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vCloud Air targets disasters

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VMware has announced enhanced disaster recovery and advanced networking services for VMware vCloud Air.

VMware also announced the general availability of vCloud Air Virtual Private Cloud OnDemand, which provides customers a quick online sign-up to pay for only those resources that are used. As part of the general availability of vCloud Air OnDemand, VMware introduced a new program to make it easier for customers to have the predictable billing of a subscription, but only pay for cloud resources consumed with a new Subscription Purchasing Program.

“Public cloud is a part of every VMware client’s view of the future because it helps them move faster and get far greater value for money from their IT Infrastructure,” said Bill Fathers, executive vice president and general manager, Cloud Services Business Unit, VMware. “VMware vCloud Air provides our clients with these benefits for both new and existing applications. The service enhancements announced today reflect strong client interest in a public cloud platform compatible with existing vSphere environments.”

Simple, affordable cloud disaster recovery
One of the most compelling use cases for hybrid cloud is a simpler model for disaster recovery and business continuity. IT has become the lifeblood of most businesses, and any disruption to IT systems can lead to lost revenue, missed opportunity, and competitive disadvantage. VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery delivers cost-effective, flexible and simple disaster recovery for business continuity planning.

VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery can be implemented in less than an hour and replicates virtual machines and data to vCloud Air, providing a warm-standby virtual data centre in the event of a disaster. Customers choose vCloud Air for disaster recovery because it requires zero changes to the existing virtualised environment, and because vCloud Air supports all the operating systems and applications they run today – without conversions. The new capabilities include:

·         Native failback support – Customers will now have an easier way to resume normal data centre operations in their primary data centre following a failover to vCloud Air. Customers will be able to replicate workloads back from vCloud Air to the primary customer environment over the network to resume normal operations.

·         Multiple recovery points – Customers will have the option to roll back to multiple earlier snapshots of their data centre environment. This is vital to recover from outages caused by data corruption, viruses or hacking attacks that compromise the most recent recovery point.

·         Self-service automation – Customers will be able to define and deploy recovery playbooks to streamline failover operations using a new vRealize Orchestrator DR plug-in, open source DR Command Line Interface (CLI) and an expanded REST API.

New VMware vCloud advanced networking services
VMware vCloud Air advanced networking services, powered by the VMware NSX network virtualisation platform, will enable customers to achieve unprecedented security and isolation in a public cloud. VMware will deliver the following benefits to customers:

·         Fine-grained network security groups and isolation – Customers can define security groups that provide stateful network traffic isolation without requiring multiple virtual networks. Unique to the public cloud market, this enables a “zero trust” security model designed to prevent insiders and intruders from gaining full network access if an application or virtual machine is compromised. It also dramatically simplifies network configuration and is implemented as a distributed firewall, so there is no network traffic bottleneck.

·         Dynamic Routing – VMware vCloud Air will support both Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) and Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) based routing to simplify network integration between on-premises and cloud-based environments, allowing for redundancy and continuity in cloud-hosted application deployment. It drives down networking and administration costs.

·         Additional vCloud Advanced Networking Services – Expanded network scalability up to 200 endpoints, enhanced VPN support for point to site connectivity and enhanced load balancing with support for HTTPS.

Instant access to vCloud Air
VMware vCloud Air Virtual Private Cloud OnDemand allows customers to sign up online for immediate access, and pay-as-you-go with a credit card or purchase agreement. Individuals get $300 of free service when they sign up, making tests, proof-of-concepts and application deployments risk free. There is no upfront resource commitment and no upfront cost. Charges will be incurred as the resources are consumed (metered by the minute) and billed on a monthly basis.

“VMware vCloud Air OnDemand allows us a cost effective way of ramping up our development efforts outside of our vCloud Air production environment,” says Jeff Wilson, Director IT at Nevro.

Subscription purchasing program
The VMware Subscription Purchasing Program (SPP) will combine regular, predictable billing for cloud service with the complete flexibility for customers to use any cloud service and only pay for what they use. Customers will be able to create an SPP fund with either a single pre-payment today, or regular monthly installments starting in the second half of 2015. Customers gain a volume discount based on the amount committed. They then spend their fund by consuming cloud services, just paying for what they need and topping up the fund as necessary. Initially, SPP supports all vCloud Air services, including vCloud Air OnDemand, as well as Horizon Air.

Pricing and availability
·         VMware vCloud Virtual Private Cloud Air OnDemand is available immediately. Pricing starts at $0.17/hour for a VM with 8 GB of RAM and 2 vCPU.

·         The new capabilities for VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery are expected to be available in Q1 2015.

·         Advanced networking services will be available in vCloud Air in the first half of 2015.

 

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It’s printing, Jim, but not as we know it

Selling printing services is not only about the hardware anymore, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The seminal science fiction series Star Trek generated many catch-lines, like “The Prime Directive” and “Live long and prosper”. One of its most parodied lines, however, is Doctor Bones McCoy’s words to Captain Kirk on encountering an alien species: “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.”

That’s exactly the way one could describe the printer industry today. Every time an HP, Epson or Konica Minolta releases a new machine for this sector, one can sense the puzzled frowns of people taken by surprise that it still exists.

The difference is that it has evolved from a focus on paper to an emphasis on document management.

One of the first companies to spot that shift in the market, Japanese-headquartered Konica-Minolta, pioneered the concept of a dedicated printer company introducing its own software development division.

“We’ve always believed our role is solving problems for the customer, and not just to provide print, copy and scan solutions,” says Marc Pillay, CEO of the company’s South African division. “Our primary focus is multi-functional devices, but we always look at adding value to clients. Our real job is to assist in achieving a better return on investment.”

The proof of the pudding is that the local division is one of the biggest Konica-Minolta distributors in the world. The reason is simple: unlike most other countries, the South African operation has both a direct and indirect channel. That means it is able to supply companies through its reseller network, while also having a presence on the ground in the form of a dealer network across the country. That, in turn, has given it access to municipalities and other organs of state.

“Our value proposition is based on quality products, service and an unparalleled supply chain,” says Pillay. “When everyone was afraid to do business with government, we thrived on it. It comes from being located in areas where it’s easy to do business with us.”

One could call that the secret of success for existing demand. The coming era, however, will require an appreciation of the next big shifts in printing, says Pillay.

“We’ve seen the big shifts from analog to digital, from monochrome to colour, and from decentralisation to centralisation of printing. The next shift is unbundling printing into a hybrid approach, using both cloud and managed solutions. It’s all going to become subscription-based, and it will be print-on-demand. The high-end customers go into that very quickly, but we still have to cater for people who just do copying.”

Pillay believes that the opening of Microsoft’s Azure data centres in South Africa in March has already made a difference.

“Now you can scan from a device into Microsoft’s SharePoint online or Google Drive. It’s not about screen size anymore, but what you can do to make an impact.”

Where people don’t print, says Pillay, they’re absorbing documents digitally.

“We have to make sure that, where we lose the print, we are gaining the management of the scan, digitisation of the document or management of the workflow. Our income will come out of the workflow.

“Clearly, we’re not just focused on selling a piece of hardware anymore.”

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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SA chooses most loved local businesses

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A new World Wide Worx research report identifies and names South Africa’s 12 Most Loved Local businesses, and places the spotlight on the vital role commercial businesses play in the South African economy. The country’s favourite local businesses include the Chapman’s Peak Hotel in Hout Bay – famed for its calamari, celebrity chef David Higgs’ Rosebank eatery Marble as well as Rouge Day Spa with branches in Kenilworth and Constantia in Cape Town run by a dynamic mother and daughter duo.

The aim of the Most Loved Local report was to celebrate those businesses South Africans love the most and to investigate exactly what makes consumers big fans of these entities. It further offers these enterprises insights into what it takes to succeed in business, highlights the qualities that convert clients into fans and encourages more South Africans to ‘shop’ local.

Report results

Commissioned by Santam, results were compiled using a combination of digital listening tools and traditional research. Social media listening using organic search analysis looked into which business categories were being searched for most. This was followed up with a trend analysis to assess whether a business category was growing in popularity, keyword volume analysis to refine the categories and finally social listening within the categories which businesses were being spoken about in the most positive terms. Thereafter, a poll was conducted among 2 489 respondents to find out what made them love a local business – or not. The sample was nationally representative and aligned to the economically active population per province. A respected independent research house World Wide Worx conducted the research.

The full list of businesses that came top across 12 categories are:

  1. Place to Stay: Chapmans Peak Hotel (Cape Town) – the one with the perfect calamari
  2. Eatery: Marble (Johannesburg) – the one with the celebrity chef in the kitchen
  3. Butcher: The Butcher Man (Cape Town) – the one that people cross town for
  4. Bakery: Fournos (Johannesburg) – the one that is way more than a bakery
  5. Spa: Rouge Day Spa (Cape Town) – the one run by a dynamic mother-daughter team
  6. Entertainment Spot: Gold Reef City (Johannesburg)  – the one with the heart of gold
  7. Gym: Dream Body Fitness (Johannesburg) – the one that is completely unintimidating to work out at
  8. Interior Designer: By Dezign Interiors (Johannesburg) – the one that really, really gets its clients’ style
  9. Market: Bryanston Organic & Natural Market (Johannesburg) – the one that was an organic market before it was trendy to be an organic market
  10. Laundromat: Exclusive Dry Cleaners (Johannesburg) – the one that treats every single client like family
  11. Car Wash: Tubbs’s Car Wash (Johannesburg) – the one that cleans your car while you have a haircut
  12. Construction company: Radon Projects (Pretoria) – the one that is ready all day and all night

Delving into what makes a consumer go from ‘client to fan’, the key factor standing out above all others was service. Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx, says it seems South Africans will forgive a multitude of ‘sins’ if they are treated well. “Good service was the number one factor that makes 40% of those surveyed support a local business. This was followed by quality products at 18%. Third place went to value for money at 10%, proving the old adage that competing on price alone is not a sound business strategy,” said Goldstuck.

When asked what makes them loyal to a local business, some interesting views across age groups emerged. “Younger clients are more swayed by quality, while older ones are impressed by service. This seems to fit with younger people wanting the status of nice things, and older people wanting to feel valued and respected,” said Goldstuck.

Unsurprisingly, all 12 Most Loved Locals called out service as one of their guiding lights and core pillars when interviewed. Theo and George Parpottas, owners of Exclusive Dry Cleaners, the selected company in the laundromat category, believe when someone walks into their shop, they should be greeted with smiling faces and courteous people. “We don’t care if it’s the president or a beggar, from the moment they walk in, they are a client. We greet them, we are courteous, and we treat them with respect. It doesn’t matter what they bring.”

For Gary Karycou, who co-owns Marble in Rosebank with celebrity chef David Higgs, it is all about attitude. “You can teach someone anything if they want to do it, but we employ on attitude. You get the basic skills but if someone really wants to learn, you can transform them.” He continues, “Giving the best service to our clients, is our motto. It’s something that’s lacking in South Africa and even globally. Businesses just become a bit complacent.”

Famed Green Point butchery and restaurant, The Butcher Man, is owned by Arie Fabiani. He says people will drive past other butcheries and come all the way to the Butcher Man because “we deliver a great service. Good service is critical, and our team knows it.”

Another key finding was that people are more likely to recommend a business if there is a good deal or excellent value for money. Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe, Chief Marketing Officer at Santam, says this is an interesting finding. “Perhaps we are more likely to share a good deal with others and keen to help others find great nuggets of the positive trade-off between value and price. So, it is worth ensuring that, in addition to service and quality, your clients feel like they are getting value for the money they spend with you. That way, they are more likely to tell family and friends the good news!”

Dilotsotlhe added that the report’s release has been well-timed as the need to stimulate sectors of the economy which can create jobs has never been more vital. Commercial enterprises are responsible for a significant percentage of the labour-force in South Africa, and the impact thereof is significant. Due to the fact that these enterprises remain a largely underinsured sector, the campaign also seeks to highlight the need for insurance as a vital aspect of business continuity. When they thrive, it benefits the whole nation, and from a Santam perspective, this translates into sustainable growth for our business.

To download the full report, click here.

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