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Posted January 21, 2016 by A-Jay Orr

12 IT Terms Every Business Owner Should Know

The IT world is filled with words and acronyms that, when strung together, sound like a foreign language. It’s hard enough trying to understand which terms actually apply to your business, let alone working with an IT person to put specific tools and services into action…

Fear not, business owners! Here is a master list of the 12 most important terms you should know and understand. Memorize them, save them, write them on the palm of your hand before a meeting with your CIO. Do whatever works for you — but don’t forget them.

1. DRP

DRP stands for Disaster Recovery Plan. You may also hear professionals refer to this as a business continuity plan (BCP). A DRP outlines in detail how your organization will deal with various potential disasters that disrupt daily operations. These plans differ greatly depending on industry, level of security, number of employees and the processes involved in your day-to-day business. Here’s what all DRPs should include:

  • A master list of all mission-critical employees (including their job functions and alternative phone numbers).
  • A plan coordinator (and several back-ups) to ensure all parties are aware of their role. A priority list for the restoration of functions and departments.
  • A list of the minimal equipment needed to operate along with any associated vendor information.
  • An off-site location for recovery efforts. (Note: make certain all employees know to go there).
  • A financial reserve for your recovery efforts. A disaster may require immediate spend.
  • A communication plan for keeping employees and management up-to-date on DRP progress.
  • A master list of all company assets (digital and physical).

2. Cyber Security

Cyber security is a blanket term that encompasses all the technologies, processes and practices that protect your network, computers, software and data from attack or unauthorized access. Any time the world “security" is mentioned during computer talk, it implies “cyber security”. Because cyber risks are constantly evolving and changing, cyber security is one of the most challenging aspects of business IT.

3. Intrusion Prevention

Intrusion prevention is a system that monitors network traffic to identify if a threat tries to enter or exit the network. Network administrators can establish rules and if a discrepancy is detected, the system is capable of taking immediate action (e.g. the system may identify a packet from a malicious entity and block it and all further traffic from that port or IP address).

4. MSP

MSP stands for Managed Services Provider. MSPs are hired to remotely manage an organizations IT infrastructure and end-user systems. Their primary focus is on assessing infrastructures to find areas where operations can be improved and costs can be cut.

5. SaaS

This acronym has been all the buzz lately. It stands for Software as a Service. SaaS is a software licensing and delivery organization. A provider licenses a subscription to a business, and centrally hosts the software while users access it via the Web. SaaS is less expensive than investing in in-house software and eliminates the need for organizations to purchase supporting hardware (hence its not-so-recent spike in popularity).

6. Cloud Backup

Cloud backup is a precautionary measure business owners take in which, they work with a service provider to back up important business data by sending it over a proprietary or public network to an off-site server. Information is compressed, encrypted and delivered to the backup server every 24 hours. If something should happen to the primary system, an organization’s cloud backup will restore the most recently saved version of backed up files.

7. Data Center

Data centers are centralized repositories that store, manage and circulate data and information around a specific body of knowledge. An example of a public data center is The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), which is the largest archive of weather information. Data centers can also be private and used for the storage of business information, such as a server room or computer closet.

8. Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting (also referred to as server on-demand hosting or cloud computing) is a general term that encompasses infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS), etc. If you use the internet to access anything else - that is cloud hosting.

9. Hybrid Clouds

A hybrid cloud is one that uses a combination of on-premise, private and third-party cloud services to provide businesses with more flexibility and data deployment options. For example, highly sensitive company data may be stored on-premise while less sensitive information is shared on a private or third-party cloud service.

10. BYOD

BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. It is the practice of allowing employees to use their own computers, smartphones or tablets for work purposes instead of your organization supplying company-issued mobile devices. The benefits of BYOD include:

  • Shifting cost to the user instead of the business.
  • Increasing employee satisfaction (because they prefer and want to use their own devices).
  • Equipping organizations with the latest technology without having to invest in it. But BYOD also has some drawbacks, the likes of which are becoming increasingly more cumbersome:
  • Organizations give up control over IT hardware and how it’s used.
  • It can be difficult to mandate how employees are allowed to use their own devices.
  • Data security is in the hands of your employees.

For these reasons, it is absolutely imperative that organizations implement a BYOD policy that outlines exactly what the company expects of its employees regarding the use of personal devices for work purposes.

11. Project Management Software

Project management software is software that aids in planning, scheduling, allocation of resources and change management for various projects. It enables project managers and other project leads to monitor and control costs, perform quality assurance, manage tasks, document progress , track time and perform administration duties. Project management software also helps support collaboration and communication between managers and stakeholders.

12. ERP

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It’s a business process management software that provides organizations with access to a system of integrated applications to manage their operation and automate various back-office responsibilities.

If you need additional help, consider working with a virtual CIO. Having a vCIO on staff is like having your own personal IT translator. More than that — your vCIO will assess your entire infrastructure, compare it to your business goals and help you decide which of these tools and services you need to remain sustainable and competitive in today’s market.