IT Jargon Buster

Posted By: Hayley Friday 11th March 2016

Since I first started learning about IT back in secondary school at GCSE level, it was clear that one of the main aspects of this subject is terminology. Progressing through to A level this became more apparent as the course looked at detailed networking architecture and linking relevant theory to practical application.

Moving into the working industry of IT, terminology or jargon, is constantly being used to ensure all personnel are singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak.

Or is it?

Through experience in IT sales I have found out first hand, that terminology or jargon, is more commonly used as a smokescreen or buzzwords to generate excitement/simply confuse people into a sale. Once the client is confused, they are then reassured, by said sales person, that they will get everything they want and it will work brilliantly.

How will it work brilliantly if you do not know what you are getting? If you do not know what you are getting, how can you measure the brilliance? This is essentially where I come in.

Although I know IT terminology and can use it effectively, I prefer the phrase keep it simple. This way not only the technical team are singing from the same hymn sheet, but more importantly so is the client; keeping everything transparent and out in the open.

A great example of a smoke screen or buzzword is cloud.

What is cloud?

Is it actually a cloud?

By definition, cloud is simply a service that is managed by a third party. In terms of IT, cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data as opposed to a local server or PC.

Broken down further, this cloud looks at connecting you to a server that is not located in your office to access your data to work from and the connection is made via the internet to the server. That is in essence what cloud computing is and how it works.

Here is a quick list of a few examples of jargon that tends to be used:

  • Hybrid cloud – the idea of using a server in your office and a server located elsewhere to access, manage and process data.
  • RDC/RDS (remote desktop connection/remote desktop services – connecting you to a PC or server located at another site or office.
  • Cloud Backups – storing your data on a server in another location via the internet. This is commonly used for disaster recovery purposes.
  • VDI (virtual desktop environment) – this looks at using a virtual computer to access your data. The best way to describe this is that your data would not be stored on your laptop or PC, it will be stored in a virtual environment on a server. Then your laptop or PC will connect to this virtual machine to access your data.
  • VPN (virtual private network) – this is a secure connection from one device or network to another. Best described as a tunnel that only you can access to connect you to another device to access your data.
  • Datacentre – a centralised collection of servers in a building. When people refer to using cloud, it will most likely mean connecting you to a specific server in a datacentre to access your data located on this specific server.
  • Roaming profile – a concept in Windows that allows people to access their own personal documents from any PC or laptop that is joined to their Windows Server domain. So when any machine is connected to your network and it is configured to allow roaming profiles, you can enter your username and password into any machine and you will be able to access your documents.
  • Thin clients – these are low spec machines that are used as a terminal to access a server or VDI over the internet. Imagine it is a door and the on button is the handle to allow you to access your data on another machine located elsewhere.
  • SaaS (Software as a service) – is the idea of licensing software on a subscription basis. You don’t actually own the software you pay to have the right to use it. An example is Microsoft Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud.

To use this terminology or jargon as an example, a business’s needs may be that they need to have their staff work from home or various locations because they travel for their jobs. A solution could be using VDI on the cloud so users can access their data from any location providing they have internet access at this location. They will need either laptops or thin clients to use the cloud. This would utilise virtualisation and the cloud which will reduce capital expenditure and only cost around £10 per user per month (example number).

The above solution in essence, would be that the staff member uses their laptop or thin client to access their documents that are located in a datacentre. The connection from the laptop or thin client to the datacentre would be made via the internet. Documents will be saved or uploaded to the server at the datacentre, meaning no matter where your staff travel to your data stays in the same place.

Unfortunately, I have come across a lot of people who don’t really know what they are paying for and all they are told is “it is only £10 per month per user!” which sounds fantastic. But when this cost is broken down in a financial forecast, that figure soon adds up very quickly! Especially when it is normally only the licensing from Microsoft that is £10 per month, not to mention the new hardware, monthly datacentre costs, monthly support costs and any additional Capital expenditure needed for the new infrastructure.

To round this off, accurate use of terminology is a key requirement within IT. However, it is down to the person explaining the solution to ensure it is understood by everyone, not only does it then make sense to people and they understand your proposal but it is just good practice too. Honest, transparent, keep it simple and Bob’s your uncle!