Confused by tech-speak? Here is a partial list of terms, what they mean, and how they might be used in a conversation.
|A software program designed to perform a specific function
|“XYZ is an application for determining optimal inventory levels.”
|Application Programming Interface. Software code or code specifications that have already been written whose purpose is to transfer data from one application to another.
|“Company B says they already have APIs for integrating to the main packaged ERP systems.”
|The structure, as envisioned in a diagram, of a company’s systems, typically showing applications, databases, interfaces, networks, file transfers, and user interfaces. Shows the flow of data and transactions.
|“The application they demonstrated looks good but we need to understand the overall architecture, especially how it would fit in to our existing framework”
|Two uses: 1) the data transfer rate (or ‘speed’) of a network, usually expressed in megabits per second (mps); and 2) ability, time, or capacity of a person or persons to carry out work.
|“If the application will be hosted outside our network, we will need to increase the bandwidth of our external internet connections.” “The team just doesn’t have the bandwidth right now to expand the project scope any further.”
|Refers to the collection of code that is common in all versions of the software.
|“Can we migrate to the next version, with our custom modifications, using the same base code?”
|Business Intelligence, an all-purpose term for queries, reports, analysis of an enterprise’s data, for any purpose – sales trends, cost trends, key performance indicators – any information that helps management understand business performance.
|“The company has always relied on internal programmers for BI. They would write special queries or extract data and put it in a form so that the user could browse through it with Business Object or Excel.”
|BI Stack or just Stack
|Viewed diagrammatically as systems ‘stacked‘ on top of one another, usually with transaction databases on the bottom, a data warehouse in the middle, and business intelligence (BI) or other query tools on the top.
|“We are trying to move our BI stack to the cloud – databases, data marts, and query software. We think there are savings in moving these operations out of the data center.”
|Used interchangeably with the term ‘instance’ and ‘version,’ even though ‘box’ is typically used to refer to a physical server.
|“We think they are finished with the modifications but the programmers want to test it some more on the development box.”
|Computer code. A software program’s core set of instructions and logic.
|“That kind of change will probably require a rewrite of some code.”
|Configuration or Config
|The settings, parameters, flags, selections and other setup a software application needs in order to work.
|“We have a test version of the software set up, and it’s configured according to how our enterprise would use it.”
|Customer Relationship Management. Software for keeping track of all customer information relevant to the objective of increasing sales and profitability through each customer. Also tracks pricing, promotions, profitability, average order size, and numerous other attributes important to knowing a customer’s business.
|“Our pricing and promotion deals have become complex and hard to keep track of. We need a true CRM system to make sure we’re spending promotional dollars effectively.”
|Sets of data that are pre-staged or pre-organized so that a browser or other query tool can extract and manipulate the data according to user needs.
|“We have set up an invoice cube so that the users can use Business Objects to create their own queries of customer invoice data.”
|The room or building that houses a firm’s computers that run software for the business.
|“Last year we moved our data center from in-house to an outside company that will host all of our applications and manage server hardware and software.”
|A repository of data from specific systems.
|“The Finance team wanted a lot of invoice data so we set up a data mart that collects all of the data from each invoice on a daily basis.”
|The version of the software that programmers use to modify computer code and test it before transferring the completed code to a test or production instance.
|“We think they are finished with the modifications but the programmers want to test it some more on the development instance.”
|Enterprise Data Warehouse. A repository of data collected from an enterprise’s transactional and other applications, which is used to create reports and other analyses for management purposes.
|“Most of our day to day reporting comes from a data warehouse we set up to collect daily transactional data such as sales, production, and inventory.”
|Enterprise Resource Planning system. Interconnected applications that support and enable the interconnected processes of an organization, according to an enterprise’s business model.
|“We use an SAP ERP system for most processes, but have specialized applications for customer relationship management and for transportation management.”
|Usually means application footprint, or scope of business processes that the application will enable.
|Do you have an application footprint diagram so I can see which processes are supported by which applications?
|What the software is capable of doing. An accounting and finance application usually has functionality to compute cost of goods sold and post to a general ledger account.
|“We looked at Company G’s system and the functionality we needed just wasn’t there.”
|The difference between what you want the software to do and what the software is capable of doing. Gaps can be ‘closed’ by using a manual work around (living with it), or by developing custom programming to modify the software.
|“We looked at Company G’s system and there were just too many gaps.”
|A management mechanism usually made up of rules that are used to define data structures, system changes, or how IT manages requests.
|“We have too many data errors and inconsistencies that cause problems in our transaction systems; we need some kind of data governance.”
|A free, Java-based method of computing that distributes computing tasks to multiple computers called clusters using simple programming rather than using one large computer and database. The computing model is structured so that it can scale up or down depending on the load.
|“It seems XYZ vendor is using Hadoop for most of the application’s functionality, and adding a few extra components to make it appeal to a particular segment of the market.”
|The computer server(s) and/or the entity/entities that manage computer servers that are used to run software applications.
|“Our email software is hosted by IBM, and the rest of our applications are hosted by a 3rd party data center.”
|Infrastructure as a Service. Servers and other hardware that are made available for computing based on usage or time.
|“Company Z is changing its IT strategy by outsourcing its data server to IaaS providers.”
|Refers to the hardware and networking setup that supports a company’s systems.
|“We have a lot invested in our infrastructure – all of our servers and network management is in-house.”
|Refers to a computer’s main memory (RAM), not its disk, or hard drive memory. Through lower costs of memory, the large amounts of data usually thought of as occupying disk storage can now reside “in-memory.” Can be used to analyze big data.
|“The vendor’s pitch is that the in-memory architecture means we can process more data faster.”
|Defined as the particular version of the software that is installed on a specific server.
|“We share the same instance of the application as our sister companies, but we can’t see their transactions and data and they can’t see ours.”
|Applications, data, or platforms that your enterprise is already using, before it implements new applications or platforms.
|“We are keeping our legacy payroll and HR systems and building integration to the new ERP System.”
|A programming framework, made popular by Google because it is used in Google’s search engine, that breaks a software application down into parts and lets each part run on any ‘node’ in a cluster of servers. Hadoop was inspired by MapReduce. Both are open-source programs, allowing anyone to use them to create applications.
|“MapReduce is an easy to use framework; It lets programmers use their language of choice, and its benefits are mostly in processing large data sets, where a search of terabytes or petabytes of data is needed, as in the case of Google indexing all the web pages on the internet.”
|Non-disclosure Agreement that is signed by vendors, consultants, or visitors to a company that binds the signing parties to confidentiality regarding any information discussed or exchanged.
|“We can start sharing data and working on a system design with the vendor as soon as the NDAs are signed by both parties.”
|Series of connections between computers. A LAN is a Local Area Network typically found inside the four walls of a building. A WAN is a Wide Area Network typically used by an enterprise to connect its geographically separate locations.
|“Our network includes a LAN for each sales office, and a WAN that connects the whole company together.”
|Type. Used very broadly. Can mean a type of operating system, type of integration, type of software vendor, type of hosting, etc.
|“They are on an Oracle (or Windows, or SAP, or EDI, or legacy) platform for most of their systems.”
|An application that primarily performs one function, or addresses one particular key area of a company’s business.
|“We just need a point solution since there are few users and no need for integration with other parts of the company”
|Defined as the particular version on a particular server that will be the ‘real’ version you will use to run your business. Your enterprise is said to have the software ‘in production’ when all of your set up and testing is complete and you are using the system to operate your company.
|“To set up the production version we will have to upload all of our master data to it and run checks to ensure accuracy.”
|Release or Version
|Variation of the base code that enables the software to provide different features and functionality.
|“What version of SAP are you running? We are on ECC 6.0.”
|Request for Proposal. Something a company might send to prospective software vendors, describing the type of application(s) needed and the specific requirements of that application.
|“We’ll look at the responses to our RFP to see what options there are among the vendors we selected.”
|Software as a Service. Software that is made available for use based on usage, time, number of transactions, number of users, or a combination of variables.
|“We’re considering a SaaS solution to save time and avoid requesting the capital dollars needed to buy and install the software.”
|The desired or selected application(s) configured the way an enterprise needs to meet its needs.
|“We’re trying to make ABC work as our demand-planning solution.”
|Segment of the market a software product is intended to compete in.
|“There are new apps in the CRM space you should consider.”
|Overly complex connections between systems.
|“Our system diagram looks like spaghetti with all the complicated linkages we have built up over the years.”
|Structured Query Language. A programming language that is used to update, delete, and request data from a relational database. Often referred to as a ‘sequel query’ or ‘sequel program.’
|“We can set up a standard SQL query that could pull the data we need every day and put it into a report format.”
|A relational database management system that uses the SQL language. There are many versions of SQL Server, Microsoft and Sybase both publish and distribute their own proprietary versions.
|“We have both of our main data warehouses running in SQL Server from Microsoft.”
|Multiple software programs designed to perform functions separately or together.
|“The company wanted to re-evaluate its accounting and payroll systems.”
|Normally refers to the tables in a database. A table is used to store data in columns and rows, with each table storing one type of data , such as ‘customer zip code.’ Each table is given a name to display it and its relationship to other tables on a system’s architecture diagram. The customer zip code table might be named ‘custzip.’
|“Do we know which tables are accessed in the system to display data in these fields?”
|Refers to the version of the software you will use for testing.
|“For the test instance we won’t need all of our master data, just a subset of customers, products, plants, and raw materials.”
|User Acceptance Testing. Refers to a phase in a software project when the software’s future users transact their normal daily business on a test system to confirm the system functions as expected.
|“We are scheduling UAT for the fall when most users will be available.”
|Warehouse Management System. Software for managing inventory and workflow inside a warehouse or distribution center.
|“Our WMS handles first-in first-out inventory rotation and gives us alerts on product approaching expiration date.”