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Consultancy costs push up SAP price

I note with interest the article outlining the release of a pre-installed product from SAP aimed at those mid-market companies without large IT teams – something that has been talked about by SAP for over a year (SAP boxes up ERP, 10 March).

We are in the process of implementing SAP and have been for almost 12 months. I would point out that as most people are fully aware, the hardware and software are the cheapest part of any SAP installation. The actual configuration – and therefore the need for consultants – has diminished not one iota, and therefore the overall cost is virtually the same. Clearly this will not provide the benefits to the smaller and mid-market companies that SAP suggests.

While I have a certain level of respect for the software, I am not impressed by the consultants that we have seen – and the processes that they use for project implementation leave more than a little to be desired. It doesn’t matter what SAP portrays the product as – it’s still exactly the same animal as before.

Name withheld

March 31, 2008 in Software | Permalink | Comments (0)

Firms will pay dearly for axing IT workers

I’m one of the independent developers that saw his 10-year-old business become untenable because of the outsourcing craze (Time running out for foreign IT skills, 17 March). Now I work for a company in the Midlands as a remote worker writing cutting-edge software, but on a Midlands salary while living in the south-east. I also work alongside another very highly-skilled software developer, who saw his Midlands-based company become untenable for exactly the same reason.

It’s a bit late for companies to bemoan not being able to get decent IT support now because the government concludes that there are enough IT skills in the UK. All those firms whose non-IT savvy directors thought they could reduce expenditure by cutting out the beating heart of their IT have all but killed off the cream of the available UK IT industry.

This isn’t a new form of ignorance. Years ago I worked for a company that started to let its engineers go to save money. The engineers were the heart of the company, and the company all but died because of it.

If you are reading this as an IT professional who still has their original job, if there is someone at the end of the food chain in your organisation counting pennies instead of determining what a good investment really is, I’d advise starting to apply for other jobs now.

David Lambert

March 31, 2008 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dell strives to cut power consumption

In response to the recent reader letter on Dell power consumption, without knowing the specific test instrument that was used to measure energy consumption, we cannot comment on the data that was generated (PC firms are power crazy, 25 February). We can only assume that the device used was unable to detect and measure the newer generation of power supplies that are certified to be 80 per cent efficient.

Dell strives to exceed industry standards in energy efficiency, with the latest OptiPlex systems achieving stringent benchmarks such as Energy Star 4.0. 

James Nolan, Dell UK

March 31, 2008 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Allow plenty of time to deploy Vista

Last night I found myself at home with a friend’s sister’s laptop, Windows Vista Home Basic and an expired anti-virus trial software package.

How difficult can this be, I thought? Uninstall the expired anti-virus software, connect to my home wireless connection, download AVG Anti-Virus, install, job done.

Three hours later I finished that simple task. The uninstall was fine, the Vista networking was an absolute nightmare. Could I get a connection to my wireless network? Not a chance.

Seven years’ experience of IT networking, turning off MAC address filtering, changing the WPA encryption keys, turning everything security-related off, all failed. An hour after starting, I gave up and walked into the adjacent room with a network cable. But Vista decided to see my combined ADSL modem/ router/switch as “multiple networks” and point-blank refused me web access.

Again, I turned everything security-related off, unplugged, replugged, unplugged, swore, ranted and an hour and a half later I had a connection - although I still don’t know how I did it.

Fifteen minutes later the job was done. Our organisation is strategically positioned to adopt Vista in 2010. After last night’s experience, we had better start implementation now – it could take us until 2010 to get everyone on the network.

Ade Worley, ICT manager

March 17, 2008 in Software | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dumb terminals and smart security

As well as full disk and network encryption to protect against security losses, leaks and breaches in the future, government and corporate agencies should explore virtualised computing solutions (Data protection must be global, 18 February).

Such solutions allow laptops to act as dumb terminals so all the data is stored centrally. Therefore, if a laptop is lost or stolen the important data is prevented from getting into the wrong hands.

Ultimately, human error, disclosure or malice continue to be the biggest threats to data security, so if organisations are to avoid the negative headlines we have recently seen, they should be looking to deploy the solutions that match users’ expectations of government- and corporate-level security.

Richard Farnworth, NEC UK

March 17, 2008 in Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to get the best out of mainframes

Once again we see that rumours of the death of the mainframe have been exaggerated (Mainframes back in business, 3 March). This announcement from IBM highlights the value and demand for continued innovation in mainframe technology; as a platform, the mainframe is responsible for processing more data than any other and continues to serve the needs of large organisations well.

Companies must also realise, however, that the business benefit of such platforms is only as good as the applications running on them, and that true business innovation comes from understanding where the value lies within these core systems. Only by having the insight to remove the deadwood, will IT be able to innovate where innovation really counts.

Julian Dobbins, Micro Focus

March 17, 2008 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Made to feel like a criminal by Fast

The Federation Against Software Theft (Fast) contacted a client of mine last year and suggested a visit. The presentation started quite harmlessly. However, it soon started to feel like a sales pitch, rather than an informative meeting.

As the meeting dragged on, the aggressiveness increased. Every possible cause of a breach was explored and the term “vicarious liability” was used over and over. The blame for any breaches would lie firmly at the feet of myself and the chief executive.

The Fast representative mentioned several big names that had been rumbled. There was a clear feeling of guilty until proven innocent. He signed off with a clear warning that they can turn up at any time, shut you down and do an audit. My client decided against their offerings simply because they pay me to do the job.

However, a Fast representative recently contacted my client again to say Fast would be visiting them this month. The chief executive was understandably upset over this, and immediately called me.

I contacted Fast and it turns out the call was a follow up to a recent newsletter that it emailed out on the subject of illegal software theft. I am livid that Fast’s actions resulted in my client having to call me on this matter, and I am sure that the chief executive will continue to decline their request to meet again.

Name withheld

March 10, 2008 in Software | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mistreating data can cost firms dear

While cost is an obvious fallout for organisations caught up in data breaches, they also need to acknowledge other consequences that carry a far heavier price than simple monetary loss (Breaches cost £1.4m, 3 March).

Too often we are seeing customer data being mistreated by organisations, which are storing and using the same data in multiple databases, creating the conditions where one department is ignorant of how it is being shared with third parties by other departments.

All strategies developed from here on need to be focused on instilling customer confidence not just reducing losses.

Bart Patrick, SAS

March 10, 2008 in Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Linux makes for cheaper handsets

Linux does have the potential to make a huge difference to handsets in the future (Can Linux make an impact on phones, 25 February). Operating system licensing costs are a relatively large cost and they make a difference to the end-user price. If that licensing cost goes away, the end-user price can be reduced.

The other main advantage is development of applications. Though setting up a Linux toolchain to repurpose code to another processor is fiddly, it is relatively easy ­ especially if the vendor supplies a ready-made development system, such as Google’s Android SDK.

Developing applications on Linux is well understood and the move to embedded Linux platforms is relatively straight forward.

Steve Kennedy

March 10, 2008 in Communications | Permalink | Comments (0)

Personalising the IT helpdesk

After an initial laugh at the contents of Alistair Dabb’s recent article, and identifying our very own young bloke with spiky hair and smelling of Armani, I re-read it and can relate to this attitude (Don’t let end users take you for granted, 18 February).

Having worked in the network support environment for some years, I was constantly referred to as “the female one”. When we introduced our IT customer services team nearly four years ago, this was one of the issues identified.

Now, not only do users know names, they also know what we look like, as we send out “Support Posters” identifying the service desk personnel with photographs. As it is a centralised service desk, the likelihood of anyone personally meeting the staff is very low, unless they work at the site the service desk is based at.

There have also been opportunities for the staff to swap roles with the roaming mobile technician to allow them to visit the sites they support and introduce themselves.

Personally, I think you can iron out a lot of issues with a friendly handshake and a personal introduction, and that goes for both IT staff and users.

Kate Neal

March 4, 2008 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

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