When a company is operating at the cutting edge of entertainment, it also needs cutting edge technology to keep the business running. Ster-Kinekor showed us how it was able to update its infrastructure without breaking the bank.
But Ster-Kinekor, South Africa’s main movie distributor, was labouring with an IT ecosystem comprising dated infrastructure, characterised by a poor end user experience, no workload mobility, and abysmal support times. How, then, to achieve digital transformation?
“The situation was bleak and when quotes began coming in to replace 150 high-end laptops, update infrastructure, backup and recovery, and expedite product update deployments and refresh cycles – it seemed insurmountable,” said Andre Potgieter, IT Executive at Ster-Kinekor Entertainment. “We couldn’t afford the solutions being proffered and were unwilling to sign-up for 15-years of technical debt.”
Yet the need remained pressing to transform this environment, in which it took IT on average two weeks to load Windows onto a machine, and the mere mention of IT evoked emotions ranging from anger to loathing among end-users. So the embattled IT department, with its partner VMXperts, turned to suppliers Dell and VMware to look at leveraging their desktop virtualisation strategies.
Key among the challenges facing Ster-Kinekor were: lengthy IT support times; a costly mobile environment; and no visibility and control. To surmount these, the team employed a staged approach to deploy a wall-to-wall VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) environment – rolling out Workspace on Dell thin clients – to address its EUC (end user computing) needs; upgraded the backend to vSphere 6 on Tintri; and deployed VMware Mirage with Commvault to assist with backups, product migrations and refreshes.
“Mobility was a problem – everyone had a laptop in the past and made extensive use of (costly) mobile data, there was also a problem with theft and loss of machines with corporate data on them,” said Potgieter. “With Workspace we can ensure users only access corporate data by logging in through their virtual machine.”
The secure access offered by the VMware VDI solution also meant that Ster-Kinekor could abandon its VPN. End users now connect to mail publicly and access business applications, including SAP, by connecting securely to the virtual machine – improving performance and security. In addition, using Mirage has enabled faster, cheaper backing up of endpoints; rapid reinjection of data onto new machines; and the ability to securely access information from multiple devices, dramatically improving the mobility of users.
As a media company, Ster-Kinekor also requires the ability to broadcast and process HD audio and video amid densities of between 30 and 70 virtual machines per host, without any impact on the desktop environment. Notably, with its new solution, the team is able to achieve precisely this.
Other achievements include the near elimination of downtime in the company’s warehouse, where four production lines work on specific SAP configurations and where the team had previously set up three to four desktops to mitigate the effects of downtime which could result in the loss of a million rand per day. According to Potgieter, since deploying VMware in the backend and on the desktops, if the warehouse has had one hour of downtime, it’s a lot.
All told, Ster-Kinekor has achieved a significant reduction in its IT support numbers; desktop deployments of just a few minutes; and has virtualised 50-percent of its applications.
IT support times have shrunk from weeks to minutes, productivity has increased across the organisation, and it now has a robust failover environment, and is positioned to react quickly to the digital changes occurring in the fast-paced media industry.
Perhaps the most significant result, however, has been the manner in which the sentiment around IT has completely changed within the company.
CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!
Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER
From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.
Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:
LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home
LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine, debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules, a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation.
Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.
The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft
Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now:
- Hoppy American IPA
- Golden American Pale Ale
- Full-bodied English Stout
- Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
- Dry Czech Pilsner
The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.
“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”
Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.
CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary
At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.
Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.
Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.
“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”
Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops