Technology Terms to Know (2008)
Technology, computer and Internet terms such as hard drives (expect to see them in high definition televisions this year) and data storage never go out of style, but technology trends do come and go with the changing tides. Terms that will make — or continue to make — headlines in the coming year are not necessarily "brand new" technologies, but are those technologies — such as social networking and green computing — that gained traction in 2007 as new developments move them to the forefront of hot topics for 2008. Here are the top technology terms that we expect to be hearing more about this coming year:
A communications system, usually used by businesses, that encompasses a broad range of technologies and applications that have been designed, sold and supported as a single communications platform or as one entity. Unified communications system generally enable companies to use integrated data, video and voice in one supported product.
Unified communications systems typically include the means to integrate real-time or near-real-time messaging, collaboration and interactive systems. For example, a single user can access a variety of communication applications such as e-mail, SMS, video, fax, voice, and others through a single user mailbox. Additionally, unified communications has expanded to incorporate collaboration and other interactive systems such as scheduling, workflow, instant messaging and voice response systems.
Unified communications also provide the integration through multiple devices. For example, many service features, options and user accounts are as readily available to you from your PDA, laptop or other wireless device, as if you were using your desktop PC.
The term mash-up refers to a breed of Web-based applications created by hackers and programmers (typically on a volunteer basis) to mix at least two services from disparate, and even competing, Web sites. A mash-up, for example, could overlay traffic data from one source on the Internet over maps from Yahoo, Microsoft, Google or any content provider. This capability to mix and match data and applications from multiple sources into one dynamic entity is considered by many to represent the promise of the Web service standard (also referred to as on-demand computing). The term mash-up comes from the hip-hop music practice of mixing two or more songs.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Short for Software as a Service, SaaS is a software delivery method that provides access to software and its functions remotely as a Web-based service. SaaS allows organizations to access business functionality at a cost typically less than paying for licensed applications since SaaS pricing is based on a monthly fee. Also, because the software is hosted remotely, users don't need to invest in additional hardware. SaaS removes the need for organizations to handle the installation, set-up and often daily upkeep and maintenance. Software as a Service may also be referred to as simply hosted applications or software-on-demand.
social networking site/service
Abbreviated as SNS a social networking site is the phrase used to describe any Web site that enables you to create public profiles within that Web site and form relationships with other users of the same Web site who access their profile. "Social networking sites" can be used to describe community-based Web sites, online discussions forums, chat rooms and other social spaces online.
Social networking services are designed to build upon interactions to create communities of people online, and provide the required software to do this. People use social networking sites for a huge number of personal reasons. Some may want an easy way to keep in touch with family and friends, some may use it for business or job finding, others may use it for dating or just to find like-minded individuals online.
Codenamed "Viridian" but given the the formal name of Hyper-V, this hypervisor-based Windows Server virtualization platform will be included as part of Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V enables you to consolidate workloads onto a single physical server using a broad range of services ranging from resource-intensive services like Microsoft SQL Server to third-party applications that may run on previous versions of Windows or Linux.
Web 2.0 applications
Web 2.0 describes a second generation of the World Wide Web that is focused on the capability for people to collaborate and share information online. Web 2.0 refers to the transition from static HTML Web pages to a more dynamic Web that is more organized and is based on serving Web applications to users. Other improved functionality of Web 2.0 includes open communication with an emphasis on Web-based communities of users, and more open sharing of information. Over time Web 2.0 has been used more as a marketing term than a computer-science-based term. Blogs, wikis, and Web services are all seen as components of Web 2.0.
The term used to describe a set of technologies, such as high-definition audio, video and other interactive elements that enable people to feel or appear as if they were present in a location which they are not physically in. Used mainly as a collaboration tool, telepresence is used by vendors, including Cisco to help create a more "in person" meeting experience over a converged network. Telepresence differs from videoconferencing as it offers face-to-face interactions between the people in the meeting through the transmission of life-size, high-definition images and audio.
Also called green computing, Green IT describes studying and the using computer resources in an efficient way. Green IT starts with manufacturers producing environmentally friendly products and encouraging IT departments to consider more friendly options like virtualization, power management and proper recycling habits. The government has also recently proposed new compliance regulations that would work towards certifying data centers as green. Some criteria includes using low-emission building materials, recycling, using alternative energy technologies and other green technologies.
Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.
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