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SDx to put BYOD in its place

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A new buzz-phrase, Software-Defined Anything (SDx), may soon put BYOD in its place, says MALCOLM RABSON, MD of Dariel Solutions.

While many companies are still considering how best to implement a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy, the emergence of Software-Defined Anything (SDx) that links even more types of devices and corporate assets to a global network, promises additional opportunities for economies to develop, innovate, and grow.

After all, software has always had a critical role to play in the business environment. But it has only been as a result of the recent growth of mobile computing (tablets and smartphones) that has made decision-makers aware of how software has the ability to change the business landscape. It has become the veritable glue that links operations and processes together across industries, countries, and continents.

According to the eTransform Africa report published in 2012 by the African Development Bank and the World Bank, the effect of ICTs on the African economy is impressive in terms of changing the everyday lives of Africans. It cites the examples of mobile phones being used to provide financial services in Kenya and agricultural market information services in Ghana. South African e-filing of taxes and sensor-based irrigation systems in Egypt are also used to demonstrate the power of technology and how software is used to directly improve the lives of ordinary people.

This is echoed with hardware and technology continuing to change in order to meet market requirements. ‚”Software has to adapt and integrate efficiently to remain the engine for development and business growth.

In a recent report, Gartner has highlighted the top ten strategic technology trends for this year. Not only do mobile devices, apps, and cloud computing remain business-critical: SDx has emerged as a way for “technology suppliers to demonstrate their commitment to true interoperability standards within their specific domains.

Gartner says that those vendors who dominate a sector of the infrastructure may only reluctantly want to abide by standards that have the potential to lower margins and open broader competitive opportunities. This is in stark contrast to how consumers will benefit with the simplicity, cost reduction, and consolidation efficiency that SDx is supposed to bring.

However, it seems that only larger enterprises will initially be able to benefit from SDx. The complex nature of these corporate networks mean they can take advantage of SDx much sooner than smaller companies with more simplistic network infrastructures.

Irrespective of this, South African businesses of all sizes have been creating apps for mobile phones and tablets and are using this as another ‚’channel’ for their customers. Some use these apps to represent another conduit for ease of use, whilst others actually add value and facilitate a process or transfer of intellectual property. It is evident that many businesses are looking at the former instead of the latter.

Each development project has its own particular needs that are influenced by the company, the people involved, the deployment environment, and the project management and development skills of the team. The optimal methodology to employ in any development project must be flexible enough to adapt to the requirements of the environment.

So where does SDx fit into this and should you even care about it yet?

While BYOD opened the control of network data from conventional workstations to portable smartphones and tablets, SDx could further open it up to different types of portable or more versatile devices. Managers already concerned about the security implications of BYOD might be getting even more butterflies in their stomachs with the expanding network capability of SDx, generating greater security gaps.

But as has been evident from developers throughout Africa being able to design software capable of extracting value out of hardware and services to meet specific market conditions, SDx has the potential to further empower the continent to take advantage of the latest technological advances.

All of this might be moot for the time being. Depending on who you ask, the reality of SDx might be a few years away from a South African perspective. With that being said, the rate of local adoption when it comes to mobile technologies could see SDx hit our shores sooner than expected. The question is whether your corporate policy and software development approach will be ready for it.

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