The Pros and Cons of Hosting Your Website

Guest Author: This week’s blog was provided by Nina Hiatt, a freelance writer who researches and creates articles on a variety of topics – including news and technology. You can learn more by visiting her Google+ profile by clicking here.

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Sorting through all the available web hosting services takes time and presents an overwhelming number of options. Wouldn’t it just be easier (and cheaper) to host the site yourself? Here are some pros and cons to help your company decide:

Pros:

Hardware Control. The biggest benefit of hosting your website in house is that you have complete controlover the entire process. You control the hardware specifications, which means you can utilize hardware combinations that datacenters may not offer.

Web hosting providers usually have different sizes and speeds of processors, memory, storage, and bandwidth. Usually when you want more storage, you have to pay for a faster processor and more bandwidth as well.

However, certain websites may benefit from having large memory and a slower processor, or a fast processor and little storage. If you are hosting your own site, you can make decisions as to how fast, slow, big, or small your equipment is. Your company can also save money by not paying for services you don’t need for your site.

Money Savings. Any time you decide to provide a service on your own, you will be saving money. There’s no need to stress over paying bills or worrying about what products you have access to with your subscription package.

Software Control. Self-hosting a site also gives you control over the software you use and what features you put on your company website. If you use a free hosting service, like WordPress or BlogSpot, you may not have access to all the features you’d like your website to have. Even a paid hosting service may not offer what you are looking for, like chat capabilities or ecommerce.

Making Changes. Any changes, updates, or modifications can be made quickly and easily. You don’t have to go through a technical staff. If you make any changes you don’t like, you can immediately reset everything to its original state.

Instant Satisfaction. If you want to make changes to your server or your site, you can make the changes instantly. There is no waiting period between communicating your desires to the web hosting company, and seeing the changes on your site.

Cons:

Complete Responsibility. Along with complete control comes complete responsibility. You’re company can decide what hardware to use, but you have to actually know how to use it. If anything breaks down, it is up to you to figure out the problem and find a solution.

24/7 Duty. You are also responsible for monitoring your site at all times. If your server goes down, nobody is going to alert you that there is an issue. You not only have to fix all issues, but you have to be able to detect them as well.

Web Providers. Another potential roadblock you may run in to with web hosting is that many web providers don’t allow their users to host their own. Some of them explicitly forbid it in their contracts or they block the ports needed for hosting. Still others may dramatically increase their prices for any subscribers who want to run a server.

Even if your broadband connection does allow you to connect your own server, it probably won’t be as quick or as reliable as you will need for your site. Any downtime your web provider experiences will affect your server and your site.

Heat and Noise. Housing all the necessary hardware for a website server means you will have some loud equipment in your office. Servers generate a lot of heat, and the sound of the fans mixed with the sound of the processor will create a constant hum. The more traffic your site gets, the harder your server will have to work, and the hotter it will be. You may have to use additional cooling devices in the room where you house all of the equipment.

Takes more Time. . Letting someone host your site for you—called “managed cloud hosting” or “managed web hosting,” depending on which you choose—means that you don’t have to spend time worrying about or fixing any issues that come up. You can just sit back and work on the content of your site. When you host your own site, you will have less time to spend on the site itself.

Some Final Words of Advice

If you decide to host your site on your own, make sure you have all the technical knowledge you will need to manage the hardware and software. If you opt for managed web hosting, shop around and find the service provider that will best meet your needs. Hosting companies will usually show a comparison of their different packages. You can see examples of different packages on sites like VI.net, or you can read articles on sites like lifehacker.com that talk about the top web hosting companies and what they offer.

 

SMBs Benefit From Hybrid Cloud Data Storage And Federated Clouds

Guest Author: This week’s blog was provided to us by Ted Navarro, a technical writer and inbound marketer for ComputeNext – an innovative marketplace company. Check out the ComputeNext blog for the latest postings and engage in the discussions on cloud computing and IaaS technolgy by clicking here. Or you can follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook.

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Federated hybrid clouds allow businesses to distribute their data in accordance with their priorities while leveraging the full advantage of the cloud.

In spite of the obvious benefits of cloud data storage, many small and medium businesses are hesitant to entrust all of their data to the cloud. Cloud storage offers lower management and support burdens, lower capital expenditure, greater scalability, and increased opportunities for collaboration.

Nevertheless, the cloud is not perfect. Managers worry about availability issues: connectivity problems could bring a business to a standstill if mission critical data was unreachable. Some data is considered too important to entrust to the cloud; in spite of cloud providers’ considerable efforts to ensure the security of data, influencers within businesses have IP, security, and privacy concerns.

Hybrid cloud storage offers a solution that helps businesses resolve their cloud concerns without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Not all data is equally important. The majority of data that businesses generate does not need to be accessible constantly. Although most cloud vendors do in fact manage to maintain levels of availability that equal or exceed those of in-house solutions, it’s always possible that a natural disaster will knock out connectivity to the data center and render data unreachable.

To handle “expect the unexpected” scenarios, businesses are implementing hybrid solutions that allow them to leverage the benefits of the cloud while also maintaining data availability. A core set of data that must be consistently available can be kept on-site, with the rest moved up to the cloud. The burden on in-house IT staff and infrastructure is slashed while allowing businesses to be confident that their most important data is kept close by.

In other cases, instead of splitting their data between public and private clouds, businesses are using public cloud storage for backup and redundancy. Maintaining adequate numbers of servers on-site to provide a fully redundant system is wasteful when less expensive replication can be achieved by moving data to the cloud. Additionally, backups should be off-site to be truly effective, and the cloud allows for low-complexity automated off-site backup processes.

The cloud is not an all-or-nothing solution. There are significant business benefits to be reaped from implementations that spread data storage across multiple locations. In many cases, it’s advisable to also use different vendors for maximal redundancy.

An ideal scenario might see essential data held on a private cloud within a business’ firewall and replicated onto a cloud vendor’s platform for backup. Less crucial archival data may be placed with another vendor. Data that needs to be available on a short time scale and integrated with logistics or customer relationship management applications may be stored with yet another vendor. Vendor diversification is a powerful strategy for business continuity.

In that scenario, the company’s IT infrastructure moves beyond the simple private-public split of the hybrid cloud and becomes a true federated cloud. In previous years, maintaining a federated multi-cloud environment would have been more work than it was worth for a small business, but since the advent of cloud marketplaces that allow for the comparison and selection of vendors and the management of federated environments from one interface, redundant federated clouds are well within the reach of small and medium businesses.

How to Migrate Your Call Centre Into the Cloud

In a previous post, we looked at the many advantages to moving your customer service call centre into a cloud platform, which included the possibility of huge cost savings combined with higher customer satisfaction. Today, we want to look at the process of actually migrating your call centre into the cloud. In other words, we’ll look at what it takes to actually turn that money-saving vision into a reality.

The actual process will vary, of course, from one company to the next. Moreover, your specific steps will probably depend a bit on the size of your business, where your calls will be routed to in the future, and what Canadian data centre you’ll be working with for colocation.

However, the template below should apply very well for most situations. Moreover, it will help to dispel the widespread myth that moving your call centre into a cloud has to be expensive, time-consuming, or problematic. Few things could be further from the case. In fact, most businesses find that the transition is incredibly quick and smooth. The only real issue is figuring out why they didn’t make the switch sooner.

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Steps Involved in Migrating to a Cloud-Based Call Centre

So, what does it actually take to move your customer service calls into the cloud? Here are the steps most businesses will follow:

1. Choose a data centre for colocation. This is an important piece of the puzzle, since the right environment for your cloud platform is essential. You want to work with a partner who can guarantee lots of uptime, maximum security, and “extras” like automatic file backup on a regular basis. Biased as we might be, we recommend you consider a Canadian data centre for the most reliable technicians in a stable, accessible environment.

2. Make a plan for your migration. In most cases, this doesn’t have to be complicated, just an outline of the actual system to be transferred, a date and time for the migration to be executed, and all the relevant details like telephone numbers or server addresses for customer records. Additionally, your plan might contain information on backups and contingencies, just in case systems are offline for a few minutes during the transition.

3. Train your staff for your new customer service platform. Typically, when businesses make the switch to cloud call centres, they upgrade their capabilities at the same time. That means your team might have access to information they didn’t have before, which could require a little bit of training. Or, you might decide this is a great time to overhaul your entire customer service experience to meet a higher standard of satisfaction. Either way, it’s a good idea to ensure that staff members are informed about the switch and ready to move forward.

4. Port your telephone numbers from one location to another. Moving your customer service contacts into the cloud doesn’t have to mean surrendering the telephone numbers you already have (and your customers already know). Most major telecommunications providers can actually port numbers to a new location within just a few minutes, but it’s a good idea to give them a healthy amount of lead time if it’s at all possible. That way, you can be sure things will work the way they’re supposed to.

5. Keep a close eye on your customer service performance. Once you’ve moved your call centre into the cloud and had your numbers ported, you are ready to begin with your virtual setup. All there is left to do at this point is keep an eye on your most important customer service metrics to ensure that your staff is handling the transition smoothly.

Don’t Let the Fear of Call Centre Migration Hold You Back

Some companies end up spending far, far more than they should – one quarter after another – because they are afraid to undergo the process of migrating their call centre into the cloud. While this is understandable for those who aren’t familiar with the technology, it’s also a case where a little bit of misinformation can hurt your bottom line in a big way. Don’t be afraid to make the switch, because the process itself is likely to be very simple and the benefits to your business could be tremendous.

Ready to take the first step? Start your search a data centre that provides colocation services by clicking here.

Five of the Worst Cyber Attacks: Learning from Past Mistakes

As computer and Internet technologies continue to improve and evolve, so do the tactics and infiltration methods of cyber criminals. It’s critical for businesses of all shapes and sizes to ensure their network is always protected. Network security measures need to be updated and tested frequently in order to prevent the loss of any important company or customer data. If you’re business isn’t adequately protected from hackers, you could end up like one of the companies included in our list of some of the worst cyber-attacks.

  1. Mafia Boy Attack on Commercial Websites: In 2000, a 15-year old Quebec boy hacked into multiple commercial websites and shut down their systems for hours. Some of the impacted sites included CNN, Dell, Amazon, Yahoo, and E-Bay. The only reason this “professional hacker” was caught is because he bragged about his achievements in an online chat room. It’s estimated that the juvenile hacker cost $1.2 billion in damages, proving to businesses everywhere that all it takes is one hacker to cripple their productivity and cut revenue.Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 9.53.19 AM
  2. Target Loses Credit Card Data: During the holiday season in 2013, Target Corp. was hit by cyber thieves who used a RAM scraper to grab encrypted data by capturing it as it travels though the live memory of a computer, or – in this case – a checkout point-of-sale system. An investigation of the attack revealed that the cyber criminals stole the personal information of approximately 70 million customers. It wasn’t until Internet security blogger, Brian Krebs, wrote about the incident on his website that Target publicly admitted to the data breach. This resulted in a double hit for Target customers – not only was their information compromised, but they weren’t aware of it until long after the incident had occurred, which resulted in some very disgruntled customers.
  3. Epsilon Emails Hacked: The massive Marketing firm, best known for its big name clients – Best Buy and Chase, is estimated to have a potential loss of up to $4 billion after cyber criminals hacked into their database. The names and emails of millions of customers was stolen in March 2011, which could then be used to create more personalized and targeted phishing attacks. However, the biggest hit was felt by Epsilon – who had a client list of more than 2,200 global brands and handled more than 40 billion emails annually – as they struggled to keep the trust and business of their well-known clients.Epsilon_Logo_PMS
  4. Grocery Retailer Suffers 4 Month Long Breach: That’s right, for 4 months the upscale North American grocery chain experienced a security breach that resulted in the loss of approximately 4.2 million customers’ credit card details. Not only was the incident a black mark on the company’s public image, but it was a huge financial burden for the corporation. Cyber criminals gained access to the sensitive information by installing malware on the store servers, collecting the data from the winter of 2007 until the spring of 2008. It’s estimated that the costs incurred by the attack totaled $252 million.
  5. PlayStation Network Loses Millions: In 2011, over 100 million customer accounts containing credit and debit card information were stolen by a group of hackers. The breach lasted 24 days, and the hackers were even able to log on while the company was trying to fix the problem – even though dedicated gamers weren’t able to log on. Experts are speculating that this may be the costliest cyber-attack ever, totaling an estimated $2 billion in damages. To make matters ever worse, British regulators fined Sony 250,000 pounds (approximately $396,000) for failing to prevent the attacks by not implementing adequate security. Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office stated that the security measures in place at the time were “simply not good enough” and that there’s “no disguising that this is a business that should have known better”. So if you’re company isn’t making the time and effort to protect customer data – they’re sure to find out if your system is attacked. Good luck regaining your customer’s trust – and business – after a reveal like that.

Still haven’t convinced you that implementing a variety of security measures to protect your company and customer data is one of the highest priorities? Check out this quick video BuzzFeed created highlighting some more major cyber-attacks.

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Not sure where to get started? Here an article on how to train your employees on cyber security – click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

The Impact of the Heartbleed Bug on Business

The Heartbleed bug has swept across the nation, impacting a countless number of businesses and consumers. The bug is a vulnerability in OpenSSL, which is the name of a 1998 project that was started to encrypt websites and user information across the web. What started as a project committed to data encryption is now standard on 2/3 of all websites on the Internet. Without OpenSSL, our personal information submitted across every website we visit could land in the hands of cyber criminals. Ironically, the OpenSSL software that was designed to protect users contained a flaw that made it possible for hackers to trick a server into spewing out the data that was held in its memory.

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When news of the Heartbleed struck, business scrambled to find out how many of their systems were using the vulnerable version of OpenSSL. While the big web companies, such as Google and Yahoo, were able to move fast to fix the problem – smaller e-commerce sites are struggling to “patch” the software quickly. As the larger sites close the door on the Heartbleed bug, hackers are turning their attention to any small and medium businesses that may not have the knowledge or manpower to update and protect their e-commerce sites accordingly.

However, regardless of the size of the business, if customers learn that a company’s system has been hacked and their personal information was compromised, legal issues could arise. Angered customers – and their lawyers – will look to hold businesses accountable for any personal data that lands in the hands of hackers. Businesses need to communicate with their customers to inform them what steps have – and will be – taken to fix the problem. That way, customers can update their passwords accordingly once a business has confirmed that their site is clean.

Many of the impacted sites are not just popular for personal usage, but are used every day by businesses of all sizes. Companies will need to follow the same steps as their customers and wait to receive confirmation from any frequently used websites that the issue has been resolved before changing their passwords. It’s also important to realize that other devices, such as Android smart phones and tablets, are vulnerable to the bug as well.

The Heartbleed bug ordeal is just another reminder of the security challenges companies are facing as more and more economic activity move online. According to eMarketer, an independent research organization, worldwide business-to-consumer e-commerce sales are likely to increase to $1.5 trillion this year. With money like that on the line, you can bet cyber criminals will be vigorously targeting businesses to try and get a piece of the pie. Companies need to take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and their customers.

To learn more about protecting your business, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Your Fridge May Be Sending Out Spam – And Not the Canned Meat Kind

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At the 2014 Consumer Electronics show, the Internet of Things and smart devices stole the spotlight. Tech heavyweights Samsung and LG unveiled their “Smart Home” devices, which consisted of household appliances that were able to communicate with the homeowner and each other. These M2M devices (machine to machine) are each assigned an IP address, allowing them to connect to the Internet and transfer data (or, in other words, talk to each other) over a network without the need for human interaction.

This technology provides businesses and consumers with an array of benefits, without a doubt. Consumers are able to save on time and money – now that they can switch their appliances to an energy saving mode remotely or text their fridge to find out if they need to buy milk at the store before arriving home. Businesses are able to collect endless amounts of information from their customers and their devices – such as maintenance requirements or customer food preferences. However, with both parties looking to utilize IoT as soon as possible, security measures have been overlooked.

Between December 23 and January 6th, several Internet-connected “smart” devices – including refrigerators – sent upwards of 750,000 malicious emails. This is believed to be the first cyber attack involving IoT, and likely won’t be the last. Many IoT devices are poorly protected and consumers aren’t able to detect or fix security breaches when they do occur. As more of these smart appliances “come online”, attackers are finding ways to exploit them for their own needs.

Additionally, following an M2M conference in Toronto, ON, the Director of Policy for Ontario’s privacy commissioner pointed out that these devices also hold a lot of data that will be personally identifiable. Organizations are being urged to think about the privacy of customer data before employing M2M and IoT devices. Recently, customer data was leaked by LG’s smart TV as it was collecting and transmitting personal information to the manufacturer because there was no encryption. In an even more bizarre circumstance, the signal transmitted from a wireless camera used to monitor the interior of a Canadian methadone clinic was being picked up by a back-up camera inside of a vehicle outside of the building.

It’s imperative for organizations and consumers to comprehend the security and privacy risks associated with M2M and IoT enabled devices. Consumers will need to ensure that they keep their software up-to-date, change all default passwords to something more secure, and place their IoT device behind a router. Meanwhile, organizations who manufacture these devices must incorporate any available security measures available to ensure their customer’s information and network stayed protected. The benefits of IoT devices far outweighs the concerns, but those concerns still need to be addressed before IoT can really take off.

To learn more about the Internet of Things, check out our previous blog post by clicking here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

 

Technology Trends Expected to Change the Game

Guest Author: This week’s blog was provided to us by Ramya Raju, a freelance writer from India. With over 8 years of writing experience, Raju discusses a variety of topics, such as data centre technologies, SEO, web design, and mobile. You can learn more about him by visiting his website. 

Whirlwind changes are happening in the world of business and organizations, and that has had an impact on IT as well. The IT sector will have to go through a major transformation in 2014 and that can be seen in cloud, mobile and social technologies. There is an increasing amount of focus and demand on access to information, and these technologies are quickly “coming of age” in order to keep up. As a result, it’s now necessary for companies, especially their IT, to reinvent themselves. And there are some major trends that will make their presence felt in 2014.

The Internet of Things will make things more interesting and challenging for IT

There are a large number of Smartphones and devices that are out there today. Bring your own device (BYOD) culture is also gaining ground to a large extent and that in itself can be a tricky proposition for IT. But things won’t stop at that because Internet Of Things will pose further challengers to IT masters. It involves different types of constituents including wearable personal technology and smart consumer and medical devices. There are sensors in different parts of the world and connected machines to deal with as well, and that doesn’t make the task of IT any easier.

IPv6 has been lapped up in all kinds of places and the addresses it comes with are endless. Thus there is going to be an explosion of data that will have to be handled very carefully. Thus there will be a growing emphasis on scalability and complexity. IT will have a task on its hands when it comes to these factors.

Analytics gains prominence

The industry has often focussed on connection and data movement. Immediate application functionality was another aspect that was given a lot of importance. But now Analytics will takes its place of pride. It will definitely move from being an add-on that often seemed like an afterthought for people till date.  There are several factors that have contributed to this sea change in approach. The major onslaught of large amounts of data is one factor and the impact of Internet Of Things is another. The importance of data is also observed and acknowledged a lot more today, which has made it necessary for people to incorporate analytics right from the beginning. Context sensitive and location aware abilities for IT will also become common place.

More attention on apps

People are paying a lot of attention to the performance and functionality of major projects, especially in the healthcare sector. But expectations from application delivery will be a lot higher in 2014 and things like model drives, user based development will be stressed upon. Thus IT has its task cut out as far as apps are concerned.

It means that the new age, fast development tools will be in the spotlight. People will also have to think about processes that will lead to speedy delivery, which will remain important. Other crucial aspects to think about will be predictability and reliability. To make things more challenging, people will have to think hard about meeting service level requirements and keeping the costs under control as well.

PaaS will be widely accepted

Platform-as-a-Service will get its due and wide recognition in 2014 and it will be one of the important trends of the year. This is a cloud layer that certainly has its advantages and they will be noticed by people, who are only going to lap it up. Some of its benefits include agility, analytics and faster development. Moreover it is more suited for scalability, which is something people will want. And of course, it has the cost benefits of cloud, which will be a huge bonus.

There are few other reasons why people will take to PaaS in 2014. It is known to offer structure and control for strategic needs of organizations. And that’s an appealing proposition for companies irrespective of their size. Once these advantages are noticed, the industry will be forced through a major change. It will lead to business specialists being in charge of data integration tools. Overall data integration will become omnipresent.

Budget Shift in IT

Now that cloud is becoming widely accepted and democratized, development trends seem to be the norm, individual lines of business will start getting more power. They will be in a position to start funding their own projects and wrest the initiative from IT.

As a result, companies and CIOs will have to come up with strategies to ensure that they cope with the evolving climate without losing information. They will also have to ensure that there are no security risks involved and they don’t get into technically dead-end situations. Things will change rapidly and they will have to learn to adapt quickly.

In 2014, one size fits all philosophy will become more redundant than ever before. It could mean different things and strategies for different people based on their requirements but they will certainly have to be worked on. In short, it’s all about making it possible to access information anywhere, anytime and wherever it’s needed.

TeraGo Networks Attends TechBrew in Vancouver

On January 29th, TeraGo Networks joined more than 170 tech professionals at TechBrew, one of BCTIA’s most popular events, to check out new technologies and discuss 2014 trends. BCTIA (BC Technology Industry Association) is a not-for-profit organization that supports the development, growth, and advancement of technology companies located in British Columbia. Gathered in the Stanley Park Pavilion, TechBrew attendees interacted with the coolest new technologies and conversed with cutting-edge innovators and influential decision-makers.

Photo credit: Kim Stallknecht Photography and BCTIA

Photo credit: Kim Stallknecht Photography and BCTIA

We had the honor of presenting during the event, which gave our representatives the opportunity to provide attendees with information on the technologies we employ and the types of services we offer. Networking with tech professionals, colleagues, and customers allows for us to provide support to the industry where we can, offer connections to our services, and recognize industry trends.

After speaking with several attendees, it became clear that data centres – and the availability of data centre facilities – was the hot topic of the night. The increased use of data centres and colocation facilities across the globe has not gone unnoticed by IT professionals and businesses in BC. With cloud computing at an estimated worth of $200 billion globally by 2016, companies are eager to secure the space they need to utilize the cloud.

Additionally, many companies are specifically looking for data centres in the lower mainland of BC. In a recent article, IBM stated that they believe Kelowna is the best place to build a data centre in North America because it’s far from earthquake and flood zones and close to cheap power sources. The city is also just a short distance from Vancouver and the US border, bringing any US based companies that are looking to avoid the National Security Administration (NSA) up to Canada. The recent practices of the NSA has cast doubt on the security of data centres located in the United States, compelling businesses to look elsewhere for data centre and colocation facilities.

Discussing this growing data centre trend  with TechBrew attendees gave us some great insights on the resources needed for businesses to effectively utilize the technology. Not only do companies need to find space within a data centre or colocation facility, but they need to acquire a secure, symmetrical connection in order truly benefit. Without a reliable and safe connection, companies will not be able to protect the data they send to and from the data centre. And if the connection isn’t symmetrical, companies will not be able to upload as fast as they download, which results in lower productivity levels. To learn more about data centre services, click here.

We look forward to attending many more BCTIA events!

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

CES 2014: The Technology Trend that will Impact your Business

There was a lot of buzz surrounding the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year, and we’re not just talking about Michael Bay’s big blunder and subsequent walk-off during the Samsung presentation. It’s important for any business to monitor technology trends – whether it’s for consumers or businesses – because it will likely have an impact on their company, directly or indirectly.

The most noteworthy trend is the number of machine-to-machine (M2M) enabled devices unveiled at the show by top tech companies. Many innovators have brought the concept of connected devices to CES in previous years – but they have never been as practical as they are today. For example, tech titans LG and Samsung unveiled smart household appliance systems that let consumers communicate with them.

Samsung introduced a service for managing its smart TVs, home appliances and smartphones called Smart Home. In fact, this Smart Home system is due to roll out in the first half of 2014. The system will allow for consumers to get real-time views streamed from appliances equipped with built-in cameras. And Samsung isn’t stopping there – they have plans to expand by including more and more smart devices and appliances.

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LG has devised a way to communicate with household appliances through text messages called HomeChat. Users are able to text in natural language and receive a response from their appliances that are slightly playful in nature. However, the more practical feature is the ability for your fridge to tell you what’s in it, suggest recipes, and tell you oven what temperature to preheat to. This will require some manual efforts from the user – since keeping track of food requires entering data into the refrigerator each time items are added or removed – but the beneficial results are worth it.

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Just think, you could be informed when an item in your fridge is close to spoiling, or set your appliances to an energy saving mode remotely, or even have your oven text you when your roast is almost done. This technology would allow for consumers to save on time and money, while the company who created the device is easily able to collect information on their customers and products. LG’s National Product Trainer expects that it will only take a few years until a universal standard for communicating with devices is established.

None of this would be possible without the proliferation of IPv6 – which provides a seemingly infinite number of IP addresses. Now companies are able to assign an IP address to almost anything, allowing for that item to communicate with other things, people, or animals. The ability for all “things” to communicate with each other is more commonly known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Simply defined, the IoT is a system in which unique identifiers (or IP addresses) are assigned to objects, people, or animals – allowing them to transfer data about their assigned “thing” over a network without the need for human interaction.

The companies that utilize this type of technology will have an edge over the competition, with endless amounts of consumer and product data. In the near future, the Internet will develop into an online experience that has been customized to each individual user – your personalized Internet, with your data. Businesses will be able to deliver exactly what each individual customer wants, when they want it – that is, as long as they start incorporating this type of technology sooner than later.

To learn more about IoT, and how to get started on implementing it, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Top IT Predictions for 2014

It’s that time of year again – businesses around the globe are busy preparing for 2014. After reviewing multiple research documents released by industry leading companies, such as Gartner, IDC, CA Technologies, and CompTIA, we’ve compiled a list of the top I.T. predictions for 2014.

  1. Security: In a survey conducted by CompTIA, it was revealed that businesses are funnelling resources into better security, and that 56% of CIOs have indicated that IT security is their top priority. As the number of devices used by employees increases (driven by BYOD – bring your own device) it is getting increasingly difficult to protect company data. Factor in the technical advances made by cyber criminals, who are finding more and more ways to get around security barriers, and you’ve got a real problem on your hands. There is a delicate balance between enabling and protecting the business, and IT members will need to find the happy medium.
  2. Outsourcing IT: Several companies are either planning or rolling out programs and technology trends such as cloud computing, mobility, and big data. This combination of multiple technology trends, in addition to the increased adoption rate of these technologies by enterprises, will contribute to a IT skills shortage. For many companies, change is occurring fast, and they don’t have the in-house resources or expertise needed to implement their plans. In order for businesses to obtain the full benefits of these technologies, they will need to employ outsourced resources.
  3. Data Centre Utilization: Businesses of all sizes are quickly filling up data centres across the country. Best advice – get in while you can. Data centres are comparable to a finite resource – once they’re full, that’s it. And as the demand for data centre services increases, so can the price. Several smaller businesses perceive data centres an inaccessible – believing that the costs will be too high – but that’s not the case. There is a variety of data centres across the country, ranging in price, size, and security level. Still don’t think your company needs data centre services? Check out our post on the Top 5 Benefits of Using a Data Centre for Business.
  4. The Internet of Things: We’re on the brink of the Internet of Things (IoT). Currently, many companies are aware of IoT, but haven’t yet explored the possibilities of an expanded Internet. As a result, several businesses are not operationally or organizationally ready to employ IoT. However, Gartner predicts that companies will be using 2014 to prepare for IoT by utilizing data centre resources, adopting a variety of data management software, and ensuring the right employee resources are in place. IoT is not restricted to any particular industry, and with the advent of massively connected devices, businesses now have access to more information than they actually act on. Gartner’s prediction focuses on the “opportunity to build applications and services that can use that information to create new engagement models for customers, employees and partners”. This means that IoT is set to become more user friendly and accessible – so you had better start preparing for it.
  5. Software Defined Anything: Gartner predicts that software spending will increase by 25% in 2014. Software-defined anything (SDx) is a collective term used to define the growing market momentum for software systems that are controlling different types of hardware. More specifically, it’s making software more “in command” of multi-piece hardware systems and allowing for software control of a greater range of devices.

Reviewing the five top IT predictions listed above, there appears to be three things in common; businesses will need to manage a vast amount of data, businesses will need a reliable Internet connection, and businesses will need to act fast. So if you haven’t solidified your 2014 IT plans, or if you have – and it doesn’t include at least one of the items listed above, then it’s time to hustle.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

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