With a multi-functional set top box, we can uplift and empower . and broadcasters can more quickly monetize new business models
9 January 2011
With switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting set for December 2013 in South Africa and the Department of Communications announcing plans to commence its marketing campaign to the public 'before the 2011 festive season', a number of questions around one key item - the set top box - need to be asked. Cheap and nasty may not be the way to go - not for broadcasters peering into the vast well of opportunity that going 'all-digital' offers; and not for South Africa's public, a significant portion of which still need to take the first step onto that bridge that spans the digital divide.
Jasco Broadcast Solutions has a 30-year history in the broadcasting industry, and has assisted its customers through the migration to digital along the entire broadcast value chain - from acquisition to production, post-production, storage and transmission. On each step of this journey, broadcasters have realised immense benefits: 'digital everything' means better quality, less effort, greater flexibility, and better management capabilities. But all the technology in the world is not worth much if this new freedom to repackage and repurpose content, and send it to viewers along different channels (TV broadcast but also any IP channel) and to different end devices (mobile phone, TV, laptop, gaming device) cannot be monetised.
As we switch to digital broadcast, the most obvious benefit for broadcasters is the capability to put out more channels at less cost. For the viewer this means more choice. But to view the digital content, which will be broadcast to a conventional TV antenna or aerial, a set top box (STB) that converts the signal from digital to analogue is needed. For a large segment of South Africa's more than 14 million TV set owners, the cost of such a device is prohibitive - which is why government will be subsidising their purchase by 6% of the population. The bigger question, however, is the capability these locally manufactured STB's will have.
Digital broadcast brings interactive voice, video and data capabilities. The business models that digital content is spawning can be seen in international markets. Mobile TV, IPTV, Internet browsing from the TV set, interactive gaming and shopping. the list goes on.
Cisco Systems, in fact, did a study at the beginning of 2011 looking at the future of TV. It came up with the following:
·with access to multiple libraries of content, on-demand viewing will
make 'channels' as we know them something of the past;
·screens will be everywhere - mounted on walls, used as mirrors,
wristwatches, phones, laptops, PC screens and gaming devices;
·advertising will change since we can choose what we view - goodbye
·you are the star - amateur video, like YouTube videos, will be
·you can take your content with you everywhere, transferring content
from one device to another or from the cloud as you move through your
More players - notably in the packet based Internet Protocol (IP) realm (which needs to be distinguished from digital terrestrial and satellite signals) - are entering the fray as content truly becomes king and accessing it becomes ever easier. While bandwidth cost and availability in South Africa, despite recent advances, are still not at levels suitable to make international business models an immediate reality, they may be closer than we think. Netflix, which launched in the US in 1997 (that's 14 years ago) is a supplier of on-demand Internet streaming media that essentially allows users to pick from an archive of movie and TV programmes, then delivers the content using telecommunications channels to computers running Windows or Mac OS X and to compatible devices, which include Microsoft's Xbox (Netflix via Wii) and a number of Blu-Ray Disc players. Then there's Google TV, an interactive television overlay that provides an interface to existing internet TV and WebTV sites, allowing users to access the Internet, browse websites and watch TV. Any Android or Apple mobile device can be used for a remote, and Google TV products - high-definition Sony television sets and Blu-Ray Disc players that incorporate the Google TV platform, as well as Logitech set top boxes - come with a remote that has a full QWERTY keyboard.
Will broadcasters be leapfrogged?
These are exciting developments - and frightening to some degree for broadcasters who will have to rethink their business models, ensuring they remain competitive by launching the value-added services and capabilities their customers will demand. Even so-called 'third-world' customers.
For broadcasters, one of the biggest challenges is finding new ways to monetize their services. With advertising revenues being eliminated by technologies that give users the means to avoid or skip over ad breaks, new revenue creating business models need to be developed. Is the writing on the wall for broadcasting as we know it? These players may have as little as a five year window to reinvent themselves. They dare not underestimate appetite for adoption of new technologies and services that are relevant to a new 'digital' lifestyle.
As the fevered adoption of mobile technology across the African continent shows, people, and perhaps especially the poor that have been marginalised and stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide for too long, are hungry for input, connectivity and content of their choice.
For countries like those on the African continent where basic infrastructure - for communication, education, healthcare - is limited, digital broadcast offers not only the opportunity to introduce more educational content and e-Government services, but bridge the digital divide. A cheap, limited functionality STB won't make that possible. One-way, downstream communication from the broadcaster is a limiting option.
Broadcasters in South Africa still have a long way to go in terms of understanding the intricacies of operating and managing these new services, business models and client relationships. If fact, for many, the first technology pilots are only now getting underway. Jasco Broadcast Solutions' domain is technology and equipment supply, solution design and implementation. As we look globally to find the best solutions to meet our clients' needs, we are seeing, at a very different level, the beginning of an immense transformation in the industry. The technology is here. How it is applied will make all the difference to the ongoing competitiveness of broadcasters.
Here's hoping the DoC's standards for the set top box, which include interactivity (a USB port for connectivity, by cell phone or network), are not bypassed for 'affordability'.
For more information visit us at Jasco Broadcast Solutions at www.jasco.co.za
Press release: Customise your viewing with the new Philips 24-inch LED monitor from DCC
10 January 2012
Tilt, pivot, swivel, adjust your viewing height or even change your screen display from landscape to portrait quickly and easily. Get customisable large screen viewing with the innovative new Philips 241P3 24-inch LED monitor, available from distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC).
This large, eco-friendly professional monitor features an ergonomic base with built in stereo audio and an onboard USB port for added value. It delivers brilliant full high definition (FHD) display with a super high contrast ratio and superior colour reproduction thanks to consistent brightness across the screen.
"This product has been designed with the professional user in mind. The height adjustable base allows for 130mm of vertical movement, and the screen angle can be pivoted on both the x and y axis to achieve the ideal individual viewing angle. With the 90 degree screen rotation the display can also be switched to portrait should this be required, and a host of added features enhance the user experience," says Tyrone Young, Country Manager, Philips Monitors.
SmartImage technology analyses the content displayed on your screen and gives you optimised display performance. At the touch of a button, you can dynamically adjust the contrast, colour saturation and sharpness of images and videos for ultimate display performance. The Economy mode option offers superior power saving capabilities, with running consumption as low as 12 watts.
Stylish, intelligent touch controls respond to your lightest touch to adjust monitor settings, and the on-board USB port allows you to conveniently connect your plug and play multimedia devices such as USB memory devices, cameras, portable hard drives, webcams and printers. Dual VGA and DVI connectivity allows dual screen display to be set up in a matter of seconds.
"The Philips 241P3 addresses an underserved market segment. The majority of today's large screen LED displays have a fixed base, and are aimed at the consumer market. This monitor offers the ergonomic features desired by the professional user with value adds such as built in speakers and a USB port and all of the environmental, power saving and viewing benefits of an LED screen," says Bruce Byrne, Visual Communications Specialist at DCC.
The Philips 241P3 is EPEAT Gold and Energy Star 5 rated, mercury, halogen and lead free and ships in 100% recyclable packaging to minimise carbon footprint. It is available immediately from DCC's resellers.
A 3-week engagement can boost your outputs and revenues, as well as reduce costs
By Jeff Bowyer, Manager Professional Services at Jasco Enterprise
10 January 2012
A contact centre is futile without agents; and the quality of their service represents the bread and butter of the entire contact centre. But management of agents is not the only task of contact centre executives. Running any business well means optimising processes and operations, and strategically targeting outputs that will deliver on the objectives set. That may mean getting in professionals - the business analysts, training experts, developers or project managers -- to get the job done.
Good generalists rely on skilled professionals and experts in business for a very simple reason: they are keenly aware that managers may well be able to identify a problem, but are often too close to the coalface or operations of the business to see the root cause of that problem or resolve it adequately.
When they are fully capable of solving the problem, they often lack the time needed to do so. Business specialists, on the other hand, know how to zero in and resolve the challenge quickly and effectively. They bring fresh methodologies, insight gained from previous experience and even new and useful technologies. But specialised business knowledge alone won't deliver a successful outcome - industry insight and experience are vital.
A typical challenge in a contact centre may be improving agent processes; for example speeding up wrap-up, reducing agent error, reducing average call length, automating repetitive manual tasks or improving first call resolution levels. This may entail adapting processes, modifying or integrating systems. In a contact centre providing support for banking customers, asking a business analyst that works in the bank's back offices to assist may be of limited use. Without insight into the contact centre environment, finding a suitable solution or developing new services will be very difficult.
How much value can a professional add? It's hard to give an absolute measure, but processes can always be improved, so there is always value to be added.
. A Jasco Enterprise client was using several applications on the
agent desktop. Agents needed to navigate through the different
applications for security checks, to enter transactions and for record
keeping. As a result much of the process was not followed and the
agent time spent on administration was excessive. By doing the necessary
process work and supplying the right technology solution, the client was
able to increase the time agents could talk to customers, rather than
navigate applications. In addition risk was reduced by ensuring the
security processes were followed every time.
. Another client needed to improve the efficiency and success rate of
its outbound agents. By improving the process and identifying the right technology solutions, staff productivity was more than doubled, agents
sold more and turnover increased. This client was able to do twice the
work with the same number of agents.
In our experience - and Jasco Enterprise has been in contact centre and enterprise telephony enablement and optimisation for three decades - speeding up bad processes is no answer at all. And throwing more technology at the problem is also not fail proof. In fact, today only a small proportion of the available functionality of technology systems in contact centres is actually being exploited. A specialist - a professional with the right experience - will deliver you a tailored solution that works.
The security landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years. Not only are there an ever increasing number of threats to the network that must be guarded against, but the way we use networks has changed thanks to the advent of social networking and Web 2.0 applications. Originally, firewalls were designed to block threats at the network layer by analysing ports and protocols, however, today’s Web applications do not rely on specific ports, leaving traditional firewalls blind to threats and networks open to vulnerabilities. The time has come for Next-Generation Firewalls that combine the still necessary network protection layer with protection at the application layer, to prevent the host of modern application based threats from wreaking havoc on corporate and private networks.
“With the constant evolution of malware and security threats, protection too needs to evolve, and a few years ago one of the most popular ‘buzz phrases’ to do the security rounds was Unified Threat Management (UTM), which includes technology that combines a traditional firewall with port blocking as well as dedicated anti-virus, content and other filters at the gateway,” says Dominique Honnay, Director of Emerging Markets and EMEA Distribution at SonicWALL. “However, while UTM addresses several of the security issues that have come to the fore, it is unable to correctly identify individual applications, meaning that Web applications which are port independent can still find a way around the firewall, leaving the network open to threats.”
The Next-Generation Firewall addresses these vulnerabilities by identifying all traffic that comes into the network independently of the port, including a wide variety of protocols such as VoIP, streaming media, HTTP, HTTPS and so on. Based on certain characteristics of the data stream, Next-Generation firewalls can identify individual applications. This enables traffic to be filtered at the application layer, which when combined with traditional firewall technology provides protection at all layers of vulnerability on the network.
The latest in firewall technology enables organisations to determine usage patterns by monitoring all network traffic, which then makes it possible to create highly granular policies on a per application, per user or per user group basis, as well as by time of day or other variables. This delivers flexible control which can easily be tailored to fit the requirements of any network.
“Next-Generation Firewalls enable organisations to identify and control all of the applications being used on the network. This not only provides better protection, it also enhances compliance and data leakage prevention as well as enabling bandwidth to be more efficiently controlled. For example, bandwidth can now be allocated to mission-critical or latency sensitive applications, while restricting the use of productivity draining applications like online games or streaming video,” says Martin Tassev, Managing Director at Loophold Security Distribution.
By identifying traffic according to inherent unique characteristics rather than by source port, destination port or protocol, organisations are also empowered to control not only individual applications and categories of applications, but also specific features within applications. For example, using this technology, organisations can allow instant messaging, but block file transfers which may be a source of vulnerability, or allow Facebook access, but block access to unproductive Facebook-based games.
“In this way organisations can very tightly control application usage, allowing access to specific sites while limiting available bandwidth for these applications instead of implementing a blanket ban. This control can be taken to a very granular level, with different steps of control. As an example, the marketing department may have access to YouTube where HR does not, and the whole organisation may have limited bandwidth available for Facebook, but the CEO may be permitted to access any site and always have bandwidth priority,” says Honnay.
Organisations with distributed networks, such as university campuses, hospitals and dispersed enterprises, with multiple branches, can also use Next-Generation Firewall technology to filter internal traffic as well. Monitoring external traffic only is no longer enough, since potential threats can originate from within a network just as easily, so providing internal scanning ensures that all traffic is cleared for threats without impacting on the performance of the network.
“Aside from managing wired connections, the Next-Generation Firewall combines the capability to manage wireless connectivity as well, applying the same rules and enforcing the same policies for user authentication, bandwidth prioritisation and so on. This is becoming increasingly important given the consumerisation of IT and the trend towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). With the right technology in place, this can easily be allowed without compromising network security,” Tassev adds.
The Next-Generation Firewall incorporates a host of functionality that has become vital in modern network security. Some of these capabilities include control of the applications that are permitted on the network, management of bandwidth for critical applications and blocking of unproductive applications, or even just components of unproductive applications. This technology also allows for the visualisation of application traffic, identification of connections by country of origin and prevention of data leaks by stopping information marked as confidential from leaving the corporate networks.
While Next-Generation Firewalls have become vital to security in the modern organisation, they are just a stepping stone on the path towards true network optimisation. Once the functionality of the Firewall has been incorporated, WAN acceleration can be included to optimise WAN links and side to side connectivity, improving performance while maintaining the highest security standards.
Jasco Broadcast Solutions, a division of Jasco Carrier Networks, recently concluded a partnership agreement to represent world-renowned Front Porch Digital product offerings as a reseller in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, including Southern and Eastern Africa; as well as Mauritius and the Seychelles.
Front Porch Digital is the global leader in content storage management (CSM) as well as in migration and preservation of videotape to digital files. The company delivers end-to-end solutions for cost-effectively digitising, accessing, and preserving media and accelerating the migration of videotape to optimised and secure digital storage. Negotiations for this agreement began in March 2011 and were concluded in August, enabling Jasco to become a reseller of Front Porch Digital's products in the region.
"Jasco Broadcast Solutions represents products to address the entire range of broadcasting needs for the production, post production and broadcaster market, from capture to production and through to transmission. Front Porch Digital is well respected internationally with a reputation for quality, high-end solutions. Their offering fills a gap in our portfolio as it fits in well with our existing products and enables us to add digital archiving and storage, along with other management and migration solutions to our product offering," says Steve Lauter, Sales Manager, Jasco Broadcast Solutions.
The Front Porch Digital range consists of DIVASolutions, three product categories that can be integrated to migrate, manage, and market media content securely and efficiently. DIVASolutions SAMMA products are the first of their kind to automate digitisation of videotape, moving content into secure, accessible, and searchable digital storage. DIVArchive and DIVAdirector are trusted solutions for scalable and reliable CSM that enable digital file-based workflows to operate seamlessly across multiple sites.
Award-winning DIVApublish is a unique, cloud-based service that combines automated creation of frame-level metadata with online distribution.
"While the traditional boundaries between broadcasting and IT have blurred over the years, the broadcast market still maintains some very specific needs. Our solutions have been built from scratch to meet the needs of this market, are highly scalable and designed specifically for distributed architectures," says Bertrand Farabet, Solution Architect, Front Porch Digital.
"By partnering with Jasco Broadcast Solutions, who are well known in the market in the African region, we are now able to increase our footprint and access new markets that we have had limited success within the past. Having a local presence in the market is vital to reach our target customers, and the team at Jasco is skilled with sound knowledge of the industry and the specific products and systems used in this market. We will also now be able to offer Level 1 support in the region to provide better customer service,"
For Jasco's customers, this partnership adds another option to the company's bouquet of solutions and enables the Group to expand its offering into the broadcast specific archiving space with a solution from an internationally respected company with a solid brand reputation. The Jasco Broadcast Solutions team has received high level sales and technical training on the entire Front Porch Digital suite and members of the team will be sent to Front Porch Digital headquarters in France in November this year for further training.
"Leveraging the powerful synergies within the Jasco Group as a whole, we will also be able to extend this product offering to include hosted and cloud services through our co-location data centre facility. We aim to become a point of presence for Front Porch Digital's recently announced cloud services offering, and we are looking forward to the opportunities this brings to the Jasco Group," Lauter concludes.
Customise your notebook to match your mood and look
16 January 2012
In a world where people want their lifestyles to reflect their individuality, distributor Drive Control Corporation has launched Dell's latest range of notebooks that allow users to change its look - the Inspiron Switch 15R. These notebooks feature removable lids in over 20 colours and designs, providing a look that suits every mood and personality.
This fun notebook is designed for the hip and happening person whose individuality is important to them - especially when you want to change your style and look at a moment's notice. The removable lid simply clips loose so you can swop your bright pink flowered look for a corporate black image, making that switch from afterhours 'down time' to corporate.
Sturdy clips make this lid more robust so should a clip happen to break off, you won't need to replace your entire notebook - only the lid.
As this notebook is made with fun and ease in mind, Dell has bundled it with their Stage software, which allows you to further customise your notebook to best suit your needs. "Stage shortcuts those things you most use, so you can access Facebook, photos, word documents and other applications with one touch. You can also easily access the most recently used programmes with one click of your mouse," says Nitesh Devanand, Dell Consumer Product Specialist at DCC.
Two versions of this notebook are available. The higher end specification includes an Intel Core i7 processor with 6 Gigabytes (GB) of memory and a
640 GB hard drive.
The entry level version includes an Intel Core i3 processor with 3 GB of memory and 320 GB hard drive, but both include the 64-bit version of Windows
7 Premium for home use. However, you have the option of increasing your memory with another 3GB as and when you require.
For the home user that is looking for entertainment and convenience, the WiDi (Wireless Display) function allows you to view your favourite movies from your notebook on your HD TV - even in 3D if your TV allows it - without the hassle of connecting HDMI cables from your notebook to your TV. This feature also allows you to connect wirelessly to a data projector.
This notebook features Dell's standard three year, next day on-site warranty. This means that, should Dell not be able to successfully handle your troubleshooting via the phone, they will come to your home the next day and fix or replace your Dell Switch.
The Dell Inspiron Switch 15R i7 retails at a recommended price of R9499,00 and the i3 at R8199,00, inclusive of V.A.T. Their colourful lids range from between R 200,00 and R 700,00 including V.A.T.
Competing, or working together to run your home and SME?
By Robert Brandt, AEC Product Specialist at Drive Control Corporation
16 January 2011
As businesses and consumers struggle to cope with the global energy crisis, governments and the private sector alike are actively looking towards alternative, greener energy sources to preserve both the planet and power.
Until such time that the crisis is over, it is imperative to have solutions in place that provide backup and protect equipment from power surges and power outages. Many companies invest in power solutions, such as UPS's, especially for their IT environments, but as businesses and homes also need
backup power sources, the inverter is coming to fore. However, not many
people understand the differences (and similarities) between a UPS and inverter.
A UPS is fairly simple in its working, yet provides something essential to any business - uninterrupted power, as well as lightning and power surge protection. The inverter is similar in its purpose yet offers slightly different functionality. Both have been around for decades and not only assist with the increasing power shortage, but also provide a short-term solution. Manufacturers have even started enabling these devices to assist in providing a long-term solution where carbon footprints and energy conservation are concerned.
Put simply, a UPS contains an inverter, yet distinguishes itself with additional features such as lighting and power surge protection through automated voltage regulation (AVR). It provides a limited autonomy to enable statefull shutdowns with IT equipment such as servers, which ensures information and software is not corrupted which can happen with a sudden power outage.
An Inverter is comparatively inexpensive, basic equipment, which is entrenched in the electronic industry and used to keep production going for up to 12 hours after a power outage. It does this by converting the output DC power from its battery source, into an AC current.
UPS's and inverters have co-existed for decades in their separate markets, but as we are moving to an ever-increasing technologically advanced environment where automated, or smart homes is a new buzz word, so the lines between the UPS and Inverter have blurred. A home user would benefit from an Inverter that can not only run the geyser and everything else connected electronically, while the power is out, but also do it in an environmentally friendly manner. A generator serves the purpose of extended run time in the home and office, but the accompanying noise and carbon-loaded fuel consumption, will not suffice in our green day and age.
For example, the AEC ST2X home inverter has an average lifespan of three to five years and would be connected to your home electrical system and can automatically charge its batteries, using a combination of Eskom power and solar energy. It would also have a line auto failover switch, which allows for a line interactive switch from Eskom to battery power in case of an outage. As a result the switch is so incredibly fast, that no data will be lost or damage caused in the nanosecond of downtime.
The cost of such a unit depends on how long you want to run your home of office, as well as how large or small the required load is. That means you can have anything between 800 and 1300 watts of energy, generated from up to
24 100ah batteries, running your home or office in an environmentally friendly manner during power outages, as well as protecting your equipment from fluctuations in power.
Businesses and home users can take advantage of both the UPS and inverter in an effort to ensure productivity, save money and harness the distinct benefits of lightning and surge protection whilst enjoying the added benefit of an additional power source than can keep equipment running for up to eight hours. As they say, knowledge is power.
Over the past decade the Internet has become part of our everyday lives and connectivity more widely available for a lower cost, revolutionising the way we work, play and communicate. From a time when a home with an Internet connection was a rare exception, we have evolved to the point where Internet connectivity at the home is now the norm. As this evolution has continued, connectivity has spread from computers to mobile phones and even televisions, enabling us to use a variety of new technological advances to network entire homes into powerful content sharing portals - the connected home.
The journey towards the connected home centres on connectivity, and began with a single computer with a single Internet connection, shared between users who had to take turns to access the web. As the price of computers and notebooks began to drop, we saw an emergence of multiple devices in single homes, but these devices could still only access the Internet one at a time. WiFi emerged as the solution to this, enabling homes to create a wireless network for multiple computers to access the Internet, but connectivity began to evolve into so much more than just a way for computers to access the web.
With the emergence of Web 2.0 and the growing trend towards content creation and sharing along with live media streaming, downloadable media content and the sheer proliferation of network enabled devices, demand for home connectivity has fast grown beyond just the ability to connect computers to the Internet. Technology now allows home users to stream connectivity and entertainment content easily to any network enabled device throughout the house, using wired or wireless connections or any combination of the two.
From centralised storage and access to personal content from any device, anywhere in the world to Ethernet over power connections that allow wired connectivity without the wires, and even media players and media centre hubs for streaming of content, technology has changed dramatically in the past few years. Using this range of home entertainment devices that plug into the home network and work seamlessly together, the connected home enhances sharing, viewing and enjoyment by enabling easy streaming of digital content including videos, music and photographs.
Home network attached storage (NAS) drives enable you to store digital media collections on a wired or wireless network by creating a personal cloud for centralised storage and sharing of content to all devices on a network. This media can then be shared via wired or wireless connections within the home, streamed to individual devices or media centres. Computers, tablets and smartphones can backup content wirelessly and automatically for added security in the event of loss or theft, and through mobile applications files can even be accessed remotely using a web browser, anywhere in the world.
The contents of the personal cloud can also be streamed to a networked media player, which when connected to network enabled televisions can broadcast brilliant full high definition (HD) movies and videos as well as photographs. The media player can also connect other devices, such as laptops, tablet PCs and smartphones, allowing for streaming throughout a home, and allows for Internet connectivity straight to a TV for access to social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook, podcasts from news broadcasters and any other online content.
In order to combat the inherent issues with wireless connectivity, such as short signal range, lack of signal between floors or through walls, jitters and interference from other electrical devices, Ethernet over power adaptors can be used. These turn any electrical outlet point into a streaming-ready, secure high-speed Internet connection, anywhere in the home, in effect creating a wired network without the need to actually lay the wiring to connect a router and up to seven networked devices.
Taking the connected home a step further, the latest technology to be introduced to the mix is a networked media centre, combining up to a terabyte of storage with the power of a media server. These devices allow you to store and play media content in virtually any format from USB drives, network drives and so on, so you can watch movies on demand, listen to streaming audio or personal music files and access the Internet straight from any network enabled HDTV, or stream content to any screen anywhere in the house.
With the evolution of the network and the proliferation of connected devices, homes have never been more connected. And as new devices emerge with connectivity capability, they will be able to slot easily into the connected home for added convenience. The future of content is all about sharing, and the connected home is the next step
WD, one of the storage industry's pioneers and long-time leaders, provides products and services for people and organizations that collect, manage and use digital information. The company designs and produces reliable, high-performance hard drives and solid state drives that keep users' data accessible and secure from loss. Its advanced technologies are configured into applications for client and enterprise computing, embedded systems and consumer electronics, as well as its own consumer storage and home entertainment products.
WD was founded in 1970. The company's storage products are marketed to leading OEMs, systems manufacturers, selected resellers and retailers under the Western Digital and WD brand names. Visit the Investor section of the company's website (www.westerndigital.com) to access a variety of financial and investor information.
Western Digital, WD, the WD logo, My Book, and WD TV are registered trademarks in the U.S. and other countries; My Book Live, WD 2go and WD TV Live are trademarks of Western Digital Technologies, Inc. Other marks may be mentioned herein that belong to other companies... As used for storage capacity, one terabyte (TB) = one trillion bytes. Total accessible capacity varies depending on operating environment.
Jasco ICT Solutions, a vertical within the Jasco Group, has recently restructured its Enterprise businesses to capitalise on and take advantage of market opportunities. The DataFusion, DataVoice and Maringo businesses are now incorporated under a single, new, more customer focused sector known as Jasco Enterprise, led by Paul Fick.
Says Mark van Vuuren, Managing Director of Jasco ICT, the vertical that houses the Enterprise sector, "The rationale for the restructuring was to exploit economies of scale and achieve improved efficiencies, allowing us to deliver better services and solutions to the market."
For example, the infrastructure will allow the sector to leverage centralised resources such as one contact centre rather than multiple contact centres. However, unique roles pertaining to the product house, DataVoice, such as channel management and product development will be kept separate.
Adds Fick, "For our customers, it is business as usual. The move will, however, allow us to achieve our goal of further improving delivery of customer service and provision of solutions."
"It will also provide us with better performance measurement which will further impact our customer satisfaction levels. Having a consolidated business means we can improve our market reach with our solutions, whilst meeting the requirements of these markets. ."
By Deon Botha, HP Personal Systems Group and Magnetic Media Business Unit Manager at Drive Control Corporation
19 January 2012
The Mobile computing industry is constantly evolving and the latest trend to have an impact in this space has been the tablet PC. Made possible by the development of the Solid State Hard Drive (SSD), tablets are thinner, faster and more mobile than any computing device before them.
But this mobility comes at a cost - tablets tend towards limited functionality and many users still crave the full features of a notebook along with the portability and always on functionality of a tablet. This gives us a clear glimpse into the future of notebook development - a merger between the technology of the tablet and the features of a PC - delivering thinner, faster, more rugged notebooks incorporating the benefits of SSD.
The move towards the adoption of SSD, while slow to start with, has been driven by a number of factors and is set to accelerate in 2012. In the past SSDs have been seen as overly pricey for the notebook market, but as with any technology, as it matures and demand grows, prices begin to fall and the technology becomes more widely affordable.
While according to the technology curve SSDs will eventually become the norm, this transition has been hastened by natural global events, specifically the flooding in Thailand. Two of the largest original equipment manufacturers (OEM) of hard disk drives (HDD) are based in Thailand and the intense rain has caused their facilities to flood. While the rain has ceased, water damage caused by water running from the highlands to the lowlands, where the factories are, has hampered the fast recovery and ramp up of production in cleanrooms necessary to build traditional platter based hard drives.
The result of this is a worldwide shortage of hard drives, since supply is unable to keep up with demand the impact of which is likely to be felt long into 2012. SSDs aren't widely utilised in all mobile platforms and many of the suppliers have not been affected by the flooding, since their factories are located elsewhere. As a result, notebooks ordered with a normal HDD will be subject to possible shipping delays and possibly swapping out on specs due to availability, whereas notebooks with SSDs will ship immediately, incentivising individuals to make the move to solid state and in turn experiencing the increased performance from this technology.
This increased demand for SSD goes hand in hand with the increasing trend towards greater mobility, thinner, lighter devices with faster boot times and more power. We can expect to see computer design, specifically with regard to notebooks, moving towards thin, lightweight and highly portable devices that boot up in seconds, thanks to SSDs. We can also expect to see Intel's Ivy Bridge, with abundant processing power early this year. There have also been rumours of massive advances in operating system software from Microsoft with Windows 8, which we hope to see in the latter part of 2012.
Following an on-going trend of the past few years, the notebook of the future is set to deliver better specs for less money, with previously premium technology such as the SSD now becoming available to the mass market. RAM modules are increasing in size and in the next year we can expect 4GB and 8GB memory modules to become standard. Notebooks are also set to become increasingly cost effective and production efficient, driving down the cost for the consumer and making more computing power available per rand than ever before.
The year 2011 has been the year of the tablet, which has driven increased popularity for SSD, as well as greater development of miniaturised processors that deliver the same performance levels as their full sized counterparts. However tablets don't offer full functionality for arguably a hefty price. As a result, in 2012 we will see the emergence of small, thin form factor notebooks that deliver tabletesque convenience with full notebook features.
The future of the notebook is not only thinner, lighter and more power efficient than ever, the future is solid in the form of solid state drives that improve boot up, running and read/write speeds and enhance the portability and ruggedness of any mobile device.
Old Mutual and T-Systems in South Africa have agreedto an IT infrastructure management deal valued at R2.58bn, extending the existing relationship between the two partners until 2019. The new agreement represents an industry leading outsourcing approach, and is one of the largest IT infrastructure deals of this nature in the insurance industry in South Africa.
Referred to as Equinox, the deal puts a strong focus on innovation. It will help set up processes to reduce Old Mutual’s operating costs over the seven year period and provide the organisation with a platform for innovation that supports its Long-Term Savings (LTS) strategy. The mutually beneficial partnership will ensure Old Mutual’s IT infrastructure services are delivered in a collaborative and cost-effective way.
The new deal replaces T-Systems’ existing ROSA contract with Old Mutual, originally signed in 2008.
The scope of the new agreement includes the delivery of IT support services to Old Mutual and Mutual & Federal. This will include a global service help desk, mainframe, storage and end-user computing services. Future support into other emerging markets such as Africa, Colombia and Mexico will be considered in the future in order to align with Old Mutual’s business strategy.
This deal consolidates T-Systems’ position as Old Mutual’s trusted IT Infrastructure partner in the emerging markets. Richard Boynett, Chief Information Officer for Old Mutual Long-Term Savings IT, says: “This partnership will accelerate Old Mutual’s ability to deliver on its commitment to improving customer service, and increasing IT operational efficiency.”
Mardia van der Walt-Korsten, MD of T-Systems in South Africa agreed “Equinox has standard service and delivery elements, as with any other outsourcing agreement – what makes the contract market leading is the cooperative manner in which challenges and opportunities will be faced together by both parties. This shared mutually beneficial approach cements the partnership between T-Systems and Old Mutual in the long term.”
NewTelco SA, a Jasco Group Company has recently signed a contract with Alink Telecom, the first foreign telecommunications provider to make use of its carrier neutral co-location hub.
NewTelco South Africa, a joint venture with German based co-location specialists NewTelco GmbH, provide an interconnection hub in the sub-Saharan region with a neutral service, a broad range of local, regional and global interconnectivity, and reliable, consistently high quality of service.
Alink is a large Internet and cellular service provider (ISP) based in Ivory Coast with operations spanning West Africa across countries including Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Togo and Niger. The South African office forms a subsidiary of the main holding company, offering services and support to locally based companies which conduct business with West African companies.
“We are also launching an international calling card in South Africa which is already operational in the Ivory Coast, targeting the West African community living in South Africa with attractive call rates, which led to our agreement with NewTelco SA,” says Yegen Moodley from Alink’s South African office.
“To get this calling card working we needed a point of presence in South Africa and a carrier neutral co-location centre to switch calls internationally between countries. We are also making use of NewTelco’s hosting services at their data centre, having provided the company with our equipment for them to install, maintain and support,” he adds.
As part of the agreement, NewTelco SA is providing the technology platform to allow Alink to gain network access to South African telecoms operators, enabling the physical cross-connections for calls that originate on or terminate on South African telephone numbers without the need for Alink to sign separate agreements with all local service providers.
This allows Alink to maximise revenue opportunities from their clients calling into foreign customers and allows them to operate their calling cards within South Africa. Alink’s network carries the traffic while NewTelco SA provides a seamless interconnect by switching traffic to the relevant destination.
“The choice to select NewTelco SA as our co-location partner was a natural one. We have had an ongoing relationship with them and NewTelco SA, and their professional and above all affordable service was an attractive offering to Alink, as a new business in South Africa with tight budget constraints. The team from Jasco has been highly professional throughout the installation and we are very satisfied customers,” says Moodley.
“Alink is a significant entity in the West African market, one of the areas we have targeted for growth, and as such is a highly strategic customer for Jasco. The co-location centre itself is a fairly new offering, having been established in 2010, and this agreement with Alink will help us to grow traffic into South Africa from a variety of territories,” saysEckart Zollner, Business Development Manager at Jasco ICT Solutions.
The partnership with Alink represents the strengths of the consolidated Jasco offering, including NewTelco SA that delivers both co-location switching and hosted solutions to the service provider, enabling them to offer low cost calling cards to West African citizens in South Africa. The calling cards were launched at the beginning of October this year.
PC Tools products now available at Game and Dion Wired stores
25 January 2012
PC Tools, the value priced, multi-award winning security software solution, is now conveniently available from Game and Dion Wired stores nationwide. This thanks to a reseller agreement signed recently between the two store groups and distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC).
The PC Tools range of products has achieved many accolades, assuring customers of top quality solutions. The software offers the full spectrum of consumer computing security, from anti-virus, anti-spyware, internet security and firewall software to utility tools, all delivered at an affordable price point,” says Fred Mitchell, Software Division Manager at DCC.
“Since security is often a grudge purchase, affordability is of key concern. However, as the threats that arise from Internet and PC usage continue to proliferate, security has become more important than ever to protect users from cybercrime. PC Tools’ top quality products, which are well recognised by the IT industry, combined with a price point aimed at the budget conscious consumer, makes PC Tools the perfect security solution,” he adds.
By distributing PC Tools products through well-known retailers Game and Dion Wired, DCC is able to not only take advantage of their broad customer base, but also to complement the product offerings of both stores with a niche tool that addresses a gap in the local market for quality, affordable security solutions.
“For consumers, PC Tools is an affordable, easy to use solution. By supplying Game and Dion Wired with these products we are offering consumers greater choice when it comes to selecting a security solution to meet their needs,” says Mitchell.
“As PC Tools is a relatively new product in South Africa, we are still trying to grow awareness of the brand. Large retailers such as Game and Dion Wired have the consumer trust we need to enable us to grow the product. We will also be providing training for staff at both stores to enable them to match products to consumer needs,” he adds.
These solutions are well recognised within the IT industry and have won numerous awards, including Anti Virus Solution of the Year at the 2010 Computing Security Awards for PC Tools AntiVirus 2011, PC World 100 Best Products of 2010 and PC World Best Buy for PC Tools Internet Security 2011. They also won a softwareload Software of the Year 2010 award for PC Tools Registry Mechanic 2011.
Both Game and Dion Wired stores will be stocking PC Tools Antivirus and PC Tools Internet Security products. These are available at a recommended retail price of R89.99 and R119.99 respectively for a three user license, offering excellent value for money.
Soarsoft Africa, specialists in archiving migration, messaging and collaboration, is further gearing itself for the business requirement to migrate to the cloud. The company has expanded its tool box of technology and services enabling organisations to migrate critical functions quickly to the cloud without disruptions to business, facilitating a smooth transition.
Soarsoft Africa aligns itself with technology partners that specialise in archiving, migration and messaging whilst delivering the services, skills, experience and expertise that underpin the success of these projects. These partners include Autonomy, Metalogix and TransVault to mention a few but the company has bolstered its offering with additional solutions and technologies that can assist with migrations to cloud platforms. This has been cemented with the recent partnership announcement with Binary Tree, a software vendor that delivers solutions for migrating enterprise messaging users and applications to on-premise and cloud based versions of Microsoft’s platforms.
Says Chris Hathaway, Director at Soarsoft Africa, “Cloud services have arrived and although South Africa is slightly behind the curve in comparison to its international counterparts, businesses will increasingly look towards cloud and hosted platforms as an alternative for various functions. The benefits are unquestionable; reducing capital investment and leveraging a pay-as-you-use model enabling companies to scale as and when they require – with ease. There is a distinct gap in the market for companies that can assist with these migrations, which can be complex and require mitigation of risks such as disruption to business. Understanding the complexity, integration with other business functions, risk and cost of the transition, is often a ‘show-stopper” when it comes to adopting cloud services.”
Further driving this requirement is the imminent launch of Microsoft Office 365 in South Africa, a suite of collaboration and productivity tools delivered through the cloud.
Adds Hathaway, “Our technology partners have already geared themselves for this solution, which has been available in the US and Europe for some time, but only recently became available in our region. This is evident with many of our product principles such as Metalogix and Binary Tree announcing general availability of Microsoft Office 365 support in their migration solution offerings. This requires stringent security and design requirements to be met and a significant investment to enable Exchange and SharePoint ‘cloud” migration to the Microsoft data centres.”
“Local companies can soon leverage the benefits of Office 365 such as productivity, reliability and scalability and Soarsoft is further able to assist companies to migrate to these services from ‘non’ Microsoft platforms such as IBM Domino / Lotus Notes and major ECM platforms to a Microsoft based cloud service.”
The core requirements during the transition are to analyze, co-exist and migrate, while also reduce the time to migrate significantly, provide better forecasting and planning, not to mention cost savings.
With more than a decade of experience in this niche area of IT, Soarsoft Africa understands the intricacies that exist within migrations and how to best tackle them. The company will also be announcing a new development soon that will bring local “cloud” based migration solutions to South African businesses, providing choice and price competitiveness.
About Soarsoft Africa
Soarsoft Africa has specialised in Archive, Migration and Messaging services for over a decade, leveraging the experience gained from some of the largest and most complex implementations around the world to deliver cost effective and successful projects and solutions. Soarsoft Africa remains product independent, but supports and implements what it considers to be trusted and proven solutions to meet specific customer requirements.
Soarsoft Africa continues to evaluate its offerings to ensure they maintain market and technological leadership positions, so that clients are offered the very best advice when assessing products and solutions that will match their requirements.
Soarsoft Africa has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town South Africa.
RDB Consulting, an ICT outsource and consulting company has recently reacquired full control of the organisation by completing a transaction to purchase their outstanding shares from The Webcom Group. The Group had acquired a 50% stake in RDB Consulting when founder and current CEO Jaroslav Cerny sold half of the private company’s shares in 2009.
The buyback will enable the company to develop a sharper emphasis on its core business, as RDB Consulting now represents 100% of its own interests once more, enabling the organisation to maintain its high service levels to customers through improved business operations and focus.
In addition, the transaction will allow RDB Consulting to implement a performance bonus scheme for all employees – across the board. By providing an incentive that is directly linked to the health of the company, performance of individual employees and customer satisfaction, employees will become more acutely aware of the importance of maintaining RDB Consulting’s high service levels.
Says Jaroslav Cerny, CEO at RDB Consulting, “We experienced significant growth over the last year and motivating our employees with performance bonuses will allow us to maintain our high service delivery standards.”
“Having not just weathered the economic recession but also growing through it, we took the decision to invest back into our business, using our excess capital to repurchase company stock. Regaining full control of our business once more not only shows our confidence in our ability to further grow and serve our market, it will also allow us to reinforce our areas of core business,” says Cerny.
“Our positive cash reserve stood us in good stead with the acquisition of our outstanding shares. We are looking forward to the growth and change this move will gear us for in 2012,” he concludes.
About RDB Consulting
Established in 1995, RDB Consulting is an outsource and consulting company that specialises in four areas: Relational databases, Operating Systems, Database Security, Monitoring and Enterprise Resource Planning. The organisation also offers project management, solutions architecture, on-going maintenance and support. Our services are designed to provide businesses access to expert technical resources whether full time, part time, co-managed or via remote administration. This allows companies to focus on their ‘core’ business and leave their ICT issues to the experts.
Distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC) will now be delivering Overland Storage’sSnapServer DX, unified NAS and iSCSI SAN device that leverages their new RAID technology,DynamicRAID, to eliminate the need to provision storage capacity.
Expandable to 288TB and featuring an array of integrated enterprise features, including snapshots, replication and remote management, SnapServer DX enables storage environments to scale without downtime while ensuring data protection. Available in both a 2U and a 1U configuration, SnapServer DX lets any size business run its storage like an enterprise, at one-tenth the cost. Offering flexibility, SnapServer DX is the solution for business applications from virtualised server, Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and SQL environments to digital imaging, web services, storage consolidation and backup.
"Many businesses are finding it difficult to acquire and manage the storage capacity and functionality needed to keep up with accelerating data growth over time. The speed of provisioning in virtual server environments has stressed the storage infrastructure and it's essential that storage solutions match that speed and ease to keep up with rapidly changing dynamics," says Raul Del Fabbro, Storage Division Manager at DCC. "DynamicRAID makes provisioning capacity and the management and protection of data extremely simple, plus it automates the growing of shared storage capacity while improving the predictability of future storage needs and capital expenditures. SnapServer DX enables businesses to count on improved storage utilisation with less management and a highly efficient storage environment at a fraction of the typical cost."
DynamicRAID: New Spin on Managing Disks
Built on the premise that the next generation of storage provisioning is no provisioning, DynamicRAID is a new standards-based technology that delivers the ability to increase capacity, expand storage pools, create limitless volumes in seconds, grow and shrink storage volumes independently and optimise data protection levels - all with zero downtime. DynamicRAID provides the flexibility to manage storage infrastructures without manual intervention, giving businesses the ability to grow without interruption.
Benefits of DynamicRAID:
· Non-proprietary technology that adheres to proven, standard RAID code that the enterprise trusts
· The ability to take advantage of mixed and matched drive sizes while the best RAID level is automatically chosen, including single or dual parity
· Limitless volume creation in seconds with no volume resizing or data migration required
· Storage pools seamlessly grow by hot-swapping larger disk drives without business interruption
· Volumes can automatically grow, or shrink independently to add storage back into the common storage pool in seconds
Built on the GuardianOS platform - in more than 300,000 deployments across the globe, including half of Fortune 500 organisations - SnapServer DX joins the SnapServer line of NAS solutions. It integrates with Windows Active Directory, Linux, UNIX and Macintosh Domains and replicates data between locations for collaboration and data protection with Snap Enterprise Data Replicator (SnapEDR).
· At setup users choose between traditional RAID or standards-based DynamicRAID as well as the preferred drive type: SAS, SATA Enterprise or desktop drives
· Unified storage supports storage of both file-based and block-based data
· Flexibility to expand and upsize total storage to 288TBs withSnapExpansion units
· Stability. compliant with Windows Active Directory and integration with Windows, UNIX/Linux and Macintosh environments
· Remote management delivers real-time visualisation, configuration and management of an entire global SnapServer environment with SnapServer Manager
· Disaster recovery: replicate data to one or dosens of locations with bandwidth throttling, take snapshots for point-in-time recovery, and perform backups to disk, VTL or tape
"We have designed DynamicRAID and the SnapServer DX to drive a fundamental shift in IT thinking and process: there is no longer a need to ever provision storage," says Jillian Mansolf, vice president of global sales and marketing at Overland Storage. "Our goal was to build the SnapServer DX with the best features and price of any NAS solution in its class and we are confident that businesses of all sizes will be able to take advantage its power, flexibility and ease of use."