By Ruan Venter, Principal Consultant at Ovations

The consumerisation of IT and, more importantly, IT infrastructure is a growing trend in an industry where the application is fast becoming king. In short, CIOs need infrastructure that supports open standards, is flexible enough to slot into a growing digital and cloud based architecture, and that won’t break the bank while still delivering on his innovation mandate.

At Ovations we are constantly looking for new ways in which we can meet the needs of the customer, yet can still foster an environment for innovation and development. It is with this that we have started looking at the possible use of the Raspberry Pi computer as a device that answers the call for consumerised hardware that can provide a platform for the rapid deployment of new applications in an enterprise, while ensuring it stays affordable to deploy in any environment.

What is Raspberry Pi?
The Raspberry Pi is, according to the manufacturer, “a low cost, credit-card sized PC that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse”. Initially a device that was designed to encourage the use of technology among children, the Raspberry Pi has evolved significantly.

Even though the main supported operating system is Raspbian you can install other operating systems such as Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Core, OSMC, RIS OS, Windows 10 IoT and much more.

As the Pi is capable of performing all the tasks a normal desktop computer does, from browsing the Internet, to creating and disseminating business documents, its use can be far more pervasive than just an educational tool.

The device was designed to be low cost, and keeping costs low is a major driving point for the manufacturer. It’s the perfect entry level device for companies looking to leverage full computing power in a more streamlined and cost effective way.

For example, if you were to couple the device with beacon technology you could create an alerts-driven environment that can set off a series of events by communicating with each other. Imagine a manufacturing or supply chain environment where beacons alert devices of tasks completed and, via a daisy chain effect, the devices then start the next set of processes in logistics or production environment. It’s true automation.

Then, linking your Pi to an intelligent home environment would allow you to define when geysers, heating, air-conditioning and even lights are turned on or off – the potential resource savings are endless.

Open to the core
The Raspberry Pi presents a unique opportunity for businesses for one simple reason: It is open. It’s a developer’s dream to work with and myriad applications can be built for the system using Python languages or a host of other freely available coding languages.

Cloud computing is upon us, opening the doors to technology concepts such as the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as fostering the growth of the digital business based on systems that are cloud native. The only limitation when using Raspberry Pi is your imagination or the skill of your developers.

A business tool
Why should a business start looking at devices such as the Raspberry Pi? It is not just the Pi itself that we need to consider, but the entire opportunity it presents. Consumerised hardware that supports open architectures are most certainly a growing component of the new software-defined everything concept that is shaping IT today.

CIOs rely on their IT departments to not just keep the lights on, but to innovate and position their businesses as competitive in an increasingly digital world. Think about the potential of linking cost effective devices that you can write to, secure and communicate with, across multiple geographies at a lower cost than the current handhelds or tablets available today . . . suddenly, the security risks of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) fly out the window as you remain in control; leaving the computing power needed by your users with them.

And if you aren’t convinced of its efficacy now, bear in mind that a Raspberry Pi was recently into space; and an underwater drone to take pictures has also has been built using it. The possibilities are endless!

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