The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of those somewhat rare technology topics that is pretty easy for the layperson to understand, at least on the basic level. But the topic as a whole encompasses enough layers of change for IT to make your head spin. Networking a rapidly growing variety of physical objects to enable data collection and transmission is part of what analyst Rob Enderle calls the third age of IT: digitization.
Does this sound familiar? An online service promises to help your small business cut costs, increase productivity, make your coffee and walk your dog. So you hop online to sign up, and then you get to the page where you have to agree to the site's terms of service (TOS). If you're like oh, 99.9 percent of the rest the world's population, you click "agree" without so much as glancing at the actual terms.
Mobile technology. Cloud computing. Big data analytics. The Internet of things. All four technologies are essential to business (and personal) progress. Unfortunately, they are also a threat to our privacy—and to the trust that should exist between businesses and consumers, employers and employees.
Privacy of Personal Data is a Top Issue
According to research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, privacy of personal data is a top issue for 76 percent of global consumers and 83 percent of U.S. consumers. Yet, a massive, seemingly endless series of highly publicized breaches has eroded both our privacy and our trust. It feels as if we're holding our breath while we wait for the next theft of personal information to be reported, analyzed and condemned by the citizens of the Web.
It's a given in the cloud computing business that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the clear and undisputed market leader. Sure, the recent Amazon earnings report revealed a slowdown in the growth rate of its cloud revenue. But it's still growing robustly at 38 percent year over year, albeit down from the torrid 60 percent in the prior quarter. Clearly, AWS is the cloud vendor toward which every other vendor harbors great jealousy.
The surge in innovation that we've seen in the networking industry these past few years is revolutionizing the once-staid realm of routers and switches. Public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, software defined networking (SDN), and network functions virtualization (NFV) have the potential to redefine our concept of enterprise connectivity. But as in life, so it goes in networking: No one needs every new cool app or gadget to come to market. So how should you go about separating what's cool but irrelevant to you from what's cool and worth diving more deeply into?
New terms and new concepts seem to continuously be making their way into the media and onto web sites. For example, the buzz recently has been is around terms like cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Business Process Management, BI, Big Data, cross-platform mobile development, DevOps, Hadoop, and much more. There never seems to be an end to the new terms and new things that developers and other technologist have to learn.
While this is great for sites like Webopedia that provide definitions for all these terms, the real question is how much of these new technologies are real and how much is hype? Asked differently, are developers really using this stuff, or is it just fodder for the media to write about?
If you ask most companies in the IT channel what the biggest game-changer is for them, chances are most would say the cloud.
Although interest in all things cloud remains strong, concerns over its security and performance, as well as inertia in some cases, mean it will be some time before the cloud dominates in the IT channel.
In the not-so-distant past, my main employer, the Canada Border Services Agency, considered the possibility of moving our data stores into the cloud. The reason was two-fold: not only would it cost less, but we would also spend less time managing it ourselves. It sounded like a good idea, but ultimately, we abandoned the idea because cloud storage was deemed as too risky for our liking.
There were just too many implications created by having a third-party hosting our protected and confidential data. Implication brought about by troubling questions that no one could answer to our satisfaction. For instance, if a security breech were to occur, who would be responsible and how much of a guarantee could the provider give us that our data would be safe from prying eyes?
Big Data really is a big deal. It seems like there is always a new survey showing that an increasing number of companies are already in the midst of big data initiatives or planning for one.
A study from QuinStreet Enterprise, for example, found that a whopping 77 percent of organizations consider Big Data analytics a priority. Nearly 40 percent of organizations have already deployed at least one big data project or are in the process of doing so.
CIOs have the tricky task of delivering the IT services their organizations require within the allocated budget. Over time that inevitably involves having to deliver more with less.
That's one of the reasons server virtualization has been so successful — it allows more virtual servers to be produced from a single physical one, and it ensures the physical resources that are available are utilized more effectively and efficiently.
If you know a college grad looking for a lucrative career, give them two words of advice: data storage. The data storage industry is not just healthy but downright robust for the foreseeable future. Wall Street may boom or go bust, real estate has off years, but data storage appears headed only upward.
The data storage industry enjoys an advantage that few industries can claim: the need for its services grows constantly, perpetually, as far as the eye can see. A staggering 90 percent of the world's data has been generated in the last two years. Research firm IDC claims that data grows at more than 50 percent annually – doubling every two years. The 1.75 billion smartphones in the world creates oceans of data, from retail transaction to geo-stats to app usage to storehouses of photos and video. Big Data tracks all this activity (and more), and creates still more data as it analyzes results.
New ways of collecting and analyzing data are creating new opportunities for companies to gain an edge over their competitors and grow their profits. But while data has the potential to create profits, it also has the potential to take them away. If hackers get their hands on your company's data, they can wreak havoc on customer relationships and cause tremendous damage to your brand and reputation.
Security Threats are Proliferating Fast
One thing I've learned during my tenure as editor of eSecurity Planet is that security threats are proliferating so fast, it's tough for even the experts to keep up with them. The most disconcerting thing about high-profile breaches like those at Target and Neiman-Marcus is how long it can take to discover them and how difficult it can be to pinpoint specific methods used by attackers. Hackers themselves have trouble keeping up, as evidenced by a hapless group of attackers who boasted of breaching a British bank website only to discover they had actually attacked a phishing site.
If you're a small business owner, manager or entrepreneur—or interested in becoming one—I encourage you to visit Small Business Computing, a leading technology and business-growth resource. The site's been online since 2002, and I've been fortunate to be the editor for the past 10 years. It's been exciting to see the remarkable progress in small business technology over the past decade.
Technology has changed so much and so quickly, making it easier than ever for small businesses to compete, to grow and to prosper. Think cloud computing, mobile and social media just for starters. But we still have a long way to go to reduce the complexity and to make sure that small business owners can easily find the help and advice they need to assess, to buy, and to use the right technology for their needs.
During the premiere launch of XP back in 2001, then Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced the worldwide availability of the Windows XP operating system.
"Today is a great day for PC users and a great day for the PC industry," Gates said. "With the launch of Windows XP, we are entering an exciting new era of personal computing. This powerful new version of Windows offers so much to customers -- it unlocks the full power of the PC and enables them to enjoy the best of what the digital world has to offer."
In his first interview as the new CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella recently spoke with The New York Times about the organizational and cultural challenges he faces as the third CEO in the 39-year history of the technology giant. The leadership issues that Nadella discussed are relevant to the day-to-day concerns of many CIOs and IT professionals in today's enterprise.
Here are three particularly salient takeaways from the Times interview, "Microsoft's New Chief Says It's Time to Create."
If one current technology trend is touching every aspect of the business and both its IT and line-of-business workforces, it is mobile. As the managing editor of IT Business Edge, no matter what the business topic or tech news of the day, I can always find a mobile angle. IT Business Edge is known for its analysis of tech trends. Some come and go, some change names and seem to never die, and then there is mobile, which will continue to reach into all aspects of the intersection of work and technology, on both the macro and micro levels. The creativity and impact surrounding mobile strategies and technology is astounding.
From the widest view, everything that we include under the heading of mobile has irrevocably changed IT's relationship with the rest of the business.
2014 is, without a doubt, an exhilarating time to be in the IT industry. We had gone through a period of evolutionary changes in technology, but, for the past few years, we've experienced a dazzling pace of innovation that seems likely to continue far into the future.
Technologies That Alter Business
Social media. Cloud computing. BYOD. Big data. Software-Defined Everything. The Internet of things. Smart cars. Wearable clothing. These technologies have the potential to radically alter business and government, as well as our professional and personal lives. And who knows what new innovations the next few years will bring?
Apple on Jan. 24 celebrated the 30th anniversary of the 1984 introduction of its renowned Macintosh, the "computer for the rest of us."
The Mac's debut came little more than a month before the first issue of PC Week, the print predecessor of eWEEK, hit the streets on Feb. 28, 1984. While eWEEK wasn't able to report immediately on the arrival of the Macintosh, the publication regularly covered the evolution of Apple's PC and the effect it was having on home and business computing.
As the managing editor of Datamation, I track the dizzying change-fest that is the current IT scene. It's a lot to keep up with. Over the last few years, the model of slowly overlapping tech eras – as mainframes gave way to client-server – has vanished. Instead of one monolithic technology, we now see a semi-chaotic patchwork of trends that push and pull each other in countless ways.
Call it the Great Tech Mash-Up. VMware, the virtualization leader, created its own social media platform. Search king Google promotes an operating system, Android, that runs mobile phones. Citrix, an enterprise software outfit, sells an app that allows IT pros to log in using a smartphone. Everything bridges with everything else; this is the age of the API, which allows software to speak to software without assistance from we dumb humans. These days the stand-alone is fading fast, and every last holdout realizes it. Microsoft, which once fought Linux as the Great Scourge, now boasts how fast its Azure platform can run Linux boxes.
When I accepted the post of editor at Enterprise Networking Planet earlier this year, I had no idea how good the timing was. I came on board just in time to observe and chart the rise of software defined networking (SDN). And software defined networking, born of Martin Casado's OpenFlow open source protocol, looks poised to completely transform the way enterprise data centers work.
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- Watch Datamation's editor James Maguire moderate roundtable discussions with tech experts from companies such as Accenture, Dell, Blue Jeans Network, Microsoft and more »
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