Tech stack meaning: a simple overview

Also known as a ‘solutions stack’, ‘technology infrastructure’, or a ‘data ecosystem’, the tech stack is a staple of modern businesses in our technology-infused world.

You’ll hear the term across your business when discussing your operations, software products, and offerings. These days, you might also hear the term ‘tech stack’ applied to marketing or sales services. But it started in the world of software development.

So, what is the tech stack meaning? Here’s an overview.

Tech stack meaning

Understanding the tech stack meaning starts with a definition.

The term tech stack refers to the combination of technologies and software services used by an organisation. This can cover:

  • The systems you use to do business and handle work processes
  • The systems you use to develop, operate, and maintain a software application/service

In other words, your tech stack is a list of all the software tools and technologies involved in your product or operation. You can use this to cover your whole organisational tech stack, or to break down per team.

For instance, a martech stack encompasses the technology used in your marketing practices – an email service, a social media platform, a chatbot. A sales tech stack is a technology stack that describes the technologies involved in your sales process – a CRM, spreadsheets, lead generation tools. A product tech stack would cover the building blocks of the product in question (more on this in the next section.)

And a company tech stack would cover the lot, in one comprehensive bundle.

What makes up a tech stack?

As well as the familiar services that you likely know the names of, the tech stack meaning also covers all the components that make up the software you use / create. (I.e., the building blocks.) But what are they?

  • Programming languages

I.e., Python, JavaScript, HTML, SQL, NoSQL and so on

  • Operating systems

I.e., Windows, Linux, iOS, Android

  • Frameworks

A set of methods, patterns, libraries, and structures that help developers build the software application. They allow the programmer to avoid writing boilerplate code, saving time and effort.

  • Databases

This covers any data storage and querying techniques. It includes relational and non-relational databases. It’s where the data from and for your software gets stored — which you can then later use to improve the program.

  • Servers

I.e., web servers, routing, caching services, etcetera

  • Analysis tools

I.e., monitoring and performance tools to tell you how well the product works, or behaviour analysis tools to highlight how users interact with the software

  • API connections/services

APIs, or ‘application programming interfaces’ help you connect and integrate all the tools in your tech stack

  • Tools

I.e., automation tools, front-end development tools, back-end development tools

Examples of tech stacks

Another way to understand the tech stack meaning is by looking at examples. There are two particularly popular/common tech stacks to know.

LAMP is a commonly used tech stack for websites. It consists of:

  • Linux: an operating system for servers. (You could substitute Windows for Linux to make WAMP.)
  • Apache: software for web servers
  • MYSQL: a database system
  • PHP: a programming language

Another example is MEAN, an open-source tech stack that revolves around the use of JavaScript.

  • MongoDB: a NoSQL database program
  • Express.js: a modular web application framework for Node.js
  • AngularJS: a web application framework
  • Node.js: a back-end JavaScript runtime environment. (It allows developers to execute JS code outside of a web browser.)

These days, with the vast availability of services and systems, tech stacks are increasingly varied in size, content, and ability.

Why they’re useful?

Knowing the tech stack meaning also means understanding the meaning behind why the term exists.

From an organisational viewpoint, having a big-picture view of your tech stack can help you cut costs, ensure effective integration and collaboration, and keep on top of your ongoing digital transformation(s).

But it’s also incredibly useful for techies. Indeed, the main reason for the term tech stack is because it allows developers to convey a lot of information quickly and easily. It’s an easy way to reference the foundation of your systems.

For developers and IT teams – the people building or managing the services you use/sell – the tech stack shows what kind of software you’re creating and maintaining. It also hints to your developers the strengths and weaknesses that your product is likely to have.

Having your tech stack mapped out can also aid with onboarding new talent that will be working with your systems. You can use it to make sure candidates have the prerequisite knowledge and skills to work with the systems and software you use.

Tech stack meaning

Tech stack is a term that’s thrown around so commonly that it has taken on a generic meaning. When used generally like this, the term refers to the various solutions and services that an organisation uses to function.

But in the development space, things get a little more specific.

Here, the tech stack is the technology that’s foundational to your software. It’s what allows your developers to build, maintain, monitor, and operate the program and/or processes in question. So, in this context, take the tech stack meaning to be the technological base powering the system in question.

Further reading