Tiptoeing on the cloud, working the web
The past couple of years have seen web-based performance improving dramatically. The sluggishness that used to be a defining characteristic of these applications has but almost completely disappeared from web-based applications, giving way to a better and richer experience. CAT producers, and memoQ too, have been riding this wave in 2017 trying to provide better solutions.
The technology shift seems to push for fully cloud-based deployments, and software-as-a-service is becoming more and more widespread, even in the language industry. However, there have been some alarming calls too. Certain industries are just not comfortable with the way cloud works – their security protocols are more stringent and due diligence requires caution.
And in September 2017 something happened that directed attention to the very question: are we secure in our cloud environments? Are SaaS services ready to conquer and assimilate yet? The data breach of Translate.com was an embarrassing reminder that cloud rollouts still have a long way to go until they will be able to support the sensitive issues of our industry. The millions of leaked pages of organizations, private companies, and government agencies stand as a grave reminder: secure data protection and due diligence requires a lot of caution when setting up workflows.
Technically, of course, cloud isn’t inherently less secure than sending out documents to remote freelance translators, as many translation agencies do: the difference is in scale and stakes. If you trust all your translation data to a cloud software company, and there is a data breach, all that data is compromised. However, the issue is not purely about technology, but also about shaping the surrounding legal environment. Until such times, or so it seems, providers will have to keep traditional offerings on the shelves, possibly providing instances of both technologies until the skies clear. Our trend contributors had a couple of important remarks to make about these issues for 2018.
Web surpassing desktop performance
Product Team Lead at memoQ
Gergely Vándor, Product Team Lead, thinks the possibilities for web-based applications have grown immensely.
“For a while, web applications were the trendy new kids on the block that could show some cool tricks, but were not looked at as serious alternatives to their desktop counterparts,” begins Gergely. “This looked especially true in fields like translation, with professionals who demand performance, because a translator’s bottom line is directly affected by the amount of work they can finish by the hour.”
This is radically changing though, at the very least in the field of user interfaces:
Desktop is very far from dead yet, and it is definitely way too early to start writing the obituaries too, but we are seeing web gaining ground in professional application fields: it is not a given anymore that a web app needs to be more limited or perform worse than a comparable desktop app. I predict seeing further careful steps in this direction in 2018.
Cloud will take over completely in a few years – not!
Event Marketing Manager at memoQ
Sándor Papp, Event Marketing Manager, is a bit more skeptical when it comes to going fully cloud. SaaS on the cloud has a long way to go in the translation/localization industry to find its way to organizations with high security demands.
“Although cloud technologies are getting more and more popular, and we are using many of them in our daily work, in the translation business a complete take-over by cloud and SaaS technologies is a definite no-go anytime soon,” says Sándor.
While the perks of cloud technology and one-stop-shops are obvious, this is now also a time of caution: apart from the ever more regular scary news of giant data breaches, LSPs are also reluctant to invest in and rely on pure cloud simply because of the security guidelines of their own clients. These companies require solid local and secure rollouts otherwise they face losing business.
Even if a cloud revolution happens, it will take place much-much later than in two years. Apart from the obvious technology challenges, a lot of ground must be covered in legal terms too before the technology can be fully ripe for large enterprises with a lot of sensitive information. To give you an analogy, just think about high security banking applications: these environments fashion technologies that are essentially secure but seem kind of outdated. This is not because experts in financial institutions do not care about trends, or because they are old guys only interested in applications running on DOS, but because they must control progress very carefully as security is their major challenge.
My take is that the cloud hype is peaking now, and 2018 will bring a slower progress in 2018. This does not mean that cloud tech will not gain more ground in the future, but steps will be considerably smaller, and security will be more important for a while. With high-end clients, emphasis will remain with technology vendors who can provide both secure, and if need be, local robust rollouts but who also support strong collaboration features, maybe partially via cloud as well. 2018 is still a year of technology vendors who can provide a bit of everything.
In focus: the client and their security
Co-Founder of Talk finance
Back in 2002, Stéphane Didier, together with his co-founder Martial Mernier, established the Luxembourg-based major language service provider Talk finance. The company is primarily engaged in the financial field and their clients are among the largest global financial institutions. It is no surprise therefore that the question of security is something Stéphane will consider exceptionally important.
For Talk finance, security is a priority as well as a concern. “We want to show our clients that we are very secure, and that their data is not sitting on the cloud. This is a very important message to our customers,” explains Stéphane. “We have been using various collaboration-enabling technologies, but all focused around full-scale data security – such as the one-time passwords for remote connections.”
On the other hand, security should not be a barrier for innovation. So, back in 2004, we were already actively using virtualisation and cloud technology. However, it has always been happenning via secure connections and, essentially, a private cloud (that is a dedicated servers tier in a tier 4 data center), with a range of security protocols only to support things like remote collaboration. We are not using open cloud solutions at all. If there is an application that we would like to consider for our workflow, and if it is cloud-based, (meaning we would have to access an application or data stored on the web), then we just cannot go ahead. If we want to purchase an application, we will want to have it installed on our servers (private cloud). To exchange big files we are not going to use emails, neither dropbox-like services, instead we would elect to employ an SFTP with a server in the DMZ.
Our main focus is that we want to push for security as our clients, all major financial institutions, expect us to proceed with due diligence. Our industry is prone to many changes, but essentially our technology decisions will be driven by the requirements of our clients.