IT or CS?

I take it for granted, but what does “IT” stand for in today’s computerized world? (WAG: Internet Technician?) Also, what’s the difference between someone in Computer Science and “IT”?

  • Jinx


Information technology is about the technologies that are out there today. Computer science is the theory behind them. As a general rule, people in CS have an easier time going into IT than the other way.

As noted, Computer Science is the theoretical background to making the chips hum in a practicable manner.

IT, as a buzzword, did not replace CS, it (stupidly) replaced IS and DP. The loss of DP (Data Processing) was OK, because with the whole notion of “business intelligence” and the introduction of GUI (making presentation much more important than an 80-byte wide screen or a 132-character wide report would allow), the business is now much more than merely “data” processing.

However, IT to replace IS (Information Systems) was an rather foolish attempt to encompass all the whiz-bang communication stuff that improved the presentation of the data.

You want information technology? I have a piece of graphite jammed down a tube of wood that allows me to convey information by rubbing the graphite off against (mildly) abrasive paper–itself a marvelous bit of technology.

Information Systems indicated that we would actually organize the information in a coherent fashion and present it in a way that would allow people to make useful and meaningful decisions. We threw away that concept to get hung up on the notion that fiber optics and Java were more important than the signals that they were conveying, however marvelously.

[ /rant ]

IT is the field that has grown out of the demand of modern computerized technology within our businesses. Not everyone responsible for computer technology can have CS degree and IT’s have arisen to fill that gap. My friend graduated as a Management major, he’s currently doing IT work for an IT company. He can set up a Windows NT network over couple of hubs, but he can’t design a driver to minimize the particular network communication overheads of the system.

Now that’s about the silliest rant I’ve seen in a long time. Talk about anal.

Anyway, the difference is simple:

CS involves programming.
IT involves keeping a computer system running – installing software, running servers, fixing problems, training, etc.

Had your definitions been applied in the real world, I would agree the rant was silly (and I would never have made it to begin with). However, I have now had four separate clients go through a big deal about changing their departnent names (and enforcing casual references in memoes) to IT–including and especially when they referred to the development of business systems.

Not true! When I was in college, I did the rough equivalent of a major in CS. Basically, I couldn’t declare the major because I wasn’t in the engineering school. But if I had gone through their program, I would’ve taken three more classes. In those classes, I would’ve written a total of three programs. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but the fact is, after the fall of my sophomore year, I wrote about five programs. This number is much higher than it needed to be. In fact, it’s possible to be a world-famous computer scientist without ever writing a single line of code.

Pretty much anything that actually does something is IT, in my book.

Well I work in the field and here is what I can tell everyone

IT = high paying job with no thanks

CS = high paying job with no thanks, but at least you have the Computer Science degree and you are not as limited in career paths.

I simply got into the IT field because of more pay and I liked computers. Now I still like computers, but working IT has made me a misanthrope. Believe me, IT (information technology) is a thankless job with zero recognition.

I always thought IT was a department name and CS was a degree. You would graduate with a degree in CS and get a job in the IT department somewhere (in an ideal situation). Do companies actually have a “CS” department?!

In many companies, there’s an IT department (Information Technology) and a CS department (Customer Service). Don’t know of a CS department in which CS stands for Computer Science, though.

In academic terms IT = CS - math + business studies.

Also, the people studying IT dress more smartly.

How is that different from IT? In my job (definitely and firmly Computer Science), I do about as much “programming” as I would if I were working in the IT field.

I guess it depends on the company. Around here (my company), the whole thing is a “CS” department.

In my world IT is a buzz-phrase that encapsulates everything from network admins, dbas, computer programmers, etc. CS, just like Mennonite can refer to two different things depending on the context. In one context CS is a degree as compared to a diploma. On the other hand CS is a branch of computer studies that can be much more esoteric and theoretical.

I have a diploma, and a co-worker has his CS degree. We both write business systems. We both do the same work. He definately has more options than I do, but in the town where we work that advantage seldom pays off.

Where I work, a telecom company focusing on cellular phones, The IT group does very different things from the vast legions of people writing software for the phones and our other products. There is some programming in the IT group but not nearly as much as the people developing software for our products.

Here is the common usage amongst the people I know…

CS. Computer Science. It’s one of the possible majors to have in college. MIS (Management Information Science) is another major. Both of these majors allow one to obtain a job in programming. However, a CS degree generally gets one a job in a scientific field (or for a hardware or software firm) where a MIS degree generally gets one a job in business.

IT. Information Technology. Generally refers to everything done with computers; application programming, network support, datacenter operations, etc. Used to be called Information Systems. Like tomndebb, I saw most organizations change their department names. To what purpose remains vague. Maybe to differentiate themselves from the other IS, as follows.

IS. Internal Systems (or sometimes Internal Support). IS people are generally supporting the LAN or applications (like HR or accounting, which are often but not always third-party applications) within a business that are not used by the end customer. IS is usually, but not always, a subset department within IT departments.

Then of course there are Tech Support departments which could either be help desk type people, or operating system programmers in a mainframe shop.

Bottom line… the names are confusing. And in the end, irrelevent. The key question is are you doing a job you enjoy doing? If so, who cares what the department name is.

For example, I have some software engineers working for me that bristle at the term application developer, which is how I generally refer to them. That’s what they do. This drives me nuts.

Computer Science is the study of algorithms, and need not involve programmer. I think it should more properly be termed “Computing Science” because it is the study of computing, not computers. Perhaps Computology would be a better word.

My picture of a sterotypical Computer Scientist at work is a person stareing at a whiteboard trying to prove a theorem.

A Computer Programer programs. Many people with Computer Science degrees are professional computer programers. Many professional computer programmers know little about Computer Science.

I once heard the analogy:

Computer Programming is to Computer Science as typing is to being writing (being an author).