Category Archives: Big Data

Why Do Television Companies Need A Digital Transformation

Why Do Television Companies Need A Digital Transformation

Cloud TV

Over just a few years, the world of television production, distribution, and consumption has changed dramatically. In the past, with only a few channels to choose from, viewers watched news and entertainment television at specific times of the day or night. They were also limited by where and how to watch. Options included staying home, going to a friend’s house, or perhaps going to a restaurant or bar to watch a special game, show, news story, or event. When we are talking about the TV industry has now been completing and moving to the high definition from the standard definition, now the discussion is about 4K and 8K video standard. But before all these things happen, analog based broadcasting needs to transform digitally. That means TV industry is unavoidable needing a disruptive transformation in their ICT platform to cope with the new processes of acquisition, production, distribution and consumption.

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Fast-forward to today, and you have a very different scenario. Thanks to the rise of the Internet – and, in particular, mobile technology – people have nearly limitless options for their news and entertainment sources. Not only that, but they can choose to get their news and other media on TV or on a variety of smart devices, including phones, tablets, smart watches, and more.

Improved Business Value From New Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

The world has changed, and continues to change, at a rapid pace. This change has introduced a number of challenges to businesses in the television industry. Making the digital media transformation can do a number of things to resolve these challenges and improve your business and viewership.

With leading new ICT, you can see significant business value and improved marketing and production strategies. For example, making this transformation can vastly improve your television station’s information production and service capabilities. It can also smooth the processes involved with improving broadcasting coverage and performance as well.

With these improvements, your station will have faster response times when handling time-sensitive broadcasts. This delivers to your audience the up-to-the-minute coverage and updates they want across different TV and media devices and platforms.

Improved Social Value with New ICT

A television station that refuses to change and evolve with viewers’ continuously evolving needs and wants will find themselves falling behind competitors. However, a TV station that understands the necessity to make the digital media transformation will have significantly improved social value with their audiences.

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Television stations that embrace new technology, digital media, storage, cloud computing and sharing will see massive improvements in social value. Consider that this transformation enables your station to produce timely and accurate reports faster, giving your audience the freshest information and entertainment.

By bringing news and entertainment media to your audience when, where and how they want and need it, you can enrich their lives and promote a culture of information sharing that will also serve to improve your ratings and business. With technologies like cloud-based high-definition video production and cloud-based storage and sharing architectures, you can eliminate many of the challenges and pain points associated with reporting news and bringing TV entertainment to a large audience.

Why Do Television, Media, and Entertainment Companies Need a Digital Transformation?

Consider the basic steps that a TV news station must take to get the news to their audience:

  • Acquisition
  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Consumption

For television stations that have not yet embraced a digital media transformation, these steps do not just represent the process of delivering news media to the public. They also represent a series of pain points that can halt progress and delay deadlines. These include:

  • Traditional AV matrices use numerous cables, are limited by short transmission distance for HD signals and require complicated maintenance, slowing down 4K video evolution.
  • Delays when attempting to transmit large video files from remote locations back to the television station.
  • Delays when reporters edit videos because office and production networks in TV stations are separated from each other, requiring them to move back and forth between the production zone and the office zone in their building to do research
  • Delays due to the time it takes to transmit a finished program (between six and twenty-four minutes, depending on the length and whether or not it is a high-definition video) to the audience.
  • 4K video production has much higher requirements on bandwidth and frame rates.

These challenges all occur in traditional structures and architectures for media handling, but they quickly dissolve when a TV station makes the digital transformation and begin using a cloud-based architecture with new ICT.

Keeping Up With Viewer Demand via Ultra High Definition (UHD) Omnimedia

Increasingly, viewers demand more and more individualized experiences. These include interactive programming, rich media, UHD video, and they want it across all applicable devices. Delivering UHD omnimedia is only possible through new ICT, as older IT infrastructures simply cannot scale to the levels necessary to keep up with viewer demands.

Fortunately, through cloud-based architectures and faster sharing, networks and stations may not only keep up with consumer demand but actually surpass it. For example, when using 4K formatting, your station can provide viewers with the highest resolution possible (4096 x 2160 pixels), and your video formatting will be easily scalable for different platforms for the most convenient viewing possible.

Furthermore, by becoming an omnimedia center, your station can enjoy the benefits of converged communications. Essentially, this means that you will be creating information and/or entertainment that can be used in multiple different ways for television, social media, news sites, etc., giving you more coverage and exposure than ever before.

What Is Required to Make the Transformation to Digital Media?

Cloud computing and embracing 4K for video formatting are both essential to digital media transformation, but they are not all that is necessary. Aside from these two elements, television stations can take advantage of advances in technology in a number of ways to improve their marketing and production strategies through the use of new ICTs.

For example, thin clients and cloud computing could enable video editing anywhere and anytime, increasing efficiency. In order to improve the latency between the thin clients and the cloud, with the help of enhanced display protocol, virtual machine and GPU virtualization technology, the new ICT architectures today can enable a smooth editing of 8-track HD video in audio / video synchronization, or even support 6-track 4K video editing on clients via the industry’s only IP storage system.

As mentioned earlier, through cloud computing, it is no longer necessary to physically transport video from a news site to the station. Likewise, it is no longer necessary to do all production work and research in separate areas. Thanks to cloud storage and sharing, these pain points can easily be eliminated, as sharing and sending information becomes much simpler and faster.

An all-IP based video injection process is a must if TV stations want to lower network complexity and simplify system maintenance. There are two ways to approach this:

  1. For example, IP cables can replace traditional SDI signals. Each cable transmits 1 channel of 4K video signal. (SDI requires 4 cables to transmit the same video.) Thus, using IP cables can reduce the number of necessary cables by up to 92%, improving O&M efficiency by 60%, and bringing convenience to system interworking and interaction.
  2. With the help of mobile broadband, WAN accelerated networks, smart phones or tablets, journalists in the field can now shorten the video submission process by 90%. Most importantly, cloud computing allows journalists to edit video anywhere and anytime. With the help of fast trans-coding resources in the cloud, real time video reporting is now possible.

Another major factor in any digital media transformation is big data and data analytics. By collecting and analyzing information on your station’s viewers, you can better create more personalized viewing experiences. Netflix has, perhaps, one of the best and most widely known examples of this, as they have created specific algorithms based on previous customer behavior to predict whether or not a viewer will enjoy a certain film or show, and which media to recommend for any viewer.

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Through these and other information and communication technologies, such as the Internet of Things(IoT), SDN (software-defined networking), improved mobile broadband, etc., television stations can bring faster, more accurate, and more convenient news and entertainment to their customers and viewers.

Who Is Leading the Way in the Transformation?

In my opinion, the company who has complete agile innovations across cloud-pipe-device collaboration will lead the way to transformation. One of companies in China called Huawei is now trying to create an ecosystem for the global channel partners and solution partners across the news and media entertainment industry, and it provides an open ICT platform that encourages media industry developers to continue to innovate their products. With strong development in cloud-based architectures, SDN, mobile broadband, and IoT, developers and partners are able to create the most comprehensive solutions that best empower media stations of all kinds to move into the future.

What do you think of the digital media transformation in the Television Industry?

(Originally published September 7th, 2016)

By Ronald van Loon

Technology and the Future of Cognitive Computing

Technology and the Future of Cognitive Computing

Cognitive Computing

Recently popularized by IBM’s highly intelligent Watson supercomputer, which competed on the hit game show Jeopardy, cognitive computing refers to machines that are capable of learning concepts and patterns through advanced language processing algorithms. A system that involves incredibly advanced artificial intelligence, cognitive computing is one facet of computer science that isn’t for the faint of heart.

Consumer Uses for Cognitive Computing

Although much of the hype is centered on big business and big data processing, there are a number of consumer applications. Whereas business leaders might use the technology to increase their bottom line, streamline daily operations and achieve greater profitability, consumers can take advantage of computing to ease some of the burdens of everyday life.

In fact, many consumers are using some form of it without realizing it. Smartphone apps, in-store kiosks, and e-Commerce use cognitive computing to offer users and customers greater accessibility, increased support and cost comparison. According to Deloitte, more than half of all mobile users currently use their devices while shopping in order to browse prices and download coupons.

How Cognitive Computing Is Changing the Workplace

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While cognitive computing has yet to reach its full potential, there are nearly infinite possibilities for its future implementation.

According to some sources can bolster the recordkeeping and documentation process within the healthcare sector by collating patient history, recommending the appropriate diagnostic tools and even suggesting relevant articles or whitepapers. Some analysts predict that approximately 30 percent of all healthcare IT systems will use cognitive computing by the year 2018.

Our ability to manage ad-hoc projects can also benefit from it. By utilizing a system like IBM’s Watson as a personal, AI-driven secretary, project managers can obtain accurate information, monitor timelines and deliverables or even participate in the overall project planning and budgeting phases. People who actively use a project portfolio management strategy can use the technology to achieve greater resource allocation, track multiple projects and collate data from various sources.

People in the insurance industry also stand to benefit from cognitive computing and advanced AI. According to research by experts with IBM, computing systems can bolster human-computer engagement, strengthen information discovery and make important business decisions. Additional benefits include improvements in risk management, cost analysis and customer service.

Companies use cognitive computing in a myriad of other ways, too. Some use the technology as a means of supporting internal troubleshooting and third-party software, while others use it to collect, store and analyze financial data on behalf of individual clientele.

Receiving Brand Name Support

Cognitive computing is receiving support from some of the top names in the IT world. Apart from IBM and their Watson supercomputer, brands such as Microsoft, Cisco, Google and Spark have thrown their respective hats into the mix. Moreover, they all add something different to the concept of cognitive computing.

For example, Microsoft offers various software development kits and utilities in order to support the programming and implementation of advanced artificial intelligence in modern software. Conversely, Cisco’s Cognitive Threat Analytics suite is meant to identify and resolve cyber-threats as soon as possible.

The Longevity of Cognitive Computing

Despite the fact that it’s still a relatively new concept, there’s no denying the computing’s impact on our daily lives. As more companies pledge resources to the development of the technology and as more consumers embrace it in their personal lives, we’ll only see the technology improve even further. Indeed, its definitely here to stay.

By Kayla Matthews

Is Automation The Future Of Radiology?

Is Automation The Future Of Radiology?

Future of Radiology

For those of you who don’t already know, radiology is a subset of medicine that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, illnesses and injuries based on imaging techniques. X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, ultrasounds and PET scans all fall under the umbrella of radiology. Even within this medical niche you will find doctors that are highly specialized in treating certain parts of the body. Once you go down this rabbit hole, you will be shocked to see how deep it can go.

But how close are we to having the entirety of radiation automated by all-knowing robots that can do the job equally well, if not better than our well-trained doctors? The idea of automation in medicine is nothing new, as our exponential progress in technology has brought up the valid concern that robots are the future of medicine. We are already in the process of designing nano-sized robots to solve certain medical problems. We invest millions of dollars in building the best equipment that doctors and healthcare workers can get their hands on. What stops us from taking it one step further and having robots perform our jobs without having to lift a finger?

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Take IBM, for example. Their radiologist software Avicenna is already showcasing the future of automation in action. It was specifically programmed to make diagnoses and suggest treatments based on the patient’s medical images and data within their record. Early demos are already showing that its accuracy is on par with independent diagnoses made by trained radiologists. With more data fed to this software in the form of millions of anonymized patient data, it will gradually escape from demo testing and become a seriously useful tool in hospitals all around the world.

Another recent case study of robot-guided radiology in action is Entilic, a deep-learning machine system that is engineered for medical image recognition. According to a test that involved analyzing a CT scan of a patient’s lungs done against three expert human radiologists, “Enlitic’s system was 50% better at classifying malignant tumours and had a false-negative rate (where a cancer is missed) of zero, compared with 7% for the humans”. If this is the kind of result that we are seeing from a startup, just imagine what the implications will be when this technology is fully developed and integrated with the IT systems in healthcare facilities worldwide.

Many people are divided on the implications of automatizing the radiology-guided diagnosis and treatment of patients. The common argument against automation is that it will put a lot of radiologists out of work. Several decades of intense study and hard work will be thrown down the drain because a machine will be able to do their job with greater accuracy and success. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning within machines, this possibility cannot be disregarded any longer. We are already seeing several jobs in the transportation and manufacturing industries being lost to robots and well-programmed machines.

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On the other hand, those in favour of automation are arguing that radiology robots are going to help radiologists do their jobs instead of taking them away. Indeed, we still have a long way to go when it comes to rigorous testing and optimizing the ability of intelligent programs to accurately diagnose complex medical programs. One might go as far as to argue that radiology software will act as a checking system in which we can compare independent diagnoses against a machine-produced result. In the end, problems would be found far sooner and fixed far faster. It could even lead to reduced patient wait times!

We are fortunate enough that medical automation is still in its early developmental stages. There is still time left in the future for us to debate over the pros and cons of automation in radiology. No matter the outcome, it is blatantly clear that jobs needs to be at the forefront of this discussion. Either we provide hard-working radiologists with a new career path, or we find a way for automation to work alongside their work instead of against it.

What are your thoughts about automation in radiology? Are you for it or against it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

By Tom Zakharov

Tom is a Master’s student at McGill University, currently specializing in the field of Experimental Medicine. After graduating from the University of Ottawa as a Summa Cum Laude undergraduate, he is currently investigating novel indicators of chemotherapy toxicity in stage IV lung cancer patients. Tom also has 4+ years of scientific research in academia, government, and the pharmaceutical industry. Tom’s first co-authored paper investigated a novel analytical chemistry method for detecting hydrazine in nuclear power plants at parts-per-billion (ppb) concentrations, which can be viewed here.

3 Groundbreaking Wearables In The Travel Space

3 Groundbreaking Wearables In The Travel Space

3 Groundbreaking Wearables

The advent of wearable technologies had many expecting a utopia free of 20th-century pains such as paper maps, customer loyalty cards, lost luggage, and sluggish airport security.

Unfortunately, technological limitations have prevented wearables from revolutionizing the world. A number of devices struggle with voice recognition: Travel technology company Sabre found that about 16 percent of voice commands were ineffective with Google Glass during tests at an airport. To top it off, GPS in smartwatches and smartphones sometimes misses the mark, and battery life in most wearables is dismal.

If wearable use were as prolific as smartphone use, the potential applications while traveling might be nearly limitless. For now, initial excitement over wearables has not translated to long-term use. While a 2016 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found about 49 percent of respondents owned at least one wearable, the same study found that daily use of those devices decreased over time.

With data networks everywhere upgrading to 5G, connectivity woes might soon be a thing of the past. Rising interest in virtual reality and augmented reality technologies and Internet of Things applications is fueling curiosity in the devices, and advances in batteries and charging capabilities have the technology poised to break into the mainstream.

Wearables on the Rise

Nearly every tech company has a full line of wearables, and even fashion juggernauts such as Under Armour are moving toward connected clothing. Three main types of wearables are reaching mainstream success, and their applications will revolutionize the way we travel.

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1. Smartwatches.

Smartwatches most often connect to mobile phones, although Samsung’s Gear S2 and several pending releases also support separate data plans. This wristwear has a screen and an operating system that makes it ideal for notifications. Activity-tracking bands often sport similar features.

Smartwatches can be used to pay for meals, book hotels or cars, and check the status of flights. Most major airlines already have an Apple Watch app that allows travelers to board by scanning their wrists rather than tickets. Hotel chains are investigating ways to use smartwatches for room keys. And vibrational GPS while traversing an unfamiliar city is invaluable.

2. Smart glasses.

The high-tech eyewear connects to your phone, and headsets such as Samsung’s Gear VR and Mattel’s View-Master VR use smartphone cameras to deliver AR. Several generations of consumers are being introduced to untethered AR experiences, while Google negotiates with retailers and manufacturers to embed its Glass technology into eyewear across the globe.

Travelers will soon be able to use AR to provide interactive maps, travel guides, notifications, and flight updates while they interact with the real world. The technology is still in its infancy, but the smart glass industry will change travel when it reaches full maturity.

3. Wearable cameras.

Wearable cameras are often mentioned in relation to police officers, but tourists could also benefit from this technology. With the small cameras now readily available for a modest price, travelers can get in on the action to document their adventures in innovative ways and share them with friends and family.

In fact, the action camera market already has moved to spherical cameras, with Kodak’s Pixpro SP360 4K camera offering the most compact solution. Using two GoPro-sized SP360s, anyone can capture immersive, 360-degree views of exotic locales from around the world. With social networks pushing for more visual content, capturing and sharing vacation photos will only become easier.

Signs of a Wearable Revolution

Passenger IT Trends Survey found 77 percent of respondents were comfortable with airport staff using wearable technology to help them. That same year, World Travel Market named wearable tech as one of its top trends.

The benefits are clear for travelers: Wearable tech can replace sagging fanny packs and wallets bulging with paperwork. Rather than carrying around credit cards, tickets, receipts, and identification documents, travelers can store and access everything from a watch to glasses to eventually even their own solar- and motion-powered clothing. The technology can help simplify the entire customs process for both passengers and agents.

The devices also should help travel agents respond to increased demand for personalized services. By using the technology to customize holiday packages and enhance communications with clients, wearables could be a boon for the travel industry as a whole.

Smartphones and tablets have fully saturated the market, and interest in technology such as AR and gesture commands is reaching a fever pitch. These technologies are converging for both consumers and enterprises out in the wild as people untether from their desktops and make data-driven decisions on the go.

While the shift likely will have wide-reaching effects throughout society, the travel industry in particular is in line for momentous changes.

By Tony Tie,

tonytie.expediaTony is a numbers-obsessed marketer, life hacker, and public speaker who has helped various Fortune 500 companies grow their online presence.

Located in Toronto, he is currently the senior search marketer at Expedia Canada, the leading travel booking platform for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and local activities.

Martech – Greater Flexibility And Opportunities

Martech – Greater Flexibility And Opportunities

Martech Breeds

Marketing technology of recent years offers us greater flexibility and opportunity, and though debate rages regarding issues such as the value of marketing clouds versus self-service technology, it’s apparent that whatever breed is chosen, relevant and advanced marketing technology is a must for the success of every business. Many of the marketing cloud solutions available provide all-in-one options which analyze masses of data, automate intricate tasks, and afford personalized and customer-centric experiences. However, some of these solutions can be incredibly expensive, time and skill consuming, and difficult to implement. Certainly not always the case, many cloud martech providers suggest the importance of weighing initial costs against the value of product delivery and services provided over years to come. Moreover, provided by some of the giants, cloud martech solutions are consistently being renewed and simplified to better meet the needs of clients and deliver customer-centric outcomes.

Do It Yourself Solutions

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For those put off by the initial costs of one of the larger marketing clouds, it is possible to build a relatively tailored and personalized solution through self-service tools. There are, however, numerous products to choose from making it necessary to do a fair amount of research into both what’s available and what’s required for any individual organization. Industry experts suggest a few essential tools invaluable to every business:

  • Email Marketing

Considered the basis of a robust digital marketing strategy, with email addresses available to anyone with an internet connection and collection of these details a relatively simple task, email marketing allows organizations to cheaply reach current and potential customers and is one of the most valuable methods of communication used today.

  • Website

Though it’s unlikely for any accomplished business to find itself without a website, it’s also important that business leaders ensure their organization’s website is of the highest quality. Don’t judge a book by its cover, we’re told, but we do, every time. A business’s website is this cover, and anything uncompetitive, outdated, or unresponsive is likely to turn customers away before they’ve even really begun to interact with the organization.

  • Big Data

Putting data to use means collecting relevant and valuable information, carefully analyzing it for insights, and then using findings to personalize content for better customer interaction and superior experiences delivered. When most effectively implemented, big data and big data analysis drives customer engagement and boosts business success.

Marketing Clouds

Some of the marketing clouds offered by the larger vendors tend to be more involved than the do-it-yourself solutions, but this is also because many of the tools they provide are more sophisticated than that which one might handle in a self-service situation. This will, of course, sometimes mean that which is available is multifaceted, providing more than is necessarily required, and not as user-friendly as one might wish for, but the flip side of the coin is the additional value such minutiae can provide the right user.

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Aside from the more in-depth and expansive solutions a marketing cloud may provide, it’s important to take into account the provision of service which comes with such solutions as well as the constant evolution to meet both customer needs and industry innovations. Putting together a solution oneself can often provide many of the latest advances at the point of implementation, but the time and skill required to keep these solutions up to date is often overlooked, leaving organizations with less than adequate marketing mechanisms in a year or two.

Neither of the two martech breeds suggested is necessarily the finest, but instead, each is best suited for a particular company at a given moment. Spending the extra effort and time deciding where to invest marketing budgets is a worthwhile pursuit that could mean the difference between an adequate solution and a flourishing one, as well as providing marketing technology that delivers value for money.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Was The Promised Land Of Cloud False? Or Did It Just Take A While?

Was The Promised Land Of Cloud False? Or Did It Just Take A While?

Cloud Consumption

A new day has dawned! Computing will now be accessed and consumed like a power utility. Just flip the switch and consume what you need. When done, turn it off and you pay only for what you used. Why it is so cheap and easy to use, you can buy it with your credit card. No more waiting for months to get equipment purchased, installed and verified. Welcome to the Promised Land – or so Amazon Web Services (AWS) promised us when it launched its cloud offering ten years ago.

But look where we are today. Sure, AWS is a behemoth with an annual run rate over $10 Billion. On the other hand, the promise of a simple and easy to use utility has been replaced by a wild garden of over sixty products and services. A growing number of firms are lining up to be AWS Certified MSP’s (Managed Service Providers) just to help you navigate this thicket. And AWS’s competitors, Microsoft and Google, are proliferating their offerings as well, as they chase the market leader. What happened? Amazon will tell you that they are just responding to the needs customers are sharing with them. And while true, let’s look deeper.

Consider our power utility analogy. All power in a household comes out of standard outlets in standard voltages and amperages. What we often don’t think about is how we turn that power into useful work for us. I am writing this on a computer where it stepped the voltage down to the low levels needed to process information through Integrated Circuits and memory drives.

I had toast this morning created by a toaster that took the full power and turned it into heat. The vacuum cleaner used a different amount to turn it into mechanical work. Think of your appliances as applications that take the raw standard electrical power and create some useful outcome for you. The key is that they manipulate that power – raising it up or down – to produce the needed outcomes.

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That’s not the way it quite works in computing. Applications need different amounts of resources depending upon what they are designed to do in order to function well. We are used to the applications we all run on our personal computers and mobile devices. These were all designed to run on those standard platforms. Even today we can see that some run better than others depending on the machine you have. Some of the newer applications won’t even run on old machines or run so slow as to not be practical to use.

Imagine the difference between running the applications for a retail website, versus processing checks for payroll, versus analyzing a piece of the human genome. These are very different tasks needing very different levels of capability to be effective. So, was the cloud’s promise of computing being an easy to use utility a bogus come-on designed to draw in the unsuspecting? Not really, it was more of an imperfect analogy. (Aren’t they all?).

In the “early days” of cloud computing developers were used to needing to consider the concepts of servers, memory, storage, etc. When AWS started, it packaged its offerings in this familiar way. This means the developer had to be knowledgeable about the processing speed and capacity needed for the application to run well. Lots of different applications mean lots of different sizes and combinations – that’s how we got the unruly garden.

But what if that was not necessary? What if the machines were “smart” enough to know what the application needed? (I know, this takes a little time to get used to.) That’s where AWS Lambda comes in. The application is written to the Lambda Service – you do not specify any infrastructure – and then is activated by a triggering event. The event can be almost anything but let’s say, someone want to place an order on your site. The Lambda service then turns on the right resources, executes the application and you are billed only for as long as it took to execute your application. Billing is $0.00001667 for every GB-second used – Voila! – A true utility.

Microsoft and Google have responded and launched their own services in what is being called “serverless computing”. Although almost two years old, we are in the early days. While almost all customers use the original standard AWS offerings, only about 17% have used Lambda. But could it be, are we entering the Promised Land?

By John Pientka

(Originally published September 1st, 2016. You can periodically read John’s syndicated articles here on CloudTweaks. Contact us for more information on our programs)

Connecting Big Data and IoT

Connecting Big Data and IoT

Data Connection

Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are two of the most discussed tech topics of late, and the progress of each eggs the other on; as the increasing amount of information collected due to an expanding range of IoT devices bulks up Big Data stores, so Big Data and Big Data analytics influences the designs and developments of new IoT sensors and mechanisms. Often working hand in hand, IoT and Big Data are changing our lives in big and small ways across a variety of sectors from healthcare management, to education approaches, to marketing and advertising.

The Elementary Connection

IoT, a quickly expanding compilation of internet-connected sensors, involves the multiple measurements obtained by device sensors which track our daily lives. These measurements are the Big Data so coveted today, large amounts of both structured and unstructured information typically obtained in real-time. It is important, however, to recognise that not all Big Data holds equal value and the tools used to process it play a significant role in the final value. To get the best out of IoT and the Big Data it collects, organizations struggle to access high-value and relevant data that is current, reflecting an adequately-sized information footprint, and able to provide necessary insights through analysis. This is easier said than done, and so far much of the data we collect isn’t able to give us considerable value.

What a Lot We’ve Got

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Gartner predicted 6.4 billion connected ‘things’ would be in use in 2016, and expects this number to reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, Gartner contends, 5.5 million new things will be connected each day. With the cost of sensor technology steadily decreasing, as well as developments in low-power hardware and spreading wireless connectivity, it’s no wonder we’re seeing such an explosion of IoT devices. On the other hand, there was really no shortage of Big Data before IoT technology became popular, and analysts predicted in 2012 that we’d see our digital universe, the digital data created, replicated, and consumed in one year, doubling every two years to reach 40 zettabytes by 2020. This enormous number has since been revised by some to approximately 10% higher than the original prediction. An even more astounding prediction came from Cisco, estimating that data generated from Internet of Everything devices (including people-to-people, machine-to-people, and machine-to-machine connections) would hit 403 zettabytes by 2018.

Big Data & IoT Disruptions

Such enormous quantities easily leave one feeling overwhelmed, and though it’s fairly obvious that Big Data and IoT will be disrupting our landscape, it’s almost too much to comprehend. Luckily for us, some brilliant data scientists and developers have simplified the processes for us and by implementing effective tools we’re seeing the positive outcomes in improved global visibility, more efficient and intelligent operations, and improved market agility and business systems through real-time information and insight.

The realm of influence of Big Data and IoT is already large, but to effectively meet expectations a few challenges will have to be dealt with. Standardisation is one area with no clear solution as the increasing number of devices comes with a growth in the applications and programs required to operate devices and analyse collected data; most IoT devices don’t work together, and their manufacturers are hesitant to join forces with competitors. Furthermore, we’re still waiting for a single framework which allows devices and applications to securely exchange data. Suggests OneM2M, “The emerging need for interoperability across different industries and applications has necessitated a move away from an industry-specific approach to one that involves a common platform bringing together connected cars, healthcare, smart meters, emergency services, local authority services and the many other stakeholders in the ecosystem.” Further barriers include concerns for privacy and security of data, as well as relevant skill sets and practical analytics tools.

The Big Data and IoT connection continues to grow and develop, and though not yet delivering everything we’re hoping for, it’s possible to see just how influential these two spheres will be in our future lives.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

The Cloud Movement

Like it or not, cloud computing permeates many aspects of our lives, and it’s going to be a big part of our future in both business and personal spheres. The current and future possibilities of global access to files and data, remote working opportunities, improved storage structures, and greater solution distribution have the pundits encouraging the cloud move for one and all; on the other hand, complete reliance on electronic networks and external service providers comes with its own set of dangers, along with a sometimes insufficient understanding of the products and tools implemented.

The Increasing Demand for Cloud Computing

The last ten years have seen a marked increase in demand for and implementation of cloud computing. Thanks in part to smartphones, real-time streaming, connected devices, and always-on social media needs, this flexible, off-site, and highly scalable technology has become indispensable. Gartner estimates that we’ll see the public cloud services market reach $204 billion in 2016, an annual growth of 16.5%, and the highest growth is set to come from cloud system infrastructure services. Says Sid Nag, research director at Gartner, “The market for public cloud services is continuing to demonstrate high rates of growth across all markets and Gartner expects this to continue through 2017. This strong growth continues to reflect a shift away from legacy IT services to cloud-based services, due to increased trend of organizations pursuing a digital business strategy.

The Good

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Availability

Cloud services mean solutions and resources once only accessible by the elite or giants are now open to all. With options such as pay per use and global reach, organizations of all shape and size can tailor packages to suit both their needs and their budgets.

Reduced Costs of Infrastructure

In the three top cloud computing categories, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, organizations typically don’t need to lay down their own infrastructure or spend money on hardware. Cloud service providers provide the IT teams, connections, software and storage facilities, reducing a business’s Capex costs.

Improved Disaster Recovery

Thanks to the distribution of data across multiple failover points, disaster recovery is a prime benefit of cloud computing. Implementing cloud-based disaster recovery means it’s possible to switch over to mobile systems when necessary and resume the use of local systems thereafter.

Collaboration & Flexibility

Providing advanced solutions for team collaboration, cloud computing allows numerous users to work simultaneously on the same projects and files with real-time updates and no restrictions that bind them to specific sites.

The Bad

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Opex Costs

Although cloud computing certainly reduces Capex costs, it naturally increases operational costs adding a monthly burden for the services used. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of outsourcing or keeping infrastructure in-house to suit each business and its budget.

Security

A concern in all things IT, cloud computing is no different. It’s important for organizations to identify which data they’re comfortable storing on the cloud, and which perhaps should be off-network. It should be noted, however, that most reputable cloud service providers offer security superior to that which the average business is able to implement. Security doesn’t have to be considered a negative of cloud computing, as long as organizations take the time to ensure the tools they’re using are compliant with regulations and standards, and confirm their service providers are implementing the necessary security features.

Always-On Connection

Cloud computing, of course, requires an always-on internet connection, good bandwidth, and suitable speeds – only a negative when you haven’t got it.

Limited Control

Although cloud computing provides much flexibility and choice, it’s important to remember that the infrastructure is owned by someone else and so organizations are limited to the services they pay for and the solutions a service provider is willing to provide.

Overall, the drawbacks of cloud computing tend not to cause too much disruption and are easily outweighed by the benefits. It’s important to understand the risks and disadvantages, but the constantly evolving cloud computing environment is rapidly stamping out weaknesses and replacing them with constructive innovations.

By Jennifer Klostermann

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