Every holiday season, technology analysts and reporters write up seemingly hundreds of articles about their business technology picks for the New Year.  But what about the people who are on the front lines, working with customers on creating a seamless, working IT infrastructure?  These are the strategists – charged with deploying the servers, next-gen firewalls, security features – everything to help a business run smoothly.

We asked some of our DiamondIT engineers what business technologies would they recommend to their customers in 2017? But life is not just about work – so we also wanted to know, what “fun” cool, tech gadgets would DiamondIT engineers recommend as well (and by the way, some of these tech toys have serious business purposes as well!)

Steve Davis, Senior Systems Engineer

Steve Davis, Senior Systems Engineer

Let’s explore the business side first:

Windows Server 2012/2016:

Still using Windows Server 2003 or 2008?  Well, Steve Davis, senior systems engineer and Cody Cooper, senior support engineer would like to see organizations upgrade to Windows Server 2012/2016.  While Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 were solid products, Windows 2003 has been completely unsupported since July 2015 and Windows 2008 R2 left mainstream support in 2015 and is on extended support until 2020 (meaning no updates aside from security patches).

Many years later, Microsoft has made major changes that are more suited to the 2016/17 world.  For instance, Windows Server 2012/2016 has revamped its security options to become a more holistic product suited to today’s threat landscape.  In addition, Windows Server 2012/2016 offers more affordable options for storage.  One of the main benefits is the ability to deploy Microsoft’s Hyper-V for virtualization purposes.

More IT Security Training:

Security is one of the top IT concerns today, ranking up there with the top threats in the United States.  IT experts caution that data breaches are not a matter of “if” but when.  Since cybercriminals are out in force, Cody says, “All employees of an organization should receive annual security training.” Cody noted that often workers are responsible for many of the vulnerabilities that occur.  After all, it is not hard, even for a tech-savvy employee, to accidently click on rogue emails and links, exposing their business networks to data breaches and viruses.

Cody points out that while “bring your device” BYOD is a windfall for businesses – saving companies lots of money on hardware costs — it is also a policy that needs to be instituted with guidelines or policies.  These BYOD policies are intended to instruct employees on which websites and applications are appropriate for use on their personal devices when connected to the work VPN.

 

Cody Cooper, Senior Support Engineer

Cody Cooper, Senior Support Engineer

Most organizations that implement strict BYOD policies do very well in keeping their networks safe.

Cody says that annual IT training can be helpful in educating employees about how to identify strange emails or counterfeit websites.  “Today’s cybercriminals are savvy, and counterfeit websites can look a lot like the real thing,” says Cody.

The cool tech gadgets for 2017!

Here’s the deal – business technology is interesting and helpful, but sometimes a techy just needs to have some fun.  DiamondIT employees love creative and fun technology products from drones to smart watches.  Here is what they are hoping for this holiday season:

Virtual Reality (or VR):

vr

DiamondIT employees, including both Cody and Steve, need some VR time! There are a ton of virtual reality products out there ready at all price points, including Oculus, Samsung, PLAYSTATION 4 and many others. What is so amazing, is that simple lightweight hardware devices such as visors/goggles or even Cardboard  (Google Cardboard that is) and your phone, can transport you from your living room to a battle with a dinosaur; a gun fight in the old west; the feeling of being atop a sky scraper with scary views that look as if you are hundreds of feet high.

If you are wondering if VR has a place in businesses – the answer is YES! There are myriad of ways to incorporate VR into the workplace. For instance, meetings and conferences can be turned into virtual off-sights, whisking workers to an exotic location for a fraction of the cost and travel time, according to Successful Meetings Magazine.  Immersive sales videos are another way to use VR technology in the business world. Imagine walking a job site, reviewing the interior and exterior of a car, or doing a museum tour without leaving your office or home!

Smart Devices: 

internet-of-things-pros-cons

Cody does not want to get up from his couch this holiday season and apparently, millions are in synch with that.  The “Internet of Things” (IOT), is a term that refers to how everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.  This IOT technology has created smart devices ranging from talking refrigerators to just pushing buttons to have your Hulu or NetFlix appear – without having to scroll on your television screen or even get up from the couch. And now we can talk to our devices through the likes of Siri, Alexa, and Cortana.

IOT is not just a hit in the consumer world creating fun gadgets that offer updates and information, but its business applications are endless.  In the health world, TechTarget says that devices such as heart and biochip monitors are improving the way doctors are receiving information from their patients (both humans and animals).  Connected traffic signals to “smart” production services in factories are changing and improving the ways people work and travel.

So, if you have a couch potato only willing to press a few buttons while taking off for the holidays, like Cody, then just know, the technology they are using to “rest” is also being used to make a better world.

Drones:

Today your child and “adult kid” can purchase fairly sophisticated drones from about $35 to $1,000 depending on capabilities, size, and design.  These flying machines can reach heights and distances that can wow even the most cynical.  Why a drone?  Well, most people think drones are about spying on people, which is right, but there are other applications as well.  For instance, the new camera options can take pictures from many different views – even from angles and distances you could never go.

drone-2

These flying machines can reach heights and distances that can wow even the most cynical.  Why a drone?  Well, most people think drones are about spying on people, which is right, but there are other applications as well.  For instance, the new camera options can take pictures from many different views – even from angles and distances you could never go.

The business applications for drones are endless.  Yes, government agencies can use them for spying purposes, but many industries such as engineering, construction, and others use the flying camera devices for photos and data collection that can be used for analytical and planning purposes. Drones will also help Virtual Reality designers incorporate real world visuals into the Virtual worlds users will experience – whether walking, running or jumping.

If a drone is on your holiday list, be sure to fully research local and federal laws concerning the operation of a drone in your area. Personal and commercial use of drones may require special licensing.

Wearable Tech: Smart Watches

David Rice, the COO for DiamondIT, has his own favorite “fun tech gadget:” smart watches. The most famous of the smart watches are from Apple.

apple-watch

The newer versions of the watch, the  Apple Watch Series 2 with built-in GPS, lets you leave your iPhone at home when you go for a run or ride — and still measure your workout accurately, for instance.  While the charging time is only a few hours, battery life is typically less than 24 hours. LG also came out with a “smart watch.”  According to Wired, “…the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition is LG’s sleeker, higher-end lineup of smartwatches…and it doesn’t need your phone to connect to the Internet. It does that through a built-in radio, which can connect to LTE and 3G.” David said he is sticking to his FitBit Surge activity tracker/watch until the “smarter” watches have a battery life of a week or more.

The business applications for smart watches are many, from looking fashion forward to using the watch’s applications for work.  You can check travel times and updates on the watch, as well as share work with colleagues by downloading such apps as Slack and even Microsoft’s One Drive.

Whatever your tech desires are for 2017, DiamondIT wishes you happy holidays and a wonderful 2017. Just remember to use good digital safety-sense like changing the default password on that new IoT device!