Ubiquity – and the battle for the desktop

UBIQUITY

The beginning of the PC era is shrouded in urban legend, but some bits of the story are clear. IBM were the company who had the vision to see the need for a personal computing device and who had the confidence to make the design open and expandable. Bill Gates was the opportunist who tied the sale of his operating system to the sale of each PC, thus ensuring not only ubiquity, but also monopoly. IBM offered expansion, Microsoft enforced restriction. That restriction ended up being a ‘good thing’ in that it allowed a common platform for the development of applications and ultimately a widespread graphical environment where coders could thrive in producing business solutions.

With the advent of the internet that monopoly has disappeared and with the advent of mobile computing devices the ubiquity of the monolithic desktop operating system as become eroded. Outside of the workspace how often do you turn to a PC with a separate screen and keyboard?

So, where will the desktop be in 10 years’ time? In terms of productivity there will always be a need for a good size screen, a decent keyboard, and enough processing power to drive it all. Where our applications and data reside is a different matter. Part of the internet and device revolution has been the gradual migration of our data to the cloud, and the separation of the application from the operating system. The applications we use on smaller devices are generally just a web based front end to something that is cloud based. The graphic at the top of this post was produced using Canva – an entirely web based graphics application. I edit documents, calculate with spreadsheets, view my images all online – the device is only a window to this cloud based world. It doesn’t really matter if that window is a Windows PC or something else.

The battle for ubiquity has shifted – it can no longer be about tying end users to a monolithic operating system – that horse has bolted. The battle now is for eco-systems – the whole package, and I believe that this time ‘open and expandable’ will win. In order to survive the next decade IT providers will have to be flexible, adaptable and willing to work on the platforms that end users choose, they can no longer impose. And this is making its presence felt in the workplace. Most companies already have some cloud related applications – this will only accelerate. Once the majority of line of business applications are in the cloud then the choice of device used to access that is open. Windows, OSX, Chrome, Linux all will do the job – or what about Android or iOS on a desktop size screen? Many end users are now more familiar with iOS and Android than they are with Windows. There are already stories of a desktop port of Android coming along.

IT strategy for the business user requires a continued long hard look into the future. What will be the best information appliance for your staff next year, in five years’ time, a decade from now? It will certainly be cheaper, more power efficient, and cloud connected, but I would be surprised if it ran Windows (for clarification, I am typing this on a full size keyboard on a Windows 10 PC). I, for now, am putting my eggs in the Google Apps for Work eco-system. It works brilliantly across platforms, scales well from startup to enterprise and has a surprising amount of control for the admin. It integrates flawlessly with Android and allows me to take my business on the road, wherever that may be.

If you’re interested to know more take a look at my Google for Work page.

Blockchain and Business – Time to start reading!

Blockch

Mention the term blockchain in IT circles and you may still come up with blank looks. Perhaps it’s the bitcoin background or the faint whiff of hacking that comes with non government sanctioned cryptography, but blockchain doesn’t seem to have hit the coal face of business computing in a meaningful way yet. But, think back a generation and the whole distributed network concept was out of reach of the average person, now we browse, communicate and transact over the ether from pocketable devices.

There are some aspects of IT that remain monolithic: banking and other sectors that hold personal, private, big data still remain as non distributed (in the internet sense) single repositories of information and trust. It is that trust aspect that enforces the monolithic nature of the data – you’ve got to place your data with someone or some organisation whom you trust completely.

But what if trust could be distributed? What if we could verify authenticity of data outside of those monolithic institutions? Wouldn’t that truly revolutionise our data storage and transactions? Blockchain is the technology that will allow this to happen. It already underpins bitcoin, allowing for a distributed trust mechanism for this digital currency.

The major banks and technology companies are already actively looking at what blockchain can do for them. For those of us involved in IT, particularly in consulting to business, now is the time to start reading up on this technology. The distribution of trust is coming our way, and understanding it now will help us advise our business clients on what it will mean for them.

A Strategist’s Guide to Blockchain

BBC – Blockchain Tech and Business

Wired – The Renaissance of Money

Recode – What is Blockchain and why should you care?

Welcome to 2016

2016
2016

Welcome to 2016, the year after the Back to the Future future. What’s in it for business IT? What are the trends and issues that we are facing, what are the benefits brought by the latest technology?

I’m still firmly convinced that the migration to the cloud will continue. For the startup it’s the quickest way to corporate quality tools for your business – only need a couple of email addresses, then why pay for a server that will handle hundreds? Use a cloud provider that scales all the way up but only charges for what you use. Online collaboration is becoming the norm, cloud computing allows this to come to the fore – use Google Hangouts or Skype to make that transatlantic call – or a local one.

Storage is still the weak point of cloud computing – it’s a matter of how fast you can get that information up there, or back down. One option is to use online tools to create those documents, then nothing needs to be downloaded. With larger files, such as images or video, then it may be that a local cached storage device will give you the best of both worlds. Remember that cloud providers have a much better chance of keeping your data safe than you do.

At the other end of the scale cloud computing can provide cost and management savings by doing away with the endless hardware upgrade cycle – management, backup, disaster recovery all becomes much more simple, and easy to budget for with monthly payments according to user count.

Whatever the size of your company, what do you think are the benefits of cloud computing?

Google Apps for work

Interested in taking your business collaboration and communications to a more professional level? Consider Google Apps for Work as the simple solution for the business startup or SME.

What is Google Apps?

Google Apps is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps teams communicate, collaborate and get things done from anywhere and on any device. It’s simple to set up, use and manage, so your business can focus on what really matters.

Millions of organisations around the world count on Google Apps for professional email, file storage, video meetings, online calendars, document editing and more.

Watch a video or find out more here.

These are some highlights:

Business email for your domain

Looking professional matters, and that means communicating as you@yourcompany.com. Gmail’s simple, powerful features help you build your brand while getting more done.

Access from any location or device

Check emails, share files, edit documents, hold video meetings and more, whether you’re at work, at home or in transit. You can pick up where you left off from a computer, tablet or phone.

Enterprise-level management tools

Robust admin settings give you total command over users, devices, security and more. Your data always belongs to you, and it goes with you, if you switch solutions.

We had to repost this review we did on cheap youtube views, you can find it here. Also here is the promised instagram update review.

Start free trial

Crumlin Baptist Church

One of the great things about modern web design is that it can be as complex or as simple as you like. Web sites are complex – HTML, CSS, Javascript and a host of other technologies mean that hand crafting a web site is a highly skilled and time consuming business. But for those who don’t need to build from scratch and understand how the bigger blocks fit together it takes very little time to put together a functional and effective web site. WordPress is probably the go to application in this respect for the smaller end of the SME market and for not for profits.

Having moved over to Northern Ireland and to Crumlin Baptist Church I realised that they didn’t have a web site or even a domain name. Having the infrastructure already in place it was a straightforward matter to register the domain and create a simple WordPress site. Now that it’s up and running, control over the content can be delegated to the actual users.

Crumlin Baptist Church