Archive for March, 2010

Cloud Computing – a new phenomenon? We’ve be doing it for years!

Posted in Tewdric, nsuk on March 31st, 2010 by GilesP – Comments Off

Cloud Computing have been big buzz words within the IT for the past few years and are now filtering down into mainstream business media. There still seems to be a variety of definitions – particularly by the big manufacturers making it seem to fit their services better than a competitors.

Of course, the recession has also helped the rise in cloud computing as businesses look to outsource services to shed internal resources and take advantage of a more flexible payment system whilst benefitting from the service immediately.

But is it really all that new?

For ‘traditional’ IT resellers and consultants it is a very different business model. Instead of trying to shift as many appliances out the door, it’s about getting more customers through the door to make a service they are selling profitable.

However, from our experience that still won’t make them successful. Net Support UK (NSUK) was set up in 1998 offering outsourced IT services such as server management and remote desktop support as a way to offer better value for the customer coupled with high quality customer services and technical expertise. This is what has stood us in good stead.

So on the last day of our financial year it’s great to review the figures and see that our strategy is working. From clients I’ve spoken to recently, new and old, they are reaping the rewards too.

My head is firmly stuck in the clouds.

By Giles Phelps

Ofcom’s proposals for super-fast broadband across the UK

Posted in Connect Cardiff, Tewdric, nsuk on March 26th, 2010 by KevinH – Be the first to comment

The Friday Thought by Technical Director, Kevin Herbert

The communications regulatory body, Ofcom, has submitted proposals to promote competition and investment in the broadband market. It will mean allowing BT’s competitors to have access to its dedicated virtual link over new fibre lines laid and for BT to provide physical access to its ducts and overhead infrastructure to allow the competitors to lay their own fibre if wanted.

The increase in competition and ability for ISP’s to lay fibre easily to more remote locations is great news for customers. Not only will it give them greater choice, but hopefully a fuller selection of services.

It also allows the smaller ISP’s to act more competitively as wholesalers, who are likely to take up some of the duct availability, can pass the significant saving on to them.

However, my concerns are that there has been no mention of any limitation to whom or how much a provider may put down in a duct. We could find ducts being ‘stuffed’ unnecessarily in order to block out other competitors. It will then fall to BT to create new ducts with the costs being absorbed by the customer.

There should also be consideration to maintenance of the ducts. Should the duct collapse or be damaged from construction works, who get priority in fixing their cabling? This also means that with an increased number of suppliers accessing the duct, there is the potential risk of damage to another provider’s cable and who will take responsibility for that repair and when? Of course, it will be the end user customer who will suffer the largest headache if there is no solution put in place.

 At  present, it is BT Openreach who can determine which cables should be repaired first and as it is only them accessing the duct, they are able to check that all cables are working before closing it back up again.

 I’m not 100% convinced that duct sharing will provide a successful answer to faster broadband UK wide unless some control in put in place to protect the customer from the bad side of competitive behaviour.

Is Unified Communications a system or a culture?

Posted in Communic8, nsuk on March 19th, 2010 by GilesP – Be the first to comment

The Friday Thought by Managing Director, Giles Phelps

There is daily comment on unified communications and how the Microsoft UC server is better than sliced bread but currently out of reach cost-wise for most businesses.  The system enables an integrated approach to your emails, telephony (desk and mobile phone), video and call conferencing, instant messaging (IM) and real-time availability information, etc. Everything linked in to the system can be set to provide the user with information in the form that they want.

For example, if a sales person is out on the road, and their calendar shows this, the system can be set to route all calls coming into their desk phone to their mobile. If they can’t answer, the caller can leave a voicemail which will stored within the UC system and emailed to the user’s account and is also accessible by calling into their phone voicemail -  via their PC.

The benefits for a remote worker are clear – they can be contacted where ever they are on any device connected into the system.

However, to get this system working efficiently, it means the workers need to ensure that they use it correctly. I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear, that even with all the geniuses at Microsoft, the system can’t guess whether a worker is in or out of the office - it still needs to be told where to find someone! However, it has now made the job easier as there’s only one system to login to. 

So when I talk to financial directors and IT managers about moving towards unified communications, I always ask what type of workers they have (e.g. remote workers, home workers, etc), what devices they currently have and how they use them - do they use call conferencing? VoIP? And how they are going to encourage workers to use devices differently if they look to implement a more integrated system so that they real gain maximum efficiency and cost savings from the solution. If some of their employees are still stuggling with what email is all about, their problems are not going to be solved by unified comms.

A good VoIP system makes for a reliable step-up for many organisations as it provides additional telephone features such as call routing, bomerang for voice messages, conference calling and presence/availability information that they won’t have used before. Workers have greater flexibility and should provide the business with higher levels of productivity…if the culture allows for it!

Should an ISP be responsible for it’s clients’ copyright infringements?

Posted in Connect Cardiff, Tewdric on March 18th, 2010 by TewdricBlogger – Comments Off

From recent news articles, both the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) and the Digital Economy Bill look to be placing the emphasis on the ISP’s taking responsibility for blocking access to webpage that infringes copyright material. In effect, they are aiming at the conduit rather than the source as all that the ISP’s will be able to do is block it’s own clients from accessing those websites deemed to have copyright breaches.

As an ISP, Connect Cardiff, would have to be informed that a website had fallen foul then block its clients from access to that site. In theory, that sounds fine but what if those sites were YouTube or Google? How will our customers react to be denied access to such sites?

I think this is an issue to key a close eye on – watch this space (and blog) for more details…!

Do you start your day with fibre?

Posted in Connect Cardiff, nsuk on March 17th, 2010 by TewdricBlogger – 77 Comments

There’s so much talk, these days, about healthy eating and keeping up your energy levels, we thought we’d use this terminology when we talk about business.

A slow start in the morning is just no good. If you want to download large files from your emails at 9am, you don’t want be on your third cup of coffee before you can read them. So, it’s like choosing the right breakfast cereal in the morning to give you energy and sustain you throughout the day. If your business lacks this energy, even simple tasks, such as uploading and downloading files can mean that your staff almost grind to a halt waiting for the system to take action…and no one likes to hear the phrase ‘low productivity!’

So, we suggest the high-fibre business diet.

Fibre optic internet provides symmetrical upload and download speeds. The technology is far superior to copper-based DSL lines and isn’t dependant on a close distance from the exchange to get the best speeds.

Connect Cardiff offers uncontended fibre links – so the bandwidth you ask for is the bandwidth you get. We also have a network of PoP’s around the Cardiff area which means that we may be closer to you than your local exchange – and from many of our PoP’s, we can offer microwave (wireless) options too which offers fast install, and often, a cost-effective alternative.

So start every day with fibre for a high energy business!

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