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Technology/IT Trends for 2017

The field of information technology continues to evolve at a dizzying pace! Here are some thoughts on important trends and things to watch for in 2017 – many related to how increasing amounts of data are being used to improve automation and efficiency.

Putting big data to work: The growth of big data will continue, driven in part by the Internet of Things (IoT). In the past, the emphasis has been on gathering the data, but we expect to see new and creative ways of using the information. How best to store and analyze exponentially increasing amounts of data is a key issue, which may result in hybrid and cloud services becoming more popular. Scalable solutions will become necessary to deal with the data. Finally, the growth of big data will facilitate a move toward APIs (application program interfaces) rather than in-house IT, to better enable information access and exchange.

Physical-digital integration: The mobile market is now completely saturated – virtually everyone has a smartphone on them at all times. This revolution in the way we live and gain access to information opens all kinds of intriguing possibilities. For example, physical stores will have more digital features to encourage consumers to learn more about products. Meanwhile, the online retailer Amazon has premiered Dash Buttons, small devices the size of a thumb drive that can be paired with a common household product (such as laundry detergent, pet food, toiletries, etc.). You click the button when you’re running out, an order is sent to Amazon, and the product shows up on your doorstep.

Virtual and augmented reality: We expect to see increasingly prevalent and creative uses of virtual reality, which replaces the world with a simulated one – as well as augmented reality, which adds computer-generated sensory input to the real-world environment. VR/AR is frequently seen in entertainment, gaming and training applications, but will become more common in other areas, such as commerce and news. Professional sports is already being supplemented with AR/VR, both in athlete training and in enhancing the viewer experience. Marketers are using AR to allow consumers to try before they buy, “trying on” clothes or makeup virtually. As the evolution of the hardware (goggles, etc.) used to deliver the content continues, prices will decrease — and actual content will improve.

DDoS: Unfortunately, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks were increasingly common in 2016, and we expect this trend to continue in 2017. In a DDoS, hackers exploit computer vulnerabilities to create a “botnet,” which is then instructed to send high-volume traffic to overload a network and render it inaccessible. It can be used to take down a website, prevent people from accessing services (such as banks), or even as cover for an attempt to steal data. Moving into the new year, it’s more important than ever that businesses understand DDoS, and take steps to protect themselves.

Adaptive security architecture: As hackers become more sophisticated, data breaches become more harmful – as demonstrated by a range of well-publicized incidents in 2016. The industry is moving toward improved and more flexible security architecture that continuously monitors and responds, rather than the incident-response approach of the past. Adaptive security architecture is, as Gartner has described it,” preventive, detective, retrospective, predictive” – that is, it prevents attacks, finds attacks as they’re happening, analyzes past attacks to make needed security improvements, and predicts attacks by monitoring external events and using what’s learned to improve internal systems.

Machine learning: This is a type of artificial intelligence involving innovative computer programs that can teach themselves to improve in response to new data without human intervention. Among the challenges involved in taking advantage of machine learning is appropriately preparing the data so the programs can use it. A promising potential use for machine learning is to help prevent DDoS attacks, by predicting where hackers might attack next. The technology is already being used to improve customer service by companies like Expedia, which continually updates its algorithm to give different types of customers the best flight options available.

Software-Defined WAN: Wide-area networks (WANs) are used to connect multiple data centers (say, branch offices) that are separated geographically. We expect to see a shift from the use of hardware to establish a WAN to the Software-Defined WAN , which moves more of the network to the cloud. Not only is this new approach more flexible and secure, it can also improve Internet connectivity. Because it doesn’t require proprietary hardware, it can be less expensive, too.

It’s a fascinating time to be in the field of information technology – the amount of data being gathered is growing exponentially, and ways of using it are increasingly sophisticated. As always, DQE strives to stay on top of the industry trends to ensure consistent reliability, flexibility and security for all of our customers’ network services needs now and in the future.

Tags: adaptive security architecture, augmented reality, big data, DDoS, IoT, IT trends, machine learning, software-defined WAN, technology trends, Technology/IT