What is information technology?
● Information technology (IT) is the use of any computers,
storage, networking and other physical
devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store,
secure and exchange all forms of electronic data. Typically, IT is
used in the context of business operations, as opposed to
technology used for personal or entertainment purposes. The
commercial use of IT encompasses both computer technology
Why is information technology important?
It's been said that data is what powers industries
worldwide. That may be hyperbole, but few
businesses -- large or small -- can remain
competitive without the ability to collect data and
turn it into useful information. IT provides the
means to develop, process, analyze, exchange,
store and secure information.
Data processing plays a significant role in these
core business practices, among others, including:
• Product development and design;
• Marketing and market research;
• Sales and invoicing;
• Customer development and retention;
• Accounting and taxes;
• Human resources and payroll; and
• Regulatory compliance.
Examples of information technology
Server upgrade. One or more data center servers near the end of their operational and
maintenance lifecycle. IT staff will select and procure replacement servers, configure and
deploy the new servers, backup applications and data on existing servers, transfer that data
and applications to the new servers, validate that the new servers are working properly and
then repurpose or decommission and dispose of the old servers.
Security monitoring. Businesses routinely employ tools to monitor and log activity in
applications, networks and system IT staff receive alerts of potential threats or noncompliant
behavior -- such as a user attempting to access a restricted file -- check logs and other
reporting tools to investigate and determine the root cause of the alert and take prompt
action to address and remediate the threat, often driving changes and improvements to
security posture that can prevent similar events in the future.
New software. The business determines a need for a new mobile application that can allow
customers to log in and access account information or conduct other transactions from
smartphones and tablets. Developers work to create and refine a suitable application
according to a planned roadmap. Operations staff posts each iteration of the new mobile
application for download and deploy the back-end components of the app to the
● Business improvement. A business requires more availability from a critical application to
help with revenue or business continuance strategies. The IT staff might be called upon to
architect a high-availability cluster to provide greater performance and resilience for the
application to ensure that the application can continue to function in the face of single
outages. This can be paired with enhancements to data storage protection and recovery.
● User support. Developers are building a major upgrade for a vital business application.
Developers and admins will collaborate to create new documentation for the upgrade. IT
staff might deploy the upgrade for limited beta testing -- allowing a select group of users to
try the new version -- while also developing and delivering comprehensive training that
prepares all users for the new version's eventual release.
Software vs. hardware
● There are two categories of software: system software and applications. System software
encompasses the computer programs that manage the basic computing functions. They
include the following:
• boot programs;
• assemblers; and
• device drivers.
● Business applications include:
• databases, such as SQL Server;
• transactional systems, such as real-time order entry;
● These applications make use of programmed instructions to manipulate, consolidate,
disperse and otherwise work with data for a business purpose.
● Mobile applications that run on smartphones, tablets and other portable devices typically
connect with cloud or data center applications over the internet. These applications have
expanded the scope of computing and created a new category of software and
telecommunications that requires special expertise to maintain.
● There are many different types of computer hardware. Computer servers run business
applications. Servers interact with client devices in the client-server model. They also
communicate with other servers across computer networks, which typically link to the
● Storage is another type of hardware. It's any technology that holds information as data.
Storage may be local on a specific server or shared among many servers, and it may be
installed on premises or accessed via a cloud service. Information that is stored can take
many forms, including file, multimedia, telephony, and web and sensors data. Storage
hardware includes volatile random-access memory (RAM) as well as non-volatile tape,
hard disk drives and solid-state drives.
● Telecom equipment, comprising network interface cards (NICs), cabling, wireless
communications and switching devices, connect the hardware elements together and to
Abstracting hardware and software
● IT architectures have evolved to include virtualization and cloud computing, where
physical resources are abstracted and pooled in different configurations to meet
application requirements. Clouds may be distributed across locations and shared with
other IT users, or they can be contained within a corporate data center, or some
combination of both deployments.
● Volatility is a characteristic of virtualized resources, enabling them to expand and contract
as needed. Subscription-based cloud or locally installed resources, such as storage or
composable architectures, can spin up resources, such as servers, OSes and application
software, as needed and then release them when processing is complete.
IT skills and certifications
● A successful IT career will involve developing several technical skills. For the current IT
job market, these 10 skills are among those most in demand:
2. Cloud computing
3. Edge computing and IoT
4. IT automation
5. Software development
6. Big data management and data analytics
10. Mobile application development