Understanding IT: Your IT Provider Decoded

There always seems to be miscommunication between the company executives and the IT department. DirectPointe IT is here to help you communicate more effectively by understanding ten terms IT professionals use regularly with our IT Dictionary. Below is a list of words commonly misinterpreted between executives and IT professionals provided by DirectPointe CEO, James Martinos, who has more than 35 years experience in IT.


There is real time and near real time. Real time is when something happens instantaneously. The truth is that nothing happens this way. In reality, there is always delay in the process so the best you can hope for is what is called near real time. This means it happens as fast as possible. For example, your monitor might identify that you are running out of storage space or that the system has stopped responding. We think that the monitor alerts us in real time but really it is notifying you minutes after the problem occurs- in near real time.


You have desktops and servers. Desktops are what sit on your desk, you log in to them and use them daily. A server is shared between everyone in the business. Users access the server directly but they login to their desktop. A server provides company wide functions for you. They are bigger, beefier and more reliable than a desktop PC.


In information systems there are different levels of architecture. Imagine building a skyscraper, there are many different parts. You have floor plans, electricity, plumbing, HVAC, elevators and power systems. It is similar with technology, you have network architecture, server architecture, and software architecture. These all basically refer to the location of routers, servers and data. When someone refers to the architecture they are talking about the actual location of something.

Memory vs storage:

Memory: Main memory is called RAM or Random Access Memory. This is the thinkspace used to process the actions you are actually performing in any given moment. It is for this reason that a device with more RAM will be able to handle more actions at a time and why a lower RAM device will slow down with too many windows or programs open. This storage is temporary, it only lasts as long as you are using it.

Storage: This is where your documents and important files are stored so that you can close them and call them back up whenever needed. Computer Storage is on a hard disk drive. A server will have greater storage (disk space) and greater RAM than a single computer.


This term has to do with security. A firewall will help to block attacks and keep unapproved traffic out of your servers and desktops. You can teach a firewall what to accept and what to block in order to protect your network.

N-tier vs client server:

N-tier server: This type of server has multiple levels. The data tier is the data storage realm, where your database lies. The application tier is where all of the business logic is. The user interface tier is the user interaction space, there is no business logic. An example is Sugar CRM, this is the user interface and that is all it is. The user interface talks to the application server that contains all of the business rules to process the information. The application server then talks to the data tier to store what has happened. This is good because it is easier to make changes to any given tier with immediate results on every desktop. It is also more efficient because the application tier is the only thing directly accessing the database..

Client server: As an employer you can install an application on all the company desktops in order to allow employees to access the application tier and have all data entered into it recorded in the database. This is good because all of the business logic is all in the desktop application to combine interface and business logic. The downside is that to change business logic, you have to change it on every desktop every time. This can be inefficient. Another downside is that this system allows hundreds of users to connect to the database at the same time, presenting scaling issues.

Disaster recovery:

An important part of disaster recovery is having frequent back-ups of all data in a location separate from your server in case anything should happen to your servers. Feel free to visit our website (https://www.directpointe7.com/backup-recovery-2/) to learn more about backing up your data. Disaster recovery is a lot easier if there is a recent backup on file. It also includes a plan in case of disaster of who and what is necessary to get the business up and running as soon as possible. In this case, a disaster refers to an actual natural disaster or anything that could physically wipe out your servers. In this case, you would want to have backup servers in a different location that can take the place of the damaged equipment.


More than likely a big disaster won’t happen. It is more likely that you will lose one server or disk drive. To prevent this, you have multiple servers that perform the same function in order to keep things functioning. You can have hot, warm and cold servers. Hot means no downtime if there is a problem because two servers are sharing the same workload. A warm server causes a period of downtime to boot up the second server but it is a perfect copy of the data. Cold server means that there are other servers you can use to replace the primary one but they are not fully equipped yet and may include a longer downtime.

Bits and bytes:

A bit is the smallest amount of information that a computer can store or manipulate. A grouping of 8 bits is called a byte. Ever heard of something called binary code? This is a series of 0s and 1s assembled into bits and bytes that tells the computer what to do with the information you are giving it. If you ever wondered what it means to have a 16GB storage on your iPhone, here is the breakdown:

8 bits = 1 byte

bytes 1,024 = 1 kilobyte

kilobytes 1,024 = 1 megabyte

megabytes 1,024 = 1 gigabyte

gigabytes 1,024 = 1 terabyte


IDS: stands for Intrusion Detection System. It’s role is to work as kind of a filter to detect unusual traffic. You can define what occurrences are marked ‘unusual’ specifically for your network’s needs so that this monitor flags only the things that are worth your attention. You can set an IDS to monitor specific parts of your network including ingress/egress points. An IDS only detects the problem and reports it.

IPS: (not to be confused with ISP) stands for Intrusion Prevention System. IP systems detects and prevent potential issues. This is the more evolved version of IDS. Why would you have something that will only report a problem when you could have something that can prevent it too?

That was a lot of information, but feel free to return and review these terms the next time you dip in to the IT realm to remember the basic terms we have covered. It is okay to ask for clarification when there are terms used that you don’t understand; this will help streamline communication. At DirectPointe 7, we take care of your IT and keep you in the loop so that you can focus on your core business. Feel free to give us a call for a free quote and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and tricks.

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