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The third platform is transforming the IT universe

Information technology is being transformed by four powerful trends - mobile, cloud computing, big data and social networking.

The first trend is mobile - that is, the use of smartphones, tablet computers and new form-factor personal computers to access applications and information from anywhere.

Second, cloud computing is transforming how organisations think about their IT infrastructure. Customers are transforming their data centres into fully virtualised and automated private clouds while also running some applications in a public cloud. The combination of these two environments is called "hybrid cloud" computing. Increasingly, these hybrid clouds will be "software-defined" - fully automated and policy-driven - delivering new levels of efficiency, agility and choice for IT departments.

The third major trend is big data. Most enterprises are just beginning to explore the power and value inherent in the vast quantities of data being generated in today's world. No industry will be immune to competition from disruptive data-driven business models.

One of the big drivers for data growth is the burgeoning "Internet of Things" (IoT). Sensors and telemetry are being built into every imaginable product, from athletic gear to household appliances to medical devices to even tractors on a farm. These sensors generate massive amounts of data at hugely rapid rates - data that can be reasoned over and acted upon in real time to create new customer experiences.

The fourth and final trend is social networking, dramatically changing the way people communicate and collaborate.

Collectively, these four trends comprise what research firm International Data Corporation calls the "third platform" of IT (the first being mainframe, and the second being PC client/server), and critical to its success will be an underlying foundation of security, privacy and trust.

The other important factor to consider is the exponential growth of digital information. A recent study by EMC, a leading provider of IT storage hardware, revealed that the digital universe was doubling in size every two years and would multiply tenfold between 2013 and 2020 - from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes.

In the digital universe, the number of devices or "things" (tablets, smartphones, clothing, refrigerators, cars, anything with a sensor) able to connect to the Internet is already approaching 200 billion, and 14 billion of those are actually connected to one another.

Fast-forward to the end of the decade and we are going to see this number grow to 10 per cent as 32 billion devices are plugged in and generating data.

In addition to IoT, the intersection of mobile, cloud, big data and social is phenomenal. The third platform or "nexus of forces" is a huge driver of data growth in the digital universe. Ultimately, the growth of the digital universe means there is an ever-increasing pool of valuable data to analyse, which will give rise to new opportunities for organisations to understand customers better, improve overall customer experience and develop new revenue streams. To take full advantage, IT departments may need to hit the restart button on how they think about storing data when it comes to data lakes and hybrid cloud models.

These are truly fascinating times. Technology enables individuals, organisations, and enterprises to scale communications and collaboration worldwide. The more that information is shared and mined, the more valuable it becomes for everyone.

Nathakorn Potejanasaja is country manager of EMC Information Systems (Thailand).


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