21-12-2020 | | By Robin Mitchell
Recently, Google announced that it was joining the Modern Cloud Alliance, which seeks to create a unified method for enterprises to work from. Why is work going remote, what goals does the Modern Cloud Alliance have, and how will this change the technology of the future?
The nature of work is undergoing a dramatic change; more workers are working from home utilising services such as Zoom, Slack, and thousands of web applications. While some have linked the COVID-19 pandemic to this change, COVID-19 was merely a catalyst that has sped up the process of the shift from office to home.
To understand why working from home will become the dominate form of working soon, we have to understand the technology that makes it possible. For the longest time, work has been done at offices, and this was because of the location of resources. From office PCs to specialised mainframes, all company resources have generally been located at the company building itself. Thus employees need to operate at the workplace to have access to these resources.
However, the need to be physically at the office changed with the introduction of the internet as not only could computers be accessed remotely, but their resources could be shared too. Therefore, a worker who needs a specific account sheet could enquire the company database from home. The use of emails allows employees to message each other with ease, and the development of “facetime” allows people to interact more naturally.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw global lockdowns and mass exoduses of employees, but internet technologies have allowed for many of these employees to continue working from home. While damage to the economy has been significant as a result of the global lockdowns, if internet technologies did not exist then, COVID would have spread significantly more as a result of people going to work (i.e. internet technologies essentially allow for modern lockdowns).
Regardless, the nature of work is changing, and the office place will become more specialised in the near-future with most employees working from home. This will not only provide massive savings to workers with no need to pay for transport but will also improve living condition as all homes across a country become viable living spaces.
If the world is to move away from office environments, then a few challenges need to be faced. One of these challenges is the need for remote workers to be able to access company resources easily. Still, specialised enterprise software systems that are installed onto company machines present problems including the need to install a copy on each machine, licensing from proprietary systems, and maintenance.
Understanding the issues faced with enterprise systems, a group of companies have formed the “Modern Computing Alliance”, whose aim is to create a unified solution that provides silicon-to-cloud innovation. Simply put, the group intends to create enterprise frameworks and solutions that allow for the vast majority of computing systems to connect to and move enterprise systems to the cloud to allow access anywhere in the world.
Members of the group include Intel, Zoom, Slack, and Chrome Enterprise, but the newest member is Google itself. The four key areas that the group intends to tackle include security and identity, hardware performance, healthcare workers, and work productivity. However, further research into the group shows that the overall goal of the group is to help enterprise systems adopt Google Chrome and Chrome OS.
The use of the Google ecosystems (such as Docs, Sheets, Assist etc.), could provide massive benefits to enterprises for several reasons. Firstly, the use of web services maximises compatibility with most systems, thereby removing the need for specialised software. Secondly, web services can easily be maintained and updated without the need for on-site workers. Thirdly, web services also allow for large, complex data processing systems (such as a mainframe) to share its data over the cloud easily, thereby allowing users across the world to access key company data.
While the end solution doesn’t necessarily have to be Google-based, it further demonstrates the importance of web browsers in daily life. For example, an increasing number of IoT devices and industrial equipment are featuring locally hosted sites that allow users to easily interact with using common devices, including smartphones and tablets.
While the future is yet to happen, there is no doubt that future technology decisions surround remote work will be shaped by the need to work from home. Initially, internet technologies were not developed with the intention for people to work from home using features such as video calls.
As internet technology continued to improve, developers began to realise that the internet could be used for more than just text-based websites and emails. The development of Skype and other internet services allowed for people to work remotely, but even then, that was rare. During this stage of development, advancements were not being made to service the need for remote work. Remote work was being made possible thanks to advancements in technology.
Now that many are seeing the advantages of remote work, this trend will flip, and internet technologies will now develop with remote work in mind. Software companies will look towards cloud-based technologies to allow enterprises to operate away from a physical office space, physical internet connections will be scaled up immensely, private wireless networks such as those powered by 5G will allow the business to create large-scale networks expressing low-latency high-bandwidth, and internet service providers will look towards new methods for improving coverage such as the use of orbiting satellites; All so that workers can work from home.