Technology

How tech is transforming the maritime industry

A reliable and constantly available internet service onboard relies on a well-designed and managed IT infrastructure.

A reliable and constantly available internet service onboard relies on a well-designed and managed IT infrastructure. In this occasional series of dispatches from industry contributors, our Director, Kris Cardona offers his views on how new tech is transforming the maritime industry.

The recent technology shift has been facilitated by the emergence of new Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite-based technologies, such as Starlink and OneWeb, each offering their own advantages. The vast increase in bandwidth capabilities in the maritime industry parallels the shift in the early 2000s in the traditional home/office setting, where slower ADSL lines and server rooms were eventually replaced by faster fibre broadband connections and cloud-based services, maximising continuous server power. This transformation is paving the way for a new era of connectivity in the maritime industry, allowing for more efficient operations and improved communication between vessels and the shore.In recent times, IT and comms have undergone rapid evolution, transforming the maritime industry by offering more than just basic email and fax services onboard. Thanks to the introduction of LEO technologies, vessels now feature advanced systems that provide always-on, high-speed internet similar to that of a well-equipped office. As a result, this has unlocked a world of opportunities, such as the emergence of automated navigational functions and even unmanned autonomous vessels that were once deemed impossible.

The need for speed

The increasing demand for high-speed internet at sea has brought added pressure to improve onboard bandwidth, manage the QoS and improve SD-WAN capabilities. However, rather than simply flooding the network with bandwidth, we're exploring using SD-WAN technologies to enhance the efficiency of these connectivity sources, particularly by leveraging cloud solutions in a secure manner. Better to focus on embracing the future of IT and developing a hybrid onboard/cloud-based service that integrates seamlessly and securely to enjoy the benefits of the cloud without entirely relying upon it.

Almost every intelligent system onboard now needs to talk to the IT network. These smart systems are increasingly complex and designed for office/home-based environments that simply connect to the cloud services. Work areas on modern yachts now resemble floating offices, with systems and servers integrated into a network that allows for the broadcast of AV streams and the interaction of various devices. In the past, network engineers had to ensure that all systems would continue functioning even if the internet connection was down. However, the current onboard IT systems are much more advanced and require cloud-based services and even more bandwidth to function efficiently. As the maritime industry continues to embrace cloud-based services like Microsoft 365, onboard email servers are becoming less common, with users opting to access their messages from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This shift to cloud-based services is not limited to email. Other onboard services, such as the AV systems, are also transitioning now that they have stable WAN infrastructures, which before LEO technologies were considered unreliable. Nowadays, multiple high-speed internet connections are available and it doesn't have to come at a high cost, especially compared to traditional systems.

Cyber-crime

The evolution of technology in the maritime industry has led to the development of more intelligent onboard solutions, including high-quality 4K video streaming and cloud-based services. However, this new landscape brings with it the heightened threat of cyber-crime. As IT networks become more complex, it is vital to ensure these solutions are implemented securely, with backups in the cloud and the appropriate technology to encompass all cloud bubbles into a single, secure environment. 

This requires carefully managing the expansion of the IT perimeter from a single onboard ‘shell’ or network to multiple online services in the cloud to prevent cyber-crimes. If skilled hackers are determined to damage your IT infrastructure, they can. For every service you sign up for, from Microsoft 365 to Netflix, a piece of information is shared with the service provider, whether large or small. Every service is a way in or out – a doorway that a hacker or virus can penetrate. And a yacht can have hundreds of user accounts with brands like Cisco, HP, DELL, Kerio, Sophos, Acronis, Veeam, Zinwave, Peplink, Poynting, QNAP, Axis, and many more. By adding security layers to your IT infrastructure, you put in place more obstacles that need to be overcome, but also give yourself more time to react and mitigate any damage as much as possible.There are many IT problems to juggle on board, and now in the cloud, in order to keep the vessel, crew, guests and owner safe from any threat. As yachting has evolved, so has the need for shoreside IT support with remote service providers and remote monitoring solutions. 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 ETOs and AV/IT officers weeks to sort out a few years ago, can now be resolved in just a few hours by an experienced shoreside integrator and service company.

This article was originally published in Issue 3 of How To Build It.

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YOT LTD delivers a comprehensive array of IT solutions tailored to the specific demands of the Maritime, Enterprise, Commercial, and related sectors. Our services encompass connectivity, IT infrastructure, Software as a Service (SaaS), and dedicated technical support.

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Schedule a call with our awesome team !

About us

YOT LTD delivers a comprehensive array of IT solutions tailored to the specific demands of the Maritime, Enterprise, Commercial, and related sectors. Our services encompass connectivity, IT infrastructure, Software as a Service (SaaS), and dedicated technical support.

Elevate Your Experience. Get Started Now!

Schedule a call with our awesome team !

About us

YOT LTD delivers a comprehensive array of IT solutions tailored to the specific demands of the Maritime, Enterprise, Commercial, and related sectors. Our services encompass connectivity, IT infrastructure, Software as a Service (SaaS), and dedicated technical support.