Here in Las Vegas, Interop is one of those granddaddy technology shows where CIOs from around the world look to the hundreds of vendors who come to showcase their latest and greatest products and services as a barometer for what’s next. Some years though, what’s hot isn’t necessarily the flashiest new launches; it’s all about how to make last year’s hottest news (or even the year before!) work for you.
Straight from the tradeshow floor, here are three game-changing trends that are poised to transform computing like never before — yet, still have many businesses scratching their heads.
All of our heads are “in the clouds”
Cloud technology offers a dynamic, elastic computing platform for businesses to quickly deploy applications on sets of virtual servers including memory, I/O and storage, all outside the businesses firewall “in the cloud.” But cloud comes in different flavors, which is part of the reason businesses are still weighing their options.
One of the most popular cloud platforms is Amazon EC2 (a.k.a. infrastructure as a service) where within minutes, computing resources can be provisioned to support the business. Just as quickly, idle resources can be dynamically allocated to another company for their computing requirements.
Amazon’s cloud is considered a public cloud and has the added benefit of guaranteed availability and maintenance of the servers and the system software. However, many companies are nervous about or are flat out prohibited from putting their data in a public cloud.
For a company that does not want to co-mingle its data with other users in a public cloud, they can utilize a “private cloud” that is isolated from other organizations — all the while, maintaining the benefits of a scalable cloud platform that services many users at a time. With both public and private clouds, the company still has to deploy an application and is responsible for the maintenance of the application.
Last but certainly not least, the other popular form of cloud computing is software as a service, or SaaS. With a SaaS-based application such as Salesforce.com, everything is housed and maintained by the software or application vendor. From a user standpoint, they simply need to go to the software provider’s website and start using the application.
While there is flexibility in cloud computing, there also lies complexity with so many options.
Going mobile is not just for talking
Mobile technology is probably the biggest productivity-enhancing technology for business since the Internet. I don’t think we’ve even begun to comprehend the revolution happening right now as companies begin to embrace mobile — both in how they conduct business and how their employees perform it.
Mobile technology allows workers to make their office anywhere and get the job done anytime. Most employees go well beyond phone conversations with their mobile devices and are now accessing critical business apps such as customer relationship management applications, support applications and IT applications. Saying, “I’ll take care of that in the morning,” or “I will look at it Monday,” are no longer valid responses.
But mobile is forcing IT managers to make critical decisions related to workers using their own devices (BYOD) and the related security issues. Most CIOs believe that mobile devices, particularly BYOD devices, need some level of control for accessing the corporate network. Yet only some 25 percent of mobile devices being used for business are centrally managed by IT.
Social is more than fun and games
For many, social apps conjure up images of Facebooking and tweeting with friends or in a business context, social advertising as an extension of search engine optimization (SEO).
But that would be shortsighted, as social technology can be used across business functions and processes including decision-making, business and operational processes, product development and customer service. Social technology will further increase the pace and productivity of business, but only if IT managers understand and embrace it for their respective businesses.
Individually, each one of these technologies is a serious game changer. But it is in combination that cloud, mobile and social can be fundamentally transformational for businesses. The problem is, even those CIOs walking the floors at Interop are still scratching their heads and struggling to harness their maximum power in the workplace.