IT and communications have changed drastically recently, resulting in yachts, crews, and guests getting much more than just an email or fax while onboard. 20 years ago, IT on most yachts was simple. Still, recent changes have seen a shift to systems that enable an always on, low latency office like internet experience thanks to the rollout of LEO technologies.
With the ever-growing demand for more bandwidth at sea, the crew is under pressure to get more speed onboard and speed testing the WAN connections onboard every hour! Many vessels are focused on installing new flat panel antennas and flooding the network with as much bandwidth as possible. However, Cardona states, “we are instead investigating ways to maximise the efficiency of these internet connections with SD-WAN technologies and, most notably, the onboard IT systems by utilising cloud solutions in a secure manner. Focusing on what comes next in the IT world and how to encompass efficiently and securely it into a hybrid of cloud-based/onboard solution service. This allows us to reap the benefits of the cloud without being solely reliant on it.”
Kris Cardona, IT Director & Co-Owner at YOT Store and a guest speaker and sponsor at the Superyacht Technology Show & Conference, says that the main catalyst to this change is what everyone is talking about “Starlink”, first to market and “OneWeb” following behind, both having their own advantages. Cardona mentions: “We are literally watching history repeat itself from when the traditional office environment switched from slow ADSL internet lines and server rooms to fast Fibre broadband internet connections and utilising cloud services.”
As the internet speed increase, so will the complexity of the onboard IT networking systems, explains Cardona. “This results in work areas on yachts resembling floating offices. A few years ago, a typical network would consist of a collection of systems and servers surrounded by a ‘shell’ where the firewall connected to the rest of the world by a ‘string’ or 2 of internet connections. As a network engineer, you had to ensure that all the systems you had running onboard would still work when that internet string broke. The onboard IT systems of today’s yachts are much more complex than in the past. Due to the increase of systems becoming “smarter”, the AV streams are now being broadcasted over IT networks, and even the treadmill needs an Internet connection to interact. Introducing more bandwidth means the smart systems onboard can become even smarter.”
As communication technology has advanced, the systems in place today are the result of years of refinement and development. Cardona notes that the current landscape of communications infrastructure is very different from what it once was.
As yachts increasingly rely on cloud-based services, it’s no surprise that onboard email servers are becoming less common. After all, why bother maintaining an email server when you can access your messages from anywhere in the world with an internet connection?
It’s not just email that’s moving to the cloud, either. Other onboard services are beginning to make the switch as well. For example, it’s now possible to get multiple high-speed internet connections on even the largest yachts without spending a fortune.
So, what does this trend mean for the future of the maritime world?
Cardona explains, “I believe that traditional onboard “shell’ has been broken, IT Networks onboard will become more complex to maximise the smart solutions, and the likes of video 4K stream becoming the new norm but the need for storage will become less with the likes of onboard servers etc. One thing we are always investigating is how to secure these solutions. Now the “shell” or IT perimeter isn’t no longer just onboard, but now it’s expanded to multiple bubbles in the cloud, leaving you vulnerable to cyber-crimes. Although cloud services are the way forward, we must be careful it’s done in a correct manner by backing up your cloud data and utilising the correct technology to encompass all of these cloud bubbles into one big secure IT bubble”
As yachting has evolved, so has the need for onboard IT support. With complex systems in an always on connected yachts which can be on in constant communication with remote service providers and remote monitoring solutions provided by the build or maintenance AV/IT Integrator. These providers have the resources to help owners, captains, crew, and guests resolve any hardware or software problems that may arise quickly and with minimal interruption. What might have taken a crew weeks to sort out a few years ago can now be resolved in just a few hours.
As the world becomes increasingly digitised, the role of technology within the maritime industry becomes more and more critical. Cardona emphasises that new technologies have created opportunities for faster and more efficient interventions. A properly designed and managed infrastructure is essential to maintain an always-on, always-available internet service.
YOT Store Headlined the Superyacht Technology Conference and helped its partners navigate the ever-changing landscape of maritime technology.
They offer an IT supply chain and remote IT support to the best integrators in the superyacht sector with an on-demand service that’s at the forefront of high-end IT solutions. Not just a supplier but out-of-box thinkers with years of experience designing, installing, and troubleshooting IT systems onboard vessels, with an always available attitude to assist their partners. Adding YOT Store as a partner means you can access the entire suite of products from CISCO, HP, DELL, MICROSOFT, UBIQUITI, RUCKUS, PEPLINK, POYNTING, KERIO, PALO ALTO, QNAP, SYNOLOGY, APC, VM WARE, VEEAM, SOPHOS.
Visit www.yotstore.com today to learn more about what we can do for you.
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