It’s been a busy year in all respects, and technology is no exception. Tech becomes more ingrained in our lives on a daily basis, and at an ever-accelerating rate (the iPhone is only 11 years old, people!).
While it’s tempting — and prudent — to start looking ahead to what the next year might hold it’s also important to look back and take stock of what 2018 has brought us and how it might lay the groundwork for 2019.
Here are the top six moments we think defined 2018. Did we miss something? Reach out to us on Twitter and let us know!
MORE FROM BIZTECH: These small business IT blogs will keep you in the know.
1. Meltdown and Spectre Exploits Bring Hardware Security to the Fore
It may seem like a lifetime ago now, but in January, security researchers made it known that there were two major vulnerabilities lurking in microprocessors located on nearly all modern computer devices. The vulnerabilities, which came to be known as Meltdown and Spectre, could effectively be exploited by hackers to steal data processed on the compromised machine.
Companies scrambled to release patches for the exploits, some of which had significant impacts on performance, and continued to release patches to ensure security without the performance hit. Perhaps more significant, however, is that the discovery of the exploits will have a long-lasting impact on how we view cybersecurity, drawing more attention to hardware security.
“Many times, information security is very focused on operating systems, applications and users, while physical and hardware security is often ignored,” Nick Lewis, program manager for Trust and Identity at Internet2, wrote in an op-ed for TechTarget. “Physical security is often outside the scope of information security teams, who rarely deal with hardware security. There may be some things information security teams can do to address hardware security problems, but without hardware security at the base, it may be difficult to adequately secure a system.”
2. GDPR Arrives to Usher in a New Era of Data Privacy
In late May, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took hold, ushering in data protection and privacy regulations for EU residents. While this might seem as if it would impact only European companies, U.S. companies are also bound by the regulation as it applies to any company that handles EU resident data. The impact of noncompliance is a hefty fine.
Not to mention that, with recent scandals around Facebook’s handling of user data bringing data privacy concerns front and center, similar regulations could very well be coming to the U.S. in the near future.
So, ready or not, it’s time for large and small businesses alike to take a good hard look at where they stand on GDPR compliance.
DOWNLOAD: Learn more in the CDW white paper “How Retailers Can Deal with the New Reality of GDPR.”
3. 5G Starts to Get Real
5G, the next iteration of mobile networks, which promises to be faster and more reliable than its predecessors, rode a tsunami of hype into reality this year.
“The technology will not replace existing wireless networks, but work with them, combining the benefits of 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE, wired technology and Wi-Fi into one platform that provides density, high speeds and reliable connections at low power,” BizTech reports.
As emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, edge computing and the Internet of Things take hold everywhere, 5G can offer the advancements necessary to truly take advantage of them, bolstering data transfer speeds, reliability and more.
Despite the promise, there’s still much to learn about the network and what it will actually do. While carriers like Verizon and AT&T are actively standing up 5G networks, launches are still in the works and, after that, carriers must figure out how to effectively operate a 5G network.
“There’s no doubt that much of the 5G activity has been focused on investments from service providers and equipment manufacturers,” Nick Lippis, co-founder and co-chairman of the Open Networking User Group, tells BizTech. “However, more IT leaders are starting to make plans for 5G, which include determining its impact on their data center architecture, procurement strategies and the solutions they’ll roll out.”
This year might have seen the launch of 5G, but it’s likely 2019 will be the year businesses truly begin to see it take hold.
MORE FROM BIZTECH: Will businesses actually use 5G?
4. Microsoft Needs You to Know It’s Time to Upgrade
Still on Windows 7? It’s time to seriously consider making a change, because by Jan. 14, 2020, you’ll have to. This is the date that Microsoft will stop providing technical assistance, security patches and automatic updates to your product. While this might not be a “moment,” so to speak — the end of support for Windows 7 was actually announced a few years ago — Microsoft made it clear this year that it would also be ending support for Windows 7 PCs with older processors.
Microsoft also announced this year that as SQL Server 2008 approaches its end of life (July 9, 2019), along with Windows Server 2008 (Jan. 14, 2020), the company will be offering free extended security upgrades to those who choose to migrate to the Azure cloud.
Microsoft kicked up its messaging this year to ensure its customers know end of life for these older systems is coming. It’s time to upgrade if you haven’t already.
5. The (Predicted) Death of the Data Center?
The data center is dead! At least, this is what a recent Gartner report proclaimed. This would obviously signal a major change in how IT operates. The truth, however, might be a bit more nuanced. While the data center is certainly set for changes (including hyperconvergence and software-defined upgrades), it isn’t destined for the grave just yet. For more, check out our interview with Gregg Siegfried, research director of cloud and IT operations at Gartner.
INFOGRAPHIC: Check out how digital transformation powers the Internet of Things.
6. Open Data Gets a Boost
Data is everywhere. We all have it — tons of it! But are we using it appropriately? Probably not, because most companies can only see a small piece of the puzzle, not the whole picture.
To encourage the kind of data sharing that can help companies fill in the blanks, Microsoft announced at its Microsoft Ignite 2018 conference in October its Open Data Initiative with long-standing partners Adobe and SAP. This move seeks to help companies share data in the cloud via a “common approach and set of resources for customers” that will ultimately create a “single view of the customer.”
If it works, ODI could set the precedent for a world where data isn’t just gathered, but shared and levied to its fullest extent.
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