Archive for Grudzień, 2013

Cloud Computing – harnessing channel opportunities requires strong vendor support

By admin, 3 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

By Sven Rathjen, VP Sales EMEA at WD

Local interest in Cloud Computing is steadily growing and we are beginning to see an uptake in this platform. This is extremely positive for resellers as the Cloud presents prospects for growth and increased market share. However, this requires strong partnerships with vendors, as well as commitment from vendors themselves to work hand-in-hand with their channel to ensure growth.

With the evolution of technology and the increased quality and availability of bandwidth, the Cloud has become inevitable. The opportunity lies in helping customers migrate, install, maintain and service their Cloud solutions. The vast majority of end users simply do not have the skills or the time and inclination to do this on their own.

Data centres are also growing in South Africa as companies start looking towards the variety of Cloud offerings available. This leads to a growing necessity for appropriate storage media in these environments. In fact, according to WD analysis and research, the number of Exabytes shipped within the Cloud and enterprise will increase from less than 1000 in 2013 to more than 5000 by 2020, and by 2020 more than 75% of Exabytes will be stored on hard disk drives. This creates an opportunity for resellers to offer appropriate hard drive technology.

The Cloud is not one solution, but many, including hosted applications, backup and Disaster Recovery, to name a few. Resellers need to be able to deliver the appropriate offering for these different purposes or applications.

To help meet the Cloud challenge, WD offers a variety of data centre and enterprise solutions, including a range of enterprise drives that are geared for different purposes and applications in the data centre, and for all sizes of business. For the personal and Small Office Home Office (SOHO) market with fewer than six drive bay NAS devices, WD offers the WD Red range of hard drives for lower workload and performance. The WD Se drive can be used in SOHO, Small to Medium Business (SMB) and large enterprise markets for medium workload and performance. The WD Re drive is geared towards the enterprise, providing the combination of high performance and reliability. The WD Xe is ideal for midrange to high-end enterprise solutions for high performance and reliability.

However, while there are many opportunities, in order for resellers to be able to manage and service Cloud environments, and understand the appropriate hard drive technology, they need to have an in-depth knowledge of both the environment and the products required.

WD understands this challenge and has put several initiatives in place to promote knowledge sharing and training within the channel. WD University is an example of this, providing distributors and resellers with the skills and knowledge transfer they require to match their clients’ needs with the correct products and technology. WD also provides technical training for its channel partners, driven by a local presence that manages this training. Further bolstering its channel is its myWD partner programme that assists resellers to maximise their margins. This benefit, amongst others, are only available to resellers that purchase WD stock from authorised WD distributors in South Africa.

Ultimately taking advantage of the Cloud requires vendors that are committed, consistent, loyal and stable towards their channel partners. Vendors need to see the value in long-term branding and mutually beneficial partnerships, which builds trust, understanding and loyalty to the brand form all sides. Only in this way will the Cloud not erode the channel, but help to build it and grow profitable market share.

Sizwe IT Group announces completion of buy-out from the ConvergeNet Group

By admin, 3 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

Sizwe IT Group, a leading Level 2 B-BBEE accredited ICT services company, has announced the buy-out of the company and its subsidiaries from the ConvergeNet Group with some regulatory conditions to be fulfilled. The transaction, valued at R120 million, was effective as of 1 September 2013.

The new shareholding structure includes Alexisource (Pty) Ltd – represented by Hanno van Dyk; and Loxisource (Pty) Ltd – with shares held by Ms Sibongile Radebe and Mendo Cables (Pty) Ltd. Sizwe is also finalising a further BEE transaction which will put the revised shareholding into the hands of a very strong BEE contributor.

Tim Modise has resigned as CEO, effective 30 November 2013, and sold his shares in the company. Modise will be pursuing new ventures within the ICT sector and will continue to consult to Sizwe on an ad hoc basis. He is succeeded by Hanno van Dyk, who will assume the role of CEO.

“The board would like to extend their warmest thanks to Mr Modise for his outstanding leadership and service to the company. We have learned a great deal from his knowledge and vision, and wish him well in his future endeavours,” says Hanno van Dyk.

Mr van Dyk, formally Sizwe’s Chief Financial Officer, studied accountancy and practiced as an accountant in a civil engineering concern for a few years. He entered the IT sector as an entrepreneur to successfully run his own business for a period of six years, before founding Sizwe with Mr Ben Kekana in 2001.

Mr van Dyk will be supported by a strong management team including Mr Jos Matthysen – Executive: Managed Services, Mr Wimpie Jonck – Executive: Unified Network Solutions, Mr Rudi Fourie – Executive: Fibre and Facilities Management, Mr Minderd Spoelstra – Executive: Partners, Products and Solutions, Ms Sibongile Radebe – Executive: Corporate Development and Mr Sagie Naidoo – Group Financial Manager.

The restructuring has also seen changes to the board. The new board will be chaired by Reverend
Dr Vukile Mehana, and will include Hanno van Dyk, Sibongile Radebe, Sagie Naidoo, Minderd Spoelstra and Steve Naude.

Mr van Dyk says: “While the past two years have seen little revenue growth, the restructuring process completed during August 2013 aligns the business with current challenges facing the ICT sector, and we are already seeing a difference in client service delivery levels and revenue. Going forward, we see growth in the Managed Services, Unified Communications and the Fibre and Facilities businesses. Our experienced management team, with the support of technology partners and vendors will deliver on our growth targets for 2014.”

According to Sizwe Chairman, Reverend Dr Vukile Mehana, “I am extremely pleased to be involved with Sizwe which has demonstrated itself as a robust ICT service provider. Sizwe is ideally positioned to provide innovative solutions to the public and private sector, particularly at a time when technology is a key enabler of the delivery of services in the South African socio economic space, especially in the health and education sectors.”

Green Building Council of South Africa honours Sage VIP’s contribution to the industry

By admin, 3 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

At a prestigious celebratory event held this week at Sage VIP’s green home in Menlyn Maine, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) honoured founding sponsors and pioneers in the green building industry for their part in contributing to the organisation’s growth over the last six years. The GBCSA is a non-profit company and leads the transformation of the South African property industry to ensure that buildings are designed, built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way.

Menlyn Maine is one of Africa’s first green cities, designed for better living and a more dynamic, healthy lifestyle. Located in Pretoria’s eastern suburbs, Menlyn Maine offers offices, residential, shopping and entertainment facilities situated in the heart of the new business district.

“It was a privilege to host the GBCSA’s honorary event and we are proud of our association with the organisation,” says Anton van Heerden, MD of Sage VIP, a leading supplier of human resource and payroll management solutions.

“Our green office building is extremely energy efficient and environmentally friendly and was designed to be simplistic in nature, in addition, maintenance costs were limited by integrating sustainable design principles into all aspects of the structure. Our building has a four star rating according to the Green Star SA – Office v1 design rating, which recognises best practice principles that the building project demanded,” explains Van Heerden.

The GBCSA’s CEO, Brian Wilkinson said: “Our mission is to lead the transformation of the South African property industry to environmental sustainability. This would not be possible without the support of organisations such as Sage VIP, who have made significant contributions to the green building movement and are changing the perceptions in the industry.

South Africa’s retailers are leading the way in enabling mobile payments

By admin, 3 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

By Howard Moodycliffe, Commercial and Marketing Head at wiGroup

Turning our mobile phones into wallets has been a dream for a long time. The phone in your pocket is already an address book, camera, diary, music player, GPS system, notebook, dictaphone, photo album and general factotum – why shouldn’t it also replace your wallet, with all its clunky coins, notes, credit cards and vouchers you keep forgetting about?

The biggest obstacle to making this dream a reality has always been the sheer complexity of electronic transactions: Every time you present your credit card at a till you initiate an intricate dance between the retailer, your bank, the retailer’s bank, and a financial switch. It only takes milliseconds, but the system behind that deceptively simply action is the carefully tended product of decades of development. Introducing new actors into the dance is hard.

Hard, but not impossible: Much of the behind-the-scenes infrastructure needed to make mobile transactions a reality is already in place. The final, hardest hurdle is the point of sale itself. Any retailer who wants to accept mobile payments, including mobile vouchers and coupons, has to physically enable those transactions on every single one of the tens or hundreds or thousands of till points across the country – and then train the operators in how to use.

It doesn’t take much imagination to realise what an expensive exercise this is. It’s an expense retailers are willing to undertake – if they can be assured that it will pay off. But if the return on their investment depends on the success of any one application or mobile payment system, it’s dead in the water. No matter how brilliant that one app or system might be, it will never capture 100% of the market; and there will always be another one along next week that could suddenly overtake all the others in popularity. Customers who get told “Sorry, we only accept mobile payments from X wallet or Y bank” will complain loudly or take their money elsewhere – not the outcome any retailer wants.

This helps to explain why the takeoff of mobile transacting has been delayed for so long – and also why it’s now finally gaining traction.

The key has been to reduce the risk to retailers by removing the need for them to make an exclusive, all-or-nothing commitment. By installing a platform layer that any app, system or mobile payment services provider can plug into, retailers like Shoprite Checkers and Pick n Pay are, for the first time ever, making in-store mobile transacting a success.

How an open platform like this works is easiest to understand by analogy with mobile phone app stores. It’s hard to remember now, but Apple completely changed the world of mobile phones with its first App Store in 2008. For the first time, phone owners had access to a wide variety of apps that could make their phone do just about anything – and were easy to install. On the other side of the equation, it was the first time app developers – whether established companies or 15-year-olds coding in their bedrooms — were easily able to reach millions of potential customers. The result was an explosion of creative innovation that is showing no signs of stopping. Since the first day the App Store opened with few hundred apps, it’s grown to more than 900,000 apps have been downloaded a collective 50 billion times. Apple has paid out $10bn to developers.

The mobile transaction platform currently being pioneered by South African retailers works on the same basis. For banks, mobile app developers and payment service providers it provides a single interface through which they can reach any retailer and its customers. For the retailers, it means they can enable any mobile transaction method at the till quickly and easily through a single integration, helping them to respond flexibly to new opportunities and changing customer demand.

The results are impressive. At Shoprite’s Hungry Lion fast food franchise, for example, customers have already redeemed well over a million mobile coupons for discounts, free extras or purchase upsizes; at Pick n Pay, MTN Mobile Money transactions are growing phenomenally by the day. To date, the platform has processed transactions worth over one and a half billion rand.

What happens next? That’s limited only by our imaginations.

 

 

Bytes launches new biometrics tool to reduce overtime claims

By admin, 3 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

Bytes Universal Systems has launched a new biometrics product for its SAMRASplus suite of next-generation local municipality ERP to help organisations combat excessive overtime, invalid sick leave and other time and attendance-related fraud.

NAVAJO Exception Reporting(HR), part of Bytes Universal Systems’ homegrown biometrics framework NAVAJO, is fully integrated with the SAMRASplus Overtime and Leave modules to enable seamless biometric management of employee activities in the workplace. Using NAVAJO, management can accurately track all staff movements and compare them to officially recorded time and attendance logs, with any exceptions visible on the SAMRASplus dashboard.

“This is not a ‘Big Brother’ solution but rather a means of combatting the current scourge in overtime claims that many of our customers are battling with,” says Brian Brougham-Cook, general manager, SAMRAS and MTS, Bytes Universal Systems.

“For instance some customers have reported incidents where maintenance staff have clocked in much more time for service calls than GPS data would suggest,” says Brougham-Cook. “By combining NAVAJO with the Netstar vehicle tracking solution built in to SAMRASplus, all as part of a customer’s time and attendance workflow, managers can immediately see how long a service call takes – including driving time and time spent onsite – when drivers log in and out of the trip on biometric scanners.

“The solution is also effective in tracking employee leave time, since employees have to physically be at work to log in and out. This virtually eliminates opportunities for overtime fraud, such as not capturing a leave transaction, not working shift hours, or adding extra hours to overtime claims.”

As part of the NAVAJO family, NAVAJO Exception Reporting can be used with biometric devices from any vendor, which means municipalities can add to their existing infrastructure as needed rather than having to replace their existing devices.

“With NAVAJO and SAMRASplus our customers can be assured that regardless of the biometrics solution they implement, the system will deliver consistent results – even if they decide to change hardware vendors down the line,” says Brougham-Cook. “And because it’s NAVAJO it makes life easy for our customers since employees only need to capture their biometric profiles once.”

SAMRASplus is an extension to Bytes Universal Systems’ industry-standard, purpose-built local municipality ERP system SAMRAS (South African Municipal Resource Administration System). Powered by Microsoft SharePoint, SAMRASplus provides organisations with a comprehensive Web portal that integrates with SAMRAS Classic modules such as payroll, HR, billing and expenditure.

It also offers extensive document management and workflow capabilities, as well as various reporting tools and dashboards for information workers. SAMRASplus tools change the way information is retrieved, shared and managed, enabling improved service delivery and faster ROI.

 

Adapt IT introduces full BPO service at Sol Plaatje University

By admin, 3 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

The importance of education is constantly highlighted by government as a means of enabling disadvantaged citizens to overcome their existing situations and achieve a better life. Therefore, it is no surprise that government fast tracked the establishment of the new Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape Province. Of course, a new institution of this nature requires an efficient administrative infrastructure to support its operations, which is why the university turned to Adapt IT.

Adapt IT will provide the university business process outsource (BPO) services using the ITS Integrator enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, using infrastructure owned and operated by the company itself. The physical and logical infrastructure will be managed by Adapt IT, meaning that the university will not have to invest in any capital infrastructure, but will instead pay for services rendered on a usage/subscription basis.

According to Louis Lötter, executive manager for business solutions, timetabling, training and development at Adapt IT, the company will execute a range of administrative roles on behalf of the university.

“We are providing assistance in four main areas, the first of which is student administration. This entails maintaining the academic offerings, recording student applications and ensuring the enrolment of admitted students, as well as maintenance of the academic record of the students,” he says.

“We will take care of human resources and payroll by maintaining full records of all employees, ensure that leave records are kept up to date, perform monthly payroll processes and assist with the generation of IRP5 forms at the correct time.”

From a finance perspective, Lötter points out that Adapt IT will seek to maintain student debtor records, process orders, invoices and generate payments for creditors, maintain cash books and perform electronic payment activities and perform monthly reconciliations of sub ledgers with the general ledger, as well as providing monthly financial information. In addition, it will assist with the financial year-end process and the preparation of the audit pack for the auditors. Finally, he adds, the company will take care of the university’s asset register, starting with the process required to build such a register.

According to Prof Yunus Ballim, Interim Head at Sol Plaatje University, the fact that it is a brand new educational institution meant that there was an absence of appropriate processes, infrastructure and staff during the start-up phase.

“We needed assistance with financial transaction recording, processing and oversight. This included assistance with accounting and reporting of financial activities at the university, for use by management, governance structures and auditors. Utilising Adapt IT’s services means that we are assured of proper control, reporting and management of the finances of the university,” he says.

“Sol Plaatje University is in the process of appointing staff and expects to begin registering students from January 2014. In terms of the agreements, Adapt IT will provide BPO services from October 2013 through to March 2015. We are well aware of Adapt IT’s extensive experience within the higher education sector, so making them our BPO service provider was the most logical choice.”

Lötter adds that the objective is to assist the university to become operational without an upfront investment in information technology or training in the use of an ERP system. Transactions, he says, will simply be recorded on source documents which will be used by Adapt IT to store it in electronic form in a database.

“The ITS Integrator system will run on servers that are hosted by Adapt IT. The key advantage here is that the institution can initially focus on its core activity of teaching, while at the same time developing its administrative capability over a period of time. Thanks to our services, they are nonetheless able to ensure good corporate governance in the interim development phase. Clearly, Sol Plaatje University sees this as the most cost effective way to become fully operational in a very short period of time,” he concludes.

Alienware announce the winners of their Cosplay Competition from rAge 2013

By admin, 3 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

Dell Alienware is proud to announce the winners of their Cosplay competition that was held at Africa’s leading three-day technology and gaming exhibition rAge that was held at the Coca-Cola dome for professional and leisure gamers from 4-6 October 2013.

Alienware once again partnered with Telkom and EA gaming at rAge and hosted an Alienware themed cosplay competition. Attendees at rAge were encouraged to attend in “Alienwear” or an alien themed cosplay. A photo booth was set up at the Telkom stand where cosplayers had their picture taken, which was then uploaded to the Do Gaming Facebook page. The top 3 participants with the most likes stood a chance to win some amazing prizes all sponsored by Alienware, Telkom and EA.

The results have been finalized, and Dell Alienware is proud to announce the winners. The overall winner of the competition is Jean Drew, who wore a Rubick costume, and received 2235 likes. Jean walks away with the grand prize of an Alienware Aurora unit for the first prize valued at R35 000.00, Battlefield 4 from EA and a 100GB Telkom data bundle. The second prize goes to Maxine Puren, who came in at 2112 likes spotting an Avatar look. She walks away with a TACTX gaming headset, an Alienware enhanced gaming keyboard, Battlefield 4 from EA and a 50GB Telkom data bundle. The third and final prize of a TACTX gaming headset, Battlefield 4 from EA and a 30GB Telkom data bundle goes to Gabriella Jardine, with 1029 likes, also in an Avatar style face art and a cowgirl garb. Alienware would like to congratulate all the winners and salutes all the participants of the competition.

Alienware is a pioneer in specialty high-performance PC gaming systems and it made its South African debut at rAge 2010, where it introduced its latest and most powerful gaming laptops, uniquely engineered to deliver the ultimate gaming experience for the avid gamer.

More info on the latest Alienware products

The latest Alienware range of products was launched in September 2013; these include the Alienware 14, Alienware 17 and Alienware 18, which all feature a new, iconic, angular design that takes its cues from jet engines and stealth bombers with an anodised aluminum shell and magnesium alloy body. The latest laptops are exceptionally durable, with over 60 percent of the main mechanical components made of various metals. The keyboard is protected by a reinforced plate to ensure a solid typing experience, while the travel and responsiveness is specifically designed with gamers’ needs in mind. Based on customer feedback, the new Alienware 14 now features an anti-glare LCD display with wide viewing angles for reflection-free gaming in nearly any lighting condition, including a premium Full HD panel option with IPS. For 3D gaming enthusiasts, the Alienware 17 has an optional 3D panel for an immersive visual experience, while the Alienware 18 will feature a Full HD display with PLS wide viewing-angle technology. The new X51 offers more performance with improved technology in nearly every category over the previous generation. The compact desktop features an efficiently-designed chassis for an immersive experience in a variety of living spaces, and dual orientation capability allows it to lie horizontally or stand vertically. The new X51 boasts Intel 4th generation Core i5 and i7 processors, enthusiast graphics up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670, a dual hard drive configuration of 256GB SSD, and 1TB storage for fast boot and resume times and massive storage capabilities.

Availability

The Alienware 14, Alienware 17 and Alienware 18 laptops, Alienware X51 desktop and Alienware Vindicator laptop bags are available today on www.alienware.co.za or at Incredible Connection.

Are more businesses turning their backs on BYOD?

By admin, 1 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

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BYOD and working flexibly are vital tenets of many modern businesses, but there’s no denying that both are still viewed with a certain scepticism in some quarters.

You only need to look as far as Yahoo’s decision to ban working from home earlier this year for very public evidence of this, not to mention recent calls for businesses to ban the Facebook ‘Home’ launcher for Android devices for fear of security breaches.

These fears are understandable, there are very real security threats that can be introduced by flexible working policies and unrestrained BYOD. However, these are not threats that are insurmountable and there are benefits to be enjoyed by businesses that can contain the risks.

To deal with the threats inherent in remote and flexible working, it is vital to have a network which is contextually aware. By this I mean a network which can identify the source of traffic geographically, by type of device and by authentication and then make intelligent decisions based on this information.

Say your CEO is trying to access files from the server on their personal laptop; if the correct security software installed and network access is secure then that would be fine, but if there was a question over the security of the connection or the device, the network could intelligently deliver a read-only access to the files that they need. Preventing any unwanted intrusion attempts while simultaneously allowing the CEO to make use of the IT resources they expect to be available. It’s a win-win. The network is secure and the CEO can work unimpeded.

BYOD is a slightly different matter. A contextually aware network will help to deliver appropriate content types to a mobile device (for example, delivering lower resolution images to improve load times on mobile web apps) but the security implications of having personal and corporate information housed on the same device are still there.

I know very few people who are happy to have their personal communications and files monitored by their company, but this is frequently the approach taken in the current generation of mobile device management tools. Far better, is to have a separation of the business apps and files from the personal. This can be achieved by management at the application, rather than device, level – or as we call it: BYOD 2.0.

Mobile application management adds a layer of control to only those applications used for business purposes, encrypting data and making sure that only secure connections are used to transmit it. This means that corporate oversight is kept only to the corporate functions of the device, granting users the freedom to use their devices for both personal and business purposes with peace of mind, and giving businesses the control that they require.

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