Technology is a great sector to work in, isn’t it?  There is though an awful lot of hyperbole or, in cruder terms, a lot of bullshit.  The days of feeds and speeds and the most flashing lights should be long gone but it’s still there sometimes.  Realistically, technology has to be about results - how does the tech meet your aims?  How does it simplify, save cost, increase productivity, make people’s lives better and create a real difference?

Consumer technology has driven enterprise technology further and faster over the last decade because most people on the planet want the benefits - buy on-line, keep in touch, see what your friends have for dinner - all from the piece of metal, plastic and glass in the palm of your hand.  It’s the apps and what they can do that matter but for many, it’s good if the device is cool too - blame Apple for that one.  It also has to work properly, be reliable and easy to use.  In a business or organisation of many people, this need is amplified; TECHNOLOGY MUST BE:

fast, secure, resilient, scalable and available

Generally the principles of good design hold true whatever the technology is, but first and foremost it’s what technology DOES that matters most.  Let’s look at recent and current trends to examine (briefly) what it COULD or WILL do for you… without the hype, exaggeration or the bullshit.

hyper-convergence

Definition:

Hyper-convergence can support common DataCentre availability and reliability requirements, infrastructure is managed and workloads are deployed through a single interface to the underlying operating hardware.  The difference between converged and hyper-converged infrastructures is that the building blocks of each of the subsystems in converged infrastructures are discrete; the server is separate and used as a server, just as the storage subsystem is separate and used as functional storage.

what it really is:

The combination of network, compute and storage in one platform, ideally with one, unified, control panel.

what could it do for you?

It could save physical space in a DataCentre and that in itself could save power, cooling and spatial costs.  With management of a single console and fewer interoperability issues, the complexity of managing several infrastructure solutions in tandem is minimised, so that can save time.  Single vendor management is invariably easier but as most hyper-converged solutions use lego-style blocks for functionality so the initial design, particularly about I/O, is a key consideration.

cloud

Definition:

There are a plethora of definitions for public, private and hybrid cloud but now, almost a decade on, most people have an idea of what ‘cloud’ is to them.

what it really is:

Compute/network/storage/applications and/or services that you rent, typically on subscription.

what could it do for you?

It could revolutionise your organisation  - sound dramatic?  Well not really, cloud is mature and over 80% of organisations now use at least one cloud service.  Done correctly cloud should provide an easy model which finance people prefer - they should be able to see and forecast scalable budget costs for increase/decrease of resources, easily.  It enables remote-working whilst maintaining appropriate security and IT management burdens can be eased.  Let’s face it, the technology world has been moving this way for 10 years and companies such as Microsoft and AWS are not spending billions on a fad - this is now; get on board.

big data

Definition:

Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to deal with them.  Challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualisation, querying, updating and information privacy. The term ‘big data’ often refers simply to the use of predictive analytics, behaviour analytics, or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set.

what it really is:

A phrase coined by Gartner some years ago was ‘Volume, Velocity, Variety’ and that possibly summarises the huge growth in data as a consequence of the evolution of the Internet.  It’s true, data volume is growing exponentially; both in terms of human and machine generated data.  As the Internet exploded data came with it and more recently the growth of mobile has pushed that even further (there are now more mobile devices on the planet than there are people).  But it's the variety of data that is taking this further.  Data now emanates from more devices and more sources than ever before and that’s an accelerating trend with much more to come as IoT develops.  Storage needs are key but BI (Business Intelligence) is becoming an essential differentiator.

what could it do for you?

Real-time analytics can do a lot; ask Amazon, Google and most e-tailers who can target advertising at individuals better than ever before.  In fact, the whole on-line piece has been revolutionised by analytics.  In healthcare clinical decision support is improved and in the automotive sector, the trend is towards service on requirement rather than cyclical, which saves cost.  In general, the age-old GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) adage applies more than ever.

software defined network (SDN)

Definition:

An approach to computer networking that allows network administrators to programmatically initialise, control, change and manage network behaviour dynamically via open interfaces and abstraction of lower-level functionality.

what it really is:

Centralised control of network hardware and services. Effectively, dispensing with the individual intelligence of each device in favour of a centralised control model.

what could it do for you?

Quite a lot - remember having to deploy configs individually against large estates of wireless access points and controllers - time-consuming wasn’t it?  Well, no more; apply the config centrally and deploy by policy, saves a huge amount of time as long as it’s done correctly.

internet of things (IoT)

Definition:

The Internet of Things, or IoT because we love an acronym, is the internet of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as ‘connected devices’ or ‘smart devices’), buildings, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

what it really is:

The biggest hype since cloud?  Possibly, but it also has huge potential to change things dramatically.  Connecting previously disparate and non-connected devices and objects could transform not just work but everyday life in a big way.  Consider the humble bus, which can now alert a control centre when it detects the imminent requirement for a replacement part.  Software and common data standards are key.

what could it do for you?

Connecting everyday objects such as escalators, lifts, CCTV, doors, heating, lighting can create ’smart  buildings’

Leading to a multitude of cost savings on management and maintenance. Driverless cars will change life as we know it and automated DataCentres will change the technology industry globally.  Hardware may become ‘smart’ but the real focus will be on the software.

digital transformation

Definition:

Digital transformation is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society.

Digital transformation may be thought of as the third stage of embracing digital technologies: digital competence → digital usage → digital transformation, with usage and transformative ability informing digital literacy. The transformation stage means that digital usages inherently enables new types of innovation and creativity in a particular domain, rather than simply enhance and support the traditional methods.  In a narrower sense, ‘digital transformation’ may refer to the concept of ‘going paperless’ and affects both individual businesses and whole segments of the society, such as government, mass communications, art, medicine, and science.

what it really is:

A cliche? Maybe. Overused?  Certainly, and it can be applied to, or mean almost anything to do with technology.

what could it do for you?

Well if it’s used as a mechanism to improve ICT then great but it’s too general to be meaningful unless applied to a strategy with some purpose, context and intentions.  if someone says it then ask them what they mean.

Organisations are diverse, even within well-defined sectors.  Requirements differ, desired outcomes are as different as the people involved.  What’s right for one organisation may well be wrong for another.  We can help you cut through the bullshit and achieve your aims with technology.

definitions courtesy of Wikipedia