Archive for Październik, 2013

Avalloy saves money, improves IT systems with services from Green Apple IT

By admin, 1 października, 2013, No Comment

Avalloy, a South African company based near Pelindaba, is a producer of high-performance super-alloys that are used in a variety of applications, including the aerospace industry. Like any modern business, they rely heavily on technology in order to communicate, both internally and with their customers. When their internal IT administrator sadly passed away, the company turned to Green Apple IT to take over. Although the circumstances surrounding their adoption of outsourced IT services from Green Apple IT were tragic, they have since leveraged many benefits from the move, including cost savings and improved IT services.

“Before employing a full time resource to handle our IT, we had used another outsourcing company on a consulting basis, and developed a strong relationship with Hilton Bloomberg, who was our contact at the service provider. When circumstances forced us to seek another provider of IT services, we discovered that Hilton had jointly founded his own IT service company, Green Apple IT. Our existing relationship, assurance of his skills levels, and his knowledge of our environment, led us to appoint Green Apple IT as our service provider,” explains Elrie Viljoen, Chief Financial Officer in the HR department at Avalloy.

Green Apple IT seamlessly took over the running of Avalloy’s IT environment, handling everything from troubleshooting and support to software and hardware maintenance, email support and more. During the handover process, it also became clear that Green Apple IT could help to improve the efficiency of Avalloy’s infrastructure, saving costs and improving productivity while providing enhanced customer service.

“Avalloy requires approximately 20 users to have access to their IT infrastructure, and were using a Diginet link to provide connectivity. However, this solution was expensive and was not delivering the speeds they required. Avalloy’s productivity was negatively impacted by the slow connection, and since their location is fairly remote and connectivity infrastructure limited, ADSL or fibre were not options. We implemented a microwave link for Avalloy, which has not only improved connectivity speeds, but also helps them to save money,” says Dawie Bloomberg, Director at Green Apple IT.

With the microwave link implemented by Green Apple IT, Avalloy now has access to increased bandwidth speeds, four times more bandwidth capacity, and a reduction in costs of between R5 000,00 and R6 000,00 a month on average. Improved connectivity has allowed for enhanced communication and increased productivity, as users can now complete tasks in less time, with greater efficiency, than previously.

“The seamless takeover of our services has assisted us with business continuity, and the new ideas and upgraded connectivity brought to us by Green Apple IT have not only improved our systems and IT infrastructure. Green Apple IT has saved us a significant amount of money and this saving is recurring on a monthly basis. We are seeing Return on Investment (ROI) from using them as our service provider on an on-going basis, and are pleased with the levels of support and services provided,” concludes Viljoen.

The most important trends affecting the South Africa Contact Center Industry in 2014

By admin, 1 października, 2013, No Comment

Hosted technology provider 1Stream has released a white paper detailing the key trends affecting the South African contact center industry, including technology providers in the space.

“The market has definitely grown dramatically over the last five years,” says Bruce von Maltitz, director of 1Stream. “In the mid-2000s, we were still educating the market about cloud technology and its application. Now hosted technology has become the norm, rather than the exception to the rule. This does not, however, mean that all providers are delivering the service and technology equally well. We hope that this paper will highlight some of the pitfalls – and new features – that call center managers should consider before engaging with a provider.”

Trends highlighted in the whitepaper include:

The shifting role of the in-house IT department

Many companies are procuring IT as a service, rather than a product, in order to take advantage of the reduction in costs and improvement in quality a hosted provider can offer, due to economies of scale. This does not mean that IT will be replaced in the modern call center, but rather that IT department’s services will be complemented by hosted providers that run certain critical functions within the company. “This means that call center managers can spend less time focusing on the technical aspects of managing a call center, and more time focusing their energy on managing staff,” says Von Maltitz.

The advent of home agents

Although the exact number of call center agents working from their homes are not known, anecdotal evidence tells us that as many as 5% of call center workers are “home-shorers”. “Internationally, home agents are the number one growth segment of customer contacts and we are looking forward to seeing this model adopted widely in South Africa,” says Von Maltitz. “This not only allows companies to pursue and attract new talent, but also to lower their operating costs quite dramatically.”

The growth of smart, mobile clients

“Customers want to speak to companies via social media, and contact centers have to accommodate that desire,” says Von Maltitz. “It is no longer a fringe issue and has to be integrated into the daily workflow of contact centers.”

The increase of customer-orientated legislation

“Legislation such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) will change how call centers handle, transfer and use their customers’ information,” says Von Maltitz. “Encryption, firewalls and back-ups will be essential if companies hope to be compliant.”

1Stream also believes that drivers to the cloud have shifted from being entirely motivated by costs, towards other benefits, such as the ease of provisioning. “Cost was always seen a primary driver to the cloud, but as the market matured, call centers have realised that is the most efficient way of working. It’s no longer about recession-busting. Gartner has predicted that about 75% of all call centers will be hosted in the cloud by the end of this year.”

The paper can be downloaded in its entirety on http://www.1stream.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Key-Trends-affecting-the-South-African-Contact-Center.pdf

Duxbury signs distribution deal with Cambium Networks

By admin, 1 października, 2013, No Comment

Duxbury Networking has been appointed a distributor for Cambium Networks, a US-based vendor of broadband wireless infrastructure solutions targeted at service providers, industrial markets and large enterprises on a global scale.

The company currently has four million of its secure, resilient and scalable access and transport products deployed in more than 150 countries.

According to Andy Robb, chief technology officer at Duxbury Networking, Cambium’s latest wireless offerings are designed to appeal to several market sectors – from wireless Internet providers to enterprises looking to upgrade and broaden their data connections. “Cambium provides forward-looking solutions that deliver data, voice and video connectivity whenever and wherever it’s needed,” he says.

Robb confirms that Duxbury Networking is poised to introduce Cambium’s recently announced Gigatower wireless broadband solution to the SA market.

“The Gigatower delivers more than one gigabit of capacity via a point-to-multipoint modular design – enough capacity to support bandwidth-intensive applications such as streaming video – while extending a coverage area to more than 120 square kilometres,” he says.

“The Gigatower is based on Cambium’s unlicensed, non-line-of-sight product portfolio designed to allow users to address large numbers of users with very high throughput rates.”

Robb adds that Cambium Networks is looking to expand its product offerings – currently operating on 5.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz spectrum bands – to work in other bands, including the 2.4 GHz unlicensed and other licensed airwaves.

 

Top 10 security best practices for the South African SMB space

By admin, 1 października, 2013, No Comment

Cybercrime in South Africa is increasing at epidemic proportions and small to medium businesses have turned into key targets for cybercriminals. Small businesses rarely recover from cyber-attacks, but there are some very simple steps you can take to protect your business.

Doros Hadjizenonos, sales manager at Check Point South Africa highlights his top ten security best practices for the South African SMB space.

1. Common Passwords are Bad Passwords

Passwords are your first line of defense when it comes to security. Cybercriminals trying to break into your network will start their attack by trying the most common passwords. Ensure your employees and users are using long (over 8 characters), complex (include lower case, upper case, numbers and non-alpha characters) passwords.

2. Secure Every Entrance

All it takes is one open door to allow a cybercriminal to enter your network. Just like you secure your home by locking the front door, the back door and all the windows, think about protecting your network in the same way.

Consider all the ways someone could enter your network, then ensure that only authorised users can do so.
• Ensure strong passwords on laptops, smartphones, tablets, and WIFI access points.
• Use a Firewall with Threat Prevention to protect access to your network (like the Check Point 600 Appliance).
• Secure your endpoints (laptops, desktops) with security software such as Anti-virus, Anti-SPAM and Anti-Phishing.

3. Segment Your Network

A way to protect your network is to separate your network into zones and protect the zones appropriately. One zone may be for critical work only, where another may be a guest zone where customers can surf the internet, but not access your work network.

4. Define, Educate and Enforce Policy

Actually HAVE a security policy (many small businesses don’t) and use your Threat Prevention device to its full capacity. Spend some time thinking about what applications you want to allow in your network and what apps you do NOT want to run in your network. Educate your employees on acceptable use of the company network. Make it official. Then enforce it where you can. Monitor for policy violations and excessive bandwidth use.

5. Be Socially Aware

Social Media sites are a gold mine for cybercriminals looking to gain information on people, improving their success rate for attacks. Attacks such as phishing, and spearphishor social engineering all start with collecting personal data on individuals.
• Educate employees to be cautious with sharing on social media sites, even in their personal accounts.
• Let users know that cybercriminals build profiles of company employees to make phishing and social engineering attacks more successful.
• Train employees on privacy settings on social media sites to protect their personal information.

6. Encrypt Everything

One data breach could be devastating to your company or your reputation. Protect your data by encrypting sensitive data. And make it easy for your employees to do so.

7. Maintain your Network Like Your Car

Your network, and all its connected components, should run like a well-oiled machine. Regular maintenance will ensure it continues to roll along at peak performance and hit few speed bumps.
• Turn on automatic updates where available: Windows, Chrome, Firefox, Adobe.
• Use an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) device like the Check Point 600 Appliance to prevent attacks on non-updated laptops.

8. Cloud Caution

Cloud storage and applications are all the rage. But be cautious. Any content that is moved to the cloud is no longer in your control. And cybercriminals are taking advantage of weaker security of some Cloud providers.
• When using the Cloud, assume content sent is no longer private.
• Encrypt content before sending (including system backups) and check the security of your Cloud provider.
• Don’t use the same password everywhere, especially Cloud passwords.

9. Don’t Let Everyone Administrate

Laptops can be accessed via user accounts or administrative accounts. Administrative access allows users much more freedom and power on their laptops, but that power moves to the cybercriminal if the administrator account is hacked.
• Don’t allow employees to use a Windows account with Administrator privileges for day-to-day activities.
• Make it a habit to change default passwords on all devices, including laptops, servers, routers, gateways and network printers.

10. Address the BYOD Elephant in the Room

Start with creating a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy. Many companies have avoided the topic, but it’s a trend that continues to push forward. Don’t avoid the elephant in the room! It comes back to educating the user.
• Consider allowing only guest access (internet only) for employee owned devices.
• Enforce password locks on user owned devices.
• Access sensitive information only through encrypted VPN.
• Don’t allow storage of sensitive information on personal devices (such as customer contacts or credit card information).
• Have a plan if an employee loses their device.

Microsoft launches search for small black-owned software companies

By admin, 1 października, 2013, No Comment

Microsoft South Africa has launched a nationwide search for small black-owned software product development firms to join its highly-successful enterprise development programme.

The company today kicked off a public Request for Proposal (RFP) process for new firms looking to become part of its multi-million rand Equity Equivalent Programme (EEP), which has already seen five small companies – two of which are female-owned – grow dramatically since the launch of the programme in March 2011. Entries close on 11 October 2013.

The focus areas for the RFP will be in the education, healthcare, consumer, safety and security, mobility, cloud computing, big data and social business sectors, where Microsoft managing director Mteto Nyati believes technology can make a clear difference to current levels of service delivery.

Nyati said the programme is not aimed at providing start-up capital, but rather at turbo-charging the growth of existing companies that have potential. In the process, it will address several of the key challenges facing the country: creating jobs, developing small enterprises, building the local software economy and developing scarce technology skills.

“We’re more than two years into the programme, and our current five companies have already made huge strides in developing new business models, creating jobs, and reaching out to new markets,” said Nyati. “Our investment to date has focused on fuelling innovation in high-growth areas that are currently underserved, including safety and security, healthcare, consumer, mobility and cloud computing.”

One of the original beneficiaries of the programme, Home-Grown Business Integrations, moved from KwaZulu-Natal to Johannesburg to take advantage of new business opportunities generated by its partnership with the EEP.

The company’s Lehalima Utility Management System has helped provide convenient electricity access to houses across the country, and CEO Thaisi Shale’s vision is to be the leading utility management service provider in Africa by 2018. “And we’re not stopping there. We are ready to do even more amazing things and have already started the journey to expand our offerings to the global stage,” said Shale.

iSolv Technologies, which creates solutions around Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), encryption and secure communication, says its partnership with Microsoft has seen it grow into one of the country’s leading ICT security solutions and monitoring suppliers. “To date, we’ve been able to strengthen our internal infrastructure, increase our developer headcount and invest in a number of key assets,” said iSolv CEO Jayesh Nana.

Maxxor was already established in the mobile gaming market when it joined the programme in 2011, but director Raj Moodaley says the company has since moved into the field of B2B mobile sales apps and B2C mobile commerce solutions. “We’ve just launched our flagship product into the Microsoft Windows App Store, and we’re setting our sights on new markets such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand,” said Moodaley.

The RFP is open to small, black-owned software companies across South Africa with a maximum of 50 employees and a maximum turnover of R15 million a year. For more information about the programme, its current beneficiaries and how to apply, companies can go to www.microsofteep.co.za or SMS “Microsoft” to 44269 to check if they are eligible.

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