IT Acronyms You Need to Know

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IT acronyms might be as confusing as scripts typed by monkeys. So as a service to IT personnel everywhere (and also for ourselves) we’ve compiled a definitive list of IT’s Most Important Acronyms (also know as MIAs).

Save this to your favorites as a resource because we’ll be updating it continuously. Plus, let us know if there are any acronyms you’d like us to add.

Important IT Acronyms


Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations. Refers to IT Operations’s use of Artificial Intelligence to collect, organize, and analyze historical and real-time data. AIOps helps IT to monitor data processes and data systems in real-time, analyzing and searching for errors and trends in real-time, while also predicting outcomes.  


Application Performance Management. APM can also mean Application Performance Monitoring, but the two are the same: You’re not going to be managing an application’s performance without first monitoring its performance. APM is interested in maintaining and improving an expected level of service for software and applications.


Application Programming Interface. An Application Programming Interface contains the code and the rules needed for two applications to share information and services with each other. A Google Maps API, for example, allows anyone to retrieve information and services from Google Maps, to have their own web page or application present that information and service from Google Maps.


Business Intelligence. Business Intelligence refers to data analysis processes and tools being applied to data collected inside and outside of the business. The goal of BI is to use data and technology to deliver actionable information and educated decisions to business leaders.


Business Process Management. Admittedly, this one is more on the business side, but BPM doesn’t happen anymore without IT. Business Process Management seeks to optimize business processes through modeling, analyzing, measuring, and automating —IT gets involved because of all the modeling, analyzing, measuring, and automating.


Chief Information Security Officer. A senior-level executive responsible for managing and reducing cybersecurity risks in IT.


Database Management System. A Database Management System is comprised of software that allows users to create and manage databases.


Development Operations. Not exactly an acronym, but it’s an important, alphabet-ish IT term. DevOps is a school of thought that aims to streamline processes and practices so that software, products, and services are developed and brought to market faster. DevOps uses agile practices and continuous development to deliver software and applications that go through rapid iterations after being brought to market. DevOps can also refer to a software development team that practices DevOps.


Digital Transformation. DX isn’t a common abbreviation, because the X makes little sense, but you’re bound to find it while perusing TechTarget. Digital Transformation means to redesign business processes, policies, practices, and workflows, in order to better leverage digital technology throughout the organization. Digital tools offer a wide array of new capabilities, and businesses need to fully harness these capabilities by re-imagining everything from the bottom-up.


Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. Amazon’s EC2 is a service program offered via Amazon’s cloud-computing platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS). EC2 allows consumers to provision virtual machines on servers owned by Amazon.


Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP refers to the practice of using BPM software to organize and automate all aspects of an operation with a single platform.


Extract, Transform, Load. ETL is the process of taking data from one database and adding it to another database. In order to complete this task, the data must be transformed or converted into file types that the receiving database can read. This can also apply to charts or graphs: the data or the way the data is organized may have to be transformed.


First-in-first-out. Waiting online for ice cream is FIFO, because the first person in line is the first to get served. FIFO is for queues what waiting-in-line is for everyone else: The first job added to the queue will be the first job to run.


File Transfer Protocol. This is a standard network protocol used to transfer files over a computer network.


Intelligent Automation. Intelligent Automation refers to IT automation tools that use Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to improve processes, optimize resources, and improve efficiency by analyzing data and augmenting human decision-making.


Infrastructure as a Service. IaaS is a pay-as-you-go subscription model for delivering infrastructure such as storage, servers, and hardware. Instead of installing and maintaining infrastructure on-site, end-users can rent access to remote infrastructure maintained by a provider. This lowers overhead costs and gives the end-user more flexibility.


Infrastructure and Operations. Infrastructure and operations refers to processes, practices, and policies involved in managing IT infrastructure and operations.


Internet of Things. IoT refers to a network of devices that can interact and share data and information, often managed by a single user or platform.


Information Technology. It feels unnecessary to define IT for a reader that most likely already works in IT, but, IT is a discipline concerned with studying and using computer systems to manage information.


IT Process Automation. Process Automation is the practice of using automated workflows to coordinate, integrate, and manage digital tools and processes with the goal of saving IT personnel a ton of time.


Last-in-first-out. Imagine waiting in line and the line in front of you never gets shorter. Instead, the people at the back of the line are being served first, because whoever is the last in line is the first to get served. LIFO is a bad day for the first job in a queue.


Managed File Transfer. Managed File Transfers are provided by software designed to securely transfer data over a network. MFT software is frequently used by organizations.


Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager. MSCCM is a software product designed to help IT personnel manage large groups of computers running Windows, OS, Linux or UNIX, as well iOS and Android.


Microsoft System Center Operations Manager. MSCOM monitors computers and servers, collects and provides data and information about the machines it is monitoring. MSCOM will send alerts (via email, or text, or etc.) and initiate workflows if an error or other defined event occurs.


Online Analytical Processing. OLAP software can perform multidimensional analyses of data, often applied to BI applications. OLAP enables users to make ad hoc analyses and complex analytical calculations that can suggest anticipated outcomes of scenarios.


Online Transaction Processing. OLTP refers to software programs that support transactions over the internet, including data entry, order entry, financial transactions, etc. OLTP systems usually involve large numbers of users making quick, simple transactions, for instance in retail.


Platform as a Service. Platform as a Service. PaaS is a pay-as-you-go subscription model for IT platforms. Instead of purchasing and installing a new platform on-site, an organization can access a remote platform hosted by a PaaS provider. This allows organizations to build, test, deploy, manage, and update applications without having to host new platforms on their own infrastructure.


Software as a Service. SaaS is a subscription model in which the consumer pays a subscription for software instead of purchasing the software. Under the SaaS model, the software provider holds the software and allows the consumer to access it, based on the consumer’s subscription. Common examples of SaaS include Office 365, Salesforce, Google Apps, and Dropbox. 


SSH File Transfer Protocol (Secure File Transfer Protocol). SFTP uses SSH to transfer, manage, and access files over a network.


Service Level Agreement. A Service Level Agreement is a contract that defines what services the provider will provide to the client, when those services are to be rendered by, what procedures should be taken if something goes wrong, and what will happen if either party breaches the contract. The details of an SLA can differ, but they are found in nearly all organizations that need to regulate and standardize the services IT provides to the rest of the organization.


Structured Query Language. SQL is a programming language used to store, retrieve, and manage structured data in Relational Database Management System databases.


Secure Shell. Secure Shell is a protocol that encrypts data being sent to and from a remote server. SSH also allows authentication of users.


Virtual Machine. Virtual Machines are computer files that have the same capabilities you’d expect from a full computer, even though the VM is being hosted on another machine with its own OS. When a VM is opened it presents in a window, just like any other program. Users can install programs to the VM, browse the internet, change its drivers, run simulations, etc., the same way they would on a regular computer. It’s just that the VM lives in the host computer, and that the host computer can run multiple VMs at the same time. This is useful if you need to run multiple platforms or OSs simultaneously but don’t have enough servers: You can provision several VMs on a single server. VMs are also very useful for testing and development because the VM is sandboxed from the rest of the computer.


Workload Automation. Workload Automation is a set of technologies that allow IT personnel to schedule, coordinate, and integrate workflows from many digital tools and technologies.

Let us know if we’ve missed any!


Brian is a staff writer for the IT Automation Without Boundaries blog, where he covers IT news, events, and thought leadership. He has written for several publications around the New York City-metro area, both in print and online, and received his B.A. in journalism from Rowan University. When he’s not writing about IT orchestration and modernization, he’s nose-deep in a good book or building Lego spaceships with his kids.

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