Archive for ‘Misc’

22/10/2014

eHosting DataFort Earns Double Accolades during GITEX week for Quality Managed Services at CNME’s ICT Achievement Awards & ACN Arab Tech Awards 2014

63.jpg

eHosting DataFort (eHDF), the region’s leading Managed Hosting and Cloud Infrastructure services provider, has bagged two distinguished ICT awards back-to-back this week for its delivery of successful and complex technology implementations that offer outstanding value to customers.

The company has been recognized as the ‘Managed Services Provider of the Year’ at Computer News Middle East’s (CNME) 5th ICT Achievement Awards as well as ‘Services Provider of the Year’ at the 10th Arabian Computer News (ACN) Arab Tech Awards – two well-known industry leaders annually celebrating top ICT achievements.

eHosting DataFort has earned industry awards for their managed services, hosted private cloud and data centre offerings for the last seven years in a row.

Yasser Zeineldin, CEO, eHosting DataFort, said: “We are humbled by the prestigious industry recognition accorded to our offerings and capabilities as the leading managed services and cloud provider in the region. Such achievements make us constantly raise the bar for ourselves to be creative and innovative in providing true value to our customers, who are at the center of everything that we do and entrust us to be at the forefront of technology and service delivery. To keep up with increased customer demand and expectations, we have invested heavily in our infrastructure and services in 2014 as well as launched new services for the SME segment. We also have an aggressive investment plan for 2015 and beyond to avail to our customers the latest innovations and its associated benefits. We are committed to helping enterprises in the country transform their IT infrastructure into competitive assets and focus on their core business.”

Both awards were held during GITEX week with CNME’s ICT Achievement Awards 2014 being held on October 12 at Jumeirah Emirates Towers and the ACN Arab Tech Awards 2014 being held on October 13 at Conrad Hotel. TheseAwards recognize individuals, end users and vendor organizations for their achievements across the year and all nominees were judged by a panel of industry experts on specific measurable results in innovation and accomplishments.

eHDF’s recognition at the ICT Achievement Awards 2014 and the ACN Arab Tech Award 2014 add to their list of accolades. In April this year, eHosting DataFort won the ‘Best Managed Service Provider of the Year’ at the fifth annual Network World Middle East Awards.

The company has witnessed a significant increase in its customer base over the last few years and has deployed crucial, customized managed services and cloud hosting projects for clients such as Geotab ME, Tejuri.com, Dubai Financial Market, DUBAL, TRIMEX Group, Dunia Finance and Société Générale Bank, amongst others.

eHDF’s comprehensive managed services offerings include managed servers, managed storage, managed security, managed databases, managed backup, managed exchange, monitoring etc. It also offers both Hosted Private Cloud and Public Cloud services and has recently launched Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) services & Managed remote Backup services.

eHosting DataFort owns and operates world-class tier-3 data centers in Dubai with resilient and scalable infrastructure and round-the-clock managed operations offering customers the advantage of hosting all data within the UAE.
The company complies with industry standards and offers customers round-the-clock 24/7/365 support.

20/10/2014

How to Job-Hunt While You’re Working

20/10/2014

The Impact of the Internet on Print – Drupa Global Insights

The changing demand for print

Before the mid 1990s, virtually all publishing as well as personal and business communications were analogue in nature, in the main split

between print, broadcasting and telephony.

Print was the oldest medium and global demand for paper was strong and stable.The last 15 years has seen the arrival of digital

technologies and an ever-increasing proportion of communications is now digital not analogue.

It is important to examine how print companies across the globe have adapted and how their experience has contrasted with the wider impact

on the world of this fundamental transition.

Amongst the total drupa global expert panel 46% reported a decline in demand for conventional (non-digital) print over the last

five years, compared with 21% who reported an increase, an overall net balance reporting decline of 25%. When the answers were

analysed between sectors, Packaging came off by far the best, with a far smaller net balance reporting a decline of 14% compared with 33%

for commercial and 42% for publishing printers.

In terms of substrates, a net balance of 9% reported a decline in demand for paper over the last 5 years, compared with those that reported

an increase. This contrasts with net balances reporting growing demand for carton board, flexibles, metal, glass and fabrics.

Advertising pays for the majority of print so the steady drift away from print to other forms of digital communications has had a compound

effect over time. The relative decline of print is not across all markets but for some sectors it has been severe. Take newspapers, where in the

US demand for newsprint has dropped 62% between 1999 and 2012. Over the same period print advertising fell by 60% as marketers

swapped to digital channels.

In contrast packaging is forecast to grow at about 4% per annum to 2018 as the Internet has not removed the need to protect our goods and

promote them on the shelf. Equally industrial functional print is growing at an annual rate of about 13% albeit from a much smaller base.

The digital flood

To understand the radical changes in communications, we must understand the revolution in digital technologies over the last 25

years. The ever-reducing cost and everincreasing power of computer chips; the everincreasing network communications speed and

bandwidth and the ever-accelerating number of users connected has driven the astonishing growth in the Internet and the associated World

Wide Web. Add mobile communications (increasingly Internet enabled) and you see why digital communications increasingly dominate

and all other communications channels including print are in relative decline.

By 2012 it was calculated that 35% of the world’s population was connected via the Internet, although distribution is very patchy. As for

mobile phones, by 2013 there were 3.4 billion subscribers, equivalent to just under half the world’s population.

So print is now part of the broader communications industry, and printing companies need to be increasingly IT-led. Yet

only 23% of our drupa expert panel reported that IT expenditure had grown over the last five years and virtually all reported difficulties in

recruiting adequate IT skills.

The migration to digital

communications

A range of factors explains the rapid migration to digital communications over the last 30-odd years:

• Digital communications are rapid, even real-time.

• Interactivity offers great advantages.

• The consumer has adapted to an ‘always on’ communications lifestyle.

• We are mobile with access to multiple touch-points and channels.

Marketers will therefore consider all the channels available and choose those that fit within budget and prompt the best (ideally

recordable) response. Regrettably, younger marketers may only consider digital channels.

Yet print can add huge value to multichannel campaigns.

The average response rate for standard direct mail is reported at 3.4%, compared with 0.12% for email. So direct mail that drives consumers to a digital channel,

ideally via an interactive element, is an attractive way forward.

So how have commercial printers on the drupa panel responded to these challenges?

Commonly they have sought additional revenue streams by adding new services such as web-to-print (W2P), customer database management, digital

asset management etc – most of which use the Internet to function.

Publishers of newspapers, magazines and books have faced equally stiff challenges from the Internet. In 2012 US online advertising overtook

the total print advertising in newspapers and magazines combined. And online advertising is certainly not migrating to newspaper publishers.

For every $25 of lost print advertising it is calculated that newspaper publishing gains just $1 of digital advertising.

Nevertheless, while digital revenues are growing rapidly for magazine publishers (particularly for business-to-business), it will be many years

before print advertising and circulation revenues cease to be the dominant source.

As for books, again the printed book will remain for some years the dominant revenue source for professional publishers. However in the book

publishing supply chain a radical transformation, enabled by ecommerce and digital print-ondemand (PoD), has taken place.

Furthermore use of ebooks is steadily increasing, but in complement to print, not as a full alternative. The other big features for books

are that with PoD no book need ever go ‘out of print’ and there is a huge growth in so-called ‘self publishing’.

Our drupa expert panel of printers who work in publishing has responded to these challenges by adding on-demand or short-run digital print;

adapting to ecommerce-led supply chains and adding a variety of new services e.g. customer database management, adapting files to

alternative output devices etc. Indeed, while conventional book production was reported as declining or at best stable, 59% reported growth

in short-run digital production and 51% reported growth in on-demand digital production.

Sustainability is an issue of increasing concern for publishers, marketers and the consumer.

As the comparative debate matures past naïve anti-paper slogans, and the environmental costs of digital infrastructure and use become better

understood, there can now be a more effective selection of the right combination of media channels for each occasion while considering

the sustainability implications. Reflecting this, our expert panel reported shifts in the paper purchasing habits of their customers, most

notably the rise in demand for accredited papers.

The rise and rise of ecommerce

Over 20 years the volume of ecommerce in many countries has grown from negligible to huge volumes that include virtually all

companies and most consumers. The growth figures are just astonishing; with even the most mature market, the US, still growing at 8% per

annum, with China due to overtake it in volume terms in 2015 and to triple its volume of online trading by 2020.

There are many advantages to ecommerce that explain this explosion in participation, and the pace will accelerate further with increasing

numbers of consumers using their Internet enabled mobile phones to participate in ‘m-commerce’.

The report highlights the huge impact ecommerce has had on vast industries such as music publishing, book publishing, retail and

banking. Yet print has struggled to exploit the opportunities.

While 51% of the drupa panel had web-to-print, only 14% reported they used it to transact more than 25% of their orders. Our commercial

printer panel members offer a variety of products for sale via the Internet, but while there are individual success stories, a recent US survey

reported that only one in four W2P installations was considered a success by the printers concerned.

In terms of catalogues, 47% of the panel reported a decline in demand for conventional print (versus 15% an increase), a net balance of

31% decline. However there was much better news for shorter run ‘versioned mini-catalogues,’ with 47% reporting growth and 60% reporting

growth in short-run digital production.

The reason is clear – marketers see that print catalogues drive online sales, so print is a valuable ally for ecommerce when it becomes

part of an integrated multi-channel process.

The shift to mass customisation

The industry has seen a dramatic shift from mass production of static print to an everincreasing proportion of small runs of digital

print and down further to individual runs of one.

Digital communications has driven this shift, supported by sophisticated data management and workflows.

Variable data print (VDP) is the essential prerequisite for customisation and the net effect is forecasts of a slow decline in static print

(0.5% per annum to 2017) contrasted with rapid growth of digital (electrophotographic at 1.5% pa – building on a large installed base and inkjet

at 14% pa – reflecting the small installed base) to double digital print’s share of total print volume to 14% by 2017.

72% of the commercial printers in the drupa panel offer VDP and 56% reported modest or fast growth, albeit from a low base. Indeed, last

autumn the panel’s commercial printers selected cut sheet digital electrographic presses as their top print investment.

Another striking development is the rapidly growing popularity of interactive print (QR codes, augmented reality etc) that enables print

to play a role in an online sales cycle. 32% of the expert panel offer at least one such service.

One key driver of mass customisation is the ever-increasing volume of digital data that is being held – so-called ‘big data,’ where

the volumes are so large that conventional analyses would struggle to cope. For example, online business data is forecast to grow at a

compound annual rate of 40%. However with the right software and skills to drive it, very exact segmented marketing, down to the level

of individuals, can occur – either digitally or by printing. Here is a great opportunity for printers (who are used to handling high volumes of

digital data) to manage and analyse customers’ data for them.

Packaging supply chains are responding to such opportunities to create just-in-time, on-demand business cycles that reduce lead times, cost and

waste. Technical issues such as exact colour management are being resolved and supply chains are becoming agile enough to exploit the

opportunities. Indeed, among packaging printers on the expert panel, 50% reported they offer interactive print of one form or another, 43%

offer variable content and 41% some form of personalisation, albeit only a low level of SKUs are involved at present.

The Internet has both increased the opportunities for personalisation and also the competition to win that business, as customers no longer have

to meet the printer and printers can compete in an ever-wider geographic market.

Customisation has added new products to the conventional list of personalised products (business cards, stationery etc) with items such

as photo books and calendars for commercial printers and décor items for industrial printers.

Over 50% of the panel’s commercial printers offer some products that are personalised, although some products involve a higher level

of investment in specialist equipment and marketing to compete successfully e.g. photobooks.

Direct mail is offered by 51% of the panel’s commercial printers and while there is plenty of evidence of a sharp decline in the total volume

of direct mail, strategically targeted direct mail is growing.

Overall, printers need to get much closer to their customers and end users, to capture data and understand how personalisation can be relevant,

timely and provide added value.

Managing with the Internet

Regardless of what you are printing or how, the Internet can assist printers in becoming more competitive. For example, it is fundamentally

changing the way businesses are conducting their sales and marketing. The drupa expert panel admitted to a very patchy adoption of such

techniques as customer database management (just 34% use it), website analytics (23%) and social media (25%) and only 17% use these in

integrated campaigns that are demonstrably the best way to exploit these techniques.

Turning to customer service and production, we have all been impressed with examples in our daily life of effective multi-channel ‘customer

journeys’ as well as painful examples of the reverse. But how many printers have assessed their own company’s ‘customer journeys’

objectively? Certainly 84% of the drupa panel reported use of FTP/upload portals, but only 55% use automated pre-flight testing and 44%

use digital asset management.

Surprisingly only 47% claimed integrated estimating, order processing and job bag production and only 21% reported a fully automated order processing

system from enquiry to invoicing.

As for other online business services, 68% used online purchasing and 54% of those with an MIS had remote access but less than half used online

training, recruitment, business intelligence and credit checking. It is puzzling to see the low take-up figures for all these online aids to

greater competitiveness and efficiency.

19/10/2014

du announces Smart City WiFi plan

du%20GITEX%202014_1.jpg

The Higher Committee for Smart Dubai Initiative has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with du, announcing the UAE’s integrated telecommunications company as the Smart City Official WiFi Provider in Dubai.

du will provide an end-to-end, fully managed WiFi solutions, which will be accessible in public areas such as public transport, malls, recreational and urban areas, and other top destinations.

The operator will expand its existing WiFi coverage in public areas. Customers of both operators will be able to access it with a common login and portal.

Dr Aisha Bin Bishr, Assistant Director of The Executive office of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and member of the Executive Committee of Smart Dubai Initiative, said: “We strive to ensure the rapid realisation of the Smart Dubai vision. This is only achievable with the right infrastructure in place, with connectivity being a vital component to provide Dubai’s public with unlimited access to all Smart City services, anywhere and everywhere. Having a strong WiFi service across all public areas will significantly contribute to Dubai becoming the world’s smartest city, which is a goal we are aiming for. With an existing public WiFi service that has proven successful and reliable, du is the natural partner for realising this ambitious goal.”

Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer at du, commented: “WiFi is the basis of any Smart City model, and we are honored to be selected by the Higher Committee for Smart Dubai Initiative to provide this crucial service.”

18/10/2014

Apple’s new iPad Air 2 is less than half as thick as the origin al 1st generation iPad آيباد الجديد أكثر نحافة

These graphics is published with the permission of GRAPHIC NEWS

18/10/2014

EMC to buy OpenStack cloud guru Cloudscaling

cloudscaling-white-small.png?w=470

An EMC spokesperson this afternoon confirmed that the company will buy Cloudscaling, which builds clouds based on the OpenStack software.

The deal would mark the latest in a wave of consolidation in the cloud industry, with previous big acquisitions including HP snapping up Euclayptus and Cisco buying OpenStack vendor Metacloud. It also comes as there is some shakeup in the OpenStack community, with one of the forefathers of the movement, Joshua McKenty leaving his post as CTO of Piston Cloud Computing Co. and landing at Pivotal, the VMware/EMC spinout that is focused on the open source Cloud Foundry platform as a service. The move also comes just before the latest Juno release of the project and as the community gears up for its semi-annual summit to be held in Paris.

Cloudscaling has been a prominent member of the OpenStack community for years. The company’s co-founder and CEO Randy Bias is one of the outspoken leaders of OpenStack, evangelizing not only his company’s platform but the OpenStack project in general at industry trade shows and events.

Cloudscaling the company helps its customers build public or private clouds based on the company’s software, which is powered by OpenStack. Bias has talked about the company’s affinity for building web-scale distributed systems like those run by Amazon and Google. While some in the OpenStack community have considered Amazon a foe, Bias’s Cloudscaling seems to embrace AWS and wants to bring an AWS-like cloud to regular enterprises.

EMC buying OpenStack continues the company’s foray into the open source project. EMC is already a corporate backer of OpenStack and within the last year has hired some OpenStack talent, including former Rackspace evangelist Kenneth Hui.

EMC spokesperson Dave Farmer confirmed the news, which was first reported by Bloomberg. “To further extend EMC’s breadth of cloud platform support, including VMware and others, EMC signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cloudscaling.” He added that more details about the Clouscaling purchase will be released on Oct. 28 when the company has an event.

18/10/2014

Better batteries ahead mean big changes for mobility

crackingopeniphone6011.jpg

According to Science Daily, “Scientists [at Nangyang Technological University in
Singapore] have developed a new battery that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only 2 minutes. The battery will also have a longer lifespan of over 20 years.” Furthermore, it can be charged up to 20 times more than current models.

While the context of the article relates to electric vehicle batteries, this is a new kind of lithium ion battery which will also apply to smartphones and many other objects requiring portable power.

How is this new battery different?

Lithium ion batteries were developed well over thirty years ago, and though they’ve advanced since their original versions the deficiencies are still painful. These new batteries contain titanium dioxide which is affordable, plentiful and safe. It’s currently in use within paint and solar panels, for instance. The titanium dioxide particles are turned into a gel which makes up nanotubes much smaller than a typical hair. The size and structure of the nanotubes and the properties of the gel – which is tough and resistant to deterioration – work more efficiently than current batteries to facilitate rapid battery charging.

Reports thus far don’t indicate that the new battery provides more power capacity or lasts longer after a full charge than contemporary batteries, but the breakthrough here is the quick recharge time and the long lifespan of the battery, allowing it to potentially be used for decades (and I hope this spurs cell phone manufacturers to standardize on one kind of battery which can be transplanted across various models both current and future).

Using existing power sources or portable rechargers a smartphone could be fully powered up in 3 minutes, according to the current projection of charging capability – although it’s not clear whether existing charger cables could possibly pass such a high amount of wattage within that time span. Cable upgrades may go hand-in-hand with this kind of battery. However, this is minor in the overall scheme of things. Since the battery will last much longer there will be fewer discards and less worry about the main battery dying on a road trip – which is why I carry two spares. Even desperate situations like recharging smartphones in an airport terminal while waiting to board a flight will be made easier.

This isn’t the only “new and improved battery” in the game, however – nor do they all seem to find the light of day. A year and a half ago a similar advance in lithium ion technology was announced (and about which the current status is unclear) which claimed to be “2,000 times more powerful, recharges 1,000 times faster.” And lithium ion may not necessarily be the only way to go; dual carbon batteries are also reportedly under development (as of last May) which claim to “charge 20x faster than lithium ion.” However, this battery developed at Nangyang Technological University may have an advantage going for it: it matches current manufacturing processes meaning these don’t need to be expanded or revised, and that will help further its development.

When will we actually start seeing these batteries in production?

Currently the inventors are planning a proof of concept for a prototype of the new battery, and it is expected to be available within two years. Hopefully it will be released as planned (or some other savior will appear – there is simply too much demand for this concept to remain in limbo) and our car chargers, extra batteries and archaic power-up strategies will allow us to scrape by until 2016!

15/10/2014

Gartner Lays Out its Top 10 Tech Trends for 2015

Slideshow: The Future of Programming

The Internet of Things, and everything that’s part of its universe, including smart machines, pervasive analytics and 3D printing, are on Gartner’s annual list of strategic technologies for the year ahead.

The list, presented today by Garner analyst David Cearley at the firm’s annual Symposium/ITxpo, is focused on merging the real world with the virtual one, what that means for analytics and the type of IT that has to emerge to deal with it.

Here’s the Gartner list for 2015:

1: Computing Everywhere. To Gartner, this simply means ubiquitous access to computing capabilities. Intelligent screens and connected devices will proliferate, and will take many forms, sizes and interaction styles.

Cearley warned that IT departments are not well suited for the design challenges involved in ubiquitous availability, and said companies may need to acquire the expertise. (He may have been pointing to Capital One, which recently acquired Web design firm Adapative Path.)

2: The Internet of Things (IoT). Clearley’s advice to IT managers is to experiment, get ideas going and empower individuals in IT organizations to develop uses for connected devices and sensors.

Cearley believes IoT has enormous potential to deliver value to businesses, and said even small sensors that can detect problems in equipment before failure occurs, can save a business thousands of dollars.

3: 3D printing. The technology has been around since 1984, but is now maturing and shipments are on the rise. While consumer 3D printing gets a lot of attention, it’s really the enterprise use that can deliver value.

4: Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics. Every application is an analytical app today.

5: Context Rich Systems. Knowing the user, the location, what they have done in the past, their preferences, social connections and other attributes all become inputs into applications.

15/10/2014

SWOT analysis

Click on the Photo to Start

15/10/2014

Axios webcast – Key Challenges in ITSM Today – Discussing the 7 big trends

14/10/2014

Xen Project discloses serious vulnerability that impacts virtualized servers

The Xen Project has revealed the details of a serious vulnerability in the Xen hypervisor that could put the security of many virtualized servers at risk.

virtualization

Xen is a free, open-source hypervisor used to create and run virtual machines. It is widely used by cloud computing providers and virtual private server hosting companies.

The security vulnerability, which is being tracked as CVE-2014-7188 and was privately disclosed to major cloud providers in advance, forced at least Amazon Web Services and Rackspace to reboot some of their customers’ virtualized servers over the past week.

The issue allows a virtual machine created using Xen’s hardware-assisted virtualization (HVM) to read data stored by other HVM guests that share the same physical hardware. This breaks an important security barrier in multi-tenant virtual environments.

A malicious HVM guest can also exploit the flaw to crash the host server, the Xen Project said in a security advisory published Wednesday.

The vulnerability only affects Xen running on x86 systems, not ARM, and does not impact servers virtualized with Xen’s paravirtualization (PV) mode instead of HVM.

Even so, the issue is likely to affect a very large number of servers. Amazon was forced to reboot up to 10 percent of its Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) serversover the last several days in order to apply the patch and Rackspace’s similar effort affected a quarter of its 200,000 customers.

Amazon scheduled its reboots so they didn’t affect two regions or availability zones at the same time.

“The zone by zone reboots were completed as planned and we worked very closely with our customers to ensure that the reboots went smoothly for them,” the company said Wednesday in a blog post.

Things did not went as smooth for Rackspace whose CEO, Taylor Rhodes, admitted in an email sent to customers Tuesday that the company “dropped a few balls” in the process of dealing with the vulnerability.

“Some of our reboots, for example, took much longer than they should,” Rhodes said. “And some of our notifications were not as clear as they should have been. We are making changes to address those mistakes.”

14/10/2014

Chromebooks for Work: More manageable for IT, more powerful for users

chromebooks2.jpg

After an office flood displaced 40 workers from a regional site, Just Eat, a UK-based online food ordering company, found a simple way to work through the disruption. The company delivered dozens of Chromebooks overnight to its headquarters and configured them by the time workers came in the next morning.

The story highlights some of the key reasons why a growing number of companies are adopting Chromebooks: they offer easy manageability and heightened security as well as speed and simplicity for IT and end users. Companies such as Woolworths, Auberge Resorts and Chapters Health have equipped their workers with devices in a matter of days thanks to Chromebooks’ simple cloud-based architecture.

Today, we’re taking a big step toward making it even easier for companies to select Chromebooks as their device of choice by announcing features specifically focused on improving identity, manageability, virtualization, performance and pricing:

Simplified and enhanced identity: Single sign-on, a popular customer request, lets you log in with the same credentials and identity provider that you use in the rest of your organization. This feature uses the universal SAML standard and works with most of the major identity providers including CA SiteMinder, Microsoft AD FS, Okta, Ping Identity, SecureAuth, and SimpleSAMLphp. We’re also adding multiple sign-in, which allows you to securely and quickly switch between work and personal accounts on your Chromebook.

Improved certificate management for wireless networks: Businesses, schools and government institutions can now easily provision Chromebooks with client certificates to access 802.1X EAP-TLS wireless networks and mutual TLS protected web resources. Using the Admin Console, IT admins can pre-configure their secure networks, push certificate management extensions and pre-select certificates to be used with certain websites and networks. Partners such as Aruba Networks, Cloudpath Networks and Aerohive Networks have already integrated this functionality.

Expanded Chrome management for any device: Getting new workers or contractors provisioned with web apps on Chrome is now easier than ever. With the Admin Console, IT administrators can push a list of bookmarksand many other settings to signed-in workers on all platforms including mobile devices.

Improved virtualization options: We’ve worked with virtualization partners like Citrix and VMware to expand the boundaries of what’s possible on Chromebooks. Recently, Citrix released a new Citrix Receiver optimized for Chromebooks, which provides more direct integration with Chromebooks and enables new features including seamless integration with Google Cloud Print; cut-and-paste between local and virtualized applications; better audio and video playback; improved license and application usage monitoring; and protection from end-to-end SSL connections.

Rich graphics experiences: Chromebooks are perfect for web applications and they can support rich graphics and powerful 3-D applications. Google recently teamed with Nvidia and VMware and announced at VMWorld technology to speed the delivery of graphics-heavy virtualized applications to Chromebooks, allowing you to seamlessly run 3-D modeling and simulation applications often associated with heavier hardware.

More flexibility on pricing: Starting today, customers can purchase all of these advanced features, management, and support through a new annual subscription option of $50 per device per year. This new pricing option is available first in the US and Canada, with more regions to follow. We’re also supporting licensing portability, which means if you lose or replace a Chromebook you can easily apply your existing license to a new device.

These new features and options reflect our commitment to making Chromebooks an everyday business tool that both IT admins and users can rely on over the years to come.

Two of Google’s strategic partners for virtualization on Chromebooks have been VMware and Citrix. Earlier this year, at VMware’s Partner Exchange, a partnership was announced between Google and VMware, centering around the use of VMware Horizon DaaS for Chromebooks. Google also recently partnered with VMware and NVIDIA to make it easier to build graphical intensive applications for Chromebooks.

Citrix announced its Receiver for Chrome in a blog post in September, giving Chromebook users yet another option to access Windows apps in a virtual environment.

While this is a great option for companies looking to make the transition and maintain access to legacy systems, it’s unclear how it will stack up to the recently announced Windows connected laptop, the HP Stream, which obviously runs Windows apps natively.

Google also changed its Chromebook pricing model to be more friendly to enterprise customers. Chromebooks for Work users now have the option of a subscription price of $50 per device, per year. This gives businesses more flexibility in how they pay for their licenses.

“We had gone with a one-time perpetual license model for the advanced features and the management support, and that’s been in place for quite a while,” Sheth said. “That’s worked really well for places like education where you budget one time and you need to apply it, but in an enterprise environment you’d rather pay as you go.”

This new pricing option will hit the US and Canada first, but will eventually make its way to other markets. Google also mentioned that it is now supporting licensing portability, meaning users can port an existing license to a new device if their Chromebook is lost or stolen.

“You’re seeing that we are very serious about Chrome being a great platform for businesses, and this is just the beginning of many things that you’re going to continue to see us do to make it an even better platform,” Sheth said.

Security is also essential for an enterprise play and Google seems to be taking security seriously as this week it just ponied up more than $75,000 in bounty rewards to take care of 159 security bugs through its Chrome Reward Program.

14/10/2014

A guide to smart home automation

Unless it is a new build, the challenge in creating a smart home is that the technology must work irrespective of the age of the property.

While it is far from mainstream, more and more smart home technology is starting to appear in the market. Energy supplier Npower recently started offering Nest, the smart central heating controller from Google in the UK, and last year, rival British Gas launched its internet-connected central heating system, Hive.

digitalstrom smarthome.jpg

PATRIK STOLLARZ FŸR AIZO AG

But beyond the big energy providers, a new industry is emerging to integrate computer control into the home. In the past, companies such as Lutron were synonymous with intelligent lighting installed in high-end homes.

Like the trend in IT consumerisation, smart home technology is becoming more accessible. For instance, electronics and white goods manufacturer Philips’ Hue family provides a Wi-Fi-enabled light that fits into a standard light socket and can be made to dim and change colour using a smartphone app.

Other companies, such as D-Link, are focusing on remote home security, such as its Wi-Fi-connected CCTV cameras. Motorised curtains and shutters can be controlled remotely via RS434 control boxes. Meanwhile, smart TV and stereo equipment manufacturers such as Sonus offer devices compatible with the Digital Living Network Alliance (DNLA) specification, which means they play media and can be controlled via a local area network.

What many of the newer smart home products have in common is that they are underpinned by internet connectivity and cloud services, and, collectively, they are part of what the IT industry calls the internet of things (IoT). These products offer some degree of intelligence – either built-in or via the cloud – and they may contain a sensor, such as in internet-connected CCTV cameras, fire alarms and thermostats.

Long-life devices

Unlike a smartphone, central heating systems and white goods such as fridges and washing machines generally last a fair number of years. Although some newer domestic appliances may have smart technology built in, consumers should not have to upgrade to take advantage of what a smart home can potentially offer.

But these timescales are not compatible with the six to 18-month schedules that seem to drive consumer electronics.

Past experience has shown that the computer industry does not have the appetite or the patience to support products that may be around for decade.

Last year, British Gas’s Connected Homes business ran a competition in which startups were invited to showcase smart energy technology for the home. Although there were plenty of innovative product demonstrations, a responsible home owner might question whether the technology being embedded in the home, and the companies that provide it, will last as long as the bricks and mortar.

Smart home in practice

Computer Weekly recently visited the home of Martin Vesper, CEO of digitalSTROM, a German company that has developed technology to connect up the wiring in a home to make it a smart home.

A computer built into an electrical block is used to add intelligence to devices connected to mains electricity. The terminal block is similar to the one an electrician would use to connect a light switch to the main lighting circuit, but the presence of a computer means the switch has intelligence.

According to Vesper, the technology has been engineered in such a way that a light switch can not only be dimmed and can measure electricity consumption, it can also collect data via the on-board computer.

The device communicates, using powerline Ethernet, to a mainboard located next to the house’s fusebox, which avoids the need for Wi-Fi connectivity. Vesper says: “We are able to take an existing home, which may be 20 or 30 years old, and make it smart.”

Once the electrical appliances or light switches are connected to the intelligent terminal blocks, and networked over the mains, each can then be identified on the network and controlled independently. This makes the system flexible compared with the fixed wiring in a house.

“In a standard home with fixed wiring, if you want to change something, you need to make the change to the hardware,” says Vesper. “But the digitalSTROM system is software-driven. I can change how the light operates via a tablet or PC, and suddenly it will be configured to do something different.”

Software controlled

In Vesper’s vision, a smart home should be configurable using software, which makes it flexible. It should also be possible to combine events such as a light switch being toggled to orchestrate several activities.

For instance, a single switch on the digitalSTROM system, which controls the dining room, can be reconfigured to switch on other lights, such as the hallway or kitchen. “You can also do new things and combine events such as a doorbell and a hi-fi system,” he said. Such a setup could be used to announce that someone is at the door.

The digitalSTROM system uses a central control console and Linux server, fitted in the home’s fuse box, which provides a way to share data between other intelligent terminal blocks to co-ordinate activities and monitor events, such as when a smoke detector has been tripped.

The system uses orchestration software from Tibco to link events together. This enables a light switch, a door bell or an alarm, such as a smoke detector, to fire off a number of events. Because the action of the switch (or alarm) is separate from the trigger event (such as pressing the door bell), it is possible to reconfigure its behaviour. During the demonstration, Vesper showed how his dining room switch could be reconfigured to switch on the lights in the kitchen as well as those in the dining room.

The idea of consumer-configurable services for smart homes is one of the uses for a technology called IFTTT (if this happens, then do that). The idea is that the user can trigger an action based on an event.

A new iPhone app called Manything is using IFTTT to turn an old iPhone into a CCTV monitoring system. For a monthly fee of £4.99, two old iPhones can be set up to act as motion sensors and record video if motion is detected.

In a blog post commenting on Manything, Ovum analyst Michael Philpott noted: “Home monitoring and security products can cost hundreds of dollars to set up, and then work only with proprietary software, restricting the user in terms of hardware choice and overall functionality.

“Manything’s solution of using existing technology that consumers may already have lying around, together with open software solutions such as IFTTT, shows a level of innovation that many in the industry could learn from.”

Total solutions

While some people are interested in home automation, the majority cannot justify the cost. In Forrester’s European Technographics Devices and Telecom Survey 2013, 31% of adults said they were interested in remote access to all the lights in their home, based on a survey of 12,567 people in Europe. The survey found 34% were interested in remote energy management, and 31% were interested in home security. On the other hand, almost half of those surveyed were not interested in having remote access to light control.

Home automation, such as the system developed by digitalSTROM, can be hugely expensive. Something as seemingly straightforward as switching on a light remotely can involve huge upfront costs in an integrated system.

In the report The Internet Of Things Comes Home, Bit By Bit, Forrester analyst Frank Gillettnotes: “When a consumer simply needs to make sure that the lights are on or the door is locked, they see an integrated connected-home solution as dramatic overkill. Instead, as consumers add individual smart products to address additional problems, they will realise new tasks that this combination of gadgets could address – if only the solutions were able to communicate and interoperate.”

Gillett thinks consumers are more likely to buy lower-cost components, rather than a complete home automation system, to meet a particular need. The challenge is that these components will need to communicate in an open way and federated services will be needed to make them work together seamlessly, like an integrated system.

14/10/2014

“If You’re Not Working, We Won’t Hire You!” – Liz Ryan

Since I write about the workplace I hear a lot of hair-raising stories. I hear them from job-seekers, recruiters, HR folks and hiring managers. There is a lot of craziness in the job search and recruiting arena. I’ve heard about outrageous behavior on all sides.

One job-seeker told us about an interview scheduled over the lunch hour. The company ordered sandwiches for the four people interviewing the candidate, but didn’t ask the job-seeker himself what he’d like for lunch – so he sat there being interviewed while his four interviewers chomped on their sandwiches.

Stay classy, San Diego!

A recruiter told me about a job candidate who went on a job interview that she, the recruiter, had set up for him. Once he got there, the candidate abandoned the job-interview part of the conversation and talked to the hiring manager about his sideline business as an IT consultant, instead.

Give that man two awards — one for tackiness and one for biting the hand that got you a job interview!

The worst recruiting horror story I’ve heard since the start of the latest recession is the policy adopted by certain employers that restricts their hiring pool to people who are currently working. When I heard about the idea, I thought it was an urban myth. I couldn’t believe that any organization could be so stupid or so cruel.

In a recession, people get laid off. That isn’t their fault. They haven’t done anything wrong. To make the blanket statement “If you’re not currently working, we won’t hire you” is beyond ignorant – it’s bad business, and the ultimate “Screw you” to people who have already taken some hard knocks.

Sadly the urban myth is true. I have talked with HR leaders whose organizations routinely screen out job applications and resumes from unemployed job-seekers.

The HR people don’t like it, but the practice stands. “It’s a fast way to screen people out,” they are told.

If employers are looking for fast, arbitrary ways to screen out applicants, I can think of twenty ways that are just as effective as screening out job-seekers who aren’t working. They could interview only the candidates whose last names start with K, or screen out everyone whose application arrives on Monday or Wednesday.

These are idiotic ideas, but no more idiotic than the idea that a person’s current employment status could somehow be a clue to his or her value as an employee.

Great people get laid off from jobs every day. Sometimes the best people in an organization are the first to go. During the boom times, their terrific performance got them boosted up the compensation schedule.

Now they’re at the top of the earnings pile, and money is tight, so they’re laid off. Sometimes people end up on a redundancy list because they’ve been out in front of the business, trying new things and exploring new territory.

When the ax falls, it falls on them first because their work isn’t directly attached to day-to-day revenue. That’s the opposite of a poor employee. That’s a person whose talents could make a company’s future!

If you run into the bias that suggests that an unemployed person is somehow tainted or less than desirable, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought evil thoughts about the people on the hiring side of the equation. Your emotional energy would be wasted in that exercise, because a business that hires that way is already doomed.

Its leaders cannot succeed with such a Neanderthal mindset.

Tough as it is to encounter the offensive bias that favors currently-employed job-seekers over unemployed folks, you’re better off knowing who’s a toad in your job search earlier rather than later.

I have seen suggested remedies meant to overcome the obstacle “We won’t hire you unless you’re already employed,” but they all amount to deception.

Various articles suggest ways to keep the bad news (“I actually left that company a month ago”) out of the job-search conversation. Do you really want to get a job by artifice, by pretending to be someone you’re not?

It’s a great idea to start your own business – a consulting business, for instance – while you’re job-hunting.

I’d love for you to start a consulting business while you’re between jobs. I’d love for you to start a consulting business on the side at any point in your career, but doing that won’t appease someone who can’t get past the caveman logic ‘Working – good! Not working — bad!”

You’re better off leaving an organization like that in your rear-view mirror. Go for the people who get you and therefore deserve you.

How do you find them? It isn’t hard. When you spot an organization that sounds like it’s doing interesting things (in your LinkedIn browsing, in your local paper, through friends or anywhere), zero in.

You can reach your hiring manager directly with a Pain Letter, and ignore the dreaded Black Hole auto-recruiting portals. Those things will screen out an unemployed job-seeker’s application.

A real, live hiring manager who has real problems won’t ask “Is this person employed?”

When your Pain Letter and Human-Voiced Resume arrive in the mail and make it clear that you’ve solved a hiring manager’s pain in other circumstances, your current employment status will be the last thing on the hiring manager’s mind!

To employers, my message is that great employees come in all shapes and sizes. They come with every imaginable story and background. Blanket policies like “No unemployed candidates will be considered” hurt your ability to hit your goals.

We get to decide how to respond, and we must decide. No decision is a win for Godzilla, the mascot for bureaucracy and fear. Can your integrity be bought so cheaply, for a paycheck and a business card?

Our company is called Human Workplace. Our mission is to reinvent work for people.

Here are resources for CEOs, hiring managers and HR leaders looking to hire, motivate and keep great people on their teams.

Here are resources for job-seekers, career-changers and people who aren’t sure what to do next career-wise!

FOLLOW us on Twitter: @humanworkplace

LIKE our Facebook page!

Sent iPadn Ť€©ћ№©¶@τ

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 199 other followers