What’s VOIP? What does VPN actually stand for? What about SAN? Can’t keep up with IT lingo? You’re not the only one. To many people, the plethora of acronyms used by IT services professionals amounts to nothing more than a cyclopean bowl of alphabet soup. Too embarrassed to ask your company’s resident tech support specialist for a translation? Looking to impress? For your reference, we here at Frontier IT in Colorado Springs define seven common — but confusing — tech acronyms.

VOIP phone for small business

VOIP, or voice over internet protocol, is a technology that allows users to make voice calls using a high-speed internet connection instead of a traditional landline. Users can place calls from their computers, special VOIP phones or even regular phones that have been fitted with an adapter. VOIP features vary by provider. Generally, though, VOIP is cheaper, more convenient and offers more features (like voicemail delivery to email) than traditional phone service.

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VPN for small business

VPN, or virtual private network, is a network comprised of private users connected by a public network (usually the internet). It allows those users — often employees of a business or students at a college — to send and receive encrypted data securely from anywhere with an internet connection.

(Bonus fact: Frontier IT provides its clients with Cisco Meraki’s Auto VPN technology. Meraki eliminates tedious manual VPN configuration, making connecting a cinch. )

QR code for small businessQR, or quick response, codes are those pixelated-looking squares — reminiscent of barcodes — that show up on TV, in your favorite magazine or on the box of your favorite cereal. (In Japan, they even appear on some tombstones.) They allow users who have a cellphone with a camera and scanning app to quickly retrieve more information about a product (or, in the case of the tombstones, a person), usually via a website that launches upon scan.

(Bonus fact: Autotask Workplace, a secure, HIPAA-compliant cloud storage and collaboration solution for businesses, has the ability to automatically assign QR codes to your business’ documents, making it easier to track, access and modify them.)

SAN, storage area network, for small businessSAN, or storage area network, is a high-speed network that makes block-level storage devices (components of hefty storage networks often used by large businesses and organizations) available to multiple servers. SANs allow for the improved availability and performance of applications, upgraded storage capabilities and augmented data protection. SANs are often a part of business disaster recovery plans.

SAAS for small businessSAAS, or software as a service, is a nod to the newly popular notion of purchasing software run off of “the cloud.” Gone — or soon to be gone — are the days of purchasing physical software at a big-box retailer or even online. Users of programs and software suites like Microsoft Office and Salesforce can simply purchase a license online, download a cloud-based app and run it from desktop, mobile or tablet.

(Bonus fact: Ever worried about losing your cloud documents? There’s a service for that. Datto Backupify is the leading cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery solution for SAAS apps — and it’s HIPAA compliant, too.)

WYSIWYG for small businessWYSIWYG, or what you see is what you get, is an acronym used to describe a program that allows developers to see what their product — often a website — will look like as they design, sparing them the tedious task of coding. Popular WYSIWYGs include Adobe Muse, WordPress and Squarespace.

vCIO for small businessvCIO, or virtual chief information officer, is a term used to reference an outside individual or company who serves as a business’ CIO. This provides small- to mid-sized businesses with CIO services like strategic IT and disaster recovery planning at a fraction of the cost of an executive-level full-time employee.

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Did we miss one? Is there a tech acronym you’re still unsure about? Just ask the nearest IT professional — or tweet us @gofrontierit. The consummate IT professional is always happy to translate her enigmatic lingo into English (or something like it).

If your business is lacking the IT expertise it needs to thrive, contact us. As a managed service provider (MSP), Frontier IT offers consulting, help desk support, disaster recovery planning and so much more. (We can also hook your business up with Autotask Workplace and Datto Backupify, and even serve as your vCIO — so seriously, drop us a line!)

Like what you read? Looking for additional tips and tricks to help small business owners succeed? Check out more of our blog posts here.