Glossary of Technical Terms



Glossary of Technical Terms

Woman reading dictionary with magnifying glass
Woman reading dictionary with magnifying glass

With digital commerce playing an ever-expanding role in our lives, businesses frequently find themselves having to quickly adapt to changes in consumer behavior, the digital marketplace, or both, usually in the form of introducing or migrating to new technologies and tools. However, evaluating and selecting those technologies and tools can be difficult and confusing, especially if you don’t happen to be fluent in the language of technology.

To help provide a better understanding of the technical terms and acronyms that are casually thrown around in conference rooms and on Zoom calls the world over, PeakActivity has developed a short glossary that breaks down the jargon that will allow you to make the right technology decision for your business.

Group of young professionals having a discussion in their office

Glossary of Terms:


 Application Programming Interface (API): A software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other through defined interactions.

 Agile: A set of organizational practices pertaining to software or site development which emphasize communication, evolutionary development, and continuous improvement with the aim of delivering higher-quality software. Agile has also evolved to mean a mindset or concept around iterative learning. (See also SCRUM).

 A/B Testing Software: Software that randomizes the experimentation process wherein two or more versions of a variable (e.g. web page, page element, etc.) are shown to different segments of website visitors at the same time to determine which version has the maximum impact and drives business metrics. Learn more about A/B testing.

 Access Control List (ACL): A list of user permissions for a file, folder, or other object that defines what users and groups can access the object and what operations they can perform, typically varying from reading, writing, and executing.

 Application Performance Monitoring (APM): Tools that capture, aggregate, and analyze data to detect patterns and present actionable insights in a human-readable format.

 Analytics Platform: Software to tag and measure the performance of your website and other digital channels.


 Back End: The group of technologies that allow a given website or application to work, like servers, applications, and databases. The back end is typically referred to in contrast to the front end, which serves as the user interface.

 Blue-Green Deployment: A methodology for releasing new code into the production environment whose purpose is to reduce software downtime.

 Business Intelligence (BI): A set of processes that businesses use to analyze operational data and create actionable insights that drive effective business decision-making.


 Content Management System (CMS): Software used to create, manage, edit and publish digital content.

 Customer Relationship Management System (CRM): Software used to manage customer interactions and the sales journey.

 Cloud-Based Architecture: A type of software design that aims to deliver software by leveraging the various managed, elastic, and highly available computing resources available from cloud providers.

 Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS): A category of cloud services where the service provider offers customers the ability to manage and deploy containerized applications and clusters.

 Content Delivery Network (CDN): A tool to auto-optimize images impacting the speed and performance of heavily-trafficked websites and applications that are deployed in cloud environments.

 Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): A software engineering practice where all developers merge their changes into a shared mainline that is continuously validated via automated scripts and deployed directly into the live production environment where it will be visible to customers.

 Continuous Monitoring: A technology and process that IT organizations may implement to enable rapid detection of compliance issues and security risks within the IT infrastructure.

Server farm


 Digital Asset Management System (DAM): A comprehensive software that safely stores, organizes, and shares digital media files, like photos or videos.

 Data Security: A set of policies, processes, procedures, and tools that prevent unauthorized access to their networks, servers, and data storage.

 DevOps: A collection of best practices for the software development process to shorten the development life cycle such as continuous integration, delivery, and deployment.


 eCommerce Platform: A technology solution containing multiple modules that help businesses manage content, promotions, product catalog(s), customers, transactions, and customer transactional communications. Learn more about considerations when re-platforming.

 Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP): Software applications that support a wide range of administrative and operational functions that help organizations manage day-to-day business activities, such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management, compliance, and/or supply chain.

 Encapsulation: A mechanism of restricting direct access to some components of an object, so users cannot access state values for all of the variables of a particular object.


 Field Service Management (FSM): Software specifically designed to help businesses manage their field operations, such as on-site technical support, installers, building contractors, etc.

 Front End: The user interface of a given website or platform, which serves as an intermediary between the user and the back end, which, in contrast, is the collective technologies that allow the website or platform to run.

 Functions-as-a-Service (FaaS): A cloud computing model on serverless technologies and architectures that allow software developers to easily deploy small, focused applications in the cloud.


 Globally Unique Identifier (GUID): A 128-bit (16 byte) number used by software programs to uniquely identify the location of a data object. (See also UUID).


 Headless Commerce: A software solution that decouples the front-end and back-end architecture of a website or application to improve the user experience of both front-end users and back-end developers, in an effort to support the broader business goals without disrupting the shopping experience.

 Hybrid Cloud: A specific deployment model for cloud service delivery that combines private, on-premise cloud infrastructure and services with public cloud services.


 Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR): A developmental feature of Next.js that allows the regeneration of static pages during runtime, improving site speed, usability, and user experience.

 Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): A delivery model for cloud services where customers purchase access to managed IT infrastructure from a cloud services provider.

 Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Refers to the increasingly common practice of provisioning and managing IT infrastructure using coding.

Team of developers busy writing code


 JSON: A data serialization language commonly used to transfer small pieces of structured, text-based data between disparate systems.

 JSON Web Token (JWT): A proposed Internet standard for creating data with optional signature and/or optional encryption whose payload holds JSON that asserts some number of claims. The tokens are signed either using a private secret or a public/private key.


 Kubernetes: An open-source container-orchestration system for automating computer application deployment, scaling, and management. It was originally designed by Google and is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.


 Log Aggregation: A software function that consolidates log data from throughout the IT infrastructure into a single centralized platform where it can be reviewed and analyzed.

 Log Analysis: The process of reviewing, interpreting, and understanding computer-generated records called logs.

 Load Balancer: Distributes requests between multiple servers to handle requests for a website or business application.

Doctor performing surgery with the help of augmented reality


 Microservices: A technical architectural style of an application or platform that provides a collection of highly maintainable services. Key features of microservices include loosely coupled technologies that can be deployed and managed independently.

 Monolith Architecture: A single-tiered approach to technical architecture where all business functions are tightly woven into a single all-encompassing platform. While this keeps the experience cohesive, it can create challenges for making changes, as even minor adjustments can require extensive developer resources.

 Minimum Viable Product (MVP): Often referred to in agile development, pertaining to a product with just enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle. The MVP helps the product team receive user feedback as quickly as possible to iterate and improve the product.

 Machine Learning: A programming technique used to automate the construction of analytical models and enable applications to perform specified tasks more efficiently. Learn more about machine learning.

 Master Services Agreement (MSA): A contract that details the responsibilities and obligations of two parties to each other. This comprehensive contract generally includes detailed rates, services, and terms for each functional area of the partnership.

 Microservice Architecture: A distinctive method of developing software systems that try to focus on building single-function modules with well-defined interfaces and operations. The trend has grown popular in recent years as enterprises look to become more agile and move towards a continuous testing and optimization culture.


 Next JS: A website development application framework built on Node that provides additional features, such as server-side rendering, tighter API coupling, and developer experience (DX) improvements, when building React-based front-ends. (Also see Node).

 Node: A popular, lightweight runtime that executes code written in Javascript, a programming language previously limited to front-end development, in back ends.


 Operational Intelligence: The application of data analysis techniques to data that is generated or collected in real-time through an organization’s IT infrastructure.

 Order Management System (OMS): A tool, platform, or structure used to track and control all the elements of the sales, inventory, and fulfillment process.


 Product Information Management System (PIM): Software (or an approach to software) that allows businesses to manage all product information in one place, including product catalogs, merchandising, as well as distribution to sales and eCommerce channels.

 Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): A model of cloud service delivery where a cloud service provider delivers some hardware and software tools to customers over the internet.

 Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF): Distribution of the open-source Cloud Foundry platform that includes additional features that expand the capabilities of Cloud Foundry.

 Private Cloud Deployment: A model for cloud services where the cloud environment and infrastructure are dedicated to providing services for a single organization.

 Predictive Analytics: A set of methods and technologies that can be used to analyze current and historical data with the goal of making predictions about future events.

Team of project managers creating a project scope and timeline


 Serverless Functions: Specially coded functions of a given platform that serve a single purpose and are maintained by cloud services, therefore bypassing the need—and time it takes—to communicate with a server. This efficiency allows developers to deploy new code easier and faster.

 Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): A model of software distribution where customers pay a fee for the license to use an application, typically provided over the internet.

 SCRUM: A project management framework or methodology that is used to efficiently produce quality work while adapting quickly to change. (Also see Agile).

 Serverless Computing: A cloud computing execution model in which the cloud provider allocates machine resources on demand, taking care of the servers on behalf of their customers.

 Structured Logging: The practice of implementing a consistent, predetermined message format for application logs that allows them to be treated as data sets rather than text.


 Technical Debt: A concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing less-expensive technology options that only solve individual problems and are not scalable or sustainable, thereby limiting the return on investment and costing more in the long term.

 Testing-as-a-Service (TaaS): A new avenue for outsourcing many types of testing that are demanded in today’s IT environment.


 User Experience (UX): Describes all the interactions and experiences a user has with a given product, system, platform, or other technology service. Learn more about UX audits.

 Universally Unique Identifier (UUID): A 128-bit label used for information in computer systems. When generated according to the standard methods, UUIDs are, for practical purposes, unique. (Also see GUID).


 Virtual Private Cloud (VPC): A unique delivery model for private cloud services that allow an organization to establish a virtual network under their control.

 Virtualization: This can refer to a variety of computing concepts, but it usually refers to running multiple operating systems on a single machine. While most computers only have one operating system installed, virtualization software allows a computer to run several operating systems at the same time.


 Xamarin: A Microsoft-owned San Francisco-based software company founded in May 2011 by the engineers that created Mono, Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS, which are cross-platform implementations of the Common Language Infrastructure and Common Language Specifications.


 YAML: A data serialization language that is often used for writing configuration files.


  Zero-Day Exploit: A malicious computer attack that takes advantage of a security hole before the vulnerability is known. The security issue is only made known on the same day that the computer attack is released, giving the software developer zero days to prepare for the security breach and develop a patch or update that fixes the problem.

Happy business people shaking hands after sealing a deal

Technically Speaking

There’s no getting around it: The business of eCommerce is spoken in the language of technology because every aspect of building and maintaining a successful website rests squarely on technology. This means the ultimate responsibility of your website’s success—or failure—rides on you selecting the right technologies for your business. That’s why it’s so important to have a basic understanding of technical terminology.

Armed with this simple glossary of technical terms, you’ll be able to better understand, and participate in the discussions that are happening in order to identify, select, implement, and maintain the technologies to help grow your business today, and well into the future.

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