Archive for Październik, 2011

Opinion: Automotive connected intelligence – the future sooner than you think

By admin, 5 października, 2011, No Comment

By Dr Andrew Hutchison, expert for intelligent networks at T-Systems in South Africa

The concept of Intelligent Networks today extends to include key growth points within the ICT realm. It is the energy, automotive and healthcare sectors in particular which are considered to be major areas to benefit from networks that offer integrated, intelligent and interconnected functionality.

In the case of energy, Intelligent Networks are enabling “smart grids” that allow energy suppliers to provide a better balance of supply and demand.

Smart grids enable better management of transmission and distribution, while so called smart meters provide better visibility and management of energy consumption.

Healthcare is another area where Intelligent Networks have huge potential.

Benefits of cost savings, and more significantly of improved medical practices, can be realised through remote diagnostics and monitoring.

Electronic health records and real-time remote monitoring can allow lifestyle benefits with the simultaneous equivalent of high care.

While T-Systems is pursuing Smart Grids and Healthcare as two of the tenets of its Intelligent Network activities, it is the third focus area – that of the Connected Car – which has seen recent advances and around which exciting prospects are emerging.

The platform is the crux

T-Systems’ Connected Car platform is designed to enable various services for different user groups and different devices in connection with vehicle related, traffic related and user related services. The range of ‘customers’

of those services extends from drivers, forwarding companies and insurance companies to road operators and other authorities. The platform is open to a wide range of services and applications.

The Connected Car platform is a concept whereby vehicle electronics are combined with software and services inside and outside the vehicle to form a single unit, creating the necessary pre-conditions for vehicle communication with its environment.

The T-Systems platform consists of client services (which would typically happen in the vehicle) and cloud services (whereby over-the-air access to services such as security, monitoring, diagnostics, information etc. could be obtained). Having implemented a replica of its private-cloud engine in South Africa, T-Systems already has the secure, cloud environment required to provide these platform services.  We are working with global and local vehicle manufacturers to determine how and when the vehicle platform will become a reality, and this extends into South Africa as well.

To explain a bit more about the Connected Car platform, it is based on open architecture integrating with various client technologies including embedded systems. By means of this, a wide range of applications can be offered on the platform and the concept allows for integration both at the vehicle device/client element and at the data centre/cloud element. These elements are connected via mobile communication standards. Of course security and performance are key attributes that need to be managed, and these are important components of the Connected Car platform.

In addition to the actual vehicle enablement that the Connected Car provides, the creation of high speed connections between cars and the outside world will also enable more seamless streaming of music, video, data, navigation and so on to vehicles. Many solutions are already in progress or being provided to address this goal.  It is expected that in the near future digital content will be at our finger tips, in our cars.

However, this in-vehicle version of our connected world will have to be safe, and online services must be driver-friendly; for example, using intuitive touch screen applications or voice controls to keep driver distraction to a minimum.

It is not only drivers that stand to benefit from the Intelligent Networks in the automotive industry. Fleet operators, for example, can view data that indicates the need for a trip to the garage and, importantly, they can monitor carbon emissions. Moreover, vehicle-related data will be sent automatically to repair shops and traffic updates will be sent to cars and traffic control centres.

The now

Another associated benefit of efficient vehicle routing and management is the environmental opportunity. Already, T-Systems has been involved in technology that reduces road transport and importantly allows for savings and optimisation.  Together with DHL in Germany, T-Systems created a network of parcel drop-off and collection points, enabling customers to collect at their convenience.

It was estimated by an external consultancy that this system cut out journeys made by customers of around 3.3 million km per year, and saved DHL an additional 600 000km through better internal logistics.

Major automotive manufacturers have already introduced option packages which include electronic navigation systems and access to the Internet.  With the vision of the Connected Car platform this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There is a whole depth of planned vehicle enablement that provides opportunities for an integrated value chain around vehicle services. While co-operation between OEMs, fleet operators, insurers, traffic authorities and individual drivers is required, the Connected Car platform is an ‘open’

concept in the sense that it can be expanded to incorporate many aspects relating to vehicle automation with its associated benefits.

MWEB increases underserviced area internet investment

By admin, 5 października, 2011, No Comment

Silulo Ulutho Technologies (Silulo) has opend its 18th store in Blue Downs in the Western Cape with the assistance of MWEB.

Blue Downs is the fourth of five stores to be opened as a result of the MWEB investment, which totals R1.1 million over the past two years.  The first three were opened in Khayelitsha, Philippi and Du Noon. The fifth shop is planned for Delft.

Carolyn Holgate, MWEB Connect General Manager, says Silulo’s story is a remarkable one given that its founders, Luvuyo and Lonwabe Rani, began by selling PCs out of the boot of their car in 2004.

“Silulo was a natural fit for MWEB as we share the vision of taking the Internet to the people of South Africa. What excites us about Silulo is the diversity of its offering, which includes services like Internet access, training, desktop support and communication facilities for people in underserviced areas,” Holgate says.

The store, which is situated in the Cavalier Retail Centre, was opened by Alderman Belinda Walker, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning. The event was also attended by Solly Fourie, Head of Department for Economic Development and Tourism, who assisted with the handover of two bursaries for Basic Computer Skills Training, sponsored by Silulo.

Luvuyo Rani says it’s the 18th Silulo store to open in five and a half years after the first store opened in 2006. A total of 11 of the stores are one-stop centres with training, support and Internet access; five are training centres; and two are Internet cafés.

“We’ve trained over 1600 people in 2011 and currently have 60 staff. Along with providing Internet access and general office services, we also offer on-site support for small to medium enterprises, homes, schools and churches,” he says.

Holgate says Silulo’s vision will draw more people into the digital economy.

“Silulo has proved themselves to be pioneers in servicing the needs of the community in these areas by not only providing Internet access, but also by equipping people to use the Internet effectively. Its initiatives like these that stimulate business growth as people are given the opportunity to communicate more effectively,” she says.

Centres like Silulo are of vital importance to small businesses, school leavers and the unemployed because they make technology and Internet connectivity available to large groups of people.

This is supported by research figures from World Wide Worx, which state that over 8 million people will access the Internet in 2011, a 50 percent increase from 2009. In 2009, 5.3 million South Africans had Internet access. This has grown to 7.5 million currently.

Rani says Silulo is expanding into other provinces as well. The first Silulo store in the Eastern Cape is expected to open in Queenstown before the end of the year and another store is scheduled to open in Umtata in January 2012

“In five years time we expect to be in every province in South Africa,” he says.

Companies Act creates issues for “close corps”

By admin, 5 października, 2011, No Comment

“The way small businesses are treated is absolutely critical to the entire economy,” says Bowman Gilfillan corporate lawyer Carl Stein. “The 1984 Close Corporations Act was intended to create an easier climate for small businesses and it’s been an unqualified success. CCs now outnumber companies by eight or nine to one and the vast majority of businesses are operated via CCs.”

The Companies Act originally set out to scrap CCs altogether, says Stein, “but that changed at the last minute and the Act just forbade new registrations from May 1 when the Act came into force. So CCs can still exist – but their legal status has changed considerably.”

“The Close Corporations Act has been subjected to major surgery to bring it into line with the Companies Act,” says Stein. “So even though there is still an entity called a CC, it is now bound by certain rules that weren’t designed for it at all.”

The most significant change, says Stein’s co-author Geoff Everingham of UCT, is that CCs are no longer automatically excluded from the need to be audited. “CCs will now have to calculate their Public Interest Score every year, the same as any other company, to see if they must legally be audited,” he says. “The score is calculated based on the number of employees, the amount of debt owed to third parties, turnover and the number of shareholders.”

“It basically means CCs no longer enjoy any advantages over companies,” says Everingham. “Apart from the potential audit requirement, CCs are also now subject to the same rules relating to business rescue and liquidations.”

The practical consequences remain to be seen, he says. “The only certainty is that life is going to get a lot more complex for most CCs. The entire CC Act is just 83 sections and 60 pages long; the new Companies Act is 225 sections, plus a couple of hundred pages of regulations. Most people will probably just go into reaction mode – carry on doing what they’ve always done until there’s a problem. It’s a very inefficient way of doing things.”

“If government wants to encourage small business then this is sending the wrong message,” says Stein. “In general the new Companies Act is welcome and necessary, but in this one area which affects millions of people, I believe they have erred.”

Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 7025 a hit among hotels

By admin, 5 października, 2011, No Comment

Says Michael Fletcher, Sales Director for Ruckus Wireless, Sub-Saharan Africa; “The ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi wall switch integrates 802.11n Wi-Fi technology with wired Ethernet ports in a small-footprint wall jack, giving hotel and resort operators an elegant, low-cost and inconspicuous device that allows them to leverage their existing wired infrastructure to deliver an ever expanding set of IP-based guest services over multiple virtual LANs (VLANs).”

Hoteliers like Kerzner International Resorts, owners of the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas, are currently using the Ruckus wall switch to offer High Definition video on demand, mini bar services, temperature control, and high-speed wired and wireless access, with the highest performance and at the lowest cost per room.

For many hoteliers, early Wi-Fi implementations are no longer able to keep up with the flood of wireless-only devices and bandwidth-demanding applications being used by guests and staff. Additionally, as many new services and hotel devices embrace IP as the preferred method of connectivity and management, the need for a converged wired and wireless network has quickly become a necessity.

Kerzner International was looking to upgrade the property’s Wi-Fi network, it was also looking to replace an obsolete network of in-room VLAN switches in the 1,200-room Royal Towers. Rather than explore new options which would have required installing more Ethernet ports and essentially doing a new build-out, Kerzner turned to its integration partner, Red One Networks, which recommended the Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switch for the price and performance advantages it offered.

“The Ruckus wall switch was a perfect match,” said Tim Lawson, vice president of sales for Red One. “It met all of the resort’s needs for wired and wireless connectivity while allowing them to continue using their existing infrastructure, and delivered better performance at a much lower cost than other solutions they evaluated. And because of its controller-based architecture, which the previous Wi-Fi system lacked, the resort’s IT team can easily add more switches and access points over time, knowing they can easily support and manage them from one central location.”

Currently the Atlantis has installed hundreds of ZoneFlex 7025 wall switches, one in every third guest room. Each wall switch includes four VLAN-capable wired Ethernet ports – three of which are used for high-definition IPTV, the mini bar and wired Internet access. The entire network is centrally managed with three Ruckus ZoneDirector 3000s, which allow the hotel’s IT staff to easily monitor performance of each access point, troubleshoot problems and configure network settings to support varying usage patterns.

Adds Fletcher; “The reality is that in hotels around the world Ethernet cabling is limited – areas such as guest rooms, the front desk, conference rooms, meeting spaces and business centres lack Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi coverage. Deployed as a standalone device or centrally managed by any Ruckus ZoneDirector wireless LAN controller or Ruckus FlexMaster Wi-Fi management system, the ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi wall switch is ideal for the hotel industry as it reduces the cost and complexity of installing and managing wired and wireless network services.”

Concludes Fletcher; “As the demand for Wi-Fi connectivity increases in light of a more mobile consumers, Ruckus Wireless are proud to be at the forefront of innovative Wi-Fi solutions for the hotel industry – where we have already begun implementing our solutions to hotels operating in the South African market, with the aim of assisting this sector in meeting the needs of its customers.”

Altron intrim financial results announced

By admin, 5 października, 2011, No Comment

In the Altron intrim financial results, revenue decreased marginally by 2% to R11.5 billion and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) decreased 6% to R932 million against the comparative period in August 2010.

“Altron’s diversified portfolio, which comprises investments in the telecommunications, power electronics, multi-media and IT sectors, provides a certain amount of resilience during the volatile market conditions that we are currently experiencing.  We saw an excellent performance from the Bytes group, with Powertech and Altech experiencing some issues in certain of their businesses, resulting in a muted overall performance from these two groups,” said Altron Chief Executive, Robert Venter.

Bytes reported good results from virtually all of its operations, with EBITDA improving by 19% to R246 million despite revenue decreasing by 6% to just under R3 billion.  If the effect of the National Health Services UK contract (which was once-off in nature) in the prior period is excluded, revenues would have shown growth of 9%.

“Bytes Systems Integration and Bytes Managed Solutions were the star performers although almost all of the businesses within the Bytes group showed good profitable growth,” said Venter.

The good results from Bytes were primarily achieved from organic growth although the group did conclude the acquisition of security software distributer, Security Partnerships Limited, on 1 August 2011. The acquisition complements the existing software services business in the UK.

“The Security Partnerships acquisition helps us to diversify the Bytes UK business, which historically focussed principally on Xerox distribution and Microsoft licencing,” said Venter.

Altech’s revenue increased by 1% to R4.8 billion on prior year levels and EBITDA declined by 10% to R456 million.  Altech Autopage Cellular, Altech Netstar and Arrow Altech Distribution performed well but the group was influenced by tough market conditions in both Altech East Africa and Altech West Africa.

Altech continued the acquisition trend within the Altron group, acquiring two business post the interim period i.e. Eyenza Mobile Money, an e-wallet based payments system, and SetOne GmbH, a Germany-based supplier of digital video broadcasting (DVB) based products and solutions company. Both of these companies will only start contributing toward Altech’s bottom-line from the next reporting period.

Powertech’s transformer, batteries and system integrators businesses performed exceptionally well but the group’s overall performance was impacted by the cable business which was negatively influenced by the difficult market conditions in Iberia, the continued subdued state of the building and construction industry and the two week Metalworkers strike in July 2011. Powertech’s revenue remained stable when compared to the previous interim period, declining marginally by 2% to R3.7 billion. EBITDA, however, reduced by 13% to R233 million.

“Powertech has done extensive analysis on costs and efficiency over the last few years and this is set to continue for the remaining six months of the financial year.  The cable business in particular with benefit from these efficiencies once the building and construction sector recovers,” said Venter.

On 3 October, Powertech entered into a Joint Venture with EnerSys, a NYSE listed, global leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications, by selling 50.1% of its industrial battery business incorporating Battery Technologies, Rentech and Willard Industrial Division to EnerSys. The transaction, which combines the technological know-how of both entities, provides Powertech with access to new products and markets in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Going forward, Altron will focus on growing revenue while leveraging off the low cost base that has been achieved over the last few years.  This will be done by focusing on both organic growth and further acquisitions. Special attention will also be paid to getting the currently underperforming businesses back on track.”

IMMIX Network Solutions rebrands as Triple4

By admin, 5 października, 2011, No Comment

“The new name and corporate identity reflects the new shareholding structure of the company in which ContinuitySA holds 50 percent and the directors 50 percent,” says Kevin Mortimer, MD of Triple4. “It also recognises the strong value proposition we have taken to the market and the enthusiasm with which it has been accepted.”

Triple4 traces its birth back to 2007 when IMMIX Network Solutions was founded. “Our basic premise is that IT has moved from being a useful business tool to the platform on which businesses actually run. We offer our clients a way to elevate their IT infrastructures to that level, so that their IT is truly operating at the level required to help them realise their business strategies,” Mortimer explains. “The key to our success is that we really take the trouble to understand our clients’ businesses—and then provide them with the total IT infrastructure solution they need to make those plans a reality. Our clients are typically companies who understand the role that IT plays in their success, and want to build a long-term relationship with a trusted supplier.”

Triple4 offers a range of services to clients from micro companies to large-scale enterprises like Fintech, Ocean Basket, Collect-A-Can and Aspen Pharmacare. Professional Services provides the consulting that is the essential first step to getting the right level of IT infrastructure. Outsourced Services offers traditional outsourcing with onsite personnel, but the increasingly popular approach is Managed Services, in which the vast bulk of the management is done remotely. “It’s all a question of how mature the client organization is in terms of its approach to IT,” notes Mortimer. “We can offer an appropriate mix of outsourced and managed services to suit what the client needs.”

Finally, Triple4 also offers Hosting Services, in terms of which infrastructure is provided as a true service. In this area, Triple4 hosts Capacity on Demand production environments, replication continuity services and now Microsoft Exchange and Lync as a service. “Our relationship with ContinuitySA adds tremendously to our hosted continuity offering because now clients can access total workspace recovery down to parking bays as well,” says Mortimer. “Our hosting option is truly flexible because we allow companies the flexibility to scale up and down, something that few South African providers offer, as well as the cost benefits. We are also a true cloud provider in that we have invested in our own equipment, which is housed in data centres around the country, with negotiations with an international data centre well advanced.”

Mimecast partners with Velocity MIS

By admin, 4 października, 2011, No Comment

Velocity MIS is the first of Mimecasts partners to offer true Infrastructure-as-a-Service. The virtual Exchange server provision brings the cost savings, functionality and flexibility benefits of the private cloud. The partnership eliminates the two most substantial barriers to Exchange 2010 migration: hardware costs and fear of data loss and downtime.

Grant Hodgkinson, business development director at Mimecast SA says, Mimecasts Migration Assist offer supports companies wishing to migrate to Exchange 2010 by removing risk of lost data and downtime. Another hurdle to migration is the cost of the hardware needed to support the upgrade. A need elegantly and cost efficiently met by vMIS¹s virtual server solution.

By provisioning a client¹s virtual Exchange server in a private cloud, velocity MIS removes the burden on the customer to buy, manage and maintain the hardware for the migration, says Brendan Haskins, business unit manager at velocity MIS. This lowers both the long term and short term costs associated with such a significant hardware upgrade, but with a service level agreement guaranteed 99.999 uptime in a locally hosted data centre.

Another significant benefit of a virtual model is the speed of implementation. My team recently provisioned a Windows Server 2008 virtual machine in three minutes for a client. It doesn¹t get faster than that, says Haskins.

Local hosting of data is becoming an important issue in South Africa as issues of data jurisdiction, reliability of international connectivity and packet latency effect the compliance, delivery and uptime of email.

Email is a mission-critical infrastructure service, says Hodgkinson. It’s not something to take a risk on. With support on Exchange 2003 coming to an end it is time companies considered the safest, fastest and most cost effective way to migrate to Exchange 2010. This partnership offers some great alternatives to the buy and supply model of old.

Businesses upgrading to Exchange 2010 can obtain free use (without commitment) of Mimecasts continuity service for six months. This ensures any risk of downtime is mitigated. In addition, velocity MIS is offering Mimecast customers a bandwidth inclusive deal with a two-month free trial.

The combination means the key risks inherent in a migration are mitigated. velocity MIS and Mimecast have essentially de-risked the entire process, says Hodgkinson.

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