Some common terms used on this blog and my own definition, with sources and references if relevant - feel free to use and expand on:


Knowing who your customers are is critical to knowing how to deliver value to those customers. It also helps when establishing support priorities - you may wish to spend more time documenting and writing procedures for customer-facing systems and services.
Database Administrator. Manage, as well as develop for, one or more database servers. May include SQL Server, MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Oracle etc. This blog mainly deals with SQL Server. A couple of great definitions of what a DBA is and how they work can be found at:
IT teams are increasingly called on to not just provide technology infrastructure, but to deliver and support technology solutions to help a business achieve its goals. They do this through systems and services.
support staff
IT teams work in many different ways. I use the term support to loosely mean IT or related teams that may be called on to fix production issues, in and out of normal hours. Support staff may include the DBA - but sometimes not.

Server- and database-specific

A structured collection of data, organised for storage and querying. SQL Server and other relational database management systems (RDBMS) organise into tables, views, stored procedures, functions, users etc.
system database
In SQL Server-speak, the master, model, msdb and tempdb databases. Can be ignored in queries by using a clause like SELECT * FROM sys.databases WHERE database_id > 4.
database user
In SQL Server, a person or group with a set of permissions relating to a database. Typically linked to a server-level login, but not always. Users may be members of a role like "database owner" or "read only". Users can be given specific permissions on tables (even down to the column level), views, stored procedures etc.
A DNS CNAME is an alias or redirect to point to a server or service. It can be used in place of a server or service when connecting - from any app, such as Windows Explorer, web browsers, SSMS etc. Using a DNS CNAME allows users to transparently connect to the server or service that the DNS CNAME points to, without being aware of the real location of the server or service. This adds opportunities like migrating the server or service, using cloud infrastructure, load balancing and "failing over" in case of issues. DNS CNAMEs are used every day in web browsers ( is a DNS CNAME, that points to the real server or service).


operations, operational
Day-to-day, normal, "business as usual" (BAU), "keep the lights on"-type work to support "the business". As distinct from longer-term tactical and strategic work.
A problem, something preventing normal work. May require analysis as to root cause. May require a timely fix or workaround. It's important to consider whether something's an "issue" from your customer's perspective.
A "live" environment, consisting of systems, services, networks, servers, authentication services etc. And databases. The opposite of non-production.
Covers all non-"live" environments, sometimes referred to as "test", "development", "staging", "user acceptance" etc. The opposite of production.
Software/application (which may include related hardware and other infrastructure), supported by IT teams, used by customers (internal and/or external). For instance, SQL Server, MS Access, Skype, Visual Studio, Confluence, Zendesk are all examples of systems. Ties in with ITIL "services", TOGAF (see and other concepts like Wardley maps (see