What Does That Mean?

Every new era of computing comes with its own set of acronyms. Some are evident and others could use a bit of explanation. Here’s a list of today’s most common acronyms, what they mean, and what that means to you.

API = Application Programming Interface

What Is It? A system that lets developers build customized functionality into pre-built software.

Who Uses It? Everybody. Many companies use APIs for single-sign-on capabilities and to tailor CRM software to their specific business needs.


CMS = Content Management System

What Is It? An interface that allows non-web designers/developers the power to create web content without in-depth coding knowledge.

Who Uses It? Companies free up their web design and development teams by distributing low-level design work, simple updating tasks, and page launches to more people in the organization using the WYSIWYG interfaces in most CMS programs.


CDN = Content Delivery Networks

What Is It? A geographically dispersed network of hosted servers holding copies of media. The geographic range of the servers allows media to be served to users around the world as if they were just around the corner from your data center.

Who Uses It? Web entities with global audiences who need to maintain a consistent experience across the world without building data centers all over the world.


FTP = File Transfer Protocol

What Is It? A program that allows you to easily move files from one computer to another.

Who Uses It? Generally, used by web designers and others who need to move large sets of files between computers or hosted servers.


IaaS = Infrastructure as a Service

What Is It? Infrastructure as a Service gives companies the pleasure of off loading their entire server farm to a hosting company or other third-party provider. The provider is then responsible for maintaining the servers, patching, and backups.

Who Uses It? Companies with large infrastructure needs but who lack the IT resources and capital to invest.


PaaS = Platform as a service

What Is It? Provides the computing platform from which businesses can build, test, and launch applications. Typical PaaS deployments involve Windows, Linux, or Python and handle everything up to application layer, leaving the IT team to handle the application-level tasks without worrying about the underlying platform maintenance.

Who Uses It? Developers looking for an easy way to code or test applications on different platforms without deploying hardware and software.


PCI DSS = Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard

What Is It? A set of requirements to support payment account data security developed by the credit card industry in order to create consistent data security measures.

Who Uses It? Any organization accepting credit cards online. Even though it’s not a federal law, penalties can arise from credit card companies if standards aren’t followed.


SaaS = Software as a Service

What Is It? Software as a Service offers the users the opportunity to access expensive or complex software without the burden of buying licenses, installs, and updating. A hosting provider is employed to maintain all of the backend processes allowing users to access the needed software on demand.

Who Uses It? Businesses wanting to offload maintenance of a specific software application. The application is readily available for end-users and the install, maintenance, and updates are handled by the SaaS provider. SaaS is a popular option for resource-heavy applications, like Microsoft Exchange and CRM software.


SMTP = Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

What Is It? The language used between servers to navigate a piece of mail from the sending server to the recipient server.

Who Uses It? If you get email, you’re using SMTP, however, your email admin is probably the only one in the business who knows or cares what it is.


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Lizetta Staplefoote is a Rackspace Marketing Copywriter with a decade of experience writing about small business challenges for healthcare, real estate, and technology. Her passion is researching and writing about the impact of cloud computing. When she's not wordsmithing, she enjoys hanging out with her sons, exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, and feeding her music addiction.


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