© 2010 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved President, Ministry Business Services, Inc. Reprinted from Christian Computing Magazine
A few times each year Steve Hewitt, Christian Computing Magazine’s Editor in Chief and I have the privilege of speaking at conferences about what’s happening in technology. We talk about the trends and products we think are hot and those that are not hot. Here’s a recap of what I shared at a recent conference.
Hot: Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is one of IT’s (IT is for Information Technology) hot topics, and has been for more than a year. Folks are almost giddy about using applications based on Internet access, like Google Apps.
Cloud computing was originally defined as centralized data and applications on an Internet server somewhere. The idea is that by putting all your data on an Internet server, you no longer need to have a network server, no longer need to do daily backups, no longer need to hire a network administrator, and so on. It sounds like it will deliver huge savings! And with Google Apps being free for non-profits, even better!
But all those savings come at a high price.
Corporate America is not so excited about the cloud. Corporations see at least a couple of items that concern them:
- Data security and protecting sensitive information (payroll records, etc) is not as good as corporations want. Though internal networks sometimes have security gaps, corporations feel they have more control over who has access to their data on their own networks than if that data is on an Internet server somewhere.
- Reliable connectivity and uptime via the Internet are not as high as they are on well-engineered internal networks. There are a lot of possible reasons why the Internet may not be available at any given time, including downed lines, misbehaving Internet network routers, and more. And there are many possible points of failure between a company’s computer and the Internet server where the data may be located. In fact, Google Apps was down three full days and most of a fourth day in 2009! Users had no advance warning or technical support available, and simply could not access their data.
So the cloud has been redefined to mean centralized data and applications on a server that is:
- Accessible via the Internet, and
- Located in a datacenter or in your server room.
We have been strong believers in centralized data and applications since we first started engineering and supporting networks in the mid-1980s. Now that cloud computing includes using servers that can be located in your server room, we think that’s hot! And so does corporate America.
Hot: Windows 7 & 2008r2, Exchange 2010, & Office 2010
We’ve been working with Windows 7 since January of 2009, and have found it to be solid and stable. We began recommending it shortly after its commercial release in the fall of 2009, and continue to consider it a good successor to Windows XP Pro. We have also been working with Windows 2008r2 (Microsoft’s latest network operating system) since it was in beta, and it is good. Likewise, Exchange 2010 is solid. And though we haven’t worked with Office 2010 yet, we hear great things from colleagues who have, so it looks like it’ll be good. WTG, Microsoft!
Hot: For non-AT&T Cellular Customers— The Droid
Our clients are nationwide in urban and rural areas, so the coverage map is important to us. So we standardized on the Verizon cellular network some time ago because it had the best nationwide coverage. The problem, though, is that we couldn’t use iPhones, even though they were hot.
When Verizon began offering the Motorola Droid, I was more than ready to give up my Palm Treo. The Droid is a terrific phone with a great operating system! It has the potential of becoming king of the smartphones— unless Apple decides to sell iPhones on networks other than AT&T. If Apple releases a Verizon version of its next iPhone, Android phones will have a big challenge. Both are good smartphones, and hot! May the best smartphone win!
Not Hot: Cellular Network Specific Devices
While we’re on that subject, let me say that the way phones are sold in the U.S. is bad for the consumer.
By tying a device (phone, smartphone, etc) to a specific cellular network, the consumer has to decide to pay penalties to switch if they’re locked into a contract. That’s bad.
The strategy has been good for AT&T, though, allowing it to rest on its big-profit haunches rather than improving its network and providing good service.
Not Hot: iPad
The iPad looks hot, but it doesn’t do much more than games and function as a reader. With a price tag $240 higher than a Kindle, it’s hard to justify it as a reader. So far, it seems only those who are diehard Apple folks love them. And wouldn’t you know it: Apple decided the 3G version will only connect to AT&T cellular networks. Shame on you, Apple.
So that’s what I think is hot and not hot so far in 2010.