This week’s technology news – 4th July 2014

Personal and corporate lives fuse over mobile devices
Samsung report 75% of workers across Europe use corporate devices for personal tasks and a similar number use their own mobiles for work related activities. There is an increasing blur between the home and workplace – and whilst the figures are slightly lower at nearly two-thirds for UK respondents, it is clear there is still much to do on narrowing the risk and understanding new ways of working with your employees.

In our device-led, computer filled age, it may come as no surprise that 40% of the 4,500 workers surveyed said that their productivity levels are higher and 28% reported that stress levels were lowered, because of their ability to complete personal tasks during work time eg. during commuting time or a lunch hour. These included shopping or research – and UK workers reportedly had on average nine personal applications on their work smartphone and eight work apps on their business device. Many workers had no idea if their company even had a policy on use governance.

Clearly it is an important area for companies to protect themselves by ensuring they have a defined mobile and security policy to avoid security leaches or mis-use. Samsung’s own Knox-enabled devices are getting wide adoption, with 25 million devices enabled and attracting more than one million users, with approved endorsement by the UK Government and US military. Part of winning over staff and creating a better overall outcome, will be an education effort between the company and their workforce to advise employees and make them understand why restrictions are necessary. Governance can have a feel good factor if is handled well and not simply seen to obstruct workflow or efficiency.

The physical location of your data may change in the future
Many organisations are very cautious where their business data is physically stored, and rightfully so. The physically location can determine if other parties can also access your data if they believe they have reason to do so. Gartner recognises these concerns, though also believes the physical location of your data will become less relevant in the coming years and irrelevant by 2020. They believe physical location will be replaced with legal, political and logical locations. Neither one of these location types solve the issue alone but organisations will need to take on a hybrid approach, using multiple locations with different service delivery models.

While we plan for this future, we can utilise current software defined data centres to gain the flexibility of increased agility from provisioning applications quickly, improved control and policy-based governance, whilst keeping a handle on the location of your data.

“OFSTED” required for the Internet of Things (“IoT”)
The next phase of internet architecture “The Internet of Things” and how it will connect with our lives, still has a glaring gap to master, namely standards. There is much talk about the collection of data which will layer the insights to intuitively “assist” us in our future life, work and environment. This will happen via billions of little sensors being attached to everything, collected, processed and recycled into the right direction to be useful to us. Currently this is handled in data centres but despite their efforts to reduce energy use, the IoT will change this space. Ultimately, it is the data, its management and how it is aggregated to be intelligent, that lies at the heart of the issue, not so much sensors or home networks which is often the public talking point.

The intelligence of the IoT has to be harnessed by being more green without doubt. The sensors need multiple gateways, connecting a multiplicity of devices of varying power demands, which avoid connecting to the mains or requiring frequent battery replacements. IoT needs low speeds and low energy. It must stay simple and have mass production at scale, to make being “Smarter” compelling. But that will require it being at a reasonable cost.

The conflict lies in there being a lot of technologies with competing interests, vying for their part of the market including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, the latest DECT mutation (ULE) and the Weightless group which uses “white space” radio, plus older versions including ZigBee. But until these shake down to key IoT operators which can deal with and distribute the volumes of power at low cost to commercial mass, clarity cannot be deduced.

And therein lies the conundrum: with the potential to be top heavy in power overheads, how will it all be connected, who will govern the standards – and what will those standards be? It is still a very complex picture. But whilst the answers are not fully expressed yet, it will be big business for some and the live questions must lead to some form of “Office of Standards” to avoid the internet being caught on catch-up with itself and the formulae not working for the good of us all in the long term.

Wearables in the workplace, are you ready?
Google Glass is yet to be officially released, but with the announcement and commercial release of Android Wear, Google’s own smart watches have leap-frogged themselves into customers’ hands. Both Apple and Microsoft are heavily rumoured to be working on their own wearable platforms potentially being released later this year.

Wearables by their nature are meant to be worn throughout your day, monitoring your health and also keeping you notifications at glance level.

If you have not already, you will soon find people wearing their own wearables into the workplace. With a new type of device comes new security concerns. The good news is that wearables will fit into an existing set of good policies. These devices do not connect to the internet directly, but rely on a connection with the user’s phone, so a thought out mobile policy will cover this. Another area of concern is that the camera on Google Glass could record employees without consent. Again, this should already be covered by a mobile or camera policy.

The conclusion is that even if you are not adopting wearable tech now, you shouldn’t be surprised to see a smart watch on an employee’s wrist. Check over your technology policies and make sure you are ready, as the wearable may arrive quicker than you expect.


This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 2nd August 2013

Microsoft must rebrand SkyDrive after trademark dispute
In what may be déjà vu to those who remember Microsoft’s ‘Metro’ name fiasco before the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft has been forced to rebrand their commercial cloud storage service “SkyDrive” after a court ruling that the SkyDrive name infringed on BSkyB’s “Sky” brand. With SkyDrive in use in mobile apps, deep integration into Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Office 2013 and more, this is no small task. No new name for the service has been announced yet, but expect a slew of updates coming soon across Microsoft’s product portfolio to correct this, in addition to a new marketing campaign aimed at SkyDrive’s 250 million+ user base to save confusion when the change does happen.

Apple still making developers more money than Google
Even though Android phones and tablets have been outselling iPhones and iPads for some time now, the Apple App Store is still the most profitable app market out there. It’s not for lack of downloads either. The Google Play store now receives more downloads of Apps than Apple’s. It seems that the Android users are simply not hitting the “buy” button, as they are happy with the free offerings available. In fact Apple Apps despite fewer downloads are making more than twice the revenue of Google. Of course if you are selling Apps ideally you will cover as many platforms as possible to increase potential sales, but you can’t take for granted that the largest platform is the most profitable.

Google Glass as punishable as mobile phones when driving
Efforts in West Virginia USA, to outlaw the wearing of Google Glass when driving are crossing over to the UK, as they are being considered by the Department of Transport in the UK. Discussions are being held with the police to ensure individuals do not use the technology when driving to ensure full attention.

MIT creates perfect mirror
Physicists at MIT have created the first perfect mirror. This could lead to breakthroughs in fibre optic networks, lasers and solar power. When light hits the mirror (or any other kind of wave, including acoustic or water waves), it bounces off perfectly and preserves the original image (signal). Normal mirrors block the passage of light, sound, water or radio waves and can only reflect, which is never perfect. Reflecting a laser down hundreds of miles of optic fibre would highlight any imperfection and cause a huge drop in efficiency. Whilst the research involved a phototonic crystal, the potential is an exciting step forward for the future of data infrastructure networks.

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 3rd May 2013

Is your business and IT in alignment?
Despite years of trying to fix the relationship between the IT organisation and the rest of business, communication and understanding between the two remains patchy. IT doesn’t share the same priorities. IT alignment doesn’t just happen – you have to do something. Conversations we have with IT are very technical and business doesn’t understand server uptime, so the alignment is around communication too. Have you heard that “Our IT department has a reputation for saying no?”. People, process and technology are the three elements to any successful business and we believe that these all need to be aligned.

COPE-ing mechanisms
A recent report raised an interesting security issue in the MDM arena recently. The report analysed differences in consumer habits between BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and COPE (Corporate Owned Personally Enabled) devices. 51% of tablet owners shared their device with at least one other person, but this was not necessarily the key issue where in the corporate world MDM solutions are more prevalent. More alarmingly, it was the revelation that 46% of tablet owners allow their children to use their company devices at home. The potential for accidental loss or modification of company sensitive data by those you DO know, is all too real. It is perhaps this more domestic perspective that needs review in the wider aspects of security and governance, as MDM rattles along at an ever increasing pace.

Microsoft working on Remote Desktop service?
Microsoft is working on a service called Mohoro, powered by its Azure platform which could provide Remote Desktop as a service. Mohoro should technically enable you to have a cheap thin-client, modest laptop or tablet – whilst still enjoying the huge processing and graphical power of a hi-grade desktop PC. Both consumer and business applications of Remote Desktop as a service from a giant like Microsoft, would shake up the market and affect market trends. However we will probably only know how, later in 2014.

Google Glass – future or fad?
Google has been flaunting its new wearable computer, Google Glass. Glass is praised for its simple and clear design, though battery life remains an issue. Like a smart phone, it can make phone calls, join video conferences, read and reply to SMS and E-mail, provide GPS navigation, web searching and more. Will wearable computers become the next big thing in technology (like the iPad did for tablets), or will Google Glass fade away as interesting but ultimately a fad?