Internet of Things Secrets of the IT department

Internet of Things explained – Secrets of the IT department

Like them or loathe them, all employees will need, at some point, to interact with the support services offered by the IT department. In this series of short articles, we uncover some of the secret workings of the IT department, finding out what is jargon and what is just common sense that can apply to all of us, regardless of our role, work, or profession.

Nothing to do with a web for spiders

Welcome to the ninth instalment in our series of IT secrets. Today, we’re looking into the world of the Internet of Things (IoT). Think of IoT like a team of scouts, each collecting bits of information from their surroundings to make smarter decisions for the group. Except, instead of scouts, they’re digital devices that are everywhere – in your home, your car, even on the factory floor. Let’s uncover how this network of connected things impacts our lives and what we can do to interact with it safely.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things consists of smart devices that can gather data and communicate with each other over the Internet. Think of your smartphone turning off your home lights when you leave, or a sensor at a supermarket that tracks inventory levels. These devices are your eyes and ears in a digital landscape, capturing real-time data and feeding it to a more extensive system for analysis.

Key elements of IoT

  • Sensors – Imagine a weather station collecting data on temperature, humidity, and wind speed. These are your sensors in IoT, collecting raw data for analysis.
  • Connectivity – Consider a road filled with signposts directing you where to go. In the IoT realm, connectivity is that road facilitating data flow between devices.
  • Data processing – Picture an experienced chef taking essential ingredients and turning them into a gourmet meal. Data processing in IoT refines raw data into actionable insights.
  • User interface – This is like the dashboard in your car, showing your speed, fuel level, and other vital stats. In IoT, the user interface displays data in a digestible format, often on a device like a smartphone or a computer.

Top tips for navigating the IoT world safely

  1. Change default settings: Treat your IoT devices like your house. You wouldn’t keep the default lock, so change the default username and password.
  2. Regular updates: Make sure you keep the software of your devices updated, much like keeping your car well-maintained.
  3. Network segmentation: Just as you keep your valuables safe and separate from your everyday items, keep your IoT devices on a different network from your primary devices like laptops and smartphones.
  4. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Like using both a key and a passcode to access a secured area, enable 2FA for your IoT devices when possible.

The benefits of IoT

  • Improved efficiency: Think about a smart thermostat that learns your preferred temperatures and adjusts automatically, saving you money on energy bills.
  • Enhanced safety: Imagine a connected smoke alarm that not only sounds an alarm but also sends notifications to your phone.
  • Better decision-making: If your smartwatch tracks your sleep patterns and suggests changes, you can make informed decisions for better sleep quality.

Your thoughts?

Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts on IoT. Over the past nine articles, we’ve explored various topics ranging from the basics of IT support to cybersecurity and cloud computing. All these elements, including IoT, play crucial roles in our professional and personal lives.

Stay tuned for our final article in this enlightening series, where we will delve into another key area that affects us all, IT-related or not.

Cloud Cloud computing Secrets of the IT department Storage

Cloud computing and storage – Secrets of the IT department

Like them or loathe them, all employees will need, at some point, to interact with the support services offered by the IT department. In this series of short articles, we uncover some of the secret workings of the IT department, finding out what is jargon and what is just common sense that can apply to all of us, regardless of our role, work, or profession.

The invisible vault that’s closer than you think

Welcome to the eighth article in our enlightening IT secrets series. Today, we’re exploring the jargon-filled universe of cloud computing and storage. Forget about those fluffy white formations in the sky; we’re talking about a robust, invisible digital vault. Much like a bank secures your money, the cloud safeguards your digital belongings – documents, photos, or applications – and makes them accessible no matter where you are.

What is cloud computing and storage?

At its core, cloud computing and storage involve managing and storing data and applications over the internet rather than on physical hardware in your home or office. It’s like renting a storage unit for your furniture and personal belongings, but you’re storing digital data this time. You store your digital assets online, and the ‘landlord,’ or the cloud service provider, handles the maintenance and security. The best part? You can access these assets from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection.

Why cloud computing and storage matter

You might wonder why you need to understand cloud technology if you’re not an IT professional. Well, cloud technology is increasingly becoming a part of everyone’s life. For instance, when you collaborate with colleagues on Google Docs, you use the cloud. When you store your holiday photos on services like iCloud or Dropbox, you’re also relying on the cloud. It’s like having a digital filing cabinet that you can access anytime, anywhere, making it a practical tool for work and personal use.

Key elements of cloud computing and storage

  • Public cloud – Think of a bustling public library where you can borrow any book but can’t control who else is in the building. Similarly, a public cloud is available to everyone and maintained by providers such as Amazon AWS or Google Cloud. Because it’s shared, it’s generally less expensive but offers less control.
  • Private cloud – Imagine a members-only golf club where only members and their guests can enter. In the digital world, a private cloud is for a specific organisation. This setup provides more control over data and applications but often costs more.
  • Hybrid cloud – Consider this the wardrobe of someone who lives in a city with very varied weather. They might have sundresses, heavy coats, and everything in between. A hybrid cloud allows you to mix and match, using public for some functions and private for others, depending on your specific needs and security requirements.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – It’s like renting an empty shop space for your business. You get the basic walls, electricity, and plumbing, but you’ll need to bring in your inventory, cash registers, and decor. In IaaS, you rent basic computing resources on which you install your software and applications.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Imagine a co-working space where not only is the space provided but also the desks, chairs, printers, and coffee machines. PaaS offers both the infrastructure and the software tools you need to build applications.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – Consider this the digital equivalent of a magazine subscription. You don’t own the magazines, but you get new issues regularly that you can read. Similarly, you don’t own the software but pay a fee to use it, like Microsoft 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud.

Top tips for making the most of cloud services

  1. Understand your needs
    It’s similar to grocery shopping with a list. Knowing what you need helps you choose the right cloud services for your situation.
  2. Check security features
    Ensure the cloud service provider offers robust security features like encryption and multi-factor authentication (MFA). It’s like double-checking that a car you’re considering buying has airbags and good crash test ratings.
  3. Backup your data
    Think of this as having a first aid kit at home; it’s a safety net. Always keep a separate copy of important data stored in another location.
  4. Understand the costs
    Imagine comparing gym memberships to find the best value for what you need – pools, saunas, or specific classes. Similarly, know what you’re getting for the price you’re paying in cloud services.
  5. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
    This is akin to having both a lock and a security camera at your front door. With MFA, even if someone guesses your password, they’ll still need a second form of verification to access your data.

The benefits of good cloud management

  • Accessibility: Imagine entering your home with a digital key that you can share with family members. In the cloud, your data is accessible from any internet-connected device, offering flexibility and convenience.
  • Cost-efficiency: Think of using a bicycle-sharing service instead of buying a bike. You use it when you need it, avoiding the cost and hassle of ownership. Cloud services are similar; you pay for what you use, eliminating the need for expensive hardware.
  • Security: Like a safe deposit box in a bank that requires multiple keys to open, reputable cloud providers have robust security measures. They use encryption, multi-factor authentication, and other tactics to protect your valuable data.
  • Scalability: Consider a house with an adjustable design where walls can be moved to create new rooms as your family grows. In the cloud, you can quickly expand your storage and services as your needs evolve, usually with just a few clicks.

A look back at the series

This article is the eighth in a series that covers everything from incident and problem management to change, asset, and service level management, as well as the critical subjects of business continuity, disaster recovery and cybersecurity.

We hope you find these insights helpful. The next topic in our series will reveal more behind-the-scenes secrets from the world of IT that directly impact each of us, whether we’re in an IT role or not.

business continuity disaster recovery Secrets of the IT department

When disaster strikes – Secrets of the IT department

Like them or loathe them, all employees will need, at some point, to interact with the support services offered by the IT department. In this series of short articles, we uncover some of the secret workings of the IT department, finding out what is jargon and what is just common sense that can apply to all of us, regardless of our role, work, or profession.

Welcome to the sixth instalment in our series of IT secrets. This time, let’s delve into the complex worlds of disaster recovery and business continuity. Think of it as the contingency plans laid out by the emergency services for a large public gathering like the Notting Hill Carnival. There are backup routes, emergency services on standby, and contingencies for almost anything. Similarly, your IT department has its plans ready to activate at a moment’s notice.

What disaster recovery and business continuity means. Are they two different things?

While both terms often get used interchangeably, they serve different but complementary roles. Business continuity focuses on long-term plans and can include elements outside of IT, like supply chain issues or employee training. On the other hand, disaster recovery is specific to IT and aims to restore critical systems as quickly as possible after a disruption.

Why disaster recovery and business continuity matter

This might seem like IT jargon, but it’s far more universal. A robust disaster recovery and business continuity plan can positively impact every area of your work life, keeping you and your projects on track while protecting the wider organisation.

Key elements of disaster recovery and business continuity

These include:

Disaster recovery plan (DRP) – Think of a data centre responsible for operating ATMs across the UK going offline. A DRP would outline steps to restore these critical services quickly.

Business continuity plan (BCP) – Picture your local supermarket. If a power outage knocked out their refrigerators, they’d use backup generators to keep the food fresh. Just like that, a BCP focuses on ensuring that essential functions continue to operate during and after a disruption by implementing alternative plans like remote working.

Recovery time objective (RTO) – Imagine your corporate email server crashes. RTO would measure the maximum time you can afford to be without your emails before it severely impacts business. Could you go for a day or just a few hours?

Recovery point objective (RPO) – If you deleted an important work file, this measures how old the backup file can be for you to work normally. Is a backup from yesterday sufficient, or do you need one from an hour ago?

The benefits of doing this well

  • Operational resilience – Yyou’re the sort of person who knows alternative routes when there’s a tube or train strike. In the same way, a well-executed plan means your organisation adapts and recovers faster from unplanned events.
  • Financial protection – Just like having good insurance coverage for your car, a robust disaster recovery plan reduces downtime and financial losses.
  • Customer trust – If the London Underground constantly broke down, you’d lose faith in it quickly. A solid disaster recovery plan builds trust in your organisation.
  • Legal compliance – Proper planning saves you from operational headaches and potential legal issues.

Your thoughts

Feel free to share your stories and insights. The next topic in our series will focus on the basics of cybersecurity, another area that directly impacts everyone, whether you’re in IT or not.

This article is the sixth in our series that uncovers the secret workings of the IT department. We’ve covered various topics, including incident management, problem management, change management, asset management, and service level management.

Each instalment has been crafted to break down complex IT topics into relatable terms and scenarios, making them accessible reads for IT and non-IT folks alike. If any of these areas intrigue you, please check out the previous articles in the series.