Archive for Luty, 2012

DCC and Targus deliver a new range of products to protect the iPad

By admin, 29 lutego, 2012, No Comment

The era of mobility is upon us and technology is spawning more and more devices that keep us connected, working and entertained while on the move. An example is the current tablet PC ‘boom’ that is taking the world by storm. One such brand that is making its mark is the Apple iPad. Before users got used to the iPad 1, the iPad 2 had been launched and we are expecting the next iteration in April 2012.

For these enthusiasts, there is nothing more frustrating than having to contend with scratches on their iPad. Many users have realised the necessity to protect this ever important asset – whether using their iPad for e-mailing, watching movies or browsing the Internet – but are overwhelmed with the choice of accessories, skins, sleeves, cases, covers and brands best suited for their iPad.

“The Targus range of products offer protection for ease, as we see many people identify their iPad as an investment and an everyday tool,” says Heinrich Pretorius, Targus Product Specialist at distributors Drive Control Corporation (DCC). “Protecting your iPad is vital as it gives your iPad a longer lifespan, so whether you purchase a case, sleeve or slipcase, the Targus range will suit your lifestyle. The skin is so unobtrusive, that you could even slip it into your laptop case for added protection.”

The Targus brand is synonymous with simple and stylish, yet functional products. DCC stocks a range of products specifically designed for the Apple iPad. These include the Targus Vuscape Protective Cover and Stand, Targus Z-Case, Targus Screen Protector, Stylus, Bluetooth Keyboard and finally the Targus A7 Sleeve.

Targus Vuscape Protective Cover and Stand

The Targus Vuscape Protective Cover and Stand is an ultra-thin and lightweight case with the added benefit of multi-viewing. This allows you to view the iPad at three angles, with the lowest angle giving you the ideal space to type. The Vuscape is designed in the similar mould of a portfolio case, which makes portability a breeze. The exterior of the case is a hard shell providing sturdy protection, while the interior is made from soft ‘suede’ protecting your iPad from scratches. The Vuscape simply flips open and props up, so it allows you instant access to your iPad – always ready and operational.

 

Targus Z-case

Targus Z-case

 

Targus Z-case

The Targus Z-case is made with one thought, simplicity. The Z-case is easy to use and offers the touch of regal. The Z-case exterior is similar to that of the Vuscape and is made from a hard shell for protection. It also features a plush scratch resistant interior to protect the iPad screen from nicks and scratches. A secure magnetic strip is used to open and close the Z-case. There aren’t any fancy bells and whistles – just open the two-phased cover and zoom onto the web, knowing that your iPad is protected.

 

Targus Screen Protector

Targus Screen Protector

 

Targus Screen Protector

The Targus Screen Protector not only protects your iPad from scratches, but also reduces the amount of fingerprints or smudges that appear on your screen. This clear plastic layer was designed with a specifically formulated adhesive, which leaves no residue and takes nothing away from your iPad. It simply offers better visibility of the screen. No solution is required to apply the Screen Protector, leaving you free of bubbles when placing the protection on your iPad.

Targus A7 Sleeve

The Targus A7 Sleeve is the quirky yet serious design of the Targus range. The A7 protects your iPad not only from scratches and dust, but is also weather resistant, come rain or snow. The A7 is made from state of the art material, using a tri-cell cushion system; the exterior is made from neoprene which offers durability while the interior is heavily padded offering shock resistance and is quilted, providing ventilation.

Says Magdalena Britz (Max), National Sales and Development Manager at CSD Targus Distribution: “Targus develops products that are reputable globally, whereby quality and warranty are CSD Targus Distribution’s priority. Fulfilling the end users’ requirement and product satisfaction in getting their money’s worth is key for us, for it has become a business necessity tool, rather than a nice to have and the range for iPads is no different. The product is developed to ensure maximum protection and enhances the user experience. Although the products are unique and feature a variety of designs, they offer one distinct feature and that is to ensure that your iPad is protected at all times.”

For more information, visit www.csdtargus.co.za

 

 

Airtel to offer fastest mobile internet with its new 3.75G Service launch in Kenya

By admin, 29 lutego, 2012, No Comment

Airtel Kenya today announced the introduction of the fastest mobile internet in Kenya with the launch of its 3.75G platform in the country.

• First 3.75G network in Kenya
• Latest technology, same as that being rolled out in Europe and USA, to offer world-class 3G experience to consumers
• 3G capability will allow users to make video calls, watch live TV, send and receive emails and download music from internet enabled devices

The launch of the 3.75G platform promises profound changes to how subscribers in the Kenya experience the web on internet-enabled devices. The improved technology will enhance multimedia functionality, high speed mobile broadband and internet access; allowing users to make video calls, watch live TV, send and receive emails and download music from the devices. This is the latest global HSPSA plus technology with 21 Mbps speed, also being rolled out in Europe and the USA. It is the fastest 3G available and will be enormously beneficial for a variety of users, which include large Corporates, Small or Medium Businesses and the Youth.

“The technology on our 3.75G network will give our customers the opportunity to interact with data in a different way,” explained Mr. Shivan Bhargava, chief operating officer, Airtel Kenya. “This is why Airtel doesn’t see 3G as a product but a platform that enables the community expand its social and commercial horizons, alongside the rest of the world.” According to Mr. Bhargava, Airtel will be rolling out its data network across all of Kenya with the objective of building the fastest and largest 3G network across the country, and will continue to provide useful and innovative services to make use of this new technology.

He added that “We are grateful to the Government of Kenya, represented by The Honorable Minister of Information and Communications Mr. Samuel Poghisio today, for being here with us today and sharing the Government’s vision of enhancing the country’s telecommunications platform. This has the capability to enhance social, cultural and commercial participation amongst the people of Kenya and the global community.”

He added; “Our 3.75G platform will allow customers to combine the enormous potential of the internet with the convenience of cellular phones and other devices. It will liberate the potential of our youth, through enabling fast access to the Internet for social networking, creating, accessing and sharing learning content like e-books and music. For the small and medium business, it will enable the entrepreneur to embrace a highly mobile way of working with high speed access to email and internet and it will allow large companies to increase productivity through vastly enhanced mobile internet speeds and access to record and allow for communication via video calls on handsets.”

The new 3.75G network will initially be available to Airtel customers in the key commercial centers of Kenya including Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret and Naivasha.

“Kenya is an emerging market and subscribers all over the country are increasingly demanding better network quality and superior services. We have partnered with Bharti Airtel to deliver the right infrastructure and solutions to help them meet these demands.” says Dimitri Diliani, Head of Africa Region, Nokia Siemens Networks. “With our strong products and services portfolio, we will partner and support Bharti Airtel to deliver HSPA+ technology, which will enable their customers in Kenya to enjoy high-speed mobile Internet services. This technology will enable Bharti Airtel deliver a unique experience to their customers.”

“We are pleased to have been selected by Airtel for the upgrade of their network in Kenya, and see Mobile broadband as key to realizing our vision of the Networked Society,” said Lars Linden, Head of Ericsson sub Saharan Africa. “The new technology will enable Airtel to meet its desire to provide its customers with the most advanced solutions and quality browsing experience to its customers in Kenya and Africa”.

The company is offering its customers a FREE 7 day trial during first 15 days. Customers can access the FREE trial by simply sending the word start on SMS to 544.

Distributed by the African Press Organization for Bharti Airtel Limited.

Konica Minolta SA announces local availability of photo-PRESS photo book solution

By admin, 25 lutego, 2012, No Comment

Bidvest company, Konica Minolta South Africa has announced the launch of its world-class, cost effective and all inclusive photo-PRESS photo book solution, opening up new business opportunities and revenue streams for local print providers.

According to Konica Minolta South Africa product manager: production systems, Leon Minnie, the beauty of this solution is that Konica Minolta South Africa will provide a similar model to its “click charges” offering, making it all inclusive, from web hosting, online payment, backup support and integration to current MIS systems, to the customisation of customer specific designer applications.

“Often companies purchase a software application, only to find that they also need to invest huge amounts of money in hosting fees, servers at an Internet provider or to manage complicated administration functions,” he says. “When it comes to the photo-PRESS solution, these additional headaches will all be taken care of by Konica Minolta South Africa, allowing users to focus on building a profitable business and allowing them to concentrate on what they do best – printing high quality photo books, calendars, year books, greeting cards, wall art and a host of other options.”

The photo-PRESS offering comprises a suite of three solutions, designer, web and production, intended to drive more volume through digital presses. The software is also available in two business models, standard and professional. Each has been tailored to accommodate specific needs for most business sizes, budgets and applications.

“Print providers can use the solution in the way that best suits them, from either a B2B or B2C perspective. In addition, it provides a ‘shopping cart’ feature, whereby a user can promote additional options to add value and greater margin to the print, including foiling, embossing, lamination and UV coating.”

The customised designer application provides a host of features that will satisfy even the most advanced users, while still making it easy enough for the novice user to create a photo book or calendar in just a few minutes. These features can be limited if the print provider prefers, including the look and feel of the designer application.

Says Minnie: “Another great standard feature is the social sharing element, allowing you to upload your photo book or other product to social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, and share it with friends. This gives a print provider the ability to produce multiple books, such as wedding and holiday photo albums.

“The latest release is the culmination of more than two years of development work, equating to over 25,000 man hours, 250 enhancements and in excess of 250,000 lines of new code, and has resulted in an entire application of which more than 50 percent consists of new features. These enhancements make photo-PRESS one of the most comprehensive solutions out there, while still remaining easy to implement and without the huge cost usually associated with these kinds of solutions.” photo-PRESS uses Konica Minolta’s cloud technology, providing the reliability and 24\7 access require for both print provider and their clients.

Printing providers can also combine this solution with Konica Minolta’s bizhub PRESS C70hc digital press to make RGB work more vivid and life-like than any other standard CMYK printer.

“The bizhub PRESS C70hc’s revolutionary HC (high chroma) toner produces unbelievably vivid and natural colour. Thanks to seamless integration with RGB colour workflows, colour setup and colour conversion is fast and easy – colours will be printed virtually following the WYSIWYG principle. Photos and photo books in particular are perfect examples of how to use the wide colour space that can be achieved with the bizhub PRESS C70hc,” Minnie adds.

mapIT signs exclusive distribution with foremost LBS provider, deCarta

By admin, 25 lutego, 2012, No Comment

First for SA – free access to the platform during development phase

Marking a first for the SA mapping and LBS (location-based services) industry, South African digital mapping enabler, mapIT, has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with the world’s leading independent enabler of LBS , deCarta. With 15 years experience, deCarta provides software and services that can add mapping, routing and local search functionality to companies’ services, all in their own branded offerings.

The agreement, effective immediately and spanning Sub-Saharan Africa, will see mapIT providing an integrated digital mapping offering running on deCarta’s acclaimed LBS platform which currently features over 30 million users across the world.

Moreover, deCarta’s LBS architecture has been responsible for the proliferation of some of the world’s most well-known map offerings currently available. It’s highly integratable platform allows for development on – among others – J2ME, Android, iOS and Desktop/Mobile Javascript.

Etienne Louw MD of mapIT and Armin Fendrich Vice President Sales EMEA of deCarta

Etienne Louw MD of mapIT and Armin Fendrich Vice President Sales EMEA of deCarta

Says Etienne Louw, MD of mapIT: “Our agreement with deCarta complimented by our partnership with shareholder TomTom Africa, whose portfolio includes digital maps as well as the most accurate realtime and historical traffic products, effectively sees us entering a new era in the provision of our international value offering to the Southern African marketplace. And together with deCarta – the world’s foremost LBS provider – it greatly enhances our digital mapping services to customers. Indeed, mapIT is now a one-stop-shop for companies looking to develop their own customised LBS.”

“deCarta is pleased to power this integrated LBS solution for mapIT’s clients and system integration partners,” says Armin Fendrich, Vice President Sales – EMEA, of deCarta. “With this exclusive package, also including features such as aggregated traffic and hyperlocal media, businesses no longer have to worry about developing LBS oriented solutions and then integrating the mapping functionality afterwards; it’s all done up front.”

The deCarta agreement will make it possible for Sub-Saharan Africa companies to have free access, during the development phase, to a wide range of LBS application programming interfaces (APIs) and services hosted in mapIT’s datacentre from March onwards. mapIT will then provide hosting services for their production applications. In addition, mapIT will resell deCarta’s Drill Down Server (DDS) products.

DDS is a geospatial software platform for building location-enabled applications. Under this arrangement, mapIT customers can now self-host their location-based services behind their firewalls to build more sophisticated applications while maintaining complete control of their user experience.

The deCarta LBS Platform is designed to meet the needs of a wide range of industry segments participating in the Location-Based Services ecosystem and value chain. These industry users include:

• Mobile Network Operators (including Service Delivery Platform providers (SDPs), and Network Equipment Providers (NEPs).

• Mobile Device Manufacturers (OEMs) including mobile handset, tablet, and navigation manufacturers.

• Local media companies and advertising networks including traditional internet yellow pages companies as well as new internet service companies providing local reviews, reservations, and shopping services.

• Application developers and content publishers including developers of navigation applications, mapping and local services applications, and a variety of other applications which may be monetised as paid apps, ad-sponsored, freemium, etc.

• Ultimately, end users who want local search, navigation, and location-based services applications.

“The deCarta LBS platform features a myriad of APIs (application programming interfaces), web services and cross platform solutions for JavaScript, Android, IOS, and more that really makes it easy for companies to develop a customised solution that bolsters loyalty and, importantly, value added services, “ explains Louw. “It is the perfect white labelling platform which, in partnership with mapIT as an anonymous enabler, will allow companies to take their brand to the next level in social and mobile technology usage.”

Access to the deCarta LBS platform is particularly beneficial in providing local SMMEs the technology to develop their own, customised LBS without having to spend unneccessary funds on a solution that doesn’t offer the functionality required. “It is very important to us that we support SMMEs which often have amazing, innovative ideas but do not necessarily have access to the development platform to realise it,” Louw adds.

deCarta’s customers and technology partners rank among the leaders in the mobile and enterprise markets and include Appello, Ford, FullPower, General Motors OnStar, Local Matters, Networks In Motion (now TCS), Opera Software, Samsung, Sensis, Singtel Optus, T-Mobile, Verizon, and ZTE.

Noble Systems expands infrastructure footprint to meet growing demand for cloud-based services

By admin, 24 lutego, 2012, No Comment

Noble Systems Corporation, a global leader in unified contact centre technology solutions, has announced the establishment of an additional colocation facility – secure, offsite centres where data and networking equipment are housed – to support the growing demand for cloud-based solutions including Noble Enterprise Hosted, Noble Messenger EC and Noble Cloud EC.

“Acquiring a second colocation facility was essential to support the growth that Noble has experienced in hosted and hybrid contact centre solutions,” says Mark Edwards, director of products and services at local Noble preferred partner, Intuate Group. “It also sends a clear signal to current and future clients that the company doesn’t compromise on security, redundancy or capacity.”

The PCI-compliant facility boasts uninterruptible power supply (UPS) power redundancy, multiple voice (SIP) gateways and carriers for rollover/ failover, redundant air-conditioning systems, online backups for all equipment and more. All servers are equipped with network fault tolerant NIC teams, redundant power and RAID arrays. The offsite location offers additional security and reliability for data and service continuity.

Launched in April 2011, Noble Enterprise Hosted is a complete contact centre technology solution with all of the advantages and cost benefits of a cloud-based Communication-as-a-Service (CaaS) infrastructure. The launch marked the first fully hosted offering for Noble Systems and opened groundbreaking opportunities in hybrid premise/ hosted solutions, featuring Noble’s exclusive “elastic capacity” offer, for Noble Systems clients.

Unlock the business potential of social media with Nimble 2.0 from Green Apple IT

By admin, 24 lutego, 2012, No Comment

Social media is an important tool for competitiveness in today’s business world. However, the typical ‘watch and listen’ approach employed by many organisations often fails to deliver the anticipated benefits. To leverage to true business potential of social media, the multitude of media streams need to be managed and integrated into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in order to generate actionable leads that will drive the bottom line. This daunting task is now made easy, thanks to the latest release of Nimble, available locally from Green Apple IT.

Nimble 2.0 is a powerful unified social media interaction platform that brings together media streams from multiple platforms and integrates seamlessly into CRM. This allows you to easily monitor messages across different social sites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google + from a single integrated space. These incoming notifications can then be flagged for follow up and have tasks added to them for internal action. This ensures that customer interactions and leads never become lost in the clutter, empowering small businesses to attract and retain customers by engaging them on their own turf.

“As social networking gains popularity among consumers, it becomes increasingly important for businesses to engage their customers on these platforms because there is great potential to generate new business leads and improve customer retention. However the sheer number of different social sites, along with the different user profiles associated with each one, can make this challenging,” says Dawie Bloomberg, Managing Director of Green Apple IT. “Nimble 2.0 streams new notifications from multiple platforms into one place, so they can be easily read and responded to. It provides a single platform for all contacts, calendars, communications and social conversations.”

“Nimble 2.0 is so much more than a ‘listener’ programme, with an integrated database enabling collaboration on business-related social media across an organisation. Contacts can be added and shared, tasks can be associated to specific media engagements and assigned to team members, sales leads can be flagged for follow up, deals can be added and much more,” he adds.

Nimble is the brainchild of Jon Ferrara, the founder of pioneering CRM tool GoldMine. Since signing a partnership agreement with Nimble in December 2011, Green Apple IT has been working closely with Ferrara and the Nimble team to test the new version of the software in the local market.

“Our Solution Partners are immensely important to us and companies such as Green Apple IT are leading the way in their value orientated approach. With the recent launch of Nimble 2.0 we’re excited to see partners like Green Apple IT promoting social business solutions in emerging markets,” says Richard Young, Director of EMEA Nimble.

New features in Nimble 2.0 include improved usability, social discovery, enhanced privacy filters and powerful third party app integrations. Contacts have an all new user interface that effortlessly pulls together all related messages, activities, deals and so on along with a live social stream of each contact. Custom fields and tabs can also be created to tailor interactions with individual customers. Social discovery enables a unified stream of social notifications, along with an intuitive, easy to understand daily email detailing all new engagement opportunities. The new release also includes the ability to choose which messages to share, either by default or on a case-by-case basis, as well as integration with third part apps such as Wufoo, HubSpot and MailChimp!.

“By integrating social media and collaboration into a single platform, small businesses are now able to uniformly manage social media streams, making workload far simpler and adding productivity enhancing functionality. Customer experience can be dramatically improved and sales leads can easily be followed up. Nimble in effect turns social media into a powerful sales tool, helping you to unlock to business potential behind social media interactions,” Bloomberg concludes.

Nimble 2.0 was officially released on 14 February 2012 and is available immediately from Green Apple IT.

Samsung Apps store announces Premium SMS Billing option

By admin, 24 lutego, 2012, No Comment

Samsung Electronics South Africa announces that its Samsung Apps store for Android devices has officially gone live with a premium SMS Billing option.

“Until now, the only way to purchase from the Samsung App store was via a credit card,” said Deon Liebenberg, MD of Samsung South Africa. “However, given the diversity of our country, in some instances this has prevented some consumers from purchasing relevant content on the store. Today this changes, as our premium SMS billing option becomes available – allowing consumers to purchase content easily and conveniently using a preferred method of payment.”

With this service, customers can now choose the phone billing option (credit card or SMS) at the time of purchasing paid-for apps. Should customers choose the new SMS option, the purchase will be confirmed automatically via SMS and the download costs either reflect on the monthly phone bill if the consumer has a monthly contract, or via a deduction from their phone credit balance, if on prepaid.

“We are always looking for ways to make relevant content and applications more accessible and this is just another example of our commitment to doing just that,” adds Liebenberg. “In line with this, we are also growing our team and would like to welcome Andrew Syrett on board. Andrew brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise and was instrumental in this billing and network payment structure. As a team, we certainly look forward to creating an apps eco-system relevant to both developers and consumers.”

The premium SMS Billing service is available across all Samsung Android devices and across MTN, Vodacom and Cell C networks in South Africa.

Datacentrix named EMEA Symantec cloud partner of the year 2011, scoops local awards too

By admin, 24 lutego, 2012, No Comment

Provider of high performing and secure ICT solutions, Datacentrix has announced that Symantec has recognised the company as its “Cloud Partner of the Year” at the recent annual EMEA partner conference, Partner Engage EMEA 2012, held in Rome, Italy.

Datacentrix was acknowledged for its investment in Symantec and demonstrated expertise and success in key solution areas and growth markets.    “We are committed to supporting our partners by helping them grow their businesses, maximise revenue opportunities and maintain a competitive edge within the industry. Our 2011 Channel Excellence Award winners have shown a high level of dedication to becoming experts in Symantec’s solutions and adding value to our customers,” says Jason Ellis, vice-president, EMEA channel sales, Symantec.

“The 2011 Channel Excellence Awards honours our channel partners’ efforts in the information protection space, and on behalf of Symantec I’d like to congratulate all of this year’s winners.”

This international accolade follows the company scooping a number of local awards at the Symantec Partner Summit last year, including two specialisation awards (a third has since been attained) and Symantec Reseller Partner of the Year 2011 for Storage. In addition, Datacentrix’ Hugo Bradfield, a Symantec senior engineer, was named as Symantec Champion of the Year 2011 and Mike Dewar, a senior account manager, garnered the Symantec Enterprise Salesman of the Year award.

Says Chad Cleevely, channel manager at Symantec South Africa: “Datacentrix epitomises the committed and driven partner that Symantec values. The company’s performance over the past year has been nothing short of astounding: record sales, most of which was new business, commitment to specialisations and moving from silver to platinum partnership status in only 12 months.”

Datacentrix CEO, Ahmed Mahomed, states that these awards serve to reinforce the depth of Datacentrix’ commitment to its partnership with Symantec. “This sector has been an area of strong focus for Datacentrix over the past few years,” he explains. “Our achievements in this space with Symantec, which also include our attainment of Platinum level partnership last year and becoming the first partner in South Africa to achieve Symantec Specialisations in both Storage Management and High Availability, show that we are certainly dedicated to meeting the requirements of local business.”

DStv and Samsung launch SuperSport application for Smart TVs

By admin, 24 lutego, 2012, No Comment

DStv and Samsung Electronics announced the launch of the new SuperSport TV application, specifically designed for Samsung Smart TVs. This application is a smart software widget which resizes internet content for the larger screen experience whilst making it intuitive and easy to control. Samsung Smart TV owners will be able to access the latest digital content for live sporting updates. This includes pictures and a news ticket feed to ensure you don’t miss the action as it happens.

Says Justin Shaw, Business Leader for Visual Display at Samsung Electronics South Africa; “This is an exciting development for our consumers; the application will enhance the SuperSport viewing experience by allowing them to watch live content whilst getting updates via the ticker, as well as access richer content with picture and text capabilities.

The SuperSport application is available on all Samsung Smart TVs through the Smart Hub as a downloadable application. Samsung Smart TV’s can be connected to the web using wired or wireless connectivity to access this app and many others. The SuperSport application expands on the current sports update sidebar available on SuperSport with increased functionality through an interactive experiential platform.

Graeme Cumming, General Manager: DStv Online Portals, confirmed that this was an inevitable step in SuperSport’s quest to be available on as many platforms as possible. “Being an internet connected device, the Smart TV allows for the delivery of content in a manner that is less restrictive than traditional television sets. We are always experimenting with new and exciting ways of delivering sports content to our audience and this seemed like a good place to start. We will continue to experiment with new technologies, and in doing so, we aim to delight our users on multiple platforms.”

Samsung is currently the world leader in global TV applications which provide high quality and varied internet content direct to the consumer’s home TV. Samsung boasts more than 1000 apps available across 120 countries and recently surpassed 10 million downloaded apps. “The development of locally relevant applications is key to success in the African market and we will continue to innovate by bringing locally relevant, rich and interactive content to the television, across the continent,” concludes Shaw.

The SuperSport application is now live on the Samsung Smart TV Smart Hub.

Baby steps or big bang in the cloud?

By admin, 24 lutego, 2012, No Comment

Hybrid cloud/on-site PBX deployments best current assurance of quality, reliability

On the rise
“Hosted or cloud-based telephony is undoubtedly on the rise,” says Rob Lith, Director of Connection Telecom. The rise is not yet stratospheric, but the fundamentals are sound.

• Adoption is top-down: At the high end of the converged (Internet Protocol or IP-based) PBX market, hosted has made bigger strides than in other segments, according to -TechKnowledge[i]. Enterprise implementations will drive demand.
• The foundation market of on-site PBXs is gaining fast. IP is strong in greenfields implementations (new companies or branches) and as replacements of end-of-life analogue systems. Giants like Cisco rule high-end IP PBX sales (growing from 40% SA market share to 69% in two years).
• Cloud is perceived as a disruptive model: All vendors, including Cisco, listed cloud-based solutions as a threat in the 14-vendor survey.
• Cloud has benefits over on-site (lower cost, central manageability, etc.).

It is therefore only a matter of time before cloud succeeds on-site IP PBXs.

Addressing reliability and quality
Nevertheless, the journey to the cloud is not without its challenges. The rising popularity of on-site IP PBXs may represent a strong growth foundation for future cloud deployments, but the very fact of an ‘incumbent’ on-site installation, IP or not, is an inhibitor to immediate uptake of cloud.

Among the main reasons for currently preferring on-site is a lingering uncertainty about VoIP quality and reliability of access links. Service providers are attacking this problem successfully with hybrid setups that combine the advanced functionality and savings of hosted systems with the reliability of ISDN/BRI backup, on the off chance that the broadband link fails. VoIP providers have also had success with tools like ViBE, which provide quality of service.

In addition, the N+1 (redundant) solution architectures employed by leading hosted providers assures ultra-high reliability. Despite hardware failures being a reality of any ICT installation, it is not uncommon for redundant setups to enjoy failure-free operation for years on end.

Another inhibitor to cloud adoption is the reluctance of many customers to upgrade their systems after the 2008/2009 recession; many end-user enterprises are sweating their ageing assets. However, as indicated above, larger customers, greenfields customers and customers whose systems are outmoded are keen to explore the increased productivity, future functionality and cost savings of IP.

Step by step
It may come as a surprise that those who have taken the step of going straight to cloud have not necessarily done so in big bang fashion. It is possible to migrate site by site, as you open new branches, group by group, as different classes of personnel are migrated, or even user by user, as they join the company. Calls are then routed between the cloud PBX and the analogue or on-site IP system via SIP trunking, E1 or other strategies.

As also indicated above, the company in question need not have a wholesale cloud implementation in mind at all. For the sake of site survivability, it is popular to retain a configuration whereby the company makes calls out over a hosted platform, for cost savings and unified communications functionality, whilst having the peace of mind of always having reliable basic calls.

The way ahead
Hybrid providers have the run of the field right now, not just for service assurance, but also as they typically provide managed services, such as access link planning, site planning and failover planning. Many Web-only VoIP providers provision remotely without any direct interaction or site preparation and integration into the telco environment.

Currently, it is only by choosing the right configuration and doing the proper planning that your move to cloud will succeed. But as bandwidth restrictions improve and large cloud implementations, both private and public, become more widely publicised, a wholesale move by a critical mass of companies will become a reality.

[1] SA PBX Market Report (April 2011)

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