So, you’re not a tech geek — in fact, you’re not even a C student. Fine. But you have to learn the basic talking points just to get by at work — or even just in casual conversation. The IT revolution is underway, with or without you. If you’re not going to lead the charge, at least learn the language behind the most basic concepts.
The cloud refers to software and systems that run on the Internet instead of on computers. You know how when someone sends you an email, you can open it even when you’re not at your own computer? That’s the cloud. The concept of using of a huge network of servers and databases — instead of the individual local hard drives of personal and business computers — to store, update and access data and services has revolutionized computing. Now — although it is not without controversy and security flaws — people and businesses use the cloud for everything from secure off-site backup of their accounting software to streaming videos on Netflix.
Software as a Service
SaaS is one of the incredible leaps forward that were made possible by cloud computing. Before the cloud, software companies sold software, which you then installed and ran on your computer. Any data associated with it — like the kind that builds up with bookkeeping software — was also stored on your computer, and vulnerable to hacks, crashes or external threats like floods, fires and burglaries. If you were at home, you couldn’t access data that was on your computer at work. With SaaS, software is cloud-based (remotely hosted and accessed). Users can access their stuff from anywhere at any time (just like email) with only a password. They pay for a subscription, and the software company provides the service of not only providing the software, but also of storing and securing your data.
The “Bring Your Own Device” revolution is exactly what it sounds like. It used to be that the fastest computers and best, most expensive software that people had access to were found at their jobs. Now, as bandwidth increases, apps proliferate and mobile devices rule the world, it is the employees who often possess the latest, greatest hardware — and they want to use their own machines at work. It is controversial because of the IT headaches and potential for security breaches that its implementation creates. But companies that allow — or often encourage — BYOD have cut way back on the costs and delays associated with training, IT and the providing and maintaining hardware such as laptops and phones.
The Internet of Things
There is no universal definition of the Internet of Things. The concept revolves around using the Internet to animate and coordinate objects and systems that were previously considered inanimate. You can set a thermostat to switch on the heat a half hour before you arrive home from work in the winter. But what if when you switched on the garbage disposal, the sink was alerted to run cold water? What if when you burnt a bagel, the toaster alerted the smoke detector not to worry? What if your bathroom scale communicated with your refrigerator, which then sent nutrition suggestions to your smartphone? That is the Internet of Things — and it’s on it’s way to a house near you.
To learn more about about the Internet of Things here’s a short video courtesy of National Debt Relief with a good explanation.
Big Data Applications
Like the Internet of Things, Big Data doesn’t have a universally accepted definition. It is a concept that refers to the practice of harnessing and utilizing the unfathomably large amounts of data created by people and businesses (discussing it requires measurements such as zettabyte, which is a byte of data multiplied by 1,000 to the seventh power). Mountains of data are incredibly massive and move incredibly fast — and those who can collect and sort it in real time (think Google and Facebook) are the new masters of the digital universe.
You don’t need to be a tech wiz, but it’s nice to be able to keep up in conversation. Now that you know the basic concepts behind the terminology you keep hearing, you can expand on it by learning even more about the concepts that will soon be part of your life — if they’re not already — whether or not you’re paying attention.