MSP, IoT, VPN, Oh My! Your Complete Guide to IT Acronyms

Do information technology acronyms seem confusing? In our industry, we love to abbreviate technical terms to acronyms. No worries – we are here to help with the alphabet soup! Some of these acronyms may be familiar to you and you may hear them every day. Others are specific to information technology systems and challenges.

Here are the most frequently used IT acronyms you may come across in your day-to-day life or as a business owner:

AI: Artificial Intelligence

Have you ever asked “Alexa, how is the weather today?,” or “Siri, what is the best recipe for baked ziti?” This is an example of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.

Speech recognition, visual perception, and even decision-making are all examples of how artificial intelligence is changing the way we communicate and perform daily tasks.

API: Application Programmer Interface

An application programmer interface, or API, is software that allows for two separate applications to “talk” to each other. You likely use an API nearly every day but never thought about it. When looking for the best deals on a travel site, an API lets the travel site quickly collect flight and hotel availabilities from providers before showing you your options. Without an API in place, the travel site would have to manually reach out to the provider to find pricing and availability.

AWS: Amazon Web Services

AWS, or Amazon Web Services, is a cloud-services platform that offers its users database storage, content delivery, and other services. Individuals, businesses, and even government agencies rely on AWS to obtain large-scale computing services without having to build their own IT infrastructure.

Big brands like Netflix, Twitch, Turner Broadcasting, BBC, LinkedIn, Facebook, ESPN, and Twitter use AWS for storage. If you’re binge-watching your favorite new show online, chances are you are watching content stored with AWS.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol

FTP, or file transfer protocol, is one of many ways of transferring a file over the internet. While this is less common now that companies rely on the cloud to share files, some businesses still use FTP. With FTP, the files are hosted on an on-premises server and employees can upload files to share via a link, like you would do when sharing a link on Google Drive.

HaaS: Hardware as a Service

Hardware as a Service, or HaaS, is a procurement model that is similar to leasing or renting equipment. In the HaaS model, businesses essentially “borrow” their IT hardware from a managed service provider (MSP). The MSP owns the hardware and is responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

IoT: Internet of Things

The IoT, or the Internet of Things, describes all the physical objects that are interconnected over the internet or other communication networks. It’s literally the billions of devices around the world that are connected to the internet.

A good example of IoT in action is a wearable device like an Apple Watch or Fitbit. Wearables give users data about their lifestyle using the internet to collect and share the data. Other real-world examples of IoT include home security systems with cameras that are accessible online, smart appliances (think thermostats you can turn on or off from an app on your phone), and even medical devices that document health data through a wireless connection.

IP: Internet Protocol

Internet Protocol, or IP, is the set of rules by which data is sent from one computer to another over the internet. Every computer has a unique IP address – do you know how to find yours? Go to Google and type in “What’s my IP address?” That is your unique identifier when you are communicating online.

IP addresses are useful to trace a device’s location or an origin of an email and to troubleshoot network errors or identify cyber intruders.

MFA: Multi-Factor Authentication

With the increase in cyber threats over the last decade, MFA, or multi-factor authentication, has become a best practice to access private data or sensitive information. MFA requires a user to submit at least two different identifiers to log in to a website or to access files on a server.

A common example of MFA is when you have to enter a password AND a code sent to your smartphone to authenticate yourself. The banking industry uses MFA frequently, as well as websites and apps such as Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox, and Apple ID.

MSP: Managed Services Provider

Another common IT acronym is MSP. A managed service provider, or MSP, is a term used to describe an organization that provides an outsourced specialized service to a business. While there are MSPs in several industries, the most common are outsourced IT services.

An IT MSP provides specialized IT support through services including technical support, cybersecurity, hardware and software installation and maintenance, help desk, network and server administration, network monitoring, and computer patching and software updates, to name a few.

SaaS: Software as a Service

Software as a Service, or SaaS, allows users to access applications and software over the internet. While the terminology may seem unfamiliar to you, you likely are already using SaaS daily. Cloud-based apps like email, calendars, and even Microsoft Office 365 are all examples of SaaS.

With SaaS, businesses do not need to install and maintain software on their own. Applications are updated and maintained through an internet connection.

VoIP: Voice Over Internet Protocol

Voice over internet protocol, more commonly known as voice over IP or VoIP, allows users to make phone calls over broadband internet. Unlike traditional phone systems, a VoIP system works by converting sound into digital voice communication and transferring it through Internet broadband.

VoIP also allows users to conduct video meetings and conference calls and is often a more cost-effective means of business communications.

VPN: Virtual Private Network

A VPN, or virtual private network, gives you online privacy by creating a private network on a public internet connection. A VPN essentially protects your data from unwanted eyes by creating an encrypted tunnel for your data. A VPN also hides your IP address and allows you to access public Wi-Fi safely.

Traveling abroad and want to access your favorite Netflix show that is only streaming in the U.S.? You can use a VPN to hide your IP address and binge-watch away!

We Focus on your IT, So You Can Focus on Your Business

Everound, Your Managed IT Services Provider

At Everound, we partner with small and medium businesses in Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the Baltimore/DC metro region and take care of their IT infrastructure and needs. We provide managed information technology services designed to help companies become more efficient, boost productivity, reduce risk, improve operations, and promote digital security.

We support national organizations and local businesses by solving IT challenges with customized information technology solutions. Our team of network engineers and technology specialists has been helping clients for more than 30 years.

When you choose to work with Everound, you are more than a ‘client,’ you are our partner. We are relationship-focused and work hard to understand your unique challenges. From day one, we will integrate seamlessly into your organization and treat your team as our team with respect and transparency; communicate with clarity; and above all, implement solutions to help your business be successful.

Let us take on your IT challenges so you can focus on your business. Reach out today for a free IT infrastructure and cybersecurity assessment.

How fast does hardware become outdated? Let’s look at a piece of hardware almost everyone is familiar with – the iPhone. In the last five years, there have been 7 different versions released. With the average cost of an iPhone sitting at around $750, many people often skip a few generations of iPhones until they can afford the next “new” one. No big deal, right? Even the oldest model of an iPhone still makes calls and sends text messages.

 

For business IT hardware, though, (think firewalls, servers, and networking equipment), having an old, outdated version can create a risk for business owners, and hinder efficiency. If you are a small or mid-sized business owner operating on a tight budget, how do you keep your hardware up to date without a huge capital expenditure?

The answer is Hardware as a Service (HaaS).

What Is Hardware as a Service?

Hardware as a Service, or HaaS, is a procurement model that is similar to leasing or renting equipment. In the HaaS model, businesses essentially “borrow” their IT hardware from a managed service provider (MSP). The MSP owns the hardware and is responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

The service model can be set up in different ways. For some businesses, it makes sense to pay a monthly fee for the hardware, and in other cases, HaaS is incorporated into a broader managed service agreement that includes other services like help desk support and IT consulting.

 

Benefits of HaaS Solutions

In our fast-paced technology world, owning hardware can be expensive, cumbersome, and challenging for business owners. HaaS offers an alternative approach to hardware and IT infrastructure needs that can help business owners reduce the stress of keeping up with how quickly technology changes.

There are several ways HaaS can benefit businesses including:  

  • Low, Upfront Costs: One of the biggest advantages of HaaS is there are no large capital expenditures for a business owner. Businesses do not have to spend a lot of money to provide the most up-to-date IT infrastructure for their business. This is especially beneficial for startups and small businesses that do not have a hefty budget for hardware. HaaS essentially turns a large capital expense into a more manageable operating expense. 
  • Staying Current: One major benefit of HaaS is that the MSP keeps hardware equipment current with the latest technology. When a new version of a particular technology arrives, the MSP oversees updating it for the business owner. HaaS clients do not have to stress over investing in tech that might become obsolete quickly after purchase. The MSP is incentivized to make sure their client has the best and latest equipment. 
  • Worry-Free Maintenance: When businesses opt for HaaS with an MSP, the responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep shifts to the MSP, not the business owner. Since the MSP owns the equipment, they will provide not only the hardware itself but also provide routine service and maintenance as part of the HaaS agreement. Business owners can forget about expired warranties and potential equipment failures – the MSP takes care of making sure everything is working and operating at peak performance. 
  • Tighter Security: When it comes to cybersecurity, new is often better. Cybercriminals are a savvy group and are constantly working on new ways to access businesses’ sensitive data. Not only are they targeting software, but they are also targeting vulnerable, outdated hardware. With HaaS, it is easy to upgrade to the latest hardware technology designed to create optimal endpoint security. 
  • Scalability: HaaS often makes the most sense for small and medium businesses that are on a growth plan. As businesses grow, their technology needs also grow with them. When growing businesses add new employees, expand their service offerings for their clients, or add additional office locations, they need to invest in their technology infrastructure to meet their business goals. HaaS helps businesses scale efficiently as they grow.

Everound: Your Hardware as a Service Partner

At Everound, we understand the challenges businesses face with keeping their hardware operating at a level that meets and exceeds their business goals. We offer both HaaS as an independent service and as part of a monthly managed IT services plan. Our HaaS packages can be customized to meet the specific needs of a business and often includes:

  • Firewalls: Firewalls are a line of defense against security threats, and one of the last pieces of equipment business owners think of when purchasing or upgrading IT hardware. With HaaS, Everound provides the latest firewall solutions to help prevent cyber threats.
  • Servers: A server is a central piece of hardware in a computer network that stores, sends, and receives data. It provides functionality for the entire IT infrastructure of a business. Through HaaS, Everound offers servers either on-site or in the cloud, depending on need.
  • Wi-Fi or networking equipment: Wi-Fi and networking equipment includes devices such as network switches and access points. Everound can help your business stay connected and online with Wi-Fi and networking equipment.  
  • Battery backups: Battery backup and smart surge protection devices, such as Wattboxes, can help protect your business from downtime. Power and electricity outages, surges, and brownouts can be prevented with minimal investment. These can cause data loss and physical damage to your computer components.

Curious if Hardware as a Service is right for your business? Reach out today to learn more about how we can help. Let us focus on your IT needs so you can focus on your business.