources and services, such as email and search engines. 
  • WEBSITE – A site (location) on the world wide Web. Each Website contains a home Web page, which is the first document users see when they enter the site. The site might also contain additional Web pages, documents, and files.
  • WIDE AREA NETWORK (WAN) – A network that spans a relatively large geographical area. A WAN typically consists of two or more local area networks (LANs). 
  • WORLD WIDE WEB – A system of Internet servers that provides access to specially formatted documents usually referred to as Websites or Web pages.