Certifications / Cloud

10 IT Buzzwords

by David Zomaya
10 IT Buzzwords from 2019 picture: A
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Published on December 9, 2019

IT buzzwords can be a double-edged sword. They help us keep track of the latest trends and stay up to date. On the other hand, they can become overused to the point they don't even have a clear definition anymore.

As an IT pro, it's important to be able to understand what delivers real benefits and what's just marketing fluff. In this piece, we'll look at some of the hottest IT buzzwords of 2023 to help you do just that.


The next generation cellular technology, 5G surged in popularity this year. From fears that 5G is harmful to the promise of revolutionizing tech, news about 5G is everywhere. There's a lot of hype surrounding 5G. So much that an allegedly "fake" 5G network popped up to take advantage of the buzz. If you're not familiar with the story, an OpenSignal study suggested AT&T's "5G E" was slower than 4G from competitors.

Marketing fluff notwithstanding, real 5G tech is legitimate. With speeds that will be orders of magnitude faster than 4G LTE, 5G definitely has a lot of promise. With that sort of throughput, 5G will play a big role in enabling other buzzwords like virtual reality (VR), self-driving cars, and IoT (Internet of Things).

Phone companies are already offering 5G plans, but the reality is that 5G isn't the norm just yet. As 5G networks grow, expect that to change in the coming years. If you're looking for a deeper dive on 5G, check out our 5G Rollout: What to Expect post.


Looking at Google Trends, you can see that interest in DevOps increased in 2024. That's impressive when you consider it was one of the biggest buzzwords of 2018, too. For example, DevOps Engineer topped Indeed's best jobs of 2023.

When you think about it, the term DevOps has all the makings of a popular buzzword. It's powerful enough to impact business operations greatly, driving investment and market demand. It's also ambiguous enough that the Internet can argue over what it is and isn't all day. Case in point: DevOps Engineer is a popular job title, there are many who argue DevOps isn't a job at all.

If nothing else, this helps drive conversation and debate around the topic. It also enables marketers to have a field day with the term. However, as an IT pro, you should remain focused on what works and try to look past marketing fluff and arguments about semantics.

Regardless of your opinion on what the term is and isn't, there's no denying there is some substance behind the hype. Automation, infrastructure as code, and a collaborative culture focused on communication and shared responsibility all have real value.

Looking to break into a career in DevOps? Try our free Intro to DevOps training.

Cloud Native

Cloud native is a corollary to the term DevOps that took off in 2023. Cloud native is all about enabling the delivery of cloud services dynamically, scalably, and resiliently. Driving the interest in cloud native is desire from around the industry to foster the growth of cloud native tech. This includes microservices, public & private clouds, and APIs (application programming interfaces).

In the past few years, many of the biggest players in tech including Microsoft Azure, AWS, Apple, Google Cloud, and Cisco have joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). That list in and of itself is pretty impressive. If nothing else, buy-in from Microsoft, Apple, and Google to enable the same technology suggests there's something to it. There's also grassroots interest in cloud native. The CNCF boasts over 65,000 contributors and more than 125,000 CNCF meetup members.

For IT pros, the upside of an organization like CNCF is they seem to be legitimately focused on value delivery. They defined cloud native in a way that helps better quantify it. Without such an authoritative reference, it could become a very ambiguous term due to misuse/overuse. Nonetheless, you should still be on the lookout for marketers that define anything in the cloud as "cloud native."

Another buzzword related to cloud-native that could arguably be its own entry on this list is containerization. Containers aren't new tech by any means, but widespread adoption of Docker and Kubernetes have generated huge interest. Containerization enables apps to be deployed quickly and consistently independent of the operating system or hardware. As long as the container engine can run, the app can run. This lightweight approach to app delivery is at the heart of building microservices.


These days it seems like cloud is the IT buzzword that won't go away. Cloud has been, and remains, one of the hottest terms in tech. Everyone seems to be "shifting workloads to the cloud" or adopting the latest "as a service" model.

There are plenty of benefits to the cloud. Reduced capex, scalability, and offloading of hardware maintenance come to mind. However, there are tradeoffs as well. In some cases, the economics of the cloud just don't make sense. In others, data sovereignty or not wanting your data on "someone else's computer" make for a case against the cloud.

The previous year (2023) saw the continued growth of cloud-computing platforms like AWS, Azure, SalesForce, Office 365, and GSuite. It also saw the growth in popularity of terms like DaaS (Desktop as a Service, DRaaS (Disaster recovery as a Service), NaaS (Network as a Service), UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service), and even RaaS (Ransomware as a Service).

You read that right, with software like Cerber, even ransomware has been shifted to the cloud (check out this SonicWall blog for more info on that).

Interested in a crash course on cloud computing and cloud concepts? Check out Basic Cloud Computing Concepts with Anthony Sequeira!


Software-Defined Networking (SDN) abstracts away the complexities of managing multiple physical network appliances. With SDN, you can drive down costs and make it easier to maintain networks. To conceptualize the benefits of SDN, think about troubleshooting a network using traditional appliances versus a software-defined network. In a traditional network, each network function (e.g. routing) was carried out by a dedicated physical device (e.g. a router).

In many cases, if something went wrong, someone needed to get access to that device, troubleshoot, and resolve. Just the coordination required to get the right person in the right place could take a lot of time. With SDN, the network can be centrally managed, increasing visibility, easing troubleshooting, and improving agility.

With technology like VMware NSX and Juniper Contrail growing in popularity, 2023 was a big year for SDN. According to market projections we should expect the trend to continue the next few years. After reaching $24.5 billion in 2023, the SDN market is projected to grow to $60.2 billion by 2028.

One of the tricky parts of SDN is quantifying what it is and isn't. For example, it seems like NFV (network functions virtualization) can be classified as SDN. However, if you review this Cisco article, you'll realize that isn't necessarily the case.

Looking to learn the ins and outs of software-defined networking? Start your free week of CBT Nuggets and check out our SDN courses.


The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of "smart" devices that can be connected to the internet and transmit data. Basically, anything with a sensor and a network connection can be part of the Internet of Things. Everything from Alexa to smart fridges to driverless cars are a part of the Internet of Things.

Like some of the other IT buzzwords on the list, part of the attention IoT is garnering stems from debate. On the one side, IoT can improve analytics, enable new technologies, and simply make things more convenient. On the other hand, there are tons of privacy concerns (you have to admit "smart camera" sounds a bit Orwellian).

Some of the biggest IoT stories of 2023 have been related to the development of smart cities. The upsides of smart cities are clear. Infrastructure can be more effectively maintained and operated if officials have better data on it. For example, Berkeley County Water & Sanitation was able to use Sensus smart technologies to cut water meter read times from 3 weeks to 2 hours. That's real change with a tangible benefit. Compare that to Alphabet's struggles with their Smart City endeavors in Toronto. Late last year, Dr. Ann Cavoukian resigned from the project citing data privacy concerns. She was quoted as saying, "I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance."

Clearly thinking about IoT requires some nuance. With use cases in everything from homes to Industry 4.0, the tech isn't going away, but neither are security concerns. Looking forward to 2020, we can expect IoT popularity to continue to grow. We can also expect the debates and concerns surrounding privacy to remain a hot topic.

Want to learn more about IoT? Watch our Internet of Things Fundamentals training!

Artificial Intelligence

It's no wonder A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) has proven to be such a popular IT buzzword. Since the term was coined, it has been able to capture plenty of attention. It seems people are inherently intrigued by the idea. Everyone from Neil deGrasse Tyson to Elon Musk to Joe Rogan has an opinion on the topic. Plenty of movies have been made about A.I. (Skynet in Terminator, Transcendence, Ex Machina, and CHAPPiE come to mind).

However, much of the public attention on A.I. is focused on "general A.I." taking over the world. While that is certainly an interesting theoretical problem, more specialized A.I. is changing the world today. A.I. and machine learning are able to transform big data into actionable information.

For example, A.I. can help with medical diagnoses, prevent fraud, and enable self-driving cars. The exciting thing about A.I. in 2023: it's accessible. While you won't make a real-world Skynet (well, we hope you won't) you can dive into predictive analytics or a similar field.

To get started on your journey with A.I., check out Looking Into AI With Microsoft Azure.


Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) isn't new. It's been around for 15+ years, but adoption has been growing at a healthy clip. A big reason why: the solutions available today are capable of delivering a quality desktop experience with minimal hardware. In fact, some certifications, like VMware's VCP6-DTM, require in-depth knowledge of VDI.

In a nutshell, the upside of VDI is simple. A client computer with minimal compute resources connects to a server that gives the user a full operating system experience. This makes BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) simpler, reduces hardware costs, and streamlines IT helpdesk support. It can also reduce security risks by minimizing attack surface.

For more on the benefits of VDI, read our VMware VDI: Why a Virtualized Desktop is Better post.

Wi-Fi 6

802.11ax, the Wi-Fi 6 standard, was released this year and there has been plenty of buzz surrounding it. Although, if you've ever had to memorize all the different Wi-Fi standards, Wi-Fi version numbers may be an even bigger story.

One of the most difficult things to sort through with Wi-Fi 6 are its practical benefits from a bandwidth perspective. Theoretical speeds are great, but real-world performance is what matters. CNET did some tests that really helped in this regard. In those tests Wi-Fi 6 was about 40% faster than Wi-Fi 5 (a.k.a. 802.11ac).

However, it's important to note that many of us don't have the Internet speeds to make use of Wi-Fi 6. Worded differently, while Wi-Fi 6 has theoretical speeds of up to 10 Gbps, that doesn't mean much if you have a 100 Mbps connection.

For more on Wi-Fi 6, check out How 802.11ax Will Impact Your Networks.

Final Thoughts

There's always something new in the world of tech. There's also often repackaging of old tech with fancy new terms. Staying up to date with the latest terms and trends helps you keep your skills sharp and make informed decisions.


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