Internet of Things - Glossary of terms

API (Application Programming Interface)—Sets of requirements that govern how one application can communicate and interact with another. In the simplest terms, APIs are set of protocols, routines, and tools that software can use to communicate with other software. For example, when a Google map is embedded on a web page, that web page is calling the Google Maps API to pull the data from Google Maps and display it on a web page.

API Management—The supervision of tasks related to publishing, documenting, and maintaining application programming interfaces (APIs). A company that publishes an API needs to maintain it in a scalable and secure environment for developers to use. Companies like Google and Facebook are supporting a growing open API movement based on lightweight JSON and REST services.

Big Data—Any huge amount of data that must be managed, stored, or processed by computer systems. The term doesn't refer to a specific quantity but is often used with regard to petabytes (1000 terabytes) and exabytes (1 million terabytes) of data. Big data is often described by 3 Vs: volume, variety, and velocity. Volume is the quantity, variety the different types of data, and velocity the speed at which it must be managed.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)—A file used to tell a web browser how to format a web page. A link to the file is embedded in the web page or processed inline, and the browser uses the information in this file to format attributes of the web page such as fonts, colors, border positioning, and so on.

Cloud Computing—Generally, the delivery of hosted computing services over the Internet rather than on an individual computer or at an individual organization’s location. A variety of computing services may be “in the cloud,” from network servers to software applications.

DevOps—The blending of tasks traditionally performed by an organization’s separate development and operations teams. As operations become more programmable (and especially as the IoT demands a change in operations programming from proprietary to open languages and protocols), these two teams must work together. New jobs may blend both development and systems engineering skills into one position.

Edge Computing—The “edge” is where the physical world meets the digital world. In IoT terms, the edge is where a sensor’s or machine’s data in voltage or current is turned into the ones and zeros that a computer needs to process it. Edge computing means filtering or processing that data directly in devices like programmable automation controllers (PACs) located at the edge, so that intermediary gateways and software are not required. Processing data before it is sent to the cloud reduces traffic on networks and the Internet by reducing the amount of data sent. It also increases efficiency, security, and compliance.

Ethernet—A local-area networking (LAN) technology used to digitally connect computing devices. Typically deployed over Category 5 or 6 twisted-pair copper cables with RJ45 connectors at each end, and composed of transceivers to control the passing of bits over the wire while avoiding data collisions. See IEEE 802.3, CSMA/CD.

Fog Computing—Similar to edge computing, fog computing takes the analogy of the cloud and brings it down closer to the physical world: fog. Typically fog computing is using computing power in a fog node or IoT gateway to filter or process data and then send only the required data to the cloud. 

GitHub—An open-source version-control and collaboration platform for software developers. GitHub was started in 2008 and was founded on Git, an open-source code management system created by Linus Torvalds to make software builds faster.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)—A web language used by web servers and web browsers to present information to users. HTML pages are served to web browsers (clients) from a web server. HTML code served on an HTML page tells a web browser how and where to display text and other resources on a web page.

HTTP and HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol & HTTP Secure)—An application protocol used for distributed, hypermedia information systems, and the foundation of data communications on the World Wide Web. HTTP is a text-based protocol, is based on a command/response model, and is easily identified by the preface “http://” in communications, such as in the address bar of your web browser. HTTPS is HTTP communications on a connection encrypted by transport layer security to prevent eavesdropping of transmitted data.

IP Address—An Internet Protocol address, which is a numerical identifier for a networked device on a TCP/IP network. Typically made up of four 3-digit numbers separated by decimal points (IPv4), with a newer version made up of six 3-digit, decimal-separated numbers (IPv6).

Information Technology (IT)—Hardware, software, infrastructure, and processes used to create, secure, process, and communicate all types of electronic data. Also the department or group within an organization that installs, programs, and maintains these systems.

Internet of Things (IoT)—A network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings, machines, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. In its simplest terms, the IoT is about physical “things” with the ability to sense, actuate, and communicate. The IoT works across existing Internet-based network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, or cyber-physical systems, resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy, and economic benefit.