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The National Cloud Strategy’s Impact on Australian Government

 

The National Cloud Strategy’s Impact on Australian Government resized 600In May 2013, the Australian government announced the National Strategy for Cloud Computing that advocates a “cloud-first” approach to procurement and the creation of a public cloud for government and private businesses.

The new policy consists of three core objectives:

  1. Maximise the value of cloud computing in the government. Government agencies are now required to consider public cloud services first for new procurements, as long as they are the most cost-effective option. They must also transition public-facing websites to the public cloud once the sites are ready for a refresh.
  2. Promote cloud services to small businesses, non-profits and consumers. Working with the cloud industry, the Australian government will disseminate information to the public about how different industries can use cloud services. The government and the cloud industry will develop a Cloud Consumer Protocol that establishes consumers’ rights and expands access for small enterprises to technology expertise. 
  3. Support the cloud industry. To support the cloud industry, the government will provide education, research and trade support to position Australia as a “trusted hub for data storage and processing.”

While the policy is still in its infancy, it lays the groundwork for a cloud-first national strategy with several important benefits, including: 

  • Cost Savings: From 2011 to 2012, the government spent AU$5.97 billion on IT. The cloud offers tremendous cost saving opportunities for the government by eliminating infrastructure limitations and reducing capital expenses. It also increases efficiency and security at a lower price point.
  • Innovation: By promoting education and expanding access to critical technology resources, Australia’s cloud strategy will drive innovation in small businesses. Cloud services foster new business models, value propositions and revenue streams.
  • Productivity: Cloud services dramatically improve productivity by enabling individuals to store and access information from any location on any device. Cloud services also standardise processes, increase automation and reduce operational issues and inefficiencies, freeing up time for employees to focus on innovation and contributing to business growth.  
  • Service Improvements: With standardised processes and increased automation, moving to the cloud creates significant service level improvements.

Australia’s new policy places an emphasis on education and filling the gap in technical expertise for smaller government agencies and businesses that will use the public cloud. In that regard, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will develop a certification framework that provides visibility into whether service providers meet the legal and operational requirements the government has set forth. Building on an existing framework of relevant technical standards, the framework will facilitate more consistent technical service and quality levels of cloud services.   

  • Access: The new policy will greatly expand access to technology resources and cloud capabilities for smaller government agencies, local councils and small enterprises. These organisations, especially rural councils, have traditionally been understaffed and under-resourced. Greater access to cloud applications will give smaller organisations the same access to professional services as large city councils and government agencies.
  • Security: Moving to the cloud can dramatically increase security. In the cloud, government information will no longer be at risk of loss, damage or theft as it would be if stored in physical hard drives. Data is encrypted during transit and while stored in the cloud, and authorisations and access permissions ensure that only the appropriate individuals can get to sensitive information.

With a multi-cloud approach, the government can determine which information is accessible via the public or private cloud. For information that is readily available in the public space, such as public-facing government web sites, the public cloud will suffice. On the other hand, more sensitive matters related to national security and personal information should be stored and protected in a more secure, private cloud environment. The established provisions of the Privacy Act and the Competition and Consumer Act will continue to regulate the cloud industry, in addition to a recent law requiring businesses and government agencies to disclose security breaches to affected customers.

 

Overall, Australia’s new cloud-first approach represents a significant step forward in enhancing the technology services offered to government agencies and small businesses in the country. By working closely with leaders in the cloud industry, the government’s new plan has the potential to improve the economy by making strides in productivity and innovation.

Mining, Meet the Cloud: Five Critical Business Benefits

 

Mining, Meet the Cloud Five Critical Business Benefits resized 600Cloud technology is poised to be the next major growth driver for the mining industry. In a highly competitive industry dealing with fixed resources, mining companies that shift to a cloud services model can gain significant returns on investment and operational improvements while lowering overall business costs.

Although cloud technology is a relatively new phenomenon for the mining sector, the cost of devices and connectivity is expected to decline over the next year, leading to more near-term investments in the Internet of Things and cloud technology for mining equipment, according to Gartner.

The five critical business benefits of cloud technology in the mining industry include:

  1. Lower Costs: Faced with increasing pressure to grow their business while cutting costs, mining companies are turning to the cloud to significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO). By eliminating the burden of ownership on non-core mining assets and reducing start-up and operational costs, cloud technology makes fleet management systems more affordable, especially for smaller mining operations.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP), laboratory information management systems (LIMS), work planning and scheduling, graphical and spatial information systems (GIS) messaging, information business portals and business intelligence can all be shifted to the cloud to reduce costs.

  1. Increased Efficiency: Cloud technology simplifies operations and reduces the number of manual tasks associated with mining through automation. Many mining processes can be automated completely, as seen with some organisations that are using the cloud to power driverless trains and autonomous trucks. This reduces the risk of equipment failures and ensures consistency, while offering operators detailed instructions and equipment usage statistics that they can use to optimise equipment efficiency.

Cloud technology also enables more efficient use of existing and future hardware infrastructure while lowering time spent on IT infrastructure requests.

  1. Standardisation and Centralisation: Although mining companies have historically owned and operated applications onsite at each individual mining location, shifting to the cloud will consolidate maintenance and operations across multiple, disparate mine sites.

By consolidating the mining applications used at individual sites, mining companies can take advantage of economies of scale offered by sharing physical infrastructure, support personnel and software applications.

  1. Lower Environmental Impact: Private cloud environments can offset an IT environment’s carbon footprint. Microsoft Europe and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative estimate that cloud computing will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95 per cent, reducing the mining industry’s carbon footprint and saving companies more than $2.2 billion. 
  2. Improved Flexibility and Agility: In an industry with significant market volatility, cloud computing enables companies to be more agile thanks to greater centralisation and standardisation. The cloud offers flexibility that helps companies adapt to constantly changing technology needs. Cloud services can also be tailored and changed easily to meet specific reliability, availability and security demands at any given time.

As more mining companies understand the potential benefits of cloud technology, we can expect a significant uptick in adoption. When starting out with the cloud, it’s important to have a strong strategy in place for your transition that aligns with critical long- and short-term business goals. Cloud adoption success will also require close collaboration between IT, engineering and operational departments, as each will be directly influenced by this new technology.  

Infographic: Server Virtualisation -- Are You Realising its True Benefits?

 

Some resistance and misconceptions still linger for a technology that's been around the enterprise a while. Australia has one of the deepest penetration levels of server virtualisations in the world, yet some organisations are not realising the maximum ROI or process improvements. We take a look at where server virtualisation currently stands in the Australian enterprise. 

Datacom Server Virtualisation V3

What Will the Internet of Things Mean for Your Business?

 

What Will the Internet of Things Mean for Your Business resized 600The Internet of Things is the latest buzzword in the tech community, promising advances in technology including Wi-Fi-enabled toothbrushes, driverless cars and smart thermostat technology. While it doesn’t seem like these common, everyday items have a place in the enterprise space, leading industry analysts predict a surge in adoption amongst organisations. Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda, for example, forecasts machine-to-machine mobile technology will grow from 1.3 million connections in 2013 to more than 3 million in 2017.

The Internet of Things Explained

The Internet of Things will link inanimate objects together by making them Internet-connected, smartphone-accessible and responsive. This technology has the potential to impact organisations of all shapes and sizes, especially industrial organisations such as mining, engineering and transportation organisations.

Business Impact of the Internet of Things

While the Internet of Things is still a relatively new phenomenon in the modern business environment, its potential to transform operations is significant. As more businesses realise the cost savings and efficiency gains made possible by the Internet of Things, organisations can expect to reap several benefits, including:

  • Automate Processes: The Internet of Things enables increased automation of recurring processes. For example, organisations can use the Internet of Things to power driverless cars, send detailed process instructions to workers onsite or increase energy efficiency by monitoring usage and turning off utilities during non-peak times. 
  • Reduce Costs: With access to accurate equipment usage statistics, the Internet of Things can dramatically reduce operational costs and identify efficiency improvements. This is especially valuable in mining, engineering and utility industries because it can improve profitability by lowering operational costs.
  • Prevent Equipment Failures and Downtime: With more accurate usage monitoring, organisations will be able to identify glitches or issues with equipment before it’s too late. The Internet of Things can enable organisations to routinely check the health and expected lifetime of a variety of equipment types and receive alerts when equipment failure is imminent. This reduces instances of failure and eliminates downtime.  
  • Access to Analytics and Data: Smart items with Internet access can collect and provide valuable analytics to help organisations uncover trends and cost savings opportunities. This will enable senior leadership and CIOs to make better decisions grounded in data and forecast demand more accurately.  

As the Internet of Things is still in its early stages, expect the cost of devices and connectivity to decline gradually as more use cases for this technology emerge in the enterprise space. As these barriers to entry decline, more organisations will implement Internet of Things technology to improve processes and business efficiency.

Considerations When Implementing the Internet of Things

A greater level of connectivity between various devices and objects certainly presents some level of risk. Organisations must take adequate security precautions to ensure sensitive information and data is never compromised.

For industrial businesses, where the Internet of Things will be more visible, the CIO and head of the engineering or operational equipment will need to work closely together to ensure assets are properly managed. Without a calculated, strategic approach to the Internet of Things, organisations will fail to realise value from this technology. 

Behind the Growth of Managed Network Services

 

Behind the Growth of Managed Network Services resized 600A recent study by MarketsandMarkets predicts the global managed network services market will grow from $29.47 billion USD in 2012 to $58.39 billion USD in 2018. Industry experts attribute this predicted growth to a greater awareness amongst businesses about the critical nature of their networks and leveraging outsourcing as a tool to increase performance, reduce downtime and improve technology and virtualisation management. Here's what's up and coming in 2014 for this area of managed services.

What are Managed Network Services?

Managed network services are gaining momentum because of advancements in cloud computing, big data and mobility services. Managed network services enable enterprises to outsource their IP-based communication network and other in-house networking functions to third-party specialists.

Managed network services providers handle a range of support for organisations of all sizes. This includes remote infrastructure management, monitoring, patch management, performance tuning, optimisation services, periodic auditing and high-level IT reporting to aid the infrastructure planning and optimisation process.

Managed Network Services’ Return on Investment

There are several key business benefits that organisations can expect to achieve when investing in managed network services. These include:

  • Cost Reduction: Managed network services replace functions and processes in organisations that carry significant recurring costs. Organisations can reduce recurring in-house IT costs by 30 to 40 per cent by using managed network services, while gaining a 50 to 60 per cent increase in efficiency, according to research by MarketsandMarkets. 
  • Access to Human Capital: Managed network services give organisations access to specific skills they may lack in-house, such as networking, security or communications. With a partner that specialises in managed network services, organisations also ensure these skills are up-to-date and scalable as organisational needs change.

A skilled partner can handle any networking needs, including configuring switches, connecting desktops and networks with routers, and setting up WAN links. These tasks, albeit critical, take time and experience that your internal staff may not possess. Training your in-house IT team requires a significant time and monetary investment that can stretch limited IT resources. These resources could be better devoted to core business competencies.

  • Enhanced Security and Lower Risk of Downtime: With a dedicated managed network services provider, organisations can increase their level of security and reduce network downtime. A managed network services partner can ensure network components are properly configured, including routers and switches, and install firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Your partner can also ensure these critical services, software patches and protections are up-to-date and maintained, and sensitive data is adequately protected with encryption.
  • Network Optimisation: Optimising your network effectively involves assessing existing infrastructure on a regular basis, conducting feasibility studies and audits, drafting service proposals and scoping, designing, implementing and testing various solutions.

A managed network services provider can take charge of these core functions to free up time for your C-level and IT staff to focus on primary business objectives. These partners bring extensive expertise in planning and provisioning to ensure your organisation makes informed decisions grounded in research and analytics.  

Leveraging a managed network services provider is financially and strategically effective for organisations. Organisations can choose the level of support that best suits their unique business requirements and goals. With a dedicated partner, organisations can realise an increased level of flexibility and agility regarding IT infrastructure and technology needs.

Why Data Centres Are Adopting Multi-Cloud Environments

 

Why Data Centres Are Adopting Multi Cloud Environments resized 600With rapid technological advances and changes in how employees use technology to access information and do their jobs, demand for data centre services is increasing in today’s modern enterprise. The key to building more agile and efficient data centres is leveraging a multi-cloud approach.

A multi-cloud model enables businesses to keep some services hosted on-site and some hosted in various public and private cloud environments depending on specific operational, security, regulatory and cost requirements. This approach leverages the cloud for production, testing, development and disaster recovery purposes, while maintaining an on-premise server or secure private cloud for particularly sensitive information or to meet regulatory compliance rules.

Benefits of a Multi-Cloud Approach

There are several important benefits of a multi-cloud model in data centres that contribute to increased adoption in enterprises:

1. Avoid Vendor Lock-In: With the multi-cloud model, companies can take advantage of the benefits of both a private and public cloud environment without locking into a multi-year, single vendor contract for infrastructure services.

By leveraging a mix of third-party cloud providers in a full or partial manner, organisations can better respond to immediate needs and limit down time. Shared environments and multi-tenancy can dramatically increase efficiency and productive workflow provisioning at a much lower cost.

2. Fosters a Self-Service Environment: A multi-cloud approach automates the provisioning of new services, freeing up time for IT departments to focus on core competencies. This enables non-IT staff to manage technology needs without involving IT. Users will have direct access to business-critical resources, applications and data.

A shift towards automation and self-service IT models also increases speed-to-market by allowing staff to deploy their own workloads and applications in minutes instead of days or weeks. Businesses can also select from a catalogue of ready-made services, deployment options and cost structures. This makes it easier to determine whether to host business functions and projects on-site versus in the cloud.

3. Increased Flexibility: A multi-cloud model lends itself to greater organisational flexibility. By combining a private cloud with the resources of a public cloud, organisations can scale projects in response to changing demand or an unexpected uptick in workload. By taking advantage of workflow automation, companies can offload their user base to cloud-based computers during peak usage times.

As the integration of storage, networking and computing capabilities increases, the delivery methods of cloud computing will also grow. This will enable an even greater level of scalability and flexibility in data centres.

Disaster Recovery in a Multi-Cloud Environment

The evolution of the data centre and shift toward a multi-cloud environment can dramatically improve disaster recovery (DR) efforts. Using a multi-cloud approach can lower maintenance costs for organisations because they will only need to pay for routine data replication and storage. Data centre infrastructure will be simpler and easier to manage as the burden of supporting and paying for facility cooling and upkeep shifts to data centre providers.

Cloud computing, data replication and virtualisation play major roles in disaster recovery, enabling organisations to do more with increasingly limited resources. With multi-cloud, smaller organisations have greater access to affordable private and public cloud environments for enterprise DR needs.

Datacom is hosting a DR event in Sydney with partners AAPT and Equinix on March 20th so organisations can ensure they have a recovery and business continuity plan that will protect their critical assets. Secure you seat today

How a Better Print Strategy Can Improve Labour Management, Business Continuity and Cost Savings for State Government

 

How a Better Print Strategy Can Improve Labour Management, Business Continuity and Cost Savings for State Government resized 600From mom-and-pop shops to international organisations, most businesses strive to accomplish the same set of goals: control overhead expenses, boost employee productivity and deliver high-quality results. State government agencies are no exception.

When it comes to cost control and the crusade for better operational efficiency, state governments should follow the private sector’s lead, turning a critical eye to their internal print landscape. By reassessing expenses associated with printing, distributing and managing documents, many businesses have identified numerous opportunities to save time and money while optimising workflow.

For state governments, which rely heavily on paper-based processes, rethinking their current print strategy is a minor exercise compared to the major results it may yield. Here are a few of the unique challenges government agencies face with print and document management:

  • Labour management: State agencies frequently hire temporary or contract workers for projects, both short- and long-term. Given the sensitive nature of government documents, public sector agencies must be exceptionally stringent when onboarding new employees, giving special print permissions only to those who require them and deprovisioning accounts as soon as contracts expire.
  • Savings on both sides: With many state offices battling with lower amounts of funding, there are fewer dollars being budgeted for hardware maintenance, consumables and support. At the same time, limited funding means that these agencies may not have the ability to invest in sweeping print changes all at once any roll-out would have to be strategically phased.

What makes state government tick? 

Poor print management has negative consequences in any business. Within state governments, however, unmanaged printing can become an especially perilous situation. When poor document management is a bottleneck at the state level, constituents can be adversely affected.

Take, for instance, a flood that shuts down all of Brisbane, with multiple state buildings water-damaged and closed until further notice. Without a well-equipped print plan, government employees working remotely may be unable to access critical documents. Departmental communication could become disjointed and, as such, normal citywide operations along with it.

Beyond weather-related events, even a statewide construction project highlights the need for smarter printing. If a state recruits hundreds of temporary employees who require rapid access to specific application documents for the initiative, but has an outdated document management policy, onboarding will take much longer than expected. Neglecting to give certain contracted personnel print authorisation could delay the project and rack up extra costs from the start.

These common situations underscore the serious repercussions of a dated print arrangement at the state level.

Managed print services for state government

A managed print strategy enables state governments to eliminate costs and safeguard important data, all while keeping important initiatives on track. Taking the first step to considering a solution that replaces print servers, or allows for offline and mobile printing, would facilitate progress.

By reducing the number of servers that support government devices, maintenance and hardware expenditures will deflate. Perhaps more importantly, business continuity at the state level will be ensured, keeping state governments up and running to best serve their constituents.

Through work with some of the largest state agencies in Australia, Datacom’s Managed Print Services enable state governments to take advantage of operational and cost efficiencies in print despite budget and maintenance challenges. Interested in learning more? Datacom can help you determine which areas could be improved within your state government print setup with our no-cost assessment

How You Can Use Social Media to Make Quick Business Decisions

 

How You Can Use Social Media to Make Quick Business Decisions resized 600According to Datacom’s research, nearly half of conversations about your brand are likely to be taking place on your social media channels. Keeping track of these conversations is not just important for understanding what competitors are doing and customers are saying. It also allows you to see which of your services, programs or products are performing the best (or worst) so you can use this information to guide immediate (and future) business decisions.

All it takes is listening

The great thing about tracking mentions of your brand across a variety of online channels is that it can be done without engaging with your customers at all. Simply by listening, your organisation can pick up information that allows you to quickly react in a number of ways:

  • Plan for more online advertising or awareness campaigns or order more print advertising to boost visibility of a program or event
  • Disseminate more information about a service that your customers or constituents are confused about
  • Update your website with information to fill knowledge gaps
  • Order more inventory to meet greater demand or avoid or cancel ordering more if demand is too low
  • Prepare to allow for  additional resources to deal with a potential influx of questions, sign-ups or applications about a particular event or program
  • Schedule an additional event or resources for an event based on how widely it is being talked about online

Real-word examples of how to quickly leverage social media insight

Depending on the arrangement you have with your social media services provider, you can get regular updates each day or each week to keep you on the pulse of how your programs, services, products and events are being discussed online. Consider these examples:

  • One organisation ran a safety awareness campaign which included a free gift as part of the campaign, made available through an online registration link. Datacom monitored the online activity the week prior to, and the week following, the campaign. The registration link circulated before the campaign officially launched, which resulted in all the gifts being claimed. The organisation was able to find out quickly that all the gifts had been claimed through Datacom’s monitoring and were able to order another 5,000 to cater for the demand.
  • One theatre wanted to track mentions of a major production at its venue and that of a rival theatre. The rival theatre’s show was being talked about on social media much more. However, when it came to posts which talked about the production and the venue at the same time, the main theatre’s show and venue were actually mentioned much more together than the rival theatre’s show. The theatre could then decide how it wanted to tweak its advertising or online messaging to grow or maintain its share of the conversation.

Tracking your brand online can provide immediate ROI by giving you the agility to react to fluctuating demand and customer enquiries and concerns. To learn if your organisation could benefit from this type of insight, take a few minutes to fill out our social media survey and set up an appointment with Datacom to discuss your needs.

3 Things You Need for Better Application Management

 

3 Things You Need for Better Application Management resized 600Application packaging and deployment involve an array of cumbersome tasks such as gathering configuration requirements and categorising software tasks that done incorrectly, delay time to deployment and cripple user productivity. With limited time and focus to give to this one area of your business, it’s easy to see how mistakes can happen. The path to easier and more successful application deployment and management is punctuated by three key characteristics: repeatability, quality assurance and more streamlined application approval. Working these traits into your application management approach can reduce your IT team’s headaches and get your users their applications faster.

1. Repeatability

Your organisation’s aim should be to use a set of standard processes for packaging everything from simple applications to complex ones. Application deployment requires installer packages. Sometimes they are deployed incorrectly to certain users or user groups. By leveraging a file format in a standard configuration that aligns with your application needs, you can deploy the file repeatedly the same way across the organisation to avoid faulty installations.

2. Quality assurance testing 

Of course, attempts at repeatability need to be tested. This can be done through quality assurance testing before the application is officially installed. Performing a test install and uninstall of each application adds a bit more time to the overall application deployment process but avoids having to troubleshoot after the fact when a user realises his or her software is not working correctly. And if it isn’t working correctly for one user, it may not work correctly for others, increasingly the amount of effort and time to correct the problem.

3. Quicker application approval

So your applications have now been configured in a standardised way and tested before deployment. But how can new employees or employees changing roles or departments get quick access to them? One of the other cogs in the wheel of enterprise application management is that software distribution and policy deployment become a long process that includes filing a help ticket with the service desk, getting the manager’s approval for access and locating, licensing and installing the application. This often results in the user waiting days or weeks for an app he or she needs.

The key to solving this issue involves some additional repeatability: creating set application approval workflows that can be triggered when a user requests access to an app, whether it’s on a personal or corporate device. These workflows can include mandatory and optional software deployment and policy delivery requests. The employee can select the app from a portal and then have a request sent straight to the manager to approve, cutting many steps in the usual approval process.

Your business can enact these changes to application management and deployment or have them planned and managed for you by a managed operating environment provider such as Datacom. To learn about your options, check out our RACE to Application Management and RACE to Self-Service offerings.

What is Service Aggregation – and How Can it Help Your Business?

 

What is Service Aggregation – and How Can it Help Your Business?Australia's IT outsourcing services market is expected to grow from A$7.6 billion in 2012 to A$9.3 billion in 2017, according to IDC. Part of this growth will include organisations leveraging a range of different suppliers to manage their IT environment to take advantage of services maturity and cost efficiencies. Yet, managing these suppliers is a big job for the average organisation, one that involves overseeing multiple billing configurations, SLAs and reporting metrics. One way to get better oversight across a range of varied suppliers is through using a service aggregation provider. This service provides a single contact for managing suppliers and an aggregated view of performance so you have more time to focus on your core business.

Easier management

Service aggregation cuts the pain of managing a range of providers by delivering operational coordination, integration and assurance of service levels end-to-end. Organisations get a single point of contact for managing all suppliers throughout the service lifecycle to optimise performance. This includes procuring, maintaining and evaluating supplier contracts.

A service aggregation setup usually includes two components. The first is a unified services management team that provides oversight and drives maturity of service management processes. The second is the service desk, which works with the process owners and resolver groups to address areas of poor performance as well as manage continual service improvement. This combined team can manage services around incident management, problem management, change management, configuration management and capacity management to name a few areas. This service management occurs regardless of whether your business has one provider supplying desktop services while another provides network services.

Better performance tracking

With the information provided from the service desk on how your services are operating, in addition to information such as capacity plans, service aggregation offers your organisation an overall view of performance reporting across all suppliers. Defined processes are enacted so service delivery is documented and continually reviewed to ensure it matches performance outcomes. This performance tracking approach allows for day-to-day monitoring instead of monthly reporting so your business can make swift decisions to improve outcomes.

More time to focus on core business

Service aggregation helps define clear roles and responsibilities for all of your providers and establishes a framework by which the group can operate. It also helps pinpoint any gaps or issues between the service delivery of third-party providers and your own business. Instead of trying to manage a group of disparate suppliers, your organisation frees up internal staff time to focus on the core business and its strategic endeavours. The outcome is better performance for your business and a better working relationship across suppliers.

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Datacom is a complete IT outsourcing firm with offices located throughout Australia and New Zealand. As one of only a few designated Microsoft Licensing Solution Providers, Datacom helps businesses with 250+ employees design and manage their volume licenses, as well as fulfil the services related to licensing, such as desktop deployment, software asset management and desktop support.