Get Ready for the Third Wave in IT
October 16, 2015 • Blog Post • By Atlantic Re:think
IN THIS ARTICLE
- As mobile device usage continues to grow, experts anticipate a "third wave" Cloud- and mobile-driven revolution in the digital workplace
- The resulting increased demand for bandwidth, data storage and processing speed will be a sea change that affects all of IT
The Internet of Things, Big Data analytics and advanced mobile and Cloud technologies are combining to disrupt companies in every major industry
Just a few years ago, workers existed in a wired world. They made calls on desk phones and logged in on Ethernet-connected desktop PCs that were hardwired to printers and other equipment. Today, that scenario seems almost quaint.
Workers today carry connectivity in their pockets. In many offices, desktop phones no longer ring and desktop computers have become laptops. And who needs desks? Cafes, hotels and airports are offices now, filled with workers exploring the untethered opportunities of an increasingly wireless world.
IT experts are calling this Cloud-driven, mobile-driven trend part of the "third platform" or "third wave" in the digital workplace. First came the rise of mainframe computers. Then came the PC-and-client/server paradigm, an enormous expansion in the uses and ubiquity of digital technology. And despite the great reach of those advances, experts are saying that this third shift in information technology may be the most revolutionary of all.
"The third platform is built upon four pillars: Cloud, mobility, Big Data analytics and social business, where social media meets business applications", explains Nolan Greene, a research analyst covering network infrastructure and enterprise networks for the IT research firm IDC.
Greene calls the third platform "a sea change that affects all of IT". That platform includes the much-discussed Internet of Things (IoT). A network of sensors that in coming years will connect objects in the tens of billions - everything from household appliances and car engines to the moving parts of industrial and public infrastructures - IoT will be a vast trove of data subject to query and advanced analytics. The result will be new information and insights capable of dramatically changing virtually everything they touch.
Clearly, such a network will create great demand for increased bandwidth, data storage and processing speed. It will also require nuanced policy controls, ways to prioritize greatly increased traffic, newly robust analytics programs and strict security protocols.
"Essentially, 100 percent of IT industry growth revolves around the third platform", Greene says.
Optimizing solutions for today's "Cloud-first, mobile-first" workers is a "big action item" in the world of wired and wireless networking, says Dominic Orr, the former CEO of Aruba. After the networking company was acquired by HP last May, Orr was named senior vice president and general manager of Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Networking business.
"The wired and wireless technology is an underlying enabler", he says. "The end problem is, how can you make the workplace more effective for this new generation of workers we call 'Gen Mobile'? How can you create a wired/wireless infrastructure to make all these different workplaces" - for example, cubicle, conference room, common area, coffee shop, etc. - "stitch together seamlessly, and at the same time, meet more stringent corporate compliance requirements on the cybersecurity front?"
To maintain security, Orr advocates tying access to applications and data to a user's "persona", creating a network that tracks not only a user's identity but also what device he or she is on ("Is it your own or a company-issued device?") and where he or she is: "Are you in a safe perimeter or are you in a country that is known for bad cybersecurity activities?"
"Today's networks must be stable and secure as well as smart and simple", Orr says. For instance, Aruba's wireless network can tell if an application is important and time sensitive, like a mission-critical videoconference call, or if it's not, and prioritize such data traffic appropriately during busy times.
That's just the beginning of what a smart network can do, thanks to the analytics programs that extract meaning from unstructured streams of data, which is another key pillar of the third platform. The uses of analytics are virtually unlimited. They could help in the fight against climate change by telling consumers exactly when they can save money by reducing energy usage and by giving the electric grid the data it needs to predict and flatten out demand. Analytics could also be used to set traffic patterns and relieve congestion. Connecting a city's traffic lights to its emergency services, for example, could make an ambulance's critical trip to the hospital, or a fire company's race to a fire, a great deal safer and faster than sirens and driver compliance do today.
The potential of IoT, with Big Data analytics capable of providing real-time intelligence, will "create a lot of opportunity for startups, new ideas and competitive change in the landscape", Orr says.
It will also cause disruption, particularly for companies that see the IT future as a cost rather than an opportunity. Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst of IDC, has predicted that by 2018, a third of the leading companies in every industry will be disrupted by third-platform competitors.
Al Morgan, director of solution marketing at the consulting firm Porter Consulting, says the key to benefiting from the rise of this new technological wave is approaching IT and network solutions with future adaptability in mind.
"With technology, there are always new products, better ways of doing things and alternate approaches, and you want to make decisions that make it easier for you to adapt to those over time", Morgan says. "You have to embrace the fact that there will be disruptive technologies."