Archive for Listopad, 2012

Smarter grids key to sustainable, environmentally friendly electric power generation and distribution

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

Global energy challenges are pushing governments worldwide to pursue and implement policies and renewable regulations to promote “green power” and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Increasingly complex power distribution networks require electricity and IT infrastructure to integrate and interconnect all users, including power generators, operators, marketers and consumers as a basic platform for the efficient balance of demand and supply.

Isaac Kruger, manager: offer and technology MV at Schneider Electric South Africa, says the “smart grid” concept combines electricity and IT infrastructure to integrate and inter-connect all users for efficient balance of demand and supply over increasingly complex power networks.

“Everyone has a role to play in making smart grid a reality, the basic platform being energy-efficient companies and active end-users pushing smarter demand to maximise the cost and environmental benefits of greater energy efficiency. Utilities will drive smarter supply to manage the increase in power demand, overcome network complexity and address the environmental concerns.”

“Essentially, power utilities around the globe need to plan and deploy smarter networks to transform yesterday’s disjointed distribution grids into automated, inter-connected systems to serve future generations. There are advanced information management systems for the energy industry that effectively enable smarter operations to reduce costs, cut energy losses, improve maintenance, enhance reliability and offer more green energy options.”

He adds that Schneider Electric’s smart grid solutions for electricity utilities encompass six areas: network management, feeder automation, substation automation, wind power solutions, solar power solutions and small hydro power plant solutions.

Components of the Schneider Electric smart grid solution include Telvent DNA supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software, a Telvent distribution management system, outage management system and ArcFM Geographic information system (GIS).

Kruger says electricity utilities worldwide are increasingly challenged by stringent performance regulations, particularly regarding outages. “The notion of rewarding good utility performance and punishing poor performance is becoming more widespread with reliability benchmarks offering utilities financial rewards for achieving annual targets in terms of supply interruptions to end users. In Europe, these regulations can either cost or benefit utilities depending upon the quality of their power supply performance.”

To this end, Schneider Electric has a complete power reliability suite of solutions, including feeder automation for supply quality management and network security of power system components, including sensors and fault passage indicators, remote automation and communication systems. Utilities can significantly benefit from improved switching and sectionalisation. Automated switching sequences make it possible for portions of the power distribution system to fix themselves.

“The Ethernet IEC 61850 communication technology supports network availability for the most demanding electrical applications, enabling integrated automation functions such as automatic voltage regulation, capacitor bank management and HV busbar transference as well as monitoring of circuit breakers and transformers.”

The solution, known as PACiS, comprises an Ethernet IEC61850 redundant multi-ring architecture with standard protection relays, IEDs, power meters, MC circuit breakers and SCADA and HMI software to optimise substation management with fast load shedding busbar transfer and voltage regulation features.

Other smart generation solutions are wind power, solar photovoltaic power and hydro-power plants. Schneider Electric’s experience in the field helps utilities to deploy cost-effective and compact solutions that are easy to integrate, implement and operate. In addition, advanced remote control systems communicate and manage alarms and data, ensuring reliable and smooth operation for high availability.

BlackBerry App World Integrated Carrier Billing Now Implemented with More Than 50 Carriers

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

Benefits of integrated carrier billing extend to carriers, developers, content providers, and customers

Research In Motion (RIM) today announced that more than 50 carriers have now implemented integrated carrier billing on the BlackBerry App World™ storefront for their customers. The announcement marks a great milestone for RIM and a big benefit for carriers, developers, content providers, and customers.

Integrated carrier billing enables a customer to purchase apps or digital goods on their BlackBerry smartphone, and simply and conveniently have the purchases put directly on their regular monthly bill from their carrier. Integrated carrier billing is also integrated with the BlackBerry Payment Service, which enables developers and content providers to offer in-app purchases (such as additional levels in a game), as well as supporting one-off and recurring (subscription-based) purchases, without interrupting the customer’s app experience.

Carrier billing services have proven to drive significant value for the whole mobile ecosystem, including carriers, developers, content providers, and customers. Aggregated data indicates that customers’ propensity to purchase apps on BlackBerry App World increases when carrier billing is offered, with an average of 75% of gross sales transacted through the carrier and average carrier revenues derived from apps increased between 100%-300% after launch.

Ronjon Nag, Vice President for the BlackBerry App World storefront at RIM, said, “We’re delighted to announce that over 50 of our carrier partners are now offering integrated carrier billing to customers on BlackBerry App World. We remain committed to developing innovative ways to support our carrier partners, while providing a platform that benefits the whole mobile ecosystem.”

Ray Anderson, CEO, Bango, whose mobile payment platform enables charge-to-bill payments in BlackBerry App World, said, “Our relationship with RIM goes from strength to strength and we’re delighted to see the integrated carrier billing experience Bango enables on BlackBerry smartphones in the hands of more and more customers. We’ve seen smartphone users rely increasingly on the ability to charge the costs of digital goods to their carrier bill, and with RIM, we’re providing them with a frictionless payment experience.”

Dario Talmesio, Principal Analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media, said, “Mobile operators recognize that RIM works closely and constructively with them and with more than 50 operators now offering integrated carrier billing it’s a great milestone that shows these relationships are productive. Mobile operators recognize the business benefits this service provides and the opportunities for repeated customer engagement on BlackBerry App World.”

BlackBerry App World is now available in 170 markets and territories worldwide offering more than 100,000 BlackBerry smartphone apps.

For a complete listing of carriers offering integrated billing on BlackBerry App World please visit: https://developer.blackberry.com/devzone/appworld

Datacentrix launches new Symantec backup appliance

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

Datacentrix, a provider of high performing and secure ICT solutions and Symantec platinum partner, has announced the local availability of Symantec’s new NetBackup 5220, an all-in-one, scalable backup appliance for mid- to enterprise-sized businesses.

According to John Dewar, storage solutions business unit manager at Datacentrix, the NetBackup 5220 will assist these organisations, as well as remote offices and data centres, to update their backup infrastructures and accelerate virtualisation initiatives faster and with greater reliability.

“Symantec has a reputation of understanding the shifting needs of the data centre and offers the NetBackup appliances as an ideal solution for customers looking for turnkey solutions. The appliances enable efficient, storage-optimised data protection for the data centre, remote office and virtual environments,” he explains.

“The new 5220 appliance installs within minutes with expandable storage starting at 4TB and expandable up to 64TB, and will allow companies to protect information, in physical or virtual environments. It also allows for the improvement of efficiency, while reducing costs, through the deduplication of data.”

In fact, Symantec states that its content-aware deduplication can decrease backup storage up to 50 times and bandwidth consumption up to 99 percent, eliminating backup window problems and enabling the cost-effective replication of data to other sites for business continuity.

“Touted as ‘the modern approach to backup’, the NetBackup 5220 appliance is enabled by V-Ray technology and thus breaks down virtual versus physical silos. It delivers simple, yet comprehensive backup and recovery. This unification allows for more standardisation and consistent policies, reduced duplication of effort, eliminates redundant storage pools and lowers licensing, training and operational costs,” states Dewar.

South African learners go MAD for application development

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

More than 50 talented learners from nine Gauteng schools competed in The Mobile Application Development (MAD) Challenge, with Brennan Buitendag from Hoërskool Gerrit Maritz emerging as the winner in a tightly fought contest.

This competition was presented at the BlackBerry® apps lab at the University of Pretoria by the Department of Informatics. It forms part of a PhD research study on e-Skills development by Johan Breytenbach. The aim of the MAD Challenge was to encourage grade 10 and 11 learners to embrace the career choices and entrepreneurial potential of the ICT industry.

The aim of the BlackBerry apps labs is to help accelerate mobile application development in South Africa, thereby creating new economic opportunities and jobs in the mobile space, and to support the larger context and objectives of the South African Department of Communications’ (DOC) eSkills Institute.

The learners represented a wide range of demographics; representing schools as diverse as Pretoria Boys High, Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool, Hoërskool Die Wilgers, Hoërskool Gerrit Maritz, The Glen High School, Hoërskool Silverton, Hoërskool Eersterust, Pretoria Secondary School, and Bokgoni High School.

Every learner was an achiever; selected to take part in the competition based on their individual application forms and academic performance. The competition-like nature of the MAD project, together with the strict entry requirements resulted in a high calibre of entries.

The school learners were guided through the basics of BlackBerry® Java application development during six two-hour tutorials on Friday afternoons, some of which took place in the BlackBerry apps lab at the University of Pretoria.

After six weeks of tutorials and another four weeks of applying their new knowledge, 29 learners completed the 2012 MAD Challenge. The 29 learners that reached the finish line submitted 16 applications – 13 as pairs, and three as individuals.

Applications were judged on the creativity and entrepreneurial content of the idea behind the app, usability, functionality, completeness, business value motivation, and programming skill. Winning apps included apps with a strong education focus and apps that allow users to view and share socially relevant content on a geographic (GPS/map view) platform. The winners were awarded BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablets for their work.

The first prize went to Brennan Buitendag from Hoërskool Gerrit Maritz for his Learners Test app, which prepares students to successfully pass their learner drivers tests. The second prize went to Tyler Hoffman and Unathi Chonco from Pretoria Boys High who developed the Live Music Guide app, which lets you find music gigs you are interested in and even helps to find your way to the event.

“It was very exciting to take part in the MAD Challenge,” said winner Brennan Buitendag. “It was a great opportunity and I learned a lot. I am hoping that I’ll be able to upload my app to BlackBerry App World soon and even make some money from it.”

The BlackBerry apps lab at the University of Pretoria and a second lab in Cape Town form part of Research In Motion’s (RIM) strategy to nurture a healthy BlackBerry developer ecosystem in the country. The facilities provide local developers, including students, start-ups, entrepreneurs and others, with development, marketing, sales and training resources to help them make their apps commercially successful. Students are already excelling in competitions such as Hackathons.

RIM is working with developers at both labs to create local and regionally relevant applications for BlackBerry® smartphones and the BlackBerry PlayBook, as well as for devices running the upcoming BlackBerry® 10 platform.

Schneider Electric addresses business improvement through demand chain optimisation

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

In a recent event held at the Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg, global specialist in energy management, Schneider Electric officially launched its Ampla Express to South African customers, a “lite” version of its operation management software, Ampla, designed to assist in the optimisation of energy use and production processes.

The company also addressed local users on the benefits of its recent acquisition of Australia-based supply & demand optimisation and predictive modelling organisation, SolveIT, will bring to South African businesses.

According to Christopher Crowe, senior VP sales international at Schneider Electric, the SolveIT acquisition was a strategic move for the organisation to further extend its operations management offering, particularly to the food & beverage and mining industries.

“With comprehensive predictive modelling for production planning, scheduling and optimisation, the acquisition of SolveIT will help customers to unlock the utilisation and productivity that exists in their current assets but was previously not visible.

“The SolveIT offerings fit especially well with Schneider Electric’s Ampla solution, working in conjunction to optimise production processes and positively impact costs,” he said.

For more information on Ampla, or other Schneider Electric solutions, please visit www.schneider-electric.com.

Sure Travel launches mobile app

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

Version 1 of SA’s first retail travel agency app offers location-aware informational services

Sure Travel, South Africa’s largest owner-managed travel agency group, has launched the country’s first retail travel agency app for smartphones and tablets.

In its first version, the app offers streaming travel news, the latest travel packages and an agency locator using the smartphone’s GPS capabilities.

Digital journey
Abigail Pires, Solutions Optimisation Manager for Sure Travel, says that next versions of the app may also offer commercial and transactional services.

“We view it as a first step on our broader digital journey. Right now it’s a way for our 100 plus agencies to engage in a new way with clients and to drive new traffic to these agencies.”

First for retail travel
The app was created by Realmdigital, the leading Cape-based e-business developer on Web, mobile and social platforms.

CEO Wesley Lynch says while many mobile travel apps have seen the light (such as flight search, flight checking and online booking), none has been developed for the retail (franchise store) segment.

“The origin of this is in the industry’s approach to online commerce,” he explains. “The travel industry embraced online commerce from the outset, but also accepted that it has put travel agencies under strain, as travellers went straight to the source.”

“But with the arrival of app-based mobile computing, agencies are relevant again. Most people carry mobile phones, which creates new opportunities like location-aware services. Mobile apps are also easier to use. Apps are the logical vehicle to bring retail stores into the digital mix.”

He says future possibilities for the app could include card-less loyalty schemes.

Good response
The Sure Travel app is available for iPhones and Android handsets, with most requests for downloads coming from iPhone users. Realmdigital is also developing a BlackBerry version, given the platform’s continuing popularity in South Africa.

Since launch, reports Pires, the company has had multiple downloads, making it the 10th most popular SA travel app in the Apple Store at the time of its launch. “We’re really pleased, as this has given us the advantage of being the first retail travel group in South Africa to engage with the travelling mobile generation.”

Samsung products built for Africa

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

Buying local benefits consumers

The accessibility of technology and growth of online shopping has seen many consumers bypass local channels to gain access products from elsewhere before they are available in their traditional retail markets. As Thierry Boulanger, Director of IT Solutions and B2B at Samsung Africa cautions, this is not always ideal as using the correct channels provide benefits that people might not always be aware of.

“While technology adheres to certain uniform principles, some manufacturers tailor their devices to suit the requirements of specific countries. For example, the Samsung Built for Africa programme sees products designed to meet the needs, resources, and conditions of the continent,” says Boulanger.

Following extensive research and development, Samsung has applied this methodology to products ranging from televisions, fridges and even to air-conditioners. These are tailored to be specific to the needs of consumers in Africa. After all, regions with high temperatures and humidity require products that are designed differently than those used in colder Northern European conditions. Examples of these solutions include the Samsung’s range of Duracool refrigerators that stay cooler for longer without power or surge safe TVs that are able to withstand power surges.

“Not only are many of our products designed for local market conditions, but consumers often forget that buying from the correct local channels provides them additional benefits as well – including the likes of access to the support structures and platforms in those countries when it comes to warranty fulfilment, where Samsung has a 24 month warranty policy,” adds Boulanger.

Repairs can be quite expensive on imported devices as there is often a lack of spare parts in local markets. What’s more, often the product isn’t designed to meet local market compatibility specifications. Just think of an all-in-one printer that includes a fax option purchased from a store in the United States. The modem inside that unit is designed for the telecommunications networks of that country and not for the ones in Africa which can result in many frustrations.

“At Samsung, we are committed to providing our customers with a premium experience. When they purchase their products through the correct local channels, we can control how effectively that experience is implemented. It’s about understanding the market conditions, unique customer needs and building products and relevant support channels specifically for this. We have done exactly that an as such, urge consumers to investigate the benefits that purchasing through authorised channels provide,” concludes Boulanger.

Westcon Security introduces new IronKey secure flash drives

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

Leading local distributor Westcon Security, a division of Westcon SA is pleased to announce the introduction of Imation Corp’s next-generation IronKeyTM S250 and D250 hardware- encrypted flash drives.

According to the company the newest IronKey flash drives feature faster performance, a redesigned control panel that supports multiple languages, and new remote management capabilities in its signature rugged, high-security design.

“We are delighted to have stock of the IronKey S250 and D250 flash drives in Basic, Personal and Enterprise editions for enterprise and personal use,” states Andrew Potgieter, business unit manager at Westcon Security. “The IronKey flash drives deliver powerful protection against data loss and are validated to meet the stringent Security Level 3 requirements of the FIPS 140-2 standard, which fully support corporate and government compliance strategies.”

As per the release announcement of the devices both the Personal and Enterprise editions feature built-in identity protection that allows users to securely surf the web, and the IronKey password vault to store and protect user passwords. The Enterprise edition adds centralised remote administration through Imation’s cloud security console, which supports full life cycle management for deploying and managing dozens to thousands of secure flash drives.

“The devices are the perfect companion to the road warrior or a member of the mobile workforce who need to protect their data on the move,” adds Potgieter. “These devices are the ideal solution for companies looking to transport and access data remotely, while enhancing security, performance and reliability.”

The IronKey S250 and D250 devices boast faster performance, premium quality dual-channel flash memory and fast file read performance of up to 31MB/second and write speeds of up to 18MB/second. They also tout a redesigned control panel, multiple language support, cross-platform compatibility and improved remote management capabilities.

The Imation’s IronKey S250 and D250 Enterprise and Personal flash drives will soon be available through any Westcon Security resellers and systems integration partners.

BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365 launches in South Africa

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

Research In Motion (RIM) has announced that BlackBerry® Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365 is now available to South African enterprise customers.

This cloud solution extends Microsoft Exchange Online to BlackBerry® smartphones and allows customers to manage their BlackBerry deployments in the cloud. The service works with BlackBerry smartphones on business or consumer data plans.

This cloud-based option makes it easy and cost-effective for customers to support mobility across their organisations, manage devices, and secure their BlackBerry deployments. It offers all the advanced administration and flexible self-service features that allow an organisation to manage its BlackBerry deployment in the cloud.

Key features include:

  •  Wireless synchronisation with Microsoft Exchange Online email, calendar and organiser data from a BlackBerry smartphone
  •  BlackBerry® Balance™ technology, which presents a unified view of work and personal content on a BlackBerry smartphone while keeping the content separate and secure
  •  An intuitive web-based console for IT administrators to provision, manage and secure BlackBerry smartphones from anywhere
  •  Online access to employee self-service smartphone security functions, allowing users to easily reset a device password or remotely lock or wipe a device in the event of loss or theft.

Managed service providers, systems integrators, carriers, resellers and other partners can also use the cloud service to manage BlackBerry deployments on behalf of their customers.

Customers can go to http://za.blackberry.com/business/software/cloudservices/overview.html to get started.

Six top tips to ensure you get the most out of your outsourced service contract

By admin, 26 listopada, 2012, No Comment

By Angelique Smit, Client Relationship Manager at RDB Consulting

Outsourcing has become an increasingly popular option for businesses as the current economic climate continues to put pressure on spend, driving cost cutting initiatives within companies, particularly in the Information Technology (IT) sector. However, outsourcing can deliver value beyond cost savings, further improving service levels and driving greater efficiencies. It also minimises downtime and improves profitability as a result. Getting full value out of your outsource contract can, however, prove challenging. An outsource contract needs to be carefully controlled to ensure it continues to deliver the expected service levels and benefits.

In order to get the most out of your IT outsource contract, there are six core ‘tips’ or best practices that clients should ensure outsource service providers subscribe to. By following these six top tips, organisations will obtain the best possible balance of service and cost.

Top tip #1: Define SLAs and OLAs
A service level agreement (SLA) is the foundation of any outsource contract and provides the standard for expected service levels. This must be agreed on between both the outsourcer and client and once established, will outline the requirements such as time-to-respond and mean-time-to-repair. A thorough investigation is required to determine the type of service levels that are required for the client’s business. It is also important to link the SLA to an Operations Level Agreements (OLA), which is an extension of the SLA, by determining and outlining how the SLA is executed. These two agreements provide the benchmark for measurement and management of the outsource contract.

Top tip #2: Communication – a two way street
Communication is an important component of a successful outsource contract and should be a ‘two way street’ whereby feedback is given from both the outsource provider and the client. The communication should also involve all parties including the client, consultants on all levels (from Junior to Principal) as well as the management team. Discussions around health checks and regular updates between the client and outsource provider will assist to identify issues or problems proactively and resolve them quickly. Equally important, communication allows the client to manage the SLA and OLA, ensuring standards and service levels are maintained and delivered according to expectations.

If communication is not clear and well structured from all sides, issues and problems may ‘slip through the cracks’ and impact the business. This in turn will impact service delivery which may fall below expected levels, resulting in poor outcomes.

Top tip #3: Appropriate skills levels
It is vital for the outsource consultant to have the appropriate skills when engaging with a client. If consultants are not equipped with the required skills to match the needs of the client, they will not deliver the required services efficiently or effectively. This is especially important in the IT sector where outsourced services may be mission critical to the business.

Furthermore, the outsource provider must ensure that consultants are properly and continuously trained on the latest developments within their industry and the services they provide. The outsource service provider should ensure that training forms part of its consultants Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), with regular reviews and planning as well as repercussions if targets are not met.

Top tip #4: Culture fit
Another important area to consider is that of culture fit. Consultants need to align themselves with the culture of the organisation they will be working with to ensure they function optimally in their job. This requires knowledge and research from the outsource provider prior to engagement with the client. It is important to establish values, culture and ethos to ensure the outsourcer ‘fits’ in with this culture.

If the culture fit between the client and outsource provider is not aligned, it can lead to poor service delivery. Outsource providers should also be flexible and sensitive around the issue of culture fit and if there is a potential problem, to proactively remedy.

Top tip #5: Measurement of Service
All aspects of the contract including the SLA and OLA should be monitored on a regular basis to ensure the highest levels of overall satisfaction. If the contract is a large one, meetings should be more frequent. However, these meetings should be kept brief and to the point. With regular monitoring, issues can be raised, documented and adequately addressed. It is also important to obtain positive and negative feedback from the client so that the outsource provider has an understanding of what is successful and which areas need to be addressed. This allows the outsource provider to reward and remunerate consultants that are performing, keeping them motivated.

Regular service delivery surveys are also vital, allowing the outsource provider to assess the overall satisfaction of the client and address if lacking.

Top Tip #6: Maintain the management of the contract
One critical error organisations often make with outsourcing is completely relinquishing control in favour of the service provider. This often leads to poor delivery. Maintaining the management of the contract including the SLA and OLA with regular communication from the outsource provider is the final step or best practice to ensure outsourcing delivers full value.

Customers who maintain control and incorporate regular communication around this will typically receive higher levels of service and greater value than organisations that don’t.

To end
IT outsourcing is beneficial due to the skills levels required in this field and the shortage of certain specialists. However, when opting to outsource, it is important to look towards best practices that are aligned with industry standards, which will prevent misunderstandings and issues with service levels resulting in a more stable environment. This will also allow companies to make the most of their outsourced services including greater economies of scale, access to skills, cost effective services and improved productivity.

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