Archive for Kwiecień, 2013

Tablets, smartphones fuel local telepresence market, says Kathea

By admin, 29 kwietnia, 2013, No Comment

By Alain Schram, Chief Operating Officer at Kathea

Smartphones and tablets continue to nab market share from more traditional computing technologies, such as netbooks, as they are integrated into the enterprise arena. Apple’s iPad and tablets featuring Android-enabled operating systems, for example, have given rise to a new class of mobility that extends productivity and telepresence beyond the office.

Today’s tablets feature advanced collaborative applications, larger processor capacities, bigger, higher definition screens and cameras, improved audio equipment, as well as faster, more resilient wireless mobile network connectivity.

While video mobile collaboration is yet to take hold in South Africa, there is definitely a shift in organisations’ mindsets where they now turn to us to create in-house mobile applications for their mobile workforce. These applications include a blend of audio, teleconferencing and online collaboration tools such as email and document sharing.

Industry-specific products and services
One example of this is the use of telepresence in the short term insurance industry. Insurance organisations are now enabling assessors to view damages of customer vehicles or property via video conferencing to speed up claim processing. These companies deploy, for example, casual employees to visit customers at their locations and provide video and photographic evidence of the damaged items, which is fed back directly to the Assessor.

Similarly, the real estate industry is also benefiting from video conferencing technology, allowing clients to view homes via video phone or tablet in real time, before they decide to go to the physical locale. However, industries that stand to benefit the most from mission-critical telepresence solutions are the education and healthcare sectors.

With the constant pressure to increase the quality of patient care and the desire to provide new services, while at the same time controlling costs, healthcare providers are leveraging the power of video networks to link patients, specialists, and clinicians, thus extending the reach of healthcare. Live digital video and high-speed network connections enable physicians to evaluate and diagnose illnesses in real-time, without the need for either the patient or physician to travel.

This could revolutionise healthcare in South Africa, particularly in rural areas where medical specialists are in short supply. Additionally, medical professionals also have the convenience of being able to obtain Continuing Medical Education (CME), access certification programs, and train through video conferencing or pre-recorded classroom sessions, something that was never possible before.

Education is another area where telepresence can effectively address the skills shortage challenges in South Africa. Education today faces major changes as primary, secondary, and tertiary educators try to address global opportunities, challenges, and needs while putting it in the local context. However, outside of the metropolitan areas, South Africa is still very rural and students in smaller communities do not have access to the same learning activities that are available to kids in more affluent urban areas.

By deploying video systems in the classrooms, provinces can pool their resources and deliver innovative and enriching content to students. While budget cuts have left rural schools with very basic offerings, distance learning can provide advanced and elective classes.

Moving towards e-Government
While South Africa has an e-government plan and an ICT strategy in place today, despite the boom in the use of personal computers, the Internet and mobile device use at home, office, and around the world, governments have yet to solve the issues related to poor service delivery and inter-departmental collaboration.

This issue is amplified by the fact that many government departments predominantly operate in silos and have issues with regard to sharing information and knowledge in real time, leading to slower decision making and resource coordination in times of crisis. Governments can address many of these challenges provided they integrate video as a core application in their unified communications strategy, which involves the convergence of data, voice, applications, services, and visual communications into a single continuum or network.

Technologies such as immersive telepresence, which is visual communications that offer a true-to-life virtual meeting experience, can offer the same level of interactivity and efficiency as that of face-to-face communication without the added time and expenses incurred by travelling to a central location.

High cost of doing business
While the technology infrastructure is all in place in South Africa, the cost of wireless bandwidth/data bundles, is still very prohibitive compared to that of other countries. South Africa’s mobile networks are out pricing the telepresence market. It prohibits the market from being economically competitive. That said, in certain niche industries we have seen that companies are more than prepared to absorb the cost because of the productivity savings they incur.

One of the areas in which telepresence vendors are innovating is in compressing data to get more information on a finite amount of bandwidth. Polycom, for one, has been able to reduce the collaboration bandwidth by half. Even with service providers expanding their network offerings, this kind of traffic reduction will be crucial as data use continues to grow exponentially.

Looking to the future of telepresence, devices such as tablets will be part of the wider mix of products and components in the telepresence network. Tablets will potentially have a role in communicating to each other, but it will be a blended experience, being able to use a tablet while at a remote location and interfacing with colleagues using a room-based system.

 

Security on multiple devices requires holistic approach

By admin, 29 kwietnia, 2013, No Comment

By Fred Mitchell, Security Business Unit Manager at Drive Control Corporation (DCC)

Today most company employees use multiple devices to access business critical information within and outside of the organisation. Computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones have truly revolutionised the way we work. While this has sped up the pace of business, many small to medium enterprises (SMEs) often don’t understand the security threats associated with bracing the wide variety of access ‘end points’.

Online crime syndicates have a vast amount of experience and research their targets very carefully through information that is publicly available, as well as through social engineering strategies. Smaller companies often think that because of their size and scope their organisation will never be targeted. However, it is often the unsuspecting employee that unknowingly paves the way for a security compromise from within the organisation.

The problem is compounded by the fact that companies now have multiple copies of data residing on various computing devices within and outside the company walls. The same file can exist multiple times on a network and while the information may be secure on the company server, it could have been negligently copied elsewhere on an unprotected device that could lead to an information breach.

Organisations can therefore no longer rely solely on traditional firewall, antivirus and antispyware solutions as a security strategy for their enterprise information. Companies need to take a holistic approach to enterprise security that effectively protects their organisation from threats at all levels, ranging from servers, laptops, desktops, mobile devices and storage devices that can have access to information on the network.

This requires multiple, overlapping, and mutually supportive “policy-based” defensive systems to guard against single-point failures in any specific technology or protection methodology. The problem that many companies face is that deploying these security products individually on each device is not only time-consuming, but it also increases IT complexity and costs.

Organisations then need to provide management, training, and support for a variety of different endpoint security solutions. Also, differing technologies can often work against one another or impede system performance due to high resource consumption. Organisations now need to take a structured approach to enterprise security, implementing a comprehensive solution that not only protects from threats on all levels, but also provides interoperability, seamless implementation, and centralised management.

The consolidation of one’s security strategy into a single unified security architecture has many benefits. It enables operational efficiencies such as a single communication method and content delivery across all of the users and devices within the organisation. Policy and service configuration can be performed centrally at a single point on the client or at the management server which allows only certain information to be accessed by identified employees, and automated security updates to all users on the network provide protection from the latest known and unknown threats.

An important part of any security strategy is that of user education, and often re-education. To mitigate risks within the organisation, individuals themselves can take more security precautions to ensure that their information will not be compromised. When conducting higher-risk Internet activities such as online banking or purchases, consumers should do so only on a company’s computers and not on public computers at Internet cafés or libraries. Furthermore employees should also avoid following links from emails as these may be links to spoofed websites. Instead, they should manually type in the URL of the website.

In addition to security measures that can be addressed at server level, companies should also keep their employees notified of the latest phishing attacks and how to avoid falling victim to them. For example, users should never view, open, or execute any email attachment unless the attachment is expected and comes from a known and trusted source, and unless the purpose of the attachment is known. Users should also review their bank, credit card, and credit information frequently as this can provide information on any irregular activities.

Organisations should also educate users to be extremely cautious about visiting unknown or untrusted websites and viewing or following links in unsolicited emails. To limit the propagation of threats through removable drives such as memory sticks, administrators should ensure that all such devices are scanned for viruses when they are connected to a computer. Again, policy and user education should be implemented to prevent users from attaching unauthorised devices to computers within the enterprise.

Companies have to begin to realise that the IT security landscape has changed dramatically. Many sophisticated threats evade traditional security solutions, leaving organisations vulnerable to data theft and manipulation, disruption of business-critical services, and damage to company brand and reputation. Financially motivated attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in endpoint devices on company networks are a reality today and organisations have to continuously revisit their security strategies to remain protected.

 

Africa Coast to Europe consortium and Alcatel-Lucent further strengthen broadband continuity in Africa

By admin, 29 kwietnia, 2013, No Comment

Maintenance of the ACE system will be supported by Cape Verde-based Alcatel-Lucent cable ship

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) and the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) consortium have signed a contract for the maintenance of more than 6,300km of the ACE system linking Africa to Portugal. In commercial service since December 2012, ACE interconnects today 15 African countries, seven of which has been connected to the global Internet backbone for the first time.

With an ultimate design capacity of 5.12 Terabit/s, ACE provides a high speed data network that cost-effectively support innovative broadband services such as e-education and healthcare applications and that is designed to address present and future needs for connectivity and capacity. The overall system spans 17,000 km linking South Africa to France – via Namibia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Tenerife (Spain) and Portugal.

ACE joins other African systems into the Atlantic Private Maintenance Agreement (APMA), allowing operators to access Alcatel-Lucent’s maintenance vessels, as well as experienced, fully trained, and certified specialist personnel for cable repairs.

Yves Ruggeri, Chairman of the consortium’s Management Committee said: “Since its commercial service, ACE has delivered fast and cost-effective capacity to end-users, demonstrating to be a valid alternative route to provide everyone with broadband access. Alcatel-Lucent’s turnkey expertise and experience will help us maintain the reliability and continuity of services that are so crucial to social and economic development.”

Philippe Dumont, President of Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks said: “This contract further strengthens Alcatel-Lucent’s leading role as a marine service provider, helping operators ensure optimal network availability and quality of service. We are pleased to continue our cooperation with the ACE consortium to deliver a tailored solution adapting to the particular maintenance philosophies of individual cable owners and their needs.”

12”:Boney M.,The Summer Mega Mix (PWL Remixes)[NM] (Hansa)

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