To write a story about the complex problems being addressed by Owens & Minor in updating its legacy system presents a couple of challenges for the general reader.

One, the story has to deal with programming and many languages.

Two, those who write, use and sell the programs have created a series of acronyms that can leave general readers scratching their heads.

Rather than remove all the terms from the stories, Local Tech Wire chose to leave them as submitted and also offer this guide for those who want to do a little “data mining” themselves. To take the terms out completely, in our view, would remove the true depth of the challenges companies face in dealing with aging systems. To leave the acronyms in without inserting definitions allows David Guzman to tell his story the way he can tell it best.

Java, HTML and XML are relatively new programming terms that most people involved in technology understand to some extent. HTML (hypertext markup language), for example, refers to the code for writing web pages. Java is the name that has come to be applied to the language created by Suns for high-level programming. And XML stands for “extensible markup language” which permits sophisticated programming of HTML. Sometimes it’s called “HTML on steroids.”

As for the other acronyms used by Guzman, the spelled-out version of each follows:

COBOL : Common business oriented language

CICS: Customer information control system

VSAM: Virtual storage access method

ERP: Enterprise resource planning

IMS: Information management system (IBM)

SOAP: Single object access protocol

UDDI: Universal description discovery and interpretation

DB2: IBM Data Base

Hopefully, the spelled-out terms will help you grasp the meaning of the acronym. If you want more detail, check out, or use MSN’s search engine. In looking for these terms, I found them to provide the easiest — and fastest — answers.

– Rick Smith