The Y2K Fear:
The clocks would strike midnight on 31st December 1999 and the first day of a new millennium and decade would begin. A new age of automation and technology.A day which would mark a distinction between Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z. A day where a computer bug would launch nuclear missiles and cause planes to fall from the sky. A vague-yet-menacing computer bug, known as Y2K, would threaten to take down everything in its path unless someone could find a way to defeat it before the clock strikes midnight.
From the times of Douglas Engelbart to Steve Jobs, and Norman Abramson to Robert Metcalfe, individuals have been supportive and apprehensive about technology, its uses, implications and ill-effects. Technological advancement has helped great minds like Stephen Hawkings to carry out day to day functions such as communicating but has also contributed to an increase in breach of privacy. The debate on whether technology is useful or harmful is never-ending, but, as time progresses our dependence on technology has increased.
There have been drastic changes in technology. Both successes and failures have made us reach where we are. 2020 has been a major year which will be spoken about in history for decades, not just because of the pandemic, but the steps taken to avoid the spread. The world was staying indoors and pharma and technology giants were working on vaccines and solutions to automate and help with the COVID Unlock.
A cloud that engulfs us all:
We come across cloud service terms such as IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and, DaaS. multiple times a day, but we don’t pay much thought to the differences, the uses and their importance to us.
Initially, users installed software on their hardware and stored data locally. Since the accessibility of software and hardware has increased and become more on-demand through the internet, cloud services eliminate the need for installing software and local hardware. Users now have the freedom to use these services anywhere and on any device.
Cloud services are accessible on-demand through the internet and involve services such as data storage and databases, software and servers, and computing and networks. These services are located externally and are referred to as a cloud, which gave rise to the term “cloud services“. These services are accessible to anyone with access to the internet.
What is SaaS?
SaaS or Software as a Service is software that in most cases is centrally hosted and accessible through the internet by a browser client. Users can use the highly customisable software without being concerned about computing resources or other money and time-consuming things.
The benefits of SaaS are:
- Software installation is not required
- Online data storage
- Data and storage access is possible on any device with internet connectivity
- Multiple users can share data easily and effectively
- Highly advanced software can be used almost instantly
SaaS is a software licensing model where software access is provided on a subscription model. The software is located on external servers rather than in house servers. The software is accessed through a web browser,and users log into a system using login credentials. Users do not have to install the software and are able to access the program via the internet.
BigCommerce, Google Apps, Salesforce, Dropbox, MailChimp, ZenDesk, DocuSign, Slack, Hubspot are some examples of SaaS applications.
What is PaaS?
PaaS or Platform as a Service is a platform that allows users to develop, manage and run applications through the internet. This can include parts that build an environment enabling fast development and easy management of applications and middleware that connects applications with operating systems, programming languages, web servers and others.
As compared to SaaS, PaaS is very flexible when it comes to software as you can use existing software as well as in-house developed software, depending on your needs.
PaaS offers the following:
- A ready-to-use development environment, helps reduce development costs and time
- Maintenances and backups as are handled by the service provider
- One can start using the service right away as the infrastructure is provided and set-up by the service provider
In a PaaS model, developers more or less rent everything needed to build an application. They depend on a cloud provider for items such as development tools, infrastructure, and operating systems.
The Google App Engine on Google Cloud Platform, allows users to deploy applications without spending time on the backend.
What is IaaS?
IaaS stands for “Infrastructure as a Service”. A complete infrastructure accessible through the internet containing networks, servers and systems is provided. The infrastructure could be anything else that is required for building and running systems. The user has control over the backend and can specify hardware components helping them set up the operating systems as per their requirements., and develop and run a system on top of it.
IaaS users have more freedom as well as responsibility when compared to SaaS and PaaS users. More technical expertise is required to set up the hardware, servers, network, security and other components.
IaaS offers the following benefits:
- A ready-to-use development environment
- User have the freedom of specifying hardware requirements and setting up operating systems to use over the internet
- Provides easy to use resource scaling options
- Saves the user hardware maintenance and repair costs
IaaS is a standardized and highly automated offering. The computing resources are owned by a service provider, complemented by storage and networking capabilities, are offered to customers on demand. Resources are scalable and elastic in near real time and metered by use. Self-service interfaces, including an API and a graphical user interface (GUI), are exposed directly to customers. Resources may be single-tenant or multi tenant, and are hosted by the service provider or on-premises in a customer’s data center.
Google Compute Engine on Google Cloud Platform gives users the option to set up virtual machines. The VM’s operate similar to traditional computers, however one can specify the specs and choose and set up an operating system.Users don’t have to pay for anything else but the usage.
What is DaaS?
DaaS stands for “Desktop as a Service”. Here, a desktop-like environment is provided. This environment is accessible through the internet and at times referred to as “cloud desktop” or “virtual desktop”. The hoster provides required resources to run as well as store and save data for each session of the desktop environment and any application within it.
DaaS has three use cases:
Private cloud DaaS:
This environment is specifically developed and provided to only one company. The company selects the operating systems, software and other components as per requirement and customize it to its needs. A private cloud DaaS gives the user a high level of security.
Virtual private cloud DaaS:
A Virtual private cloud DaaS is built and run on the hosters IaaS and PaaS giving users a relatively high level of customization and security.
Public cloud DaaS:
This is a desktop environment with selected OS and software options offered to and used by multiple companies at the same time. Multiple users make the environment less customizable and secure than private cloud DaaS and virtual private cloud DaaS. DaaS is the newest and fastest growing entrant in cloud services. This makes accessing work networks easy and convenient and is said to grow manyfold in the coming years.
SaaS is ideal as a ready-to-use software however, IaaS, PaaS and DaaS provide more customisation.
Desktop as a service (DaaS) is an offering that gives users an on-demand, virtualized desktop experience from a remotely hosted location. This includes provisioning, patching and maintenance of the management plane and resources to host workloads
Ten technologies in Twenty Twenty:
Technology is constantly updating. Programming languages and technologies that were making the rounds one week may become obsolete in the next few days. Due to higher investments in research and development, computer scientists and professionals are constantly improving existing technologies to get the most out of them.
Here are some trending technologies from 2020 that grew multifold and are sure to dominate the IT industry in upcoming years –
1. Data Science
Data Science is the technology that helps in understanding humongous amounts of complicated data. This data could be business or sales related, customer profile information, server data, and financial figures.
Most of this data is in unstructured sets, and data scientists convert these unstructured sets into structured and understandable datasets. The data can be analyzed to identify patterns and trends, which are useful for understanding the company’s business performance, customer retention, and how these areas can be improved.
2. Internet of Things
The Internet of Things or IoT is a network of devices which are connected to one another. The devices interact and share data with each other. These devices are connected via WiFi, and share information about their environments and how they are being used. They have a computer chip that facilitates this exchange.
IoT not only enables the connection between different devices but also enables remote access. For example, locking the doors of a car remotely and preheating ovens and geysers. IoT chips embedded on machines help businesses to assess the performance of those machines and assist in their maintenance.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the technology that equips computer systems with the ability to make decisions like humans. When AI programs are fed to systems, their aim is to mimic human intelligence and perform complex tasks such as pattern recognition, speech recognition, weather forecast and medical diagnosis.
AI is used by voice assistants like Alexa, video streaming services like Hulu, navigation applications like Lyft, IoT devices and search engines. AI helps in automating small and large tasks such as scheduling flights, making business forecasts and touchless systems.
4. Intelligent apps
Apps that make use of AI components such as robotics, deep learning, machine learning,data analytics, and natural language processing are known as Intelligent apps. They use real-time data or historical data for decision making.
Voice assistant apps such Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa are all examples of Intelligent apps
Blockchain is the foundational technology powering electronic currencies. Simply put, Blockchain is an electronic ledger sharable among users. This creates an unalterable record of transactions. Each record is time-stamped and linked to the previous one.
Each time a new transaction is added to the ledger, it is stored as a new block in the transaction chain– hence the name. Blockchains are updated only after all the parties contributing to the ledger agree. New additions into the block cannot be erased, making the technology verifiable and secure.
Validation of transactions helps companies reduce costs by not involving any third party. This is a secured system without the need for paying anything to a centralized entity. As there is decentralized technology transactions are easier to track using Blockchain.
6. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Similar to artificial intelligence, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology used for automating daily repetitive tasks such as replying to emails, processing transactions, and handling business data.
This can be used for automating tasks for both low-level as well as higher-ranking officials. RPA can be used to automate more than 40% of daily tasks. The most popular vendors that provide RPA tools are Pega Systems, Blue Prism, UiPath, Automation Anywhere, and WorkFusion Accenture, Deloitte, and Capgemini are using RPA tools to automate their daily operations.
7. Virtual Reality
VR uses computer technology and creates a simulated environment using which one can immerse themselves in an environment that seems astonishingly realistic.It is used for playing computer games. Unlike traditional games, where one can experience the environment by viewing it on the screen, the users are directly placed in the environment. VR simulates senses such as touch, hearing, smell, and vision. VR technology can be used for entertainment and training and imagining workplaces and houses.
8. Edge Computing
The technology is based on the philosophy of bringing computing power as close to the data source and reducing bandwidth and latency. This technology runs fewer processes in the cloud and shifts those processes to locations such as the user’s system or an edge server. Bridging the gap between the data and the computation, reduces long-distance communications between the server and the client, which in turn enhances the speed of the process. Edge computing is used for handling time-sensitive data stored in remote locations that have limited connectivity to the central location. The technology makes cloud computing and IoT devices faster.
The fifth generation of cellular network technology gives us faster, smarter and more stable wireless networking. This drives advances in many other trends such as more connected devices and richer streams of data.
10. BYOT/ BYOD
This concept refers to a policy or trend that permits students and employees to use their digital devices at school or work. Employees and students are allowed to use their personal devices to connect to their organisation’s networks to access work-related systems and potentially sensitive or confidential data. Personal devices include the likes of smartphones, personal computers, iPads, or USB drives.
2020 saw a large increase in more and more organizations and schools promoting employees and students to work from home, maintain a flexible schedule, and connect on the go while travelling. BYOT is often referred to as the “consumerization of Information Technology” Employees and students use their own devices to collaborate with their peers and colleagues. Google Docs is a popular collaborative tool used for group work.
The advantages of BYOD include:
- Increased employee productivity and effectiveness due to comfort and speed with their own devices.
- Increased job satisfaction and retention through flexible work arrangements.
- Upgraded technologies are integratable into the workplace without expenditure on IT hardware, software licensing and device maintenance
Disadvantages of BYOD include:
- Possibility of data breach due to loss or theft of personal devices or employees quitting the company.
- Increased IT costs if the department determines they will offer support to personal devices
- Lack of network availability
The Bottom Line:
Depending on the requirements of any organisation the requirement of technology would differ. There may be no single solution that can fulfill all the technological needs of an organisation, but as technology progresses, such a solution could be possible in the not so distant future.