The future of computing
Internationally and locally in Trinidad and Tobago, we are seeing a fight amongst telecommunication service providers for customers as wireless and wired solutions have now become faster and more affordable. We are hearing about triple play (television, internet and phone service) or even quad play where security services are also being bundled as an offering. But what happens after almost everyone gets on the internet?
First of all, technologies such as cloud computing would be set to take off further and offer services to you from anywhere, anytime and from any place.
But what is this cloud computing about?
According to PC Magazine writer Eric Griffith, “Cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. It goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats”.
Cloud computing’s adoption rate is also set to skyrocket as there is also a massive increase in the use of mobile devices globally.
CLOUD COMPUTING SERVICES
The services available on cloud computing platforms basically fall into these categories:
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) where you subscribe to an application over the internet.
- Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) for example where your company develops a custom application and lets employees access it over the internet.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) where vendors (e.g. Amazon, Rackspace) host their equipment in the cloud and rent you space to use this equipment for hosting your applications and data. This is a very low cost solution to companies, as the vendors utilize economies of scale to charge a very low rate for using their equipment. Also the vendors upgrade their equipment frequently (at no additional cost to the customers) so the burden of obsolescence of equipment and continuously upgrading is taken away from the customer.
CLOUD COMPUTING EXAMPLES
You may already be familiar with cloud computing examples from vendors such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that provider free (cloud based) email, calendar and contact list options. With these offerings, all your email, calendar entries and contact lists resides in the cloud and you can access them from any internet enabled device.
Other cloud computing examples include Microsoft’s One Drive or Google Drive which allow you to store data in the cloud and have them sync automatically on all your devices. This hybrid approach allows you to work from any internet enabled device and have the data updated across all your other devices. For example you can take pictures on your smartphone, have them automatically sync to your cloud provider’s account and then later access them via another internet enabled device such as your tablet or laptop for viewing.
INCREASED MOBILE DEVICE ADOPTION
According to the World Bank, Trinidad and Tobago’s mobile device penetration (for voice services) has risen from 117% in 2006 to 147% in 2015. As mobile device usage increases, so too has the reach of internet services.
In the last four years, Smartphone and Tablet growth worldwide has moved from just over 2.2 billion units to almost 3 billion units.
The majority of these smartphone devices utilize the internet to access cloud based services such as:
- On Demand Content Streaming Services such as Netflix.
- Shopping via Amazon.
- Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn.
- Web based email like Gmail.
- Instant messaging services like Whatsapp, Skype, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger.
- Navigation Services such as Google Maps, Waze.
See the video below for an example of how smartphones are being used by refugees from Syria.
INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT)
As Jacob Morgan, a Forbes contributing writer explains, ‘Broadband Internet is become more widely available, the cost of connecting is decreasing, more devices are being created with Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors built into them, technology costs are going down, and smartphone penetration is sky-rocketing. All of these things are creating a “perfect storm” for the IoT….Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.’
By adding a sensor to a previously “dumb” device so it can send/receive data or be controlled, this device can now become a smart device. Imagine being able to control your lights at home from anywhere in the world or your fridge send you an alert or email if the door was left ajar. Wouldn’t it be nice before you started your car in the morning you get a warning if any fluids were low or a tyre needed air or a panorama picture was sent to you of your car whenever your alarm tripped? All of this will soon be possible with a combination of smart devices connected to the internet using the IoT concept and will be able to be done by your internet enabled smart device.
On a collective level if we interconnect smart devices, we can migrate from silos of smart devices to other smart platforms such as smart cities, smart hospitals, smart highways and even smart factories.
3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing)
Another little known computing concept on the horizon is 3D printing. According to the futurist Christopher Barnatt, “3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — turns digital 3D models into solid objects by building them up in layers. The technology was first invented in the 1980s, and since that time has been used for rapid prototyping (RP). However, in the last few years, 3D printing has additionally started to evolve into a next-generation manufacturing technology that has the potential to allow the local, on-demand production of final products or parts thereof.”
Take a look at the video below to see more about 3D printing and its applications.
Imagine in the not too distant the future where a 3D printer connected to the internet prints items for you on demand. It may be a subscription based printer in your home printing a spare part for your car or an item you see online and want to order.
These technologies are going to be disruptors to the way we go about our lives. In the business world, they are going to make certain processes we are accustomed to now obsolete, as well as enhance our way of life. We at Augmented Business Digital Consultants Limited are here to advise and work with you to be ready for this upcoming change and also for you to be forerunners with these technologies. The next killer app may be around the corner and you need to be ready before it makes your business obsolete.
For more any info on these and other technologies which can be of use to your business, please click here to contact us at Augmented Business Digital Consultants Limited.