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The Internet Of Things Is The Next Big Thing

The Internet of Things, or IoT, promises a revolution in how we gather and apply data. Billions of objects are already part of the IoT, and every one of those objects is constantly sending, receiving, collating and analyzing data. The result is a world that’s more connected, better informed, and better organized than ever before.

What is the Internet of Things?

The IoT exists at the system level, with several integrated components working together to make use of available data. There is almost no limit to the forms the IoT can take, but it usually consists of a few layers of operation, including:

  • Data collection hardware – Data is the fuel that drives an IoT system, and the engine is the hardware that collects and delivers this data to larger nodes. Data collection hardware can be embedded into almost anything, and usually takes the form of a sensor, microcontroller, antenna or other data-gathering device.
  • Data collation and transferring – Once data is collected from the system’s sensors and other hardware, it is sent to an IoT gateway or hub, which is often located in the cloud. This is the system’s middleman, providing a point of communication between data collection hardware and software used to analyze the data.
  • Data analyzation software – This is essentially the brains of the system, as IoT makes use of various types of software to monitor incoming data and respond to it appropriately. Just as there is a variety of data collection hardware in an IoT system, there is an endless array of software solutions designed for IoT use. This could be managed through automated back-end systems or analyzed by a user through a remote interface.

What makes the IoT work is communication. Every part of the system communicates with each other and does so constantly, without the need for human intervention. The result is a system that adapts rapidly to changing conditions, which is something that has enormous potential in the commercial and private sectors.

A brief history of the Internet of Things

The IoT has emerged from a conglomeration of various technologies, and the term was first coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, a technology expert with Proctor & Gamble. However, though the IoT was first named by Ashton, the concept had been noted years before. The first smart device was probably a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University that could tell remote users whether or not cold drinks were present. In the early 90s, computing experts on the leading edge were already seeing the beginnings of the IoT, and Microsoft was putting its research teams to work on leveraging its potential.

Many consider late generation supervisory control and data acquisition systems, or SCADA, to be the first true examples of the IoT. Because SCADA leverages both hardware and software components to gather, deliver and analyze data, the comparison makes sense.

However, the IoT has emerged out of many other technologies, so it’s difficult to track its exact progress. Cisco estimates that between 2008 and 2009, more “things” were connected to the internet than people, and this the true birth of the IoT for many. No matter when it was born, though, it’s only gaining in importance.

By 2025, Hewlett Packard predicts there will be more than 1 trillion devices connected to the IoT, up from about 9 billion in 2013. The IoT is growing exponentially.

What can the Internet of Things do?

The short answer is – no one really knows the extent of the IoT. It’s still a novel concept, but it appears to have nearly limitless potential. Already, it is utilized in a diverse range of applications, from home automation to enterprise-level, big data initiatives. For instance, some heavy machinery manufacturers are embedding sensors in their engines to track performance and fuel usage. Some of these manufacturers are already reducing fuel use and emissions dramatically, improving the efficiency of construction, oil & gas and shipping fleets the world over.

This is just one example, though a major one, of how the IoT can change industries and the world for the better. There are many other applications that reinforce this point, including:

  1. Home automation – Home automation is big industry, projected to be worth about $80 billion by 2022, and it’s all made possible with IoT technology. Smart homes have seemingly been promised for decades, but with IoT integration, homes can do many things without people getting involved. For example, smart homes can automatically lock doors, change lighting levels, alter the home’s temperature, switch devices on and off and send various alerts to the home’s occupants. This last function can be leveraged to provide better home security and maintenance, like sending an alert when an appliance experiences an issue.
  2. Wearables – Wearables refer to anything that is worn on or attached to a person. They largely utilize sensors to monitor things like heart rate, respiratory rate or temperature. There are many applications that can be developed from this concept, including health, fitness and emergency response uses. For instance, firefighters and emergency personnel equipped with vitals-monitoring allow for a faster response should someone sustain injury. Wearables can also be embedded in fitness clothing to help athletes track their performance and health.
  3. Vehicles – Smart vehicles are already appearing, and they promise a revolution in driving. Vehicles with IoT integration can already monitor their own performance and maintenance, so they can last longer and operate more efficiently. This is only the beginning, though, because several vehicle manufacturers are working on automated driving technology as well. This requires extensive IoT architecture to ensure safe vehicle operation, but manufacturers are promising self-driving vehicles soon.
  4. Smart cities – Cities constantly have to face the kind of challenges that can only be solved with the proper use of data. For example, many cities have issues with energy distribution or traffic congestion, and these are problems that can be fixed with a clever IoT network. Traffic intersections, for instance, can be embedded with sensors that track how many vehicles enter the intersection at certain times, altering traffic light patterns in response to congestion. Many cities have already begun adopting this technology.

    Smart cities can keep track of which areas have issues with water, energy or trash services. They can organize maintenance efforts more efficiently, provide more responsive customer service and target areas of waste, all of which will improve city services. IoT can also enable stronger surveillance, with monitoring systems collecting data on crime and helping focus crime-prevention efforts.

  5. Smart agriculture – The agricultural industry is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the IoT systems, and perhaps the most important use of the IoT so far. Smart agriculture is focused on getting more from farmers and their resources, ensuring greater yields and food availability. IoT data collection sensors can be embedded in the soil, detecting changing levels in moisture or nutritional composition. A second, also powerful, benefit of the IoT in agriculture is that advancements in growing can quickly be disseminated to other regions, reducing hunger around the world.

Not too long ago, the IoT would have read like something out of a movie, but it’s far-reaching effects are very real. As the IoT network expands, so does its potential, and it’s already bringing paradigm-shifting developments to several industries and sectors. In all, although the exact future of IoT remains undecided, it’s power to affect positive change is already proven.

Cyber Security In 2019

Every company, every household and every institution should take cybersecurity seriously. As the world becomes more connected, cyberattacks are getting more sophisticated. Fortunately, cybersecurity is also getting more sophisticated, and though the threat of an attack remains very real, organizations have the security tools they need to keep their data safe.

Cybercrime has enormous destructive potential

Cybercrime may be committed out of sight, but it’s all around us. According to McAfee, the global cost of cybercrime in 2017 was about $600 billion. We’re all used to seeing statistics with large numbers attached, but $600 billion is almost one percent of the entire planet’s GDP. That’s far more than enough to disrupt many of the world’s economies. And that’s just the start because the numbers are climbing exponentially. In 2021, the cost of cybercrime is estimated to reach $6 trillion.

The Ponemon Institute, a research center focused solely on data protection, states that 54 percent of all businesses experienced at least one successful cyberattack in 2018. Many of those attacks only cause frustration and some wasted time, but even a short-lived exploit can leave a business in ruins. Consider, for instance, that 60 percent of all small and medium companies that suffer a cyberattack go out of business within six months of the attack. That’s a staggering number of business casualties from one source. Cybersecurity is something that organizations can no longer put off.

This is especially true when one considers the many vectors of attack that cybercriminals have at their disposal. Some of the recent headline-grabbing instances of cybercrime were launched through a seemingly innocuous route, such as the 2013 Target breach that cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars. During that attack, the company’s payment information was accessed through a third-party HVAC vendor – an angle that most businesses would never see coming.

 Important components of effective cybersecurity in 2019

Fortunately, organizations are quickly catching on to the importance of cybersecurity. Though major data breaches will continue to increase, proper cybersecurity is reducing the likelihood of those events. Even better, modern cybersecurity measures are available to businesses and organizations of all sizes, so companies can choose not to be vulnerable to attack.

What does that approach look like? It should include these elements:

  1. An organized framework – Cybersecurity initiatives succeed or fail in the planning phase, so tight, detailed organization is a must. Organization is only one part of the equation though, as cybersecurity plans must be comprehensive.

    All people, technology and processes must be incorporated into the cybersecurity plan, and this plan trusted to the executives to oversee. This framework must account for the company’s data, too, and this is where it can get tricky. With an increasing number of devices connected to enterprise networks, there’s often no easy way to account for every piece of data.

    This issue is amplified when the cybersecurity plan’s larger scope must be executed, which should include the company’s third-party vendors and account for all possible vulnerabilities. That’s a daunting task, but one that organizations have to start with to ensure the plan is properly implemented.

  2. Cyberattack modeling – Ideally, organizations would challenge their cybersecurity procedures from the outside. By testing the system’s vulnerabilities from without, organizations get a clear look at where the weak spots are, and what kind of damage those weak spots could produce. Cyberattacks often target the same types of data, and by modeling an attack, companies can verify that their most valuable data is kept safe.
  3. Incident response – Ideally, in the future, cybersecurity may be 100 percent reliable, but even guarded organizations may still face the rare breach. Should that happen, it’s essential that the company have a response plan in place. The faster the company responds, the better its chances of minimizing damage, and reputation. Unfortunately, many organizations allow these plans to languish, so they aren’t ready to go when an attack does occur. It’s best to drill incident responses regularly and in an organized fashion to ensure constant readiness.
  4. Keep an eye on the data – Some of the worst breaches are caused by accident, often by careless employees, and many cyberattack vectors emerge from this fact. Companies should have detailed processes in place in how employees connect to the network, how their security credentials are established and what access employees are given. It’s generally a good idea to limit employees’ access to the network to reduce cyberattack potential and change out employee credentials regularly for the same reason.
  5. Don’t neglect the backup – IT experts have been telling the rest of us for years: Back up your data. That’s especially important for cybersecurity reasons, as a simple ransomware attack could hold the company’s data hostage. As frustrating as this is, it’s easily avoided with a simple data backup. Data backup is only a fallback option, but it’s a fallback that’s easy to implement and extremely reliable. Don’t go without it.
  6. Secure your servers – Firewalls and malware blockers are essential parts of server security, though they are only the first layer. Deep server hardening is also effective, as it includes additional authentication methods and tighter monitoring of server processes. IP restriction, two-factor authentication, adapting SSL and TLS for services, assigning file system privileges, isolating applications and keeping software updated are all valuable parts of a server security plan. A server security plan is part of an effective cybersecurity approach in 2019.

Cybersecurity should be a top priority for organizations in every sector and business in every industry. It’s attainable for every business, and the potential damage left behind by a cyberattack can be extreme. As one neglected vulnerability can be enough to result in catastrophe, smart, comprehensive cybersecurity planning is needed more in 2019 than ever before.

Linux on IBM Power

Linux has become a popular and reliable open source platform that many people use to run the operations of their business. Indeed, people are increasingly relying on Linux applications due to their flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and innovation. To gain an even more significant competitive edge, companies are turning to IBM to power their Linux platforms.

Linux on IBM power is an engine for maximizing workloads, reducing costs, and improving reliability. More businesses are realizing that IBM powered Linux systems are the key to better customer service, more responsive business applications, and an increased ability for the business to meet its rapidly evolving needs. The following are core benefits of running Linux on IBM power.

Savings in many different ways

Using IBM to power Linux systems poses savings in terms of cost, energy, and the environment. Currently, many businesses use single-purpose Linux servers that tend to be either underutilized on a daily basis, or incapable of handling heavy loads when businesses need it most.

A better model for saving on operational and energy costs is to use a single, yet larger system. Rather than multiple smaller Linux servers, a single IBM server can be devoted to running Linux applications. These more efficient IBM servers are capable of increasing their utilization rate by more than 60% while lowering operational costs. In addition, these powerful servers also result in lower energy consumption by businesses, leading to a higher return on investment.

To maximize operational efficiency, IBM servers are capable of sharing processors and memory capacity between client partitions in the same server. In this way, all available physical resources are put to good use even during peak power times.

A lower level of risk

A highly reliable and efficient Linux system results in the reduced risk of downtime by businesses. Linux and its IBM counterpart both run on a RISC platform, one of the best in the industry at the moment. Therefore, the IBM server provides an energy efficient and reliable platform upon which Linux applications can efficiently run with minimal energy consumption. By focusing on power consistency, increased virtualization capabilities, and technology that is focused on value, the IBM powered Linux platform is hard to compete with.

Another way in which the IBM power reduces risk is by keeping Linux applications running 24/7. The server also implements a predictive maintenance model that detects and responds to problems before they even arise. This includes identifying specific issues that are prone to failure before they occur, restarting workloads without disrupting the functioning of the application, and an in-built ability to self-heal.

Better responsiveness and service delivery

A top concern for any business is to respond to customer needs in a timely fashion. The IBM powered Linux platform makes it possible for businesses to significantly improve their services delivery. The ability for these servers to increase their capacity on demand, boost memory functioning, and easily adjust usage, makes them truly stand out in the IT sector.

For example, the server is capable of creating micro-partitions that can handle low applications. In this way, the processor can devote more resources towards higher traffic Linux applications that are critical for customer satisfaction.

In a world where we need to become increasingly interconnected, IBM powered systems facilitate the sharing of information and resources across disparate systems in order to fuel efficiency and productivity in a business’s operations.

 

Technology Trends for Telecom in 2018

The telecommunications sector continues to play a significant role in multiple areas of daily life. From facilitating social interactions to fuelling business transactions, telecom is here to stay. Advancements in technology have led to significant innovations that are expected to shape the telecom industry moving forward.

The 2018 trends in telecom are moving towards increased social participation, advancements in infrastructure, and better solutions for businesses. Here is what we can expect in the telecom space in 2018 and beyond.

The rise of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence has significantly influenced the operational framework of multiple industries, and the telecom space has not been left behind. Indeed, we can expect AI to enhance how telecom services are delivered on a daily basis. Through AI, services will become increasingly personalized and the customer experience will become much improved.

In addition, the use of automation and analytics in conjunction with AI will ultimately enable users of various telecom technologies to enjoy increased efficiency and more opportunities for growth.

Higher speeds and more complicated products

As the needs of people and businesses within the communications space continue to expand, the telecom sector will be faced with the challenge of improving the speeds of devices and connections. For example, businesses will need to equip their devices with higher speed internet connections to facilitate advanced technologies such as VoIP and IoT devices.

As telecom technologies continue to become more complicated, users will be faced with the challenge of simplifying user interfaces in order to get the best out of their devices. We can expect the telecom industry to develop technical products that take advantage of new technologies but at the same time are easy to use.

AR and VR is expected to fuel the growth of mobile data

With the increased usage of augmented and virtual reality in current communication devices, we can expect these technologies to fuel a more efficient and reliable mobile data network. Both AR and VR require a lower latency along with higher bandwidth as well as edge computing.

A top concern for telecom operators moving forward will be their ability to develop deep network analytics and other capital expenditures that will provide a framework for mobile data to become more reliable.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things has revolutionized many different industries. In the telecom space, IoT technologies are expected to have an even greater influence. This is because communication devices need to share information in real time in order to facilitate the operational efficiency that IoT poses.

In addition, network operators will be faced with the decision to become either platform providers or resellers of IoT devices. Moving forward, operators will also have the opportunity to collaborate with global IoT facilitators in order to develop interconnected platforms that adhere to specific industry verticals (such as the manufacturing, industrial and aviation space).

The rise of 5G

With 5G being in its advanced stages of implementation, players in the telecom industry are expected to pioneer the use of 5G in both mobile technologies and other devices. 5G is expected to be faster and more reliable, and operators will leverage this new platform to lead the movement on more reliable telecom devices.

2018 is a promising year for the telecommunications sector. With the use of AI, higher speed and more complex devices, as well as the IoT, players in the telecom space are expected to develop more customized user experiences as well as more reliable communication platforms.

The Importance of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

As more businesses rely on integrated technology systems to facilitate operations across the entire organization, they also need to recognize the importance of disaster recovery. Businesses need to ask themselves; what will happen when our systems fail? Do we have a plan for recovering our data and restoring operations? What kinds of risks are we susceptible to within our industry?

The risk of facing an IT disaster is real. In fact, one-third of organizations have reported an incident that required disaster recovery.

Defining and IT Disaster

So what is disaster recovery and why is it so important for your business? Simply put, disaster recovery is the system/framework that your business has put in place to respond to IT disasters. Disasters involve hardware failure, cyber-attacks, human error and inclement weather. Basically, anything that would lead to your business systems not functioning.

Most businesses are not adequately prepared

The plain truth about the current environment is that most businesses are not adequately prepared to handle an IT disaster. This can be largely attributed to a disconnect between executives and IT professionals. While 70% of executives believe their organization is well prepared for a disaster, less than 50% of IT personnel hold that view.

Therefore, the first step for these businesses is to implement better channels of communication in order to enlighten their executives about the current state of affairs.

Let’s look at industrial trends

As far as disaster recovery is concerned, some industries seem to have a leg up on their counterparts. Among the industry leaders in disaster preparedness are the banking, governmental and technology sectors.

The healthcare, education and manufacturing industries seem to be lagging behind. This is as a result of slowly adopting technologies (such as in the manufacturing industry), relying on a public cloud that is prone to failure (healthcare industry), and the use of backup tapes and mirror sites as a primary backup strategy (used both in education and healthcare).

How to Prepare your Business for an IT Disaster

Adequate preparation for an IT disaster is a team effort. It involves the IT pros, executives and employees all being on the same page. Here are 3 steps to help you prepare for a disaster:

1.     Establishing DR Compliance Requirements

Your business needs to have clearly established guidelines for complying with IT standards and responding to disasters. Compliance begins with clearly established procedures that employees must follow when using company systems.

Compliance also involves properly funding disaster recovery initiatives within the organization, and outlining procedures that must be followed when a threat is experienced.

2.     Duplicate / Redundant Systems at off-site location

Acquiring duplicate, redundant systems at an off-site location can serve as excellent plan for Disaster Recovery.  These systems can be equal configuration or scaled back version to keep cost down.  This also allows for redundant system failover in the event of unexpected major hardware failure on main production system. With this approach you have DR plan covered as well as redundant system failover in event of major system failure as result of any un-planned event.

3.     Use of Hosted Disaster Recovery Solutions

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a reliable solution for quickly responding to emergencies. In fact, DRaaS can enable you to recover data in near real-time over the cloud. Most Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) have expertise in disaster recovery and can manage your IT infrastructure offsite.

Therefore, using the cloud and offsite solutions as an asset for data recovery can help you quickly and efficiently resume operations after experiencing an IT disaster.

4.     Increasing Awareness about Disaster Recovery

Your business will not be able to implement the above solutions without making executives aware of the benefits. In fact, only 5 in 10 business executives are familiar with DRaaS. This awareness gap needs to be reduced in order for more businesses to acquire funding for disaster recovery efforts.

As businesses continue to recognize the importance of having a robust disaster recovery strategy, there is still a need for better communication between IT professionals and business executives. This will result in the implementation of effective disaster recovery solutions that will ensure business continuity. Speak to the experts at Source Tech for help implementing a Disaster Recovery plan for your organization.

Virtualization and Hybrid Computing – Two High Priorities for IT Managers in 2017

The next wave of resource flexibility in IT has arrived. System managers in virtualization-aware organizations are using software tools to provision capacity in minutes from a commodity-based datacenter. In TechTarget’s 2017 IT Priorities Survey, IT managers revealed that they are turning to software-based configuration and management of a wide variety of resources on their networks, empowering staff to design and create a responsive datacenter in a “lights out” fashion.

New Technologies

As a result of this virtualization trend, 49% of respondents say they are investing in new networking technologies, empowering IT staff to reallocate their time and expertise from racks and cabling to envisioning and implementing new configurations in the virtual space. IT automation is on the minds of 29%, reaching out for new, powerful tools for configuration, provisioning, and resource management. For 25%, one of those resources is in the cloud, and they are expanding their server virtualization operations to include hybrid computing for even greater flexibility and reliability.

Network Virtualization

Legacy networking is getting attention and budget (36% each for VPN, DHCP/DNS, and network management) but at 33%, a sizeable contingent is committing to network virtualization projects. These cover a broad range of software based technologies for creating virtual LANs, software-defined WANs, performance management, WLAN advances, and importantly, active security technologies.

Active Security

Security tools are receiving focused attention with 35% of respondents who are investing in next generation firewalls, access control systems, and threat detection and response technologies. A full 44% of those surveyed are planning network security strategies, including endpoint security. Some 30% of organizations, likely including compliance-oriented, financial, and consumer data handling groups, are concerned with encryption, preventing data loss, and ensuring the security of cloud access.

Wireless and Software Defined Networking

With 802.11ac technology providing a significant wireless speed boost, 43% are planning upgrades of their wireless infrastructure. Remote offices and mobile users will benefit from software defined networking technologies, and IT organizations are turning from basic network configuration and maintenance tasks, now performed in software, to activities such as shadow IT detection and management and security improvements.

Hybrid Service Models

Hybrid computing, the next step in the server virtualization revolution, brings cloud-based resources together with virtualized in-house server systems. Together, they enable IT personnel to support development, test, internal production, and external web servers with the resources they need, even in times of unexpectedly high demand.

Both networking and server capacity can be directed as needed, for example, to provide new support for IoT (Internet of Things) based devices. While 59% said they would emphasize cloud services in their spending this year, an increase over last year’s 40%, 53% are building up on-premises networking to support new technologies and increased activity.

Business Continuity

Server capacity increase, backup capability improvement, and disaster recovery (DR) activities are drawing investment from 36% of survey respondents. Backup and DR take advantage of server virtualization and container-based resources to allow IT to manage and migrate data and applications to meet high reliability and business continuity needs.

IT Teams Expand Their Capability

While staff increases were on the minds of only 15% of those surveyed, skilled IT personnel who can design and create systems and connectivity in the virtual space will be required. They will be challenged to manage resources in new and innovative ways, finding new ways to put server virtualization and software defined networking to use.

We’re Ready for Your Questions

Turn to Source Tech for answers to your questions about virtualization and the right hardware solutions for your present and future needs. Contact our experts and start the conversation about where your IT department is headed.

Enterprise IT Security

It’s no revelation that the world is becoming more dependent on technology, making the role of IT security more important than ever before. Many companies today are still storing data that is crucial to their day-to-day operations on their own servers or with third party vendors. It’s staggering how many personal records are stolen and the amount of data that is breached through point of sale systems, third party systems and unencrypted data –  yet it’s the same systems that we have invested all our trust in to keep our data safe.

So the question is, how can we protect our crucial data? Apart from the laws written to discourage hackers, businesses need to be proactive and develop a multi-faceted IT security strategy. Here are four places to start:

 

Firewalls

Firewalls are the first line of defense against cyber threats such as malware and phishing attacks. They are often installed on the external perimeter of your network in order to sieve what comes in. Effective firewalls can keep harmful and unwanted files from penetrating your network. An emerging practice is to install additional internal firewalls that serve as a second line of defense incase malicious files are able to penetrate the outside wall.

Advanced firewalls and network routers are able to analyze incoming content in real time in order to effectively prevent malware from penetrating your network.

Secure Emails

Emails have become one of the main channels through which malware, viruses and phishing messages penetrate an organization’s network. In fact, phishing has become a major way through which hackers are able to solicit information from members of your organization. It is therefore important to filter incoming emails and detect spam.

Secure and encrypted email channels should be used for communicating, and employees should be discouraged from using personal email accounts to handle sensitive company information. 

Use Security Software

Security software applications have become a necessary component of IT security. It is no longer effective to simply filter URLS that Internet users in your company may navigate to. Effective security software should also be able to scan for malware, scan web traffic in real time, recognize the reputation of IP addresses, and prevent data leakage.

Security software should be comprehensive and have the ability to consolidate these essential security functions under a common umbrella that is easier to control.  

Protect Wi-Fi Networks

Encrypting your Wi-Fi networks is an important way to maintain the safety of your network and prevent hackers from gaining access to your systems. An unsecured network can be penetrated and valuable information such as passwords and account information compromised.

WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) along with an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a best practice for securing your Wi-Fi networks. AES is an advanced level of encryption that protects data from when it is encrypted all through to the decryption phase. It is the same encryption system that is used by the federal government.

Summing Up

For over 10 years, SourceTech Systems has been a leading supplier of newly refurbished servers for a wide range of companies and government entities. With our experience and knowledge of systems and workstations, SourceTech is a one-stop resource for companies looking to buy or sell Cisco, Dell, HP and Sun equipment. Source-Tech provides exceptional customer service and offers services including on-site maintenance, installation, and project management rental and leasing.