Archive for Wrzesień, 2010

SonicWALL Remote Access Solutions in SA

By admin, 15 września, 2010, No Comment

New remote access security solutions enable protected access to information from PCs and wide array of mobile devices

LOOPHOLD Security Distribution, the local distributor of SonicWALL technology, has announced the local availability of two new remote access SSL VPN security solutions. These solutions are designed to help companies of all sizes easily administer and monitor employee access to information behind the firewall.

Says Martin Tassev, MD of LOOPHOLD Security Distribution, “The rise of the mobile workforce has been rapid, and now, being connected whenever, has become a business norm. With the wide range of mobile devices being used by employees, it is common for the IT department to experience a loss of control. SonicWALL’s new remote access solutions allow employees to retain the freedom to choose whatever mobile device they like; while giving IT back the control and security it needs to protect the corporate network. The level of access granted to each user is based on the trustworthiness of the specific mobile device in question.”

The SonicWALL Aventail 10.5 represents a major software upgrade to existing enterprise class solutions, while the SonicWALL SRA 1200 is a new appliance tailored to SMB customers. SonicWALL’s new offerings provide enterprise customers a feature-rich solution and enhanced smart phone support and also bring affordable, powerful features and protection to the SMB market.

SonicWALL’s Aventail 10.5 release brings new enterprise features to the E-Class SRA series of clientless SSL VPN solutions. The solution provides secure access to corporate resources and supports thousands of concurrent users from a single appliance. The SonicWALL Aventail solution ties the unique mobile device ID to a specific user, confirms the user’s identity and verifies the security status of the end-point. Once these security checks have been passed, the SonicWALL Aventail solution grants the appropriate level of access from any web-enabled device, including Internet kiosks, laptops, smart phones, tablet PCs or any other web enabled device.

New features include Active Sync support for the Apple iPhone, iPad, Google Android and Symbian mobile devices and provides secure e-mail, contacts and calendar update synchronisation with the corporate exchange server.

SonicWALL continues to innovate in enterprise SSL VPN solutions, and extends powerful, productive features to its SMB customers. The SRA 1200 provides a new unified policy management interface to simplify how I.T. managers grant access to corporate resources. Additionally, SonicWALL has integrated a powerful, Web Application Firewall (WAF) that incorporates dynamic signature updates to protect against modern, web-based threats. For remote help desk support, I.T. administrators can take advantage of Virtual Assist. This feature of SonicWALL’s SRA 1200 introduces new tools to provide desktop support to remote workers without requiring fat clients or other solutions to be installed. Through the new Virtual Access feature, employees can access unattended workstations at home or remote offices.

Says Tassev, “More workers are now working from home, while on the road, and from partner and customer offices. They are accessing corporate networks through not only their mobile devices, but home PCs, company issued notebooks, and kiosks at tradeshows and conferences. The benefits of this to the organisation are of course considerable, but so are the risks of sensitive data being compromised.”

The solution lies in secure access from remote locations, irrespective of device. Today’s release of SonicWALL Aventail 10.5 and the SRA 1200 reinforces SonicWALL’s commitment to provide companies with dynamic security for the global network and intelligent solutions that protect against evolving threats and adapt as organisations change.

Debunking the myths of archiving and messaging – and the role of the cloud

By admin, 15 września, 2010, No Comment

By Chris Hathaway, Director, Soarsoft Africa

With the recent ‘buzz’ around cloud computing, many organisations are starting to consider moving various parts of their IT infrastructure to the cloud to leverage the associated benefits these service providers can deliver. Moving a ‘part’ of a function to the cloud, like email archiving, while keeping the actual messaging function in-house, may seem a safe or smart bet if the organisation wants to ‘test’ cloud based services – in reality, its not. There are a number of misconceptions that need to be exposed.

Testing cloud based services in this fashion is a trend we have observed in a number of organisations. The thinking is that email archiving is initially easier and less hassle to move and not as critical to the daily business functions.  However, upon closer inspection this just does not make as much sense as initially anticipated; it is potentially far more prudent to take the entire messaging platform requirement to the cloud – or keep everything on-site until you are ready to move to the cloud with the entire requirement.

The first misconception – cost implications

By far the most expensive piece of running a messaging platform like Microsoft Exchange or IBM’s Domino (Lotus Notes) is the combination of the associated network, licensing, hardware infrastructure, DR/continuity, security (SPAM and Virus Protection), skill and administration costs.  If these costs already exist, the on-site costs of an archiving platform are in fact very low in comparison, and often leverage the same infrastructure and administration resources.  Moving only the archive piece to the cloud without also sending the entire messaging function to the cloud at the same time is really just getting rid of the easy bit and keeping the most expensive and complicated piece on site. Even more telling is that most of the hosted service providers of full messaging platforms in South Africa and around the world (e.g., MWeb, Business Connexion, etc.) offer a full messaging service that includes the security and archiving piece for only a fraction more than the cost of hosted archive-only providers!

Second misconception – Only old data resides in the archive

Another common misconception is that archiving involves the storage of ‘old’ less important data. In fact, data is now being archived after a much shorter amount of time and often even archived immediately. This is largely due to the necessity of efficiently managing the sheer volume of data now passing through organisations on a day-to-day basis, but also because the compliance role is almost entirely managed by the archive solution. As such, the archive has become an increasingly important part of an organisation’s IT infrastructure – with 99% of an organisations data residing in the archive immediately and only a small portion of the data retained on the email platform, where the core functionality is actually focused on sending and receiving email rather than storing it.

Another disadvantage of separating the messaging and archive functions is that the email records often need to be stored in a different format and in a relatively unrelated system to the email server you are running. This can lead to high ingestion costs of historic data and even worse, crippling costs of exiting the platform. The management of permissions and security from an internal “Domain” across the cloud can also lead to a far more complicated process than expected, not to mention the bandwidth constraints and reliability.

Third misconception – loss of control

When it comes to messaging, many organisations are under the impression that if they outsource their messaging to the cloud, they will effectively lose control of this vital aspect of business communication. In reality, the larger hosted email service providers can leverage the critical mass provided by multiple tenants on their platforms to investments in the very best architectures, skills and technologies as they become specialists in their field. Furthermore the cloud based providers need to continually roll out the newer versions to remain competitive and retain their client bases; and additional services like SharePoint, Office Comunications Server, CRM and Live Meetings can also be quickly added at a fraction of the cost, infrastructure and skills requirement that would have been required for the equivalent “on-site” implementation.

A better strategy…

When one takes all of the above into account, it makes much better sense to either outsource both your messaging and archiving requirements to the cloud; or keep both on-site.

If you are going to have a “hybrid” solution between the cloud and “on-premises”, rather let it be the archiving role retained on site.   By retaining archiving onsite and outsourcing messaging, organisations are able to get rid of the larger expense of running a reliable mail platform, while keeping the smaller expense of onsite archiving in-house. Onsite archiving means search requests will be faster, and control of retention and disposition of data is easier and cheaper to maintain.

When should I be considering ‘cloud-based’ options?

Often the time to look very closely at the benefits of a move to the cloud is at the time of a major version upgrade, infrastructure re-fresh or migration of your messaging platform (e.g. Domino/Notes or GroupWise to Exchange.).  Other situations that may get you considering a move could be the requirement of an archive platform, an eDiscovery request, staff volatility or a recent outage of messaging services.

As more and more organisations seek to take advantage of the benefits presented by cloud computing, and as South African organisations are now exposed to new options when it comes to messaging – it is important that decision-makers think strategically about what to move to the cloud first, and what can be kept onsite if need be. Consideration should also be given to who is entrusted with making these decisions – as there is often a potential conflict of interest between what makes good business sense, and the safety of such a decision-makers’ job at the organisation, especially at smaller organisations

Debt collection boosted

By admin, 14 września, 2010, No Comment

MBD Credit Solutions, an independent firm that specialises in credit management solutions, has boosted the efficiency of its debt collection process by choosing the Nashua Mobile SMS Gateway as its SMS bulk messaging platform.

The company sends out significant volumes of messages each month without any hiccups. Importantly, this gateway has enough capacity to deliver thousands of messages a second in real-time. In addition, the SMS Gateway provides a set of flexible reporting options and customisable views and permissions.

MBDCS managed to easily integrate the SMS Gateway with its own back-end systems and send out automated SMS messages to its debtors. The solution is used to communicate a range of time-sensitive information to debtors, including reminders, alerts and statements.

MBDCS focuses on the collection of current, arrears and distressed debt. The company prides itself on the innovative use of data, telephony, information technology and human capital to manage the portfolios of large reputable credit providers.

It has long recognised that SMS is an ideal way to communicate with debtors since most South Africans have cellphones. In this regard MBDCS was prompted to look for an SMS bulk messaging service provider that was credible and had the ability to deliver its huge message volumes in real-time.

MBDCS chose Nashua Mobile as its new SMS service provider because the company offered it a robust and cost-effective solution. The Nashua Mobile SMS Gateway is a secure and stable messaging platform that offers instant SMS delivery across all three cellular networks. It has also managed to achieve cost savings, thanks to the tariff fee that Nashua Mobile structured for it.

“We are a price-sensitive client, but we are also not willing to compromise on reliability and performance. Nashua Mobile’s messaging solution meets our needs for a reliable messaging system that allows us to reach people in a cost-effective manner,” says Carl de Villiers, Commercial Executive at MBDCS.

“Efficient, cost-effective communication is central to MBDCS’s business. The company needs to reach thousands of people a day to encourage them to enhance their credit status by clearing their outstanding debts,” says Chris Scoble. “This is the exact sort of application we have built our SMS Gateway to serve. For companies such as MBDCS, SMS is a low-cost and reliable way to reach thousands of people with timely alerts and messages.”

SMS Outlook Plug-In

By admin, 14 września, 2010, No Comment

Consumer ISP @lantic, a subsidiary of Vox Telecom, has launched SMSOnline Outlook Plug-In, a service which will allow customers to send SMSs via their Microsoft Outlook, directly to mobile devices.

“With the SMS Outlook 2007 Plug-In it is as easy to send and receive SMS messages as it is to send and receive email, you don’t even need to install software,” says Jeane van Greunen Head of Products for @lantic.

SMS bundles range from 100 charged at R40, to 5000 at R1375, with a nominal set up fee, depending on the size of the package.

“This product is ideal for the small business owner who wants to be able to keep in contact with customers, co-workers and employees,” says van Greunen.

SMSOnline Plug-In incorporates all of Outlook’s 2007 functionality, including being able to send a single message to multiple recipients using the Outlook address book, scheduling delivery of SMSs at a selected time and date, receiving email messages / calendar appointments and getting delivery reports, which link back to the Outlook sent messages tab.

“Other benefits include being able to forward emails directly to mobile devices in SMS format, and sending SMSs to multiple contacts at the same time.”

To activate the Outlook Plug-In service, a once off fee of R99 is charged.

“In a country where mobile penetration is more than 100%, being able to interact with people via their mobile devices will not only help improve productivity, but all-round business communication,” says van Greunen.

Telephonic support for school projects

By admin, 11 września, 2010, No Comment

Computer Assisted Telephony Systems (CaTS) has developed an industry first software solution called “Dial-a-Tutor” that allows students to phone teachers and get over-the-phone advice on any school project.

The project was initiated by the Mpumalanga Department of Education as an endeavor to improve learner performance.

“We needed to be creative and think outside of our confines to improve the performance of learners in the Province. This initiative encourages learners to study from 18H00 to 20H00 knowing that should they encounter problems standby tutors are available to assist. It is accessible free to all learners in all grades. The intervention is direct to the subject area where a learner is experiencing a problem. It complements the work of teachers. Above all teachers can also receive guidance from the these tutors on challenging subject content” said MEC for Education, Mrs. Reginah Mhaule

All the learners has to do is dial a toll-free number,0800 203 116, even if it is on a cell phone, and will be connected to a standby tutor. The call costs are charged to the Mpumalanga department of education.

Johan Grobler, MD of CaTS, said the software is easy to use. “The student dials a number and is able to select which subject he or she needs assistance on, be it maths, science, or history – any subject. The software is already in place and if it goes well we will be rolling out Dial-a-Tutor at all other provinces.”

Informed business decisions in the contact centre

By admin, 11 września, 2010, No Comment

The contact centre has become a key success factor when implementing  business analytics strategies, as it provides insight and valuable knowledge around the one aspect that keeps the contact centre evolving – customer behaviour.

To effectively capture the behavioural statistics that help shape contact centres of the future, businesses must understand what statistics to look for, which are critical contact centre-specific metrics and where these metrics can be found.

This is according to Ebrahim Dinat, sales and marketing director at Ocular Technologies, who says that, in order to make informed decisions, managers need access to relevant data that will help them understand current issues and make the most appropriate decisions in each instance.

“In reality, often what managers find is raw or operational data both of which are meaningless in an analytical context,” he says. “This is an unacceptable situation and contact centre managers are now faced with having to adopt more aggressive and proactive approaches to exploring the data that is inherently available in the contact centre.”

Dinat says the silent battle going on in all contact centres sees, on the one hand, enormous pressure to cut costs and keep a lean, aggressive and competitive operation and, on the other, a crucial need to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

“While these two objectives are not incompatible, getting the right balance can be challenging,” he says. “To really move from a cost to a profit centre, contact centres must be able to measure and provide insight and knowledge nuggets that are actionable so as to generate more revenue, improve customer service and drive costs down.”

He goes on to say that an effective contact centre business analytics strategy must take the several building blocks into consideration.

•     Input data – Users must be able to capture and integrate data from all available interaction channels.
•     Operational usage – Managers must provide agents and business analysts with the right tools to better serve customers.
•     Central repository – Managers must ensure that all data generated by the contact centre is centralised at a common repository to facilitate a holistic view of its customers.
•     Configuration – Deploy a system that enables fine tuning and adjustments in real-time to guarantee the success of any given campaign.
•     Business applications – The contact centre must be highly integrated within the corporate applications layer.

In order to develop and implement a powerful and effective contact centre business analytics strategy, Ocular has highlighted a few guidelines that have proven to be key to success in these endeavours. These include mapping of customer interactions; assuring data consistency through the interaction cycle; integrating data from all relevant applications; and standardising and documenting collected data, to name but a few.

“These guidelines will assist contact centre managers by unleashing the potential inherent to contact centre analytics and the value these can add to the business,” says Dinat. “There are several solutions available today that can support organisations in making the most out of contact centre data, adding analytics intelligence to decision making processes and allowing users to make informed decisions in real time.”

T-Systems cloud services now also SAP certified

By admin, 10 września, 2010, No Comment

• Michael Ressemann, Global Head of Outsourcing Services and Solution Delivery, SAP AG: “T-Systems is very mature in the field of standardisation and automation of virtualised SAP environments.”
• Over 100 customers benefit from Dynamic Services for SAP® Solutions
• Flexible, standardised and automated applications worldwide from the private cloud

SAP AG has awarded T-Systems the worldwide “SAP-Certified in Cloud Services” certificate. This makes the Deutsche Telekom subsidiary one of the first providers to offer its “Dynamic Services for SAP® Solutions “, on the market since 2004, within a cloud environment certified by SAP.

“T-Systems has demonstrated considerable maturity in the field of standardisation and automation of virtualised SAP environments. Customers benefit from the comprehensive and innovative service offerings on dynamic platforms,” said Michael Ressemann, Global Head of Outsourcing Services and Solution Delivery, SAP AG.

Says Ryan Skipp, head of global data centre technology architecture at T-Systems in South Africa: “The fact that our cloud services are now SAP certified provides us with an endorsement by the vendor. This gives our local customers  the assurance that our SAP cloud offering is recognised and supported by SAP and we will continue to work closely together in future to improve our tailored offerings for various sectors. Collaboration with our customers will also provide us with the opportunity to influence the direction of future developments with SAP, ensuring current and future customer needs and requirements are met.  The strength of our relationship with SAP is providing us with a distinct differentiator in our offering to clients. ”

More than 100 companies currently purchase their SAP applications from T-Systems via network as required. The solution is based on a platform that is open to all common operating systems and on which the customers’ SAP environments are run virtualised. This makes the applications available in a flexible, standardised and automated manner worldwide from the private cloud.

SAP has been part of T-Systems’ core business for many years. Over 1.8 million live users rely on SAP services provided by T-Systems, making it the largest SAP outsourcing company in Europe. It is also one of the first globally certified “SAP Application Management Services Providers” and one of the few certified “Global Hosting Partners” of SAP.

UltiSales sets up offices in the UK ahead of software launch

By admin, 10 września, 2010, No Comment

UltiSales Retail Software, part of the JSE listed UCS Group Ltd, South Africa’s leading retail software company,  has opened up offices in Bagshot, Surrey, in the UK, ahead of its plans to launch its latest point of sale software solution in that country. The offices will be launched via UCS Group subsidiary, Argility.

This was confirmed by Stephen Mallaby, MD of 20-year-old UltiSales, who said the new Windows-based version will be launched in the UK during September.

“We are working in conjunction with one of the UCS Group company’s – Argility -  who are also based in the UK. Part of our launch in September is to sign up a number of partners, who will have the ability to on-sell our UltiSales software in their chosen regions and markets.”

UltiSales has almost 5000 users in SA and neighboring countries, with many still using the company’s earlier Text/DOS-based versions, introduced in the 1980s.

“We believe the UK is going to be a prime market for us, as Argility is well-placed to represent us in their territory and they have the expertise in our point of sale software.”

He was unable to say how many resellers the company will be appointing. “To a large extent, it depends on their ability to be able to understand the local retail market market, and to understand and represent us on the POS software front. But, certainly, we have several contacts via Argility’s retail pedigree in the UK.”

Close on seven years of development has gone into developing the latest version of the company’s software, with Mallaby adding that there will arguably be a slow migration to the new platform from older clients. “But we are aiming to land a significant number of new clients with this new software, in SA and in the UK – and, of course, in the African countries in which we are already present.”

Microsoft’s Tech-Ed in Durban attracts top speakers

By admin, 8 września, 2010, No Comment

Sun, sea — and a hall filled with 2 500 technology geeks. That was the deal clincher for Microsoft’s chief technology officer (CTO) of Worldwide Services, Norm Judah, who has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at this year’s edition of Tech-Ed Africa 2010 in Durban.

Tech-Ed Africa 2010 is Microsoft’s premier event for IT professionals and developers, and runs from 17-20 October at Durban’s iconic International Conference Centre (ICC).

Judah is no stranger to South Africa: he earned his first degree (in electrical engineering) from Wits University before heading abroad. He has worked for Microsoft for the past 20 years, and has built an impressive reputation as a speaker and a strategic thinker around IT.

Apart from Judah, Microsoft has assembled a formidable line-up of local and international speakers for this year’s event, which will include more than 200 in-depth sessions. They include internationally recognised technology expert, bestselling author, and public speaker Michael Noel, and self-confessed geek Lynn Langit, who co-host’s the MSDN Channel 9 geekSpeak series at http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/geekSpeak/.

One of the key discussion points at Tech-Ed this year will inevitably be around cloud computing – and Microsoft South Africa’s CTO, Fred Baumhardt, says the focus will be on companies embracing the cloud on their own terms.

“Cloud computing has been a significant part of many conversations I have had recently, and the IT Professionals I talk to are looking for more guidance, standards, support and clarity as they begin to plan for cloud. To get it right, we’ll have to collaborate with the business on the answers to these key questions and about business goals and how best to bring IT experience and innovation to the table,” said Baumhardt.

Tech-Ed will also feature the announcements of several new and upcoming technologies that Microsoft believes will help enable IT professionals and developers to help their organisations save money and improve efficiencies.

These technologies include the next version of Office Communications Server, the much-awaited Windows Phone 7 Series, as well as recent releases like SQL Server 2008 R2 and Office 2010.

“It’s all about ensuring that IT professionals and developers continue to have the platform and technologies to drive maximum value and business results. Getting the most out of IT investments is even more important in today’s economy,” said Baumhardt.

More details on how to attend the event, as well as links to videos, blogs, product downloads, and other information about this year’s event, can be found at www.teched.co.za.

Follow Tech Ed Africa on Facebook (Tech-Ed Africa 2010) and on Twitter @teched_africa

C.a.T.S to launch In Nigeria

By admin, 8 września, 2010, No Comment

Telephone communication expert Computer Assisted Telephony Systems (CaTS), which generates 80% of its income from African countries, is to open  offices in Lagos, Nigeria, by the end of the year.

The company, one of a number of active business partners for IBM’s lotus Foundations Start solution – a version of Lotus specifically aimed at the small and medium enterprise business market – already has offices in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Johan Grobler, MD of CaTS, said the company anticipated spending in the region of R1 million to set up the Nigeria offices. “Nigeria is the second biggest economy in Africa after SA and we are currently short listed for a tender that, if we win it, will generate revenue of around R30 million for us. This is one of the reasons we decided to open up in Lagos. We also believe their telecommunications industry offers a lot of potential for us.”

Currently the company is using Tanzania as a launch pad into other African countries. “Our telecommunication solutions are well suited to he African market and, I believe, are also priced right. I think it is very likely that we will continue to earn the bulk of our revenue from countries outside of South Africa.”

CaTS’  is active in countries that include Lesotho, Nigeria,the DRC and Tanzania.

Grobler also said the company is working “closer and closer” with IBM.

“We also work with IBM from a unified communications point of view – as we are essentially telephony experts. But we found that our expertise fits perfectly with IBM’s Lotus solution, especially the IBM Lotus Foundation Start solution, which is expected to be a big boon to smaller companies. It is one of our core product offerings right now. We launched in SA and Tanzania recently.”

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