Archive for the ‘IT Trends’ Category
Posted October 28, 2013on:
After Apple slammed Microsoft for gouging customers and designing tablets that nobody wants, Microsoft has fired back, saying that you can’t get real work done with iPads or its anemic iWorks productivity suite, and that iPads are little more than toys. Who’s right in the increasingly nasty war of words?
At Apple’s iPad launch, CEO Tim Cook and others zinged Microsoft for charging $99 a year for Office, charging $199 for people to upgrade to Windows 8, and for having a confused tablet strategy. CEO Tim Cook said about Microsoft:
“They’re confused. They chased after netbooks. Now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows what they’ll do next? I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you that we’re focused.”
Microsoft is striking back, and striking back hard, esssentially claiming that you can’t get serious work done on an iPad, and that the only reason Apple is now giving away its iWorks suite is that no one wants to buy it. On the Official Microsoft Blog, Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Communications at Microsoft noted the criticisms that Apple had aimed at Microsoft, and shot back:
“Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino.”
And then he took off the kid gloves, criticizing Apple’s new iPads as overpriced, iWork as a pointless piece of software, and saying they don’t stack up against Surface tablets when it comes to productivity. He wrote:
“Surface and Surface 2 both include Office, the world’s most popular, most powerful productivity software for free and are priced below both the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively. Making Apple’s decision to build the price of their less popular and less powerful iWork into their tablets not a very big (or very good) deal.”
He said iPads were not suitable for getting real work done, and that the reason Apple is giving away iWork for free is that no one wants them, as shown by their $10 price for iOS, or $20 for Mac OS X. He wrote:
“…it’s not surprising that we see other folks now talking about how much ‘work’ you can get done on their devices. Adding watered down productivity apps. Bolting on aftermarket input devices. All in an effort to convince people that their entertainment devices are really work machines.
“In that spirit, Apple announced yesterday that they were dropping their fees on their ‘iWork’ suite of apps. Now, since iWork has never gotten much traction, and was already priced like an afterthought, it’s hardly that surprising or significant a move. And it doesn’t change the fact that it’s much harder to get work done on a device that lacks precision input and a desktop for true side-by-side multitasking.”
And he concluded that when it comes to getting real work done, Apple is far behind Microsoft:
“So, when I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don’t see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up.”
Who’s right here? When it comes to the productivity argument, Microsoft is. There’s absolutely no doubt that a Surface Pro 2 tablet equipped with a Touch Type 2 keyboard and a free version of Office is a far more effective tool for getting serious work done than an iPad with iWork. In essence, the Surface Pro with the Touch Type 2 keyboard is an ultrabook. An iPad with iWork is…well, an iPad with iWork. In other words, fine for light work. Not well-suited for serious work.
But when it comes to the tablet market and to sales, Apple is right. For now, tablet buyers don’t care about doing heavy-duty work on them. Checking email, browsing the Web, running apps, and light memo writing, are all well-suited for tablets. And that’s all many people need to do for their work.
So in the tablet battle, Microsoft’s Surface may be on top for productivity. But when it comes to the bottom line and sales, Apple is still cleaning up.
The Android ecosystem has become a dominant force in 2012. Here’s how I see it growing in the coming year.
Brace yourselves: 2013 is upon us, and that means a whole new generation of Android devices, rumors, and expectations.
Android will have a strong showing at CES (Consumer Electronics Show), and the next few months will be littered with new smartphones and tablets. Let’s take a look at some of the trends we can expect in the Android space over the coming year.
This article will touch on many trends in the Android ecosystem, including hardware advancements, vendor decisions, and key events of the year. Given the sheer number of players in the space, there will be much to look forward to in the ever-evolving Android landscape. Indeed, much could be said about any one of these aspects of Android, but we will address them here in broader terms.
Screen size will sharpen and grow
Not long ago, most smartphone screens didn’t exceed 4 inches. Up until the HTC Evo 4G, most Android phones were had 3.2-inch and 3.5-inch displays. Now, thanks to popular handsets such as the Galaxy S3 (4.8 inches) and Galaxy Note 2 (5.5 inches), consumers are becoming used to much larger screens. We’ll continue to see all sorts of screen sizes in 2013, but the standard high-end experience will fall in the vicinity of 4.5 inches. Those of us who are moving into our second and third Android device will expect something at least as big as our current model.
Beyond size, resolution will sharpen. HTC had a leg up with the Droid DNA with a 1080p (versus 720p) resolution, but now nearly every handset maker you can think of is reportedly working on their own 5-inch 1080p HD display for their premium products. Whether you place a lot of importance on pixel density or not, expect screen resolution to be a big buzzword in 2013.
Quad-core will multiply
If you listen to companies such as Qualcomm and Nvidia, then you’re well aware of the fact that quad-core is the new spec hotness, and Android is the vanguard of competition among handset makers all vying for your little green Android dollars.
Gone are the days of big dual-core announcements. If you don’t come to the table with at least four cores of mobile prowess, then you’re not really expecting to compete on the high-end. We should anticipate that the big devices of the coming year will have quad-core 1.5GHz processors or higher, with some even hitting 2.0GHz by the year’s end. Of course, the fight for faster processors might only be relevant on paper; real world practicality is a different animal. It’s one thing to tout the impressive clock speeds or point to a benchmark, but showing the benefits to end users is the most important win.
Play a lot of 3D games? You definitely care about who makes your phone’s CPU. Just want to see what this whole Android thing is all about? Jump in wherever you want, you’ll be just fine.
One area where we may see more improvements is in the phone’s memory and storage. If the previous year saw 2GB RAM emerge for the top-of-the-line memory experience, next year may see us inching toward 3GB RAM. Storage capacities for Android phones (and all phones) will creep up in 2013 as well, yielding 32GB as the standard for mid-range and 64GB becoming common among high-end devices. This will be especially true for those manufacturers opting for internal batteries and removal of external storage, and I expect to see the first handset with 128GB internal storage appear before 2013 is out.
Entry-level phones will benefit
You have to appreciate the trickle-down effect of technology as today’s top devices quickly become tomorrow’s mid-range experience. With that in mind, the $50-$100 Android smartphone of 2013 will be quite an impressive piece of hardware.
Dual-core processors should become the norm for your “basic” Android phone as single-core stuff gets pushed aside. The same may be said of the no-contract handsets, as we’ll continually get more for our money.
As every carrier scrambles to build out its next-gen data network, 4G LTE will be commonplace in Android smartphones. Sure, we’ll get the occasional 3G product every once in a while, but that will diminish with time. This is not to say that 2013 will be the end of 3G Android, but the days of touting 4G LTE as a special feature will pass.
There is always a chance that we’ll see a 3D experience in an Android phone or two, but I have the feeling this is one technology that won’t take off. I’ve yet to run into someone who wants or needs 3D graphics in their mobile device. Sure, it’s a cool feature to show off once in a while, but we’re just not ready to adopt this baby. I get the feeling that we’ll see a new surge in NFC-enabled accessories and technologies in the coming wave of tech conferences. The idea of tap-to-play speakers or media players doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for this year’s biggest mobile conferences, CES in January and Mobile World Congress in late February.
Perhaps the biggest issue facing smartphones with large displays and super-fast processors is battery life. Nobody wants to put their phone away to preserve juice; we bought that big screen for a reason.
Looking ahead to the New Year, we expect to see more handsets come with internal and/or higher capacity batteries. The Droid Razr Maxx HD is still the benchmark for long-lasting batteries, but we should see the gap narrow. To that end, we may see less emphasis on “world’s thinnest” or “lightest” claims.
One device around the world
I cannot tell you how pleased I was when I learned that Samsung was going to adopt one singular form factor for the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 across countries and carriers. I’m sure that a number of accessory makers were quite happy with the decision as well. Samsung will employ the same strategy for the Galaxy S4 and will likely have records sales again in the New Year.
As far as other companies going this route, HTC today seems to be the closest. I wouldn’t be surprised if its next flagship model were to hit multiple carriers with a single design. As nice as it was to have fewer models to choose from in the One series, it was still confusing to keep up with the various suffixes — One X, One X+, Evo 4G LTE. “Does my carrier offer that one? What’s the difference between this and that?” Along those lines, LG also seems to be slowly headed in this direction with the Optimus line.
Android comes to new territories
The Samsung Galaxy Camera wasn’t the first digital camera to utilize Android, but the first to tie into carriers.
Nikon, Polaroid, and other camera-makers will dabble a bit with Android backbones and we’ll see smarter shooters in 2013. Pricing will need to come down for mass adoption; however, we will see carriers selling connected cameras in retail stores and online.
We will also see more kid-centric tablets and devices with Android under the hood in the next year. We might as well get used to the fact that Toys R Us and Walmart are going to offer $99 Android tablets.
Once the price point of a generic, knock-off tablet, the $100-$200 price range now offers a decent experience for most. Come this time next year, it will not be strange to see a house with even more Android tablets for a range of age groups.
Shortly after Android became a recognized term in the mobile space; we saw the platform arriving in various electronic devices including microwaves and washing machines.
I don’t think we’ll find too much of that in 2013, but it would not surprise me to see a refrigerator or appliance with a custom touch interface that runs Android. Not a full-blown experience, mind you, but something that gives hardware-makers more flexibility.
There is a chance that we’ll see more Android in the automobile in 2013, but it’ll have competition from RIM’s QNX OS. This won’t be a replicated tablet-like experience with full-on Google Play support but something a little smarter than what we have today. It is easy to picture a 7-inch display that lets users hop from stereo to diagnostics to Google Maps.
Another area that would work well is embedding a tablet in the back of the driver and passenger seat. With more cars offering Wi-Fi connectivity over time, a connected device just makes sense. Don’t be surprised if someone introduces a backseat experience that includes access to social networks as well as casual games such as checkers for road trips. For added fun, pair your Bluetooth game controller and dive into a 3D shooter.
Google I/O and major releases
If the last few years are any indicator, there will be at least five key moments for Android in 2013, starting with trade shows: CES in early January, the international Mobile World Congress in late February, and CTIA in late May. Samsung is also expected to launch its Galaxy S4 flagship phone at a standalone press event, if we follow 2012′s model.
Android’s background OS will continue to gain speed, and the company will introduce new features that again pull away from iOS to set the industry pace. We don’t know much about Android 5.0 quite yet, but we’ll assuredly discover bits and pieces of upcoming features in the months just before Google I/O — especially if Google releases a new Nexus device or two to go along with the latest software build.
2013 will certainly be an exciting year for Android, with the mobile OS surely maintaining its mobile lead.
Ever since Moses received the Ten Commandments (in the original tablet form), mankind has resorted to using top ten lists to summarize (and prioritize) key principles and ideas. When it comes to expressing security awareness concepts, security professionals tend to overwhelm their business peers with information and best practices. In trying to tell them everything about security awareness, we end up telling them nothing.
Delivering security awareness tips in bite size top ten chunks increases the likelihood that your colleagues will absorb and understand foundational security awareness concepts. With apologies to David Letterman (and to Moses), the following top ten presents practical IT security tips for employees:
* Never give out login credentials (over the phone, in person, email). Any competent IT department would never ask for your login credentials in any circumstance.
* Roll the mouse pointer over a link to reveal its actual destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of the browser. In Microsoft Outlook it is displayed above the link.
* When using public Wi-Fi, refrain from sending or receiving private information.
* Report any loss or theft of your company issued smartphone/tablet/laptop immediately to IT.
* Be leery of items from unknown sources or even suspicious links from trusted sources. When in doubt, chuck it out!
* Stop. Think. Click. Think twice before clicking that link.
* Report any security incident (ex. responding to a scam email with your login credentials) to IT immediately. Do not fear reprisal or be ashamed, such incidents are expected given today’s threat landscape.
* Use a different password for every website. If you have only one password, a criminal simply has to break a single password to gain access to all your information and accounts.
* If you have difficulty remembering complex passwords, try using a passphrase like “I love getting to work at 7:00!” Longer passwords are harder to crack than shorter complex passwords.
* Never leave your smartphone, tablet, or laptop unattended in a public place.
What quick security tips have you shared with your co-workers and fellow employees? Which ones would you add/remove from the security top-ten list? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Posted September 20, 2012on:
Data is something that companies grapple with every day – after all, we are in the era of Big Data. How to gather it, analyze it and interpret it. But one important part of dealing with data is figuring out how and where to store it. Below are 10 things to think about when choosing the right data storage technologies for your enterprise or project.
1. Consider all your options.
Relational databases may still be dominant, but their hold has slipped. While they have been a successful, leading data storage technology for 20 years, IT architects have been challenged by the impedance mismatch between the relational model and the in-memory data structures, and the unstructured nature of the data. Now, there is a movement away from using databases as integration points as the need to support large volumes of data by running on clusters results in a change in data storage. Relational databases still provide advantages and, for now, will continue to be used in most cases. However, multiple database options are now available depending on the nature of the data stored and how it will be manipulated.
2. How big is your data?
When evaluating data storage technologies, it’s important to know how much data you’re dealing with and in what format. With organizations grappling with massive amounts of unstructured data, a new data storage technology has emerged as “king” of Big Data, NoSQL. The growing need for rapid access to lots of unstructured data has led to the growing use of NoSQL databases, which process large volumes of data on clusters of machines more efficiently than relational databases.
3. If developer productivity and large-scale data are your pain points, NoSQL may be a good choice.
NoSQL is generally applied to a number of recent non-relational databases such as Cassandra, Mongo and Riak. The common characteristics of NoSQL databases include:
- Not using the relational model
- Running well on cluster
- Built for 21st century web estates
- Horizontally scalable
The two main reasons for using NoSQL technology are to improve programmer productivity by using a database that better matches an application’s needs and to improve data access performance via some combination of handling larger data volumes, reducing latency, and improving throughput.
4. Different business problems need different solutions.
Storing user activity on websites is totally different than finding out which of your users is most connected to other users or dealing with huge write volumes such as capturing live stream of data. These different problems need different solutions. IT architects should make sure to understand the problem and choose the right solution before making the default choice.
5. If you’re working with NoSQL databases, consider the data model types.
There is a common approach to categorizing NoSQL databases according to their data models. These include:
* Key-Value Databases – Key-value stores are simple hash tables, primarily used when all access to the database is via a primary key. These are the simplest NoSQL data stores to use from an API perspective. Some of these databases include: Riak, Redis or MemcachedDB.
* Document Databases – Document Databases store and retrieve documents. These are self-describing, hierarchical tree data structures, which can consist of maps, collections, and scalar values. Some of these databases include MongoDB, CouchDB, Terrastore and others.
* Column-Family Stores – Column family stores, such as Cassandra, HBase and Amazon SimpleDB, allow you to store data with keys mapped to values and the values grouped into multiple column families, each column family being a map of data.
* Graph Databases – Graph databases such as, Neo4J, Infinite Graph or OrientDB, allow you to store entities, also known as nodes, and relationships between these entities
6. Scale solutions to suit growth of data.
The rate of growth of data is no longer predictable. Gone are the days when we could plan for three-year cycles to upgrade hardware and do capacity planning. NoSQL allows scaling for performance and volume without any downtime by allowing expansion of clusters transparently.
7. You may need more than one data storage technology.
The most important outcome of the rise of NoSQL is the acceptance of database technologies beyond relational databases. However, NoSQL is only one set of data storage technologies, and other data storage technologies should be considered whether or not they bear the NoSQL label. Other options include file systems, event sourcing, memory image, version control, XML databases and object databases. This has led to a new era of “Polyglot Persistence.”
Polyglot persistence is about using different data storage technologies to handle varying data storage needs. It can apply across an enterprise or within a single application.
8. NoSQL solutions can be introduced in existing applications.
In existing applications, functions that don’t need relational databases such as searching, indexing content, relationship between customers and products, can be moved to use NoSQL solutions allowing the applications to scale and react to emerging customer needs.
9. Remember to consider the complexities.
Employing more data storage technologies increases complexity in programming and operations, so the advantages of a good data storage fit must be weighed against this complexity before moving forward with a specific technology.
Only by working with NoSQL and others – and discovering their strengths and weaknesses – can IT architects understand these new data storage technologies. In the future, organizations will use many data technologies. Data professionals will need to be familiar with these different approaches and know how to match them to different problems. When you introduce different data storage technologies, you will need to think about new ways of data modeling, data consistency, and evolution.
Learning the concepts is an important first step, but to really understand multiple storage technologies, you’ll need to get the experience of building representative systems using them.
The IT world continues to sprint forward at an unrelenting pace and these are its five hottest trends so far in 2012. Let’s count them down.
5. The projectization of IT
Projects have always been a major part of IT, but in the past there were also a lot of IT resources dedicated to keeping the lights on and keeping the world running. Companies now take those operational aspects of IT for granted and want that existing infrastructure automated as much as possible and for as cheaply as possible. There’s little glory or job security in keeping the company’s existing systems on life support.
That’s why outsourcing and the cloud are such hot commodities. They allow companies to offload IT operational costs and focus their IT staff on the next project to upgrade systems, streamline business processes, and launch new IT projects to transform the business. More than ever, IT is all about the projects. It’s about the vendors that can help support IT projects (and there are infrastructure jobs for IT pros there). It’s about the business analysts and project managers who can organize people and resources to pull off projects on time and on budget. It’s about the CIOs who now base their budget and staffing decisions largely on projects rather than just the cost of keeping the server room running.
4. PC/Mobile convergence
Employees are more mobile than ever. There are a lot of factors driving that, from increased telecommuting to work/life balance where people leave early to pick up their kids and then work the rest of the afternoon from a cafe or the stands at the soccer field. There are also industries such as transportation and health care that have always had lots of non-desk employees and have had to shoe-horn computing solutions into their work environments.
The growing capabilities of smartphones and tablets are filling many of these needs as these mobile devices become more able to do the tasks of a full PC. Still, there are times when workers can be even more productive when working with a full keyboard and mouse. That’s why we’re beginning to see the rise of products like Motorola Webtop (a Smartphone docking solution), Ubuntu for Android (desktop OS embedded in a Smartphone), and Microsoft Surface (a tablet with a kickstand and keyboard cover). The lines between traditional PCs and mobile devices continue to blur.
3. Desktop thinning
Let’s be honest. The proliferation of mobile devices and the Bring Your Own Device trend has created a lot of headaches and nightmare scenarios for the IT department. For companies that need stronger security and more control over the employee environment, one of the easiest answers to the problem is to move to solutions like desktop virtualization or terminal services from vendors like VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft.
That allows the IT department to create a standard environment with all the company apps that employees can access from a company PC, their home PC or laptop (over VPN), or even a tablet or Smartphone. The environment looks and feels like a traditional PC but the apps and all the data remain on the company servers which are more secure and easier for the IT department to manage and troubleshoot. This technology has been around for years, as “thin clients.” But there are three factors driving it forward in 2012: 1.) BYOD, 2.) mobile devices, and 3.) it lets companies delay PC upgrades since it pushes all of the heavy lifting to the servers. So companies still aren’t going to thin clients in large numbers, but their desktop environments are getting a lot thinner.
2. Big Data
If “Cloud Computing” has been the overhyped and overused IT term of the last several years, the new buzz phrase of 2012 is “Big Data.” Like Cloud, Big Data gets abused by marketers. The main thing you need to understand when it comes to Big Data is that it’s about bringing together the “structured” internal data that your company has always used for its reports and mixing it with public “unstructured” data like social media streams and freely available government data (on traffic, agriculture, crime, etc.).
The act of combining these two types of data can give you new insights into how your customers feel about your products versus your competitors (from the social media streams), it can help you anticipate changes in product demand, it can help you use government trending data to anticipate the growth or decline of markets, and more. That’s why Big Data is such a big deal. But, don’t be fooled. It’s still in its infancy. There aren’t a ton of great commercial tools yet that can help you harness Big Data. It takes the right IT pros who know how to work some data magic and they are in high demand.
1. Cloud, cloud, and cloud
There are essentially three types of clouds — the full Internet cloud (some call it the “public cloud”), the private cloud (which looks a lot like a traditional data center, but with lots of virtualization), and the hybrid cloud (an integrated mix of public and private clouds). Make no mistake; all three types of clouds are thriving in 2012. The public cloud is the one that most people think of when they hear “cloud” and it’s mostly about hosted apps like Salesforce.com and Workday.com as well as Internet-hosted infrastructure like Rackspace and Amazon AWS. But, we’re increasingly seeing traditional IT players like Microsoft, IBM, and HP quietly become big players in the cloud as well.
The private cloud and the hybrid cloud are for larger companies and organizations that need stronger security or have legacy apps that are not easily moved or migrated to the cloud. Both of these types of cloud solutions are picking up steam, especially in companies that have already moved their easy stuff to the cloud and are now digging in and dealing with some of the big, expensive, entrenched stuff.
What are the hottest IT trends in your world so far in 2012?