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Microwave your connection

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As the wait for fibre-to-business gets wearisome, some customers are looking for alternatives. One such is microwave, which ECKART ZOLLNER of Jasco, believes is a viable last mile stand-in.

Microwave technology for data transmission has advanced considerably. As the long wait for fibre-to-the-business gets wearisome and begins to hamper productivity and operational effectiveness for some, and customers begin to move to the competition, microwave is becoming a viable last mile stand-in.

It’s not always possible or desirable to put fibre in the ground. It can be costly, so there needs to be a big enough demand before operators will invest. In addition, even with overhead fibre transmission, permissions need to be obtained and regulations met, which can be time consuming and painstaking. Microwave, a point to point technology that works well over short distances, provides an ideal alternative, especially as the technology has become more robust and mobile solutions make it easy for operators to ‘drive and park’ microwave equipment wherever they need it.

The biggest challenge in the past has been the shortcomings of the technology. Vulnerability to atmospheric interference – other frequencies and heavy downpours, for example — can result in degraded transmission. Microwave technologies were also not robust enough to reliably transmit high speed data. In addition, setting up the point-to-point connections was difficult. New advances have improved these weaknesses including new software to auto recognise focal points and troubleshoot, and new technologies that make microwave less prone to interference.

This makes microwave very relevant to companies in remote areas or with challenging geography that require the throughput; for remote or rural towns that need a high speed link to centres of commerce; and to operators dealing with growing traffic and customer bases, as an inexpensive backhaul solution or for additional redundancy.

How easy is it to implement?

Microwave is a high frequency solution requiring line of site to the next tower to transmit data, with a range of anything from 1 to 100km. The cost of the implementation is usually integrated into and spread across the period of the subscription period – e.g. 24 to 36 months – while monthly costs will vary from a couple of thousand rand to tens of thousands of Rand depending on the bandwidth and the traffic utilised.

While users can make use of a common unlicensed frequency for their solution, in certain areas it can be crowded and noisy and quality of service cannot be guaranteed. A number of large South African operators have the required licensed frequency spectrum and have created a microwave network that their clients can leverage. To connect, a microwave dish needs to be installed at the client site within line of site of the operator’s microwave tower/s, or the closest microwave dish.

The service provider will provide the resources to do the planning and installation. They make use of specialist providers to get the job done well within budget and deadlines. Over the next three to five years as fibre slowly grows, demand for microwave technologies is expected to continue to grow. It may be an alternative, backup solution or interim solution worth considering.

* Eckart Zollner, Head of Business Development at the Jasco Group

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Legion gets a pro makeover

Lenovo’s latest Legion gaming laptop, the Y530, pulls out all the stops to deliver a sleek looking computer at a lower price point, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Gaming laptops have become synonymous with thick bodies, loud fans, and rainbow lights. Lenovo’s latest gaming laptop is here to change that.

The unit we reviewed housed an Intel Core i7-8750H, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. It featured dual storage, one bay fitted with a Samsung 256GB NVMe SSD and the other with a 1TB HDD.

The latest addition to the Legion lineup has become far more professional-looking, compared to the previous generation Y520. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the gaming laptop market and appeals to those who want to use a single device for work and play. Instead of sporting flashy colours, Lenovo has opted for an all-black computer body and a monochromatic, white light scheme. 

The laptop features an all-metal body with sharp edges and comes in at just under 24mm thick. Lenovo opted to make the Y530’s screen lid a little shorter than the bottom half of the laptop, which allowed for more goodies to be packed in the unit while still keeping it thin. The lid of the laptop features Legion branding that’s subtly engraved in the metal and aligned to the side. It also features a white light in the O of Legion that glows when the computer is in use.

The extra bit of the laptop body facilitates better cooling. Lenovo has upgraded its Legion fan system from the previous generation. For passive cooling, a type of cooling that relies on the body’s build instead of the fans, it handles regular office use without starting up the fans. A gaming laptop with good passive cooling is rare to find and Lenovo has shown that it can be achieved with a good build.

The internal fans start when gaming, as one would expect. They are about as loud as other gaming laptops, but this won’t be a problem for gamers who use headsets.

Click here to read about the screen quality, and how it performs in-game.

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Serious about security? Time to talk ISO 20000

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By EDWARD CARBUTT, executive director at Marval Africa

The looming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) have brought information security to the fore for many organisations. This in addition to the ISO 27001 standard that needs to be adhered to in order to assist the protection of information has caused organisations to scramble and ensure their information security measures are in line with regulatory requirements.

However, few businesses know or realise that if they are already ISO 20000 certified and follow Information Technology Infrastructure Library’s (ITIL) best practices they are effectively positioning themselves with other regulatory standards such as ISO 27001. In doing so, organisations are able to decrease the effort and time taken to adhere to the policies of this security standard.

ISO 20000, ITSM and ITIL – Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM) and reflects a business’s ability to adhere to best practice guidelines contained within the ITIL frameworks. 

ISO 20000 is process-based, it tackles many of the same topics as ISO 27001, such as incident management, problem management, change control and risk management. It’s therefore clear that if security forms part of ITSM’s outcomes, it should already be taken care of… So, why aren’t more businesses looking towards ISO 20000 to assist them in becoming ISO 27001 compliant?

The link to information security compliance

Information security management is a process that runs across the ITIL service life cycle interacting with all other processes in the framework. It is one of the key aspects of the ‘warranty of the service’, managed within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The focus is ensuring that the quality of services produces the desired business value.

So, how are these standards different?

Even though ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 have many similarities and elements in common, there are still many differences. Organisations should take cognisance that ISO 20000 considers risk as one of the building elements of ITSM, but the standard is still service-based. Conversely, ISO 27001 is completely risk management-based and has risk management at its foundation whereas ISO 20000 encompasses much more

Why ISO 20000?

Organisations should ask themselves how they will derive value from ISO 20000. In Short, the ISO 20000 certification gives ITIL ‘teeth’. ITIL is not prescriptive, it is difficult to maintain momentum without adequate governance controls, however – ISO 20000 is.  ITIL does not insist on continual service improvement – ISO 20000 does. In addition, ITIL does not insist on evidence to prove quality and progress – ISO 20000 does.  ITIL is not being demanded by business – governance controls, auditability & agility are. This certification verifies an organisation’s ability to deliver ITSM within ITIL standards.

Ensuring ISO 20000 compliance provides peace of mind and shortens the journey to achieving other certifications, such as ISO 27001 compliance.

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