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Acronym Glossary

Welcome to the acronym glossary for the Division of Information Technology!

This glossary is intended to help newbies and experts alike navigate the acronym-filled world of information technology. We add to this glossary as we come across new and baffling terms and acronyms, and in response to your submissions. If you have technology-related terms or acronyms you'd like to add, corrections or additions to an existing entry, or if you’ve encountered an acronym and have no idea what it means, feel free to email us at - we will get it posted!

4Help - is a service desk assisting the Virginia Tech community with computing-related questions (external name).

AAR - stands for 'After Action Review' and is a structured review or de-brief (debriefing) process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better by the participants and those responsible for the project or event.

ABD - stands for 'Authorized Budget Document,' which displays and describes all the components of the consolidated budget for a given fiscal year. At Virginia Tech, the ABD is the official document that tells us which of our critical needs requests have been approved.

ACCS - stands for ‘Association of Collegiate Computing Services’ – a Virginia-based group dedicated to facilitating the sharing of common interests in information technology and its implementation in the higher education environment.

ADFS - stands for 'Active Directory Federated Services (ADFS),' a software component developed by Microsoft that can run on Windows Server operating systems. ADFS provides users with single sign-on access to systems and applications located across organizational boundaries.

ADRMS - stands for 'Active Directory Rights Management Services,' which is a service software for information rights management shipped with Windows products. It uses encryption and a form of selective functionality denial to limit access to documents such as corporate emails, Microsoft Word Documents, and web pages.

AEM - stands for 'Adobe Experience Manager.' Virginia Tech's new content management system (CMS), Ensemble, is powered by Adobe Experience Manager. It allows users to update their Web content without worrying about the technical details of creating, editing, and maintaining websites. The 'old' Ensemble (Percussion Rhythmyx) was turned off in March 2017. 

A&P - stands for 'Administration & Planning’ – A&P group plays a variety of roles for the Information Technology organization (IT). Areas of responsibility include strategic planning for IT; policy development for information technology; communications within IT and with the university community; project coordination between elements of IT; project management; personnel services for IT; administrative requests; computer purchasing and software distribution (Information Technology Acquisitions); and coordination with the commonwealth's information technology agency.

ARC - stands for 'Advanced Research Computing’ – ARC at Virginia Tech is an innovative and interdisciplinary environment advancing computational science, engineering and technology.

ASP - stands for 'Application Service Provider,' a company that offers access to applications and related services, or, more commonly, Active Server Page, an HTML page including one or more scripts processed on a Microsoft Web server before the page is sent to the user, making it possible to customize the page on the fly.

ATused to stand for 'Assistive Technologies,' but now stands for 'Accessible Technologies,' the group within TLOS that supports technology-mediated accessibility solutions, and promotes the use of Universal Design principles. Assistive Technologies, a group within TLOS, but also a term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. Assistive technologies (also referred to sometimes as AT) may be defined as any product, system, or service that is used by an individual to increase, enhance, or maintain functional capabilities. The Assistive Technologies group provides AT Services in Newman Library, the AT Lab in Torgersen Hall, Braille Services, Teaching and Outreach activities, and Web accessibility consulting and testing services.

AWS - stands for 'Amazon Web Services,' a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies, and governments.

BAIS - stands for 'Business Application and Integration Services,' one of the ten subunits of Enterprise Systems. BAIS works to enhance business and academic business processes by providing information technology support for the systems that securely store and deliver digital documents and resources.

CCS - stands for 'Collaborative Computing Solutions’ – CCS provides the Virginia Tech community with stable, scalable and secure customer-focused systems, services and solutions.

CEMP - stands for 'Crisis and Emergency Management Plan,' which provides guidance for all university departments and personnel when responding to an emergency situation. Virginia Tech's CEMP addresses requirements set forth in Section 23-9.2:9, Code of Virginia, as well as in campus-wide continuity of operation plans and departmental emergency action plans. The current version of Virginia Tech's CEMP is located here.  

CI/CD - stands for 'Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery (or Deployment).' CI is the software engineering practice of regularly merging all developer working copies to a shared mainline, with a goal of catching problems early, and preventing massive integration headaches right before launch. CD is an approach where teams produce software in short cycles, ensuring that the software can be reliably released at any time. It aims at building, testing, and releasing software faster and more frequently. The difference between Delivery and Deployment is that in Continuous Delivery, pushing things up to PROD is a manual step, whereas in Continuous Deployment it is an automated step.

CNR - stands for 'Critical Needs Request,' the university budgeting process that allows units of the university to request additional funds from Virginia Tech to support new and ongoing programs and initiatives. CNR requests are typically submitted each spring, and are then considered by Virginia Tech's executive leadership, eventually appearing (or not appearing) in the ABD.

COVID-19 - stands for coronavirus disease of 2019, the name given by the World Health Organization to the novel coronavirus disease that is currently spreading around the world. A less-used name for the virus itself is SARS-CoV-2, which stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, a name given by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

CREST - stands for ‘Comprehensive Research Enterprise Solutions Team.' ­ CREST is a collaboration between the Office of Research and Innovation and the Division of Information Technology. Recently they worked to develop Summit, a new process for development of research proposals.

CRM - stands for 'Customer Relationship Management,' a type of software designed to help businesses manage customer data and interaction, access business information, and marketing and customer support and also manage employee vendor and partner relationships. Blackbaud CRM is currently being implemented by Enterprise Systems; in Advancement, Blackbaud is known as AIMS (the Advancement Information Management System).

CSG - stands for 'Common Solutions Group,' an organization formed in 1993 to bring together leaders of regional and national networks with ties to academia, and CIOs from leading academic institutions. The work of the group focused on defining next generation network applications and overcoming potential stumbling blocks to implementing those applications. Today, CSG includes representatives from nearly 500 U.S. institutions of higher education, university groups, and education-focused technology providers.

CUI - stands for ‘Controlled Unclassified Information’ - a category of unclassified categories issued in a directive on May 9, 2008, by President George W. Bush. CUI replaces categories such as For Official Use Only (FOUO), Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) and Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES) categories.

DAS - stands for ‘Distributed Antenna System'; a network of antennas on campus that boost cellular signal strength to high-density areas on campus.

DBAA - stands for 'Database & Application Administration,' one of the ten subunits of Enterprise Systems. DBAA provides administration for various database technologies, enterprise vendor and VT-developed applications, web hosting, cloud services, and deployment technology.

DCSS - stands for ‘Departmental Computing Support Symposium’ – a biannual meeting hosted by the Division of IT and intended for sharing of information on a variety of IT initiatives taking place both within and outside the division.

DSAAP - stands for 'Data and System Access Automation Program,' the new name for the program which seeks to use identified job roles and functions combined with other data like department and relevant job attributes to automatically add or subtract user permissions.

EAP - stands for 'Emergency Action Plan,' and is a plan to address immediate life safety during an emergency. EAPs include instructions for evacuation, shelter-in-place, contacting first responders, and basic emergency procedures. All Virginia Tech departments have an EAP, which is managed and maintained by a designated EAP Coordinator.

EO - stands for 'Exchange Online.' This year, Virginia Tech Exchange accounts will move to Exchange Online, a cloud based platform within Office 365.

EPO - stands for 'Emergency Power Off.' An Emergency Power Off (EPO) system is a control mechanism intended to power down a single piece of electronic equipment or up to an entire installation from a single point.

ERP - stands for 'Enterprise Resource Planning,' a class of software that helps in the management of business processes, and allows an organization to customize a system of integrated applications to automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources. For Virginia Tech, the ERP is Banner.

ES - stands for 'Enterprise Systems’ – Application Information Systems/Banner, Information Warehousing, Document Management Systems, Integration & Portal Services/My VT, Database Administration, Application Administration, Web Hosting.

ETF - stands for ‘equipment trust fund’ – short for the Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund, an annually allocated funding resource from the Virginia General Assembly. ETF funds are often used to purchase computers and equipment costing more than $500. ETF funds are for the purpose of supporting technology for research and discovery. The ETF is allocated by Virginia Tech's Office of Budget and Financial Planning through a request process that repeats on an annual basis.

FASTR - stands for 'Faculty and Staff Technology Resources.' This group within ITEE is responsible for serving the desktop support needs of personnel in NI&S, VPIT, STUNET, 4Help, ITEE, and users in AISB.

FERPA - stands for 'Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act' of 1974. This Federal law protects the privacy of student education records.

GAE - stands for 'Google Auxiliary Email,' a second Google account that can be requested as a role account by a department for business reasons. This account must be sponsored by an existing GSFE user. Often confused with Google Apps for Education (GAFE).

GAFE - stands for 'Google Apps for Education,' but don't call it that anymore! Google has just changed the name (surprise!) and now these applications are known as 'G Suite for Education' or GSFE. G Suite includes Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, Groups, Google Plus, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides, and Sites, and Classroom, and is available for all faculty, staff, and students at Virginia Tech.

HIPAA - stands for the 'Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act' of 1996, which states that any information regarding a patient’s health cannot be shared without their permission.

HDMI - stands for 'High Definition Multimedia Interface,' which connects video and digital audio data from a source device (e.g., video display controller) to an output device (e.g., PC monitor, TV, etc.).

IAM - means 'Identity and Access Management.' The purpose of IAM is to ensure that users have the right access to the right assets in an enterprise at the right time, according to that user's role with the organization. As such, IAM involves defining the access privileges for different roles, defining the roles of different users, and assigning/reassigning access based on changes to users' statuses, roles, and relationships with the organization.

IC - the 'Information Center' is the internal name for Virginia Tech’s 24/7/365 Information Center that serves as a point of contact for end users within and outside the university.

ICR - stands for 'Interdepartmental Communications Request,' the online form used by departmental communications liaisons to submit new telephone and network service requests to NI&S. Only authorized users can submit an ICR.

ICS - stands for 'Incident Command System,' and is a standardized, all-hazards management tool used by Virginia Tech Emergency Management to efficiently respond to and recover from a campus incident.

IMCS - stands for 'Identity Management Customer Support,' the group within SIS (Secure Identity Services) that manages Virginia Tech's digital identities and associated information for Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students (including but not limited to name, date of birth, ID number, PID, and affiliations).

IMT - stands for 'Incident Management Team' at Virginia Tech. The IMT consists of experts and leaders across the university who are tasked with and trained to address emergency incidents that affect the campus community, disrupt operations, and/or require innovative and novel solutions. The VT IMT has existed in its current format since 2014, and meets as needed to address incidents. The IMT has been meeting continuously since March 2020 to address the university's response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

IOC - stands for 'Indicator of Compromise' in a cybersecurity context. An IOC is the piece of evidence or forensic data on a machine or network that indicates a security breach. An IOC may be a file, IP address, change in the usual pattern of activity, or another artifact that points to the attack or attempted attack. 

ITAC - stands for the 'Information Technology Advisory Council.' ITAC is made up of volunteers from all units within the Division of IT and its units. ITAC provides a new channel for two-way information sharing, with the goal of improving communication and collaboration, and to support ongoing change management. The council also acts in an advisory capacity for the Office of the Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

ITC - stands for 'IT Council,' the group of distributed IT directors and leads that meets regularly to discuss ideas and needs and to interface with the Division of IT in a coordinated fashion. Not to be confused with ITAC, which stands for IT Advisory Council, the committee within the Division that is dedicated to receiving and sharing employee feedback.

ITEE - stands for 'IT Experience & Engagement' – ITEE is focused on collaboratively evolving and actively ensuring a high quality user experience when interacting with the Division of Information Technology. ITEE serves as the “front door” for users across the university, providing support and coordination of activities. ITEE also works closely with Division units to continuously review and improve the user experience. Previously referred to as 'ITE²'.

ITRA - stands for ‘IT Risk Assessment’ – a tool provided by the IT Security Office to enable departments to correlate IT resources with mission critical processes and services. They can then use that information to suss out the consequences of potential disruptions, as well as to generate plans to eliminate or ameliorate risks.

ITIL - stands for the 'Information Technology Infrastructure Library,' an initiative for providing best practices across all university IT services.

ITSM - stands for 'IT Service Management' and refers to all the activities involved in designing, creating, delivering, supporting and managing IT services.

ITSO - stands for 'Information Technology Security Office’ – The Information Technology Security Office and Lab focus on education and research in computer and network security. We provide tools and services, awareness, and guidance to help Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students to work towards a safe and secure IT environment for teaching, learning, research, outreach, and the conduct of university business.

KPI - stands for 'Key Performance Indicator,' a quantitative measure used to evaluate project performance against expected results.

LAA - stands for the 'Log Archiving and Analysis' project. It will provide a comprehensive, university-wide, service for collecting, analyzing, and archiving log events.

LDAP - stands for 'Lightweight Directory Access Protocol,' an open, vendor-neutral application protocol that is an industry standard for accessing and maintaining distributed directory information services over an IP (internet protocol) network.

LED – stands for 'Learning Experience Design,' a group within TLOS that offers services and support for course design and development to faculty.

LOA - stands for 'Level of Assurance' and refers to the degree of confidence that a credential used to access an account, information, or other asset is being presented by the authentic user. In other words, LOA tells us how sure we are that you are who you say you are. Different LOAs are required to access different assets. For example, entering a brewery's website will require a low LOA (just tell us you're 21 and you're in), whereas accounts with access to highly consequential information (e.g., HIPAA or FERPA protected data) require a high LOA, including but not limited to multi-factor authentication, hardware tokens, or other measures.

MVP - stands for Minimum Viable Product, an approach to product development that aims to maximize return on investment by releasing a product with the minimum amount or level of features necessary to provide value to early adopters. The idea is that early adopters will benefit from the product while providing feedback that the creator can use to improve subsequent versions of the product. Meanwhile, the creator is able to put a product to market more quickly at a lower initial cost.

NI&S - stands for 'Network Infrastructure and Services’ – NI&S exists to enable Virginia Tech to succeed in its overall mission by providing and managing the university's information technology infrastructure and services

NLI – stands for 'Networked Learning Initiatives,' a group within TLOS that offers professional development and training opportunities designed to foster technology integration and increase digital fluency for faculty, staff, and students. NLI also administers the Faculty Computer Refresh Program. 

NOC - 'Network Operations Center' took calls to 231-6780 for network issues, university telephony, and campus cable television - this center operated under the Information Center, however, it is no longer active.

OCSP - stands for 'Online Certificate Status Protocol,' an internet protocol used for obtaining the revocation status of an X.509 digital certificate. It is described in Request for Comments (RFC) 6960 and is on the Internet standards track.

OEA - stands for the 'Office for Equity and Accessibility,' which houses the offices of ADA and Accessibility Services, Affirmative Action, Conflict Resolution, Harassment and Discrimination, and Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act. Collectively, these units coordinate and support civil rights compliance and offer resources to address workplace conflicts.

OTR - stands for 'Off-the-Record Messaging,' a cryptographic protocol that provides encryption for instant messaging conversations.

OU - stands for ‘Organizational Unit’ - a subdivision within the Microsoft Active Directory into which you can place users, groups, computers, and other organizational units. Organizational units at Virginia Tech usually mirror the organization's functional/business structure. 

PHI - stands for 'Protected Health Information,' which includes any past, present and future information generated or received by a healthcare provider, employer, school, or life insurance/health insurance company. This information is protected under HIPAA. 

PKCE -  (pronounced 'pixie') stands for 'Proof Key for Code Exchange,' a method that can be combined with OAuth2 and OIDC (OpenID Connect) to authenticate users without an application key.

PKIX - stands for 'Public Key Infrastructure' (X.509), which defines the framework for the processes and collaborations used to support public key technology on the Internet. The framework has been coordinated by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

RACI - stands for ‘responsible, accountable, consulted, informed’ – this mnemonic is helpful in clarifying responsibilities in cross-functional/departmental projects, and describes participation by people in various roles.

RBAC - stands for 'Role-Based Access Control,' a method of regulating access to computer/network resources based on the roles of individual users within an enterprise. 

RBTC - stands for 'Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council,' a membership-based association working to promote the growth of the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community.

Red team/blue team - in cybersecurity defense testing, the 'red team' is charged with trying to penetrate a system to expose its vulnerabilities. The 'blue team' fortifies and maintains the system's defenses to protect against would-be attackers. Red teams and blue teams will work together to identify potential weaknesses and develop appropriate solutions to minimize security risk.

RFO - stands for 'Reason For Outage' and is an incident report that attempts to briefly outline the timeline of the outage, the root cause of failure, a description of what happened, actions taken toward resolution, and future prevention.

RITM - stands for 'Request Item' in ServiceNow. Each distinct requestable item in our ServiceNow interface gets a stable RITM number that allows usage of the item to be tracked and connects users with information specific to that request.

SAML2 - stands for 'Security Assertion Markup Language,' an XML-based standard for communicating identity information between organizations. It is used to enable secure transmittal of authentication tokens and other user attributes across Internet domains.

SAMS - stands for 'Scheduling and Maintenance of Services,' a group collaboration by service owners in the Division of IT to identify synergies and conflicts in service maintenance, and to populate a calendar for scheduled maintenance of IT systems and services at Virginia Tech. Division of IT employees can see what’s on the SAMS calendar here

SIS - stands for 'Secure Identity Services. 'SIS is responsible for supporting Virginia Tech’s online identity management and authentication processes. SIS provides secure access to information resources, and supports robust web applications, middleware, online directories, and authentication technologies that integrate with teaching, learning, research, and outreach services throughout the university.

SLA - stands for 'Service Level Agreement,' an official commitment or contract between service providers and clients. In an SLA, aspects of a service like uptime, quality, availability, service and communication responsibilities are described and agreed upon.

SNI - stands for 'Server Name Identification,' an extension to the Transport Layer Security (TSL) protocol that ensures that a client connects to the correct domain (website) on a server that hosts multiple domains.

SOC - stands for 'Security Operations Center,' a centralized unit that deals with security issues on an organizational and technical level.

SRS - stands for 'Software Requirements Specification,' a document that describes the functional and user interface requirements of a software under development. An SRS helps to ensure that new software is designed and developed in a usable, functional, and cost-effective manner. The SRS can also serve as a communication tool between developers and the customer or users by providing guidelines for design, testing, and ongoing refinement of the software.

SSD - stands for 'Services for Students with Disabilities,' the department provides numerous accommodations, services, and resources for students with disabilities and temporary injuries or illnesses.

SVG - stands for 'Scalable Vector Graphics,' an XML-based vector image format for two-dimensional graphics with support for interactivity and animation.

SWOT - stands for ‘Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats’ – a structured planning method that evaluates those four elements of a project or business venture. A SWOT analysis can be carried out for a company, product, place, industry, or person.

TLOS - stands for 'Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies' – TLOS serves the Virginia Tech community by working with faculty to design effective learning experiences, providing training to enhance digital fluency, and supporting innovative learning environments in traditional, distance, and hybrid courses.

TL;DR - 'Too long, didn’t read.'..often prefaces a summary of the key points in a long explanation.

UAS - stands for 'Unix Administration Services' which supports UNIX/Linux-based hardware and operating systems for administrative applications (such as Banner and the Enterprise Data Warehouse), instructional applications (such as Scholar), and research applications within ARC and other university organizations.

UDL - stands for 'Universal Design for Learning.' UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.

UEM - stands for 'Unified Endpoint Management.' UEM allows us to configure, manage and monitor devices of different types while also technically applying critical security controls in a centralized, standardized fashion.

UID - stands for a 'Unique Identifier.' It is a numeric or alphanumeric string that is associated with a single entity within a given system.

UPN - stands for ‘User Principal Name’ – in Windows, the User Principal Name (UPN) is the name of a system user in an e-mail address format. The username is followed by the ‘@’ sign followed by the name of the Internet domain with which the user is associated. 

UX - stands for 'User Experience,' a design concept that focuses on developing a deep understanding of user needs, abilities, limitations, and what they value, while also taking into account the business goals and objectives of the group managing the project.

VFI - stands for 'Video for Instruction,' which is the name of the TLOS project that rolled out Zoom and Kaltura as replacements for WebEx and Echo360 in 2018.

VME - stands for 'Virtual Machine Environments' - it provides the Virginia Tech community with stable, scalable and secure Windows and Linux virtualized customer-facing systems.

VTOC - the 'Virginia Tech Operations Center' was a call center where operators took initial calls to 231-4357/4Help - this center operated under the Information Center, however, it is no longer active.

WFH - stands for 'work(ing) from home.'

XACML - (pronounced "Zack MAAL") stands for 'Extensible Access Control Markup Language,' which is a general-purpose access control policy language that organizations use to define, describe, and control how their systems can be accessed.

XMPP - stands for 'Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol,' a communications protocol for near-real-time exchange of message-oriented middleware between network entities.