Archive for Sierpień, 2011

Opinion: Storage environments the ensure data security is the one of choice

By admin, 31 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Whether it is via mobile devices, databases or user generated, we are all generating a rapidly increasing amount of information and data around the globe. Chris Larkins, National PreSales Manager at AxizWorkgroup, says that it doesn’t matter where organisations are choosing to place this critical asset, as long as the environment of choice has the basics in place.

“A catastrophe for any organisation is when their storage limits their ability to do business,” says Larkins, “the chosen storage environment needs to provide relative performance, availability, security, modularity and most importantly ease of use and management.”  IT directors have got used to their day comprising of applications running out of capacity, viral videos overtaxing servers and missed deadlines to mention a few.  These directors are now looking to innovative technical features and trends to accommodate the rapidly increasing information volumes.

Larkins says that thin provisioning is one such technical feature.  He explains that this may not be a new concept but it is beginning to gain significant focus as a result of it being able to do more with less.  “The current economic climate has organisations watching costs even more closely than before and thin provisioning provides an important element in this situation,” says Larkins.  Another affirmation for this solution is that it allows companies to buy storage as and when they require it.  This enables users to take advantage of declining component costs, allows speedy response to changing business demands and maximises available funding.

Other storage solutions that are currently in the limelight include storage volume tiering and de-duplication.  Larkins says that as the value of data changes for organizations,  storage tiering provides the ability to move the data between disk types in the same logical volume ensuring that the most important and frequently used data is placed on drive technologies that provide the appropriate level of performance and availability.  “By being able to move less accessed data to a larger and lower cost drive, organisations will realise an improved return on their high cost storage investments,” says Larkins.  De-duplication on the other hand, traditionally used as a backup solution, is another method to store more on less physical capacity, thereby making it easier to move the data around.

“One of the most interesting spaces to watch in South Africa is the bandwidth challenge,” says Larkins.  “As providers make improved data bandwidth available at reduced costs we will see an increase in storage opportunities, unlocking public, private or hybrid cloud opportunities with multi-tenant capable devices.  There is no doubt that this development will bring with it a cost effective disaster recovery and data availability solution.

The industry is moving away from large form factor drives and fibre channel drives towards small form factor SAS based drives and systems while capacity points continue to increase with declining costs resulting in more value for clients.

Larkins says that one of the newer trends is FCoE.  This solution has allowed for storage traditionally accessed by using fibre channel components in the enterprise environment, to now be connected using Ethernet standards.  FCoE leverages these traditional Ethernet skills making management easier.

When considering these technologies it is important for organisations that their chosen solution enables them to create structures swiftly and straightforwardly, move data around, back-up, replicate and most importantly that they are able to present the data.  In conclusion Larkins says that as more data is generated, the more it needs to be made readily available, to allow users access to the information effectively and efficiently. “Ensuring that this is information is available is of utmost importance.”

HansaWorld releases app on Android

By admin, 31 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

HansaWorld’s Mobile Reports app was made available on the Android Market internationally as far back as April, confirms the vendor’s South Africa country manager Johani Marais.

“As the name implies, Mobile Reports provides the Android user with immediate insights into the status of their business. It is a client for the HansaWorld Enterprise ERP solution, delivering over 400 standard reports based on data held on back office systems, in real time to the handset,” she says.

While mobility is generally regarded as a central feature of the personal and business technology of the future, Marais explains the significance of the Android platform to a vendor like HansaWorld: “While HansaWorld has always been strong on Apple – as one of the few ERP vendors which can natively deploy to an Apple environment – Android offers unique advantages for software developers,” she says.

These advantages include Android’s open nature; it can be (and is) used by a broad range of handset manufacturers. It also provides interoperability across devices. “The tablet is emerging as a desirable addition to the personal technology of many people. Android has emerged as the platform of choice for tablets outside of Apple’s products, providing complete hardware and software support to allow users to get the most from tablet computers,” Marais says. In short, Android apps are as at home on a smartphone as they are on a tablet.

That gets to another important point in HansaWorld’s decision to develop apps for the Android platform: “The more users there are who have devices based on any given platform, the better the reach of your app and the more value you can add to customers by creating mobile apps,” Marais points out. “Already Gartner puts the Android market share at some 38% and it expects it to increase to near 50% by 2012. As a vendor creating an app for a platform with this level of penetration, there is some certainty that a lot of customers have the necessary handset to use that app.”

That much is reflected in the fact that several hundred thousand apps are available for Android. “The interest of the developer community in the mobile platform is significant: developers seek to create applications which will appeal to the mass market. They do not develop for niche platforms, generally, since by doing so they would limit their opportunities.”

More than that, Marais points to Android’s status as a Google product, from which further confidence can be drawn in the backing behind the mobile operating system. “Google is known for its innovation and its ability to provide astoundingly good software to most of its customer base at no apparent cost to them. With this kind of support and a market which is proven to be highly receptive, Android is likely to remain the platform of choice for more mobile ERP applications – certainly from HansaWorld.”

Opinion: The Science of IT Monitoring

By admin, 31 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Companies spend obscene amounts of money on IT infrastructure and software applications.  These systems should incorporate a business-centric monitoring solution that reports on performance on all tiers within the IT stack, says Rudi Barnard, General Manager at EOH Application Management.  “More importantly, it needs to act as an early warning system if something should go wrong. It is an invaluable source of information in our online era of business functionality, where you simply cannot afford to hear from a client that your online banking system is down.”

“The inherent problem with monitoring systems is that companies utilise them in silos.  It invariably means that various monitoring systems are at play at any given time to report on each individual network, infrastructure and database.  These systems are rarely integrated and often overlap in functionality,” explains Barnard.

Clients are becoming aware of this fact, which has sparked an emerging trend that sees clients collaborating with IT specialists to design a fully integrated monitoring strategy.  “The client understands their business environment and often has a pretty solid grasp of what that monitoring system should deliver.  As an IT specialist, I have the knowledge to provide that system to the client.  When those two aspects are combined, you suddenly find yourself working towards a common goal with a clear understanding of the vision behind it.”

“We find that in most cases the entire monitoring process and strategy has to be taken back to the drawing board in order to disseminate it from a business perspective and to re-engineer the process, utilising all the skills at our disposal,” says Barnard.

Consolidation is the coin phrase of the decade in the face of the prevailing economic environment where expenditure needs to be kept under wraps, says Barnard.  “It is pertinent to consider the tools that the client invested in and to evaluate whether those tools are able to provide the desired capability as a service.  Streamlining processes and infrastructure is one of the main solutions that will aid organisations to save on maintenance and human capital.”

The resulting monitoring system will be able to provide a comprehensive business overview of the entire company’s IT product functionality.  “It will allow the user to pull business data out of the system that can be utilised for business planning and decision making.  It will provide insightful information to the user such as knowing exactly how much revenue is lost due to sluggish system performance or downtime.

Finding a balance between IT delivery and business needs remains a science.  “Many organisations simply sell an IT tool to address this dilemma. It is however the biggest mistake an organisation can make as these ‘drop and go’ approach vendors will cost companies dearly in the long run. Tools will not magically drive the methodology or integration and will certainly not ensure that specific solutions are built to provide Business and IT value. EOH Application Management specialises in the design of custom solutions that will get to the heart of the matter.  In doing so, we are able to provide something visionary that is invaluable to our customers,” concludes Barnard.

HP announces VirtualSystem for VMWare

By admin, 31 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

As virtualisation has gained adoption, multi-tier network architectures, virtual sprawl, inflexible storage, unpredictable workloads and security concerns have increased complexity and limited broad deployment. To help midsize to large organisations address these challenges, HP VirtualSystem for VMware includes virtualised HP Networking solutions, HP Converged Storage, HP BladeSystem servers, HP Insight software with on-site installation services.

Built on HP Converged Infrastructure, HP VirtualSystem features architectural innovations and services that help eliminate virtualisation complexity, consolidate IT infrastructure and improve performance, enabling clients to:

  • Accelerate virtual machine mobility by up to 40 percent while doubling throughput and reducing network recovery time by more than 500 times with the new HP FlexFabric virtualised networking solution;
  • Cut capacity requirements by 50 percent, double virtual machine density, and speed deployment with HP LeftHand and HP 3PAR Storage Systems;
  • Improve virtual server operations with HP Insight Control for VMware vCentre Server, which alerts IT administrators and allows for remote troubleshooting and management;
  • Align virtualisation strategy and investments to business goals with consulting, planning, preintegration, deployment and support services from HP Technology Services and HP ServiceONE partners.

“Virtualisation has become mainstream for clients, but there are obstacles to broad deployment,” said Frank van Rees, MD and Enterprise Business Lead, HP South Africa. “With HP VirtualSystem for VMware, clients can simplify and scale their virtualisation deployments to provide a clear path to the cloud.”

“Companies need solutions that enable them to move from siloed stacks of infrastructure to pools of technology resources that can be shared and delivered as application services in real time,” said Gary Green, vice president, Global Strategic Alliances, VMware. “HP VirtualSystem for VMware helps customers streamline their virtualisation projects today and transition to cloud computing in the future.”

Rapid time to revenue for channel partners

HP VirtualSystem is modular and easily optimised for midsize businesses, helping channel partners to sell and speed time to value. HP VirtualSystem for VMware offers partners faster time to revenue via streamlined and simplified solution sales and delivery of HP-optimised VMware solutions.

In addition to delivering HP VirtualSystem for VMware solutions, partners can customise HP Virtualisation Smart Bundles. These are optimised configurations that deliver predictable performance and reduce complexity with modular components to add performance and capacity as needed.

Norton warns consumers about online security

By admin, 31 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Recently, federal agents in the US arrested members of a cybercrime gang, which singlehandedly had victimized one million people with fake antivirus (AV) scams.  In fact, millions of people have fallen for these types of scams, in which hackers infect consumers’ computers and steal their money by convincing them to buy fake AV software that looks legitimate.   For consumers looking to stay safe online, they are faced with a dizzying array of Internet security options – from free to paid to fake.

According to a new study from Norton done in the US, consumers are confused about how to choose the right security software, with 60 percent of respondents stating that they “…don’t understand…” or only “…somewhat understand…” the difference between paid and free security products.  The study also found that consumers clearly value their digital privacy, with 71 percent refusing to accept one million dollars in exchange for allowing strangers unlimited access to the information on their computer.

“The high value that Americans put on their online privacy shows that we’re beginning to understand how vital our digital information truly is,” said Cali Lewis, a technology journalist for GeekBeat.TV in the US. “Cybercriminals are out to gain access to our personal information and use it for their own monetary gain. Consumers shouldn’t rely on a run-of-the-mill security product to protect an invaluable asset like their digital privacy; instead, they should choose the strongest, best quality protection possible.”

How can people cut through the clutter and find the best protection for their invaluable digital privacy?  According to Norton Internet Safety Advocate Marian Merritt, consumers should keep these tips in mind:

Start with strong, unique passwords – use different passwords for all of your accounts. Otherwise, if a hacker gets control of one, they get control of all of them. Additionally your passwords should be at least seven characters, contain a number or symbol, not include dictionary words or names, but still be something you can remember. Choose a product from a trusted brand known for its expertise in security and purchase from a trusted source. Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly evolving their methods and a well-known provider will have the resources and expertise to keep up. The security software from Norton offers comprehensive protection based on the way users actually behave online.

Buyer beware: Make sure you know the difference between freeware, fake AV, and paid security solutions.  To ensure your identity is safe as you shop, bank, socialize and surf online, use security software such as Norton 360 that provides identity protection and proactive protection against known and unknown threats such as viruses, spyware and phishing attacks before they do damage to your computer.

Companies must meet Employment Equity requirements by 01 October 2011

By admin, 31 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Although the electronic deadline has not yet been confirmed by the Department, companies intending to submit electronic returns will have more time, with the deadline likely to be mid-January 2012. The additional time allowed is to encourage companies to convert to electronic submissions.

Grant Lloyd, managing director of payroll and HR software specialist Softline Pastel Payroll, points out that companies with less than 150 employees but more than 50, who are required to submit only every second year, must send in their reports this year. Companies with more than 150 employees submit every year. This year it is companies with more than 50 employees that have to submit their returns by 1 October.

In July 2009 amendments were made to simplify the information required for the Employment Equity reporting process. The EEA2 and EEA4 reports have been reduced from 23 pages to 12 pages and from 12 pages to 4 pages respectively. The EEA1 form remains unchanged at one page.

“This makes reporting easier and employers with payroll software that accommodates the amended reporting templates will find all of the information necessary to accurately complete the return resides conveniently in their payroll system,” says Lloyd. “This data can be automatically extracted and pre-populated into the required report formats.”

Companies using spreadsheets to compile reports must first ensure that the changes in reporting layouts applied last year have been accommodated so that their spreadsheet submissions are fully compliant and penalties are avoided.

SAP partners with the LCA for African development

By admin, 29 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

SAP business software company as a blue chip patron and partner of the Leadership for Conservation in Africa (LCA), highlighted it’s commitment towards sustainability at the commencement of the sixth LCA Council Meeting launch, held on Thursday 25 August at the SAP offices in Johannesburg.

More than 80 delegates from Africa and several global delegates were present including, Minister Henri Djombo: the Minister of Forestry Economics for the Republic of Congo, Mrs Sabine Plattner, International business woman and philanthropist and Mr. Chris Marais, CEO of the LCA.

The LCA announced its 20/20 vision to positively influence, accelerate and bring about the protection of 20 million hectares of rain forests and selected eco-systems in Sub-Saharan Africa by the year 2020.   This vision builds on the LCA mandate to restore and develop the land under conversation to the benefit of the environment, local communities and the government.  Other blue chip patrons of the LCA include Gold Fields Limited, Standard Bank, Veolia Water Solutions, Sabine Plattner African Charities, Hasso Plattner Foundation and the Howard G Buffet Foundation.

Ian Cockerill, Chairman of the LCA Board, comments “The purpose of the LCA is primarily to establish a link between business and conservation, by influencing both national and international business leaders to support investment in the development of Africa conservation-related resources. We have done exactly this by partnering with SAP as one of our blue-chip patrons and we look forward to the great successes that we can accomplish together.”

Successes of the LCA include the recent launch of the Odzala Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo. The LCA successfully facilitated a 30 year Public Private Partnership to ensure the protection of 1,354,600ha pristine rainforest which led to job creation, community intervention with the inclusion of education as well as driving revenue into Congo through tourism development. As a result Odzala has become a pilot project and a model on which the future initiatives in Africa could be moulded.

Sunil Geness Corporate Affairs Executive of SAP Africa comments “SAP have been recognised by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as the leading software company for the past two years and the outcome of this recognition has hinged upon SAP utilising its own software to monitor and report on amongst others the utilisation of energy, commuting and our carbon impact.   We believe that the LCA can benefit from the knowledge and experience of SAP in the sustainability arena.   Ultimately SAP views the LCA as a strategic initiative that is critical to sustainability and development efforts in one of the most resource rich continents in the World- Africa.”

FNB Cellphone Banking cash withdrawl a success

By admin, 29 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Cash Withdrawal using Cellphone Banking is a solution that enables FNB customers to withdraw money from an FNB ATM without the need of a bank card directly from their transactional account.

Ravesh Ramlakan, CEO of FNB Cellphone Banking Solutions says, “We are overwhelmed by the customer take-up of this solution. We believe this is due to the safety and convenience of Cellphone Banking.”

“In hindsight, with Cash Withdrawal there’s no risk of card skimming, as the customer does not need to use their bank card at the ATM,” adds Ramlakan.

The bank launched this solution in March this year — the first of its kind in the South African and African market.

“Technology has enabled us to respond quickly and proactively to our customers’ needs by providing them with innovative solutions. We’ve found that very few people forget their cellphones at home when going to work for example, but quite often people forget their wallets or misplace their debit cards in the car and only realize they don’t have their wallets or debit card when they get to an ATM. Cash Withdrawal becomes the obvious choice in these instances,” notes Ramlakan.

Ramlakan points out that banking in South Africa is currently at an exciting phase. South Africa is at the forefront of shaping banking trends in Africa and possibly influencing some of the worlds banking trends. We are still one of the few countries where the number of cellphone banking users surpass those on online banking and the only one in Africa to offer a cardless cash withdrawal solution.

“There is no doubt that cardless solutions are the future of banking. We expect to see more banks adopt cardless ATM withdrawal solutions in the near future, given the current popularity and market demand for the service,” concludes Ramlakan.

Adapt IT implements ITIL improve customer service

By admin, 29 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Local information technology service provider Adapt IT has more than 4000 users in over 25 sites across Africa, in the Middle East and North America. These sites generate more than 1500 customer support calls a month that need to be responded to by consultants across various business units within Adapt IT Solutions. “In response to the company’s growth and as a result of the increasingly competitive market that we operate in, Adapt IT identified the need to improve the quality of our customer service,” says service delivery manager Jacqui Stievenart. “The challenges of providing services efficiently were immense prior to implementing the ITIL framework. In addition, a number of service teams across different business units were interacting with the same customers using different approaches. We wanted to streamline and standardise our service management processes across the business so that all customers could expect the same high level of proactive service with more mature processes and capabilities,” she explains.

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the most widely adopted approach to IT service management across the globe, and provides a practical, no-nonsense framework for identifying, planning, delivering and supporting IT services. “ITIL is a mature best practice framework for service management. It is an industry standard that provides a set of guidelines for how to deliver IT services more efficiently by improving management processes across IT business units that provide support services for networks, applications, databases and systems,” says Stievenart.  The five core guides set out in the ITIL system include the entire service lifecycle, beginning with the identification of customer needs and drivers of IT requirements, through to the design and implementation of the service into operation and finally, on to the monitoring and improvement phase of the service.

The main drivers for the ITIL implementation project at Adapt IT are to increase user and customer satisfaction by introducing a customer focused service culture and to increase staff awareness of service management; improve service availability; improve resource usage, and to realise financial savings that can be passed onto customers by providing more efficient services. “ITIL is about having processes in place that enable the people, software and hardware you do have to work better so ultimately the need to fight fires diminishes, “explains Stievenart.

Over the last two years since the framework implementation began, Adapt IT has successfully defined and implemented ITIL processes that are applicable to its IT service offerings. Stievenart said that the company has implemented the Service Request Management, Change Management, Problem Management, Service Level Management and Configuration Management processes of the framework.  It is in the process of finalising Release Management. The company is now able to measure service management processes with continual monitoring and improvement. Overall, the ITIL implementation has resulted in improved service awareness, reduced self-inflicted incidents, increased staff productivity, reduced service cycle times and improved governance.

“Implementation of the ITIL best practice framework is not an overnight success story, but takes a great deal of time and commitment to manage the change in the organisation in a phased approach,” says Stievenart. “A great deal of focus has been placed on the service operation area of the business as there were large efficiency gains to be made in this area. The clearly delineated incident and problem-management functions within the operations have helped to move the organisation from being a reactive service provider to being more proactive in resolving issues permanently,” she explains.

“From the onset of the project, we realised that we needed a technology-driven solution to increase the efficiencies to be gained from structured service management – but this could only be addressed once we had defined and implemented the necessary processes.  We need to be able to work smarter, not harder, and we are now ready implement a new ITSM solution in line with the rest of our corporate goals of efficiency and best practice. Our existing 12 year old customer service system is not scalable,” Stievenart said. “It is both cumbersome and time-consuming, and was no longer able to support the goals of the business moving forward without considerable financial and time investment. We have selected the FrontRange ITSM system and are thrilled to be implementing a world class solution to support the ITSM processes that have already been put in place. Implementation of the new solution began in August and the project is expected to run for three months.  We are extremely excited to be able to deliver best practice service management and support services to our customers” concludes Stievenart.

South Africa named among top 3 emerging BPO destinations

By admin, 29 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

The survey aims to understand companies’ perceptions and plans in terms of choosing global service locations and is made up of 340 respondents across multiple sectors (buyers, service providers and other).

The survey excludes India and the Philippines and focuses on emerging destinations such as South Africa, China, Brazil, Poland, Egypt, Ireland, Morocco, Costa Rico, Mexico and Singapore.

The results of the survey highlight destinations that are most likely to benefit from offshoring in 2011 and beyond. The results are divided into four specific job categories:

  • (0 – 1,000) -  South Africa placed 2nd, behind Singapore.
  • (1,000 – 5,000) – South Africa placed 5th, with China in 1st position, 7% ahead of South Africa.
  • (5,000 – 10,000) – South Africa placed 2nd, behind Brazil.
  • (10,000 +) – South Africa placed 1st ahead of Brazil.

“Being listed as one of the top three emerging offshoring locations worldwide is a huge vote of confidence, especially when you consider the quality of service destinations out there,” says Gareth Pritchard CEO of BPeSA Western Cape.

According to leading BPO analyst John Willmott MD of Nelson Hall, South Africa will experience substantial growth in the next few years, with continued BPO investment from the UK as well as increased interest from Australia and potentially the U.S.

“On the back of information from recent offshoring reports, analyst events and investor visits, South Africa is definitely heading in the right direction and I am confident that we will see substantial offshoring investment in the next few years,” adds Pritchard.

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