IT Standard (Information Technology Standard)

An IT Standard is a rule, principle, technique, process or template that is designed to provide consistency to the planning, development, operation and governance of Information Technology (IT) services.[1]

Information Technology Standards and Standard Organizations[2]
Among the first information technology standards were those in the telecommunications arena. Standards have played an important role in telecommunications. With the minor exception of touch tone versus pulse dialing phones, any phone manufactured for use in the United States can be connected to any phone outlet. Thousands of manufacturers and network owners have agreed to the same power and signaling conventions. Telecommunications providers have also given us the ability to uniquely identify each phone in the world with a number and to connect virtually any two of those devices automatically. From a technological perspective, the phone system is far and away the largest and most complex device ever conceived, designed, and built. More recently, manufacturers of information processing equipment, particularly telecommunications equipment, have developed standards for hardware and software to cover areas such as data packet construction, power specifications, and connection types. The number of standards for software design and information formatting is growing.

As the use and importance of computers and computer networks have grown, standards in this area have become increasingly important. Individual and organizational consumers of information processing equipment and software have begun to demand that the services and equipment they purchase comply with selected standards. Beginning in the late 1990s, standardization efforts in the information technology arena have produced more pages of standards than all other standardization efforts combined.

Information technology standards include both hardware and software standards. Software and information formatting standards are increasingly important. Standards exist for operating systems, programming languages, communications protocols, and human computer interaction. For example, the global exchange of electronic mail messages requires standards for addressing, formatting, and transmission.

For one-word processor to be able to read another word processor's output requires standards for organization of the information within the file. From an information encoding point of view, the most basic standard is how to represent a character. Because computers exchange information as numbers, there must be agreement as to what the numbers mean. For the last thirty years this standard was the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII). It was agreed that computers would exchange information as sequences of bytes—packages of numbers represented as a sequence of ones and zeros. A byte is defined as eight binary digits—for example, the binary number 00000001 is the same as the decimal number one and the binary number 10000000 is equivalent to the decimal number 128. It is possible to represent 256 different decimal numbers using eight binary digits.

ASCII defines the association between these numbers and characters. The number 65 is A and the number 66 is B, for example. At the end of the 1990s, ASCII began to be replaced by a more comprehensive standard that uses sixteen bits that can represent more than 65,000 different characters. This standard, known as UNICODE, has made it possible to exchange information not only in English but also in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and other languages. Information formatting and processing standards are growing to include more and more kinds of information in increasingly complex aggregate forms. There are now standards for images (TIFF and JPEG), audio files (WAV, AU), and movies (MPEG).

A growing array of standards allows the World Wide Web to operate, including the standards for the basic protocol, the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), the standard for the messages (HTML), and a whole series of new standards to describe more general documents (the eXtended Markup Language or XML), links (the XML Linking Language or XLL), and appearance (XML Stylesheet Language or XSL).

See Also