What the Family Hub Refrigerator and the Internet of Things mean for business

The conversation and evaluation about the Internet of Things (IoT) has been nonstop since the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. The Internet of Things is a term describing the exchange of data between physical things over the Internet. Examples include wireless printing and remote access of IP cameras at your business.

Three weeks ago, the 2016 CES suggested that the future would include artificial intelligence, hoverboards, and self-driving cars. One big buzz? Samsung revealed their new Family Hub Refrigerator.

Samsung Family Hub

The refrigerator allows complete control from a smartphone. It has three internal cameras so you can view the inside while at the grocery store and a touchscreen that streams entertainment and syncs with your calendar, photos, memos, apps, and more.

What does Family Hub have to do with your business? It demonstrates how the interactions between humans and technology are quickly evolving and will become a bigger part of “normal life” – including your business life.

A new history of progress

The Family Hub is the first appliance to break ground in the kitchen. Read this sentence out loud: “My computer can talk to my refrigerator.” Strange, exciting, terrifying, unnecessary, cool…no person will feel indifferent to that statement.

Throughout history, advancements in computers and telecommunications were utilized by government agencies and institutions of higher education and research, but unattainable to average businesses. In the early 1970s, universities started a private Internet and computing hardware was large, expensive, and complex. Then, with the development of local area networks (LANs) and the Internet Protocol standard, workstations and personal computers became alternatives that businesses could afford in the 1980s.

Computers were at our workplace, then our homes. The Internet was at our workplace, then our homes.

In the mid-2000s, Internet connectivity became available with other electronics and introduced downloadable applications. Smartphones combined the functions of a mobile phone and personal computer, extremely popular for wireless access. Using the Internet, media players and TVs can stream, game consoles provide interactive gameplay, and cameras can send photos to printers and e-mails.

Like automobiles and cellular phones, computers were exclusive. Now, heart monitors can save and send data, smartwatches allow convenient communication, and automobiles are starting to include mobile hotspots.

Our way of living means we’re always within reach of being connected, in someway or another, and it will transfer into business practices.

Internet for your Business: A new way to work

The devices in our homes are already communicating via the Internet and businesses are next. If you aren’t taking advantage of the Internet at your business, you really should be and TriTech can help.

Traditional analog audio and video networks are fading away in favor of IP communication. The quality of digital audio and video is superior, yet the issue remains: Many data networks aren’t configured optimally from the start. Audio and video causes additional stress to the network traffic because the content is time sensitive and high bandwidth. When voice and video aren’t given priority in the network, below standard results occur including static and inconsistencies. Because of these flaws due to poor configuration, people remain skeptical. TriTech prides itself in designing successful networks and delivering the best method for your business.

If your business has multiple locations or traveling is involved, creating a VPN as a common destination for remote employee communication and access to servers and files is a great option. With TriTech, you won’t have to worry about security because our computer engineers are certified to encrypt, authorize, and secure a VPN for your business.

Internet of Things

The inevitable future will be the Internet of Things; anything and everything that’s able will always be connected, communicating, online. Samsung hopes Family Hub will be the next norm. When running late, we used to make a telephone call, then we sent a text message, now we might post a digital note on our refrigerator.

Forbes Contributor Jacob Morgan, co-founder of the Future of Work Community, wrote about IoT in 2014: “Say for example you are on your way to a meeting, your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take, if the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late. … What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more?”

Internet doesn’t provide security, but TriTech does

All of these interactions are taking place by way of the Internet, a public wide area network (WAN). Public. A computer server at your work is connected to the office LAN, so your home LAN cannot access it. To resolve this, the Internet is used.

However, everyone and anyone can use the Internet. If security and preventative measures aren’t taken, then connections are vulnerable and at risk. Sometimes measures such as passwords still aren’t enough to protect from threats. With your business, securing traffic sent across the Internet and LAN is vital. That’s where the certified professionals of TriTech step in.

TriTech Corporation of America has been helping businesses with networking and computing solutions ever since Internet service providers multiplied in the early 1990s. Unmatched, TriTech has a track record of results and proven reliability.

Secure and future-proof your business with TriTech today, (262) 717-0037, toll-free (800) 891-3388, or email service (at) tritechcoa (dot) com.

Should You Get a Network Audit?

You know how when you first move into a house, everything gets put in its place? The kitchen’s in order, the cupboards are tidy, the closets are laid out perfectly. Before you moved, you got rid of excess clothing and other junk that was doing nothing but hogging space. There’s no expired food at the back of the shelves, or mostly empty bottles of lotion, sunscreen, mosquito spray, hairspray, shampoo, soap, acne cream, hot sauce, soy sauce… you get the idea.

And then you live in the house for what feels like a short time.

And somehow, someway… clutter. You can’t find stuff. You run out of storage space. How did this happen?

Well, a network is a lot like a house.

Audit
[Photo credit: Got Credit]

Network audits increase performance and security.

When you first set up a network, if it’s done properly, everything is neat. Then software updates and new programs and cable extensions and repurposed routers and all the different things that different users do on the workstations make a clutter.

Your network becomes overloaded with junk. Your house gets cluttered.

A computer network is a complex ecosystem. Ideally, data flow smoothly and reliably from one node to the other. You print off a report in a few seconds. You conference with a client in HD. Your files are backed up and secure.

Anyone who’s used a business network, however, knows that this ideal is rarely achieved. Mostly, people try to solve immediate problems, which can lead to problems down the road.

If it was just a decrease in network speed, maybe it wouldn’t be quite so bad. Sure, a slow network makes you lose time, but you can deal. However, with network clutter also comes performance failures and security risks.

Clutter produces vulnerability. What’s the solution?

A network audit.

Network audits start with a complete inventory.

Remember that analogy between keeping house and a network audit? Well, when you move house you probably find all sorts of things you didn’t even know were there, that you don’t even remember where they came from.

If you’d kept a spreadsheet of all your possessions from the beginning, there’d be no surprises. But seriously: who would do that?

Even a full-time network administrator can’t keep track of every little thing that every worker is doing every day.

This is why a network audit starts with a complete inventory of your network assets: not only data, but printers, routers, telephones, cables and so on. Everything that accesses the network needs to be accounted for in order to determine what’s valuable, what’s neutral, and what’s damaging.

Network audits reveal data blockages.

Data blockages are a common source of network slowness. There are many different causes. For instance, you might have set up your wireless network to run on multiple channels, but then all the data could be running through only one, saturating that channel, creating a traffic jam. This is a common problem! And it often goes undiagnosed in the absence of an audit.

Transmission errors, inefficient loading patterns, slow response times: all these are revealed by a network audit.

Scanning your network to see how data are flowing as part of the audit reveals how your network should be configured to optimize your data flow.

Network audits provide analytical data.

We’ve all heard of Moneyball by now, how the creative analysis of data led to success for the Oakland A’s. The important lesson to take away is that data allow you to overcome your innate prejudices and see hidden efficiencies.

Scanning a network to create an inventory gives you the data needed to look at your network objectively. An objective viewpoint is particularly important when considering if you can repurpose existing hardware and what new hardware is necessary to install.

Network audits reveal security vulnerabilities.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world free of malware, of viruses, of spyware? And wouldn’t it be perfect to live in a world where all your programs work nicely with each other?

Of course, we don’t.

Monitoring the security procedures in place—password strength, which protocols are being used, how the firewalls are set up and so on—will reveal gaps that have emerged in your network through which malicious entities can attack your company.

Scanning your system will uncover software incompatabilities as well. People will be people: they’ll install what they’ll install. It’s impossible to keep track of it all, but what you miss can lead to security issues.

Don’t let this clutter produce vulnerabilties.

Get a network audit!