Stories by Tim Lohman

Telstra separation announced on Thursday?

The eerie quiet that has descended over the once very public stoush between the Australian Federal Government and Telstra could be the clearest indication yet that a deal on the separation of the telco is close at hand.

Employee-owned IT a hit: Citrix Australia

The adoption of employee-owned IT as a real infrastructure sourcing and management strategy appears to be gaining traction, with Citrix Systems Australia reporting a high degree of success with its own approach. The scheme has not yet been taken up at Citrix New Zealand.
The company initiated an employee-owned IT programme earlier this year. Citrix offers $US2,000 to employees to buy their own work/home PC under the scheme, dubbed ‘Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC)’. The stipulation: The computer must have a minimum three-year support and maintenance contract.
According to Citrix's ANZ area vice president, Peter Brockhoff, demand for the programme was so great that the scheme had been doubly over-subscribed.
“We had to put a cap on the program this year as it has been so widely adopted that we hadn’t budgeted quite enough for it,” he says.
“In the first year of announcement we’ve had nearly 10 per cent of the workforce adopt. It would have been almost double that had we budgeted accordingly. We expect significantly more adoption next year and look forward to putting our backend in place so we can accept it. Demand has been far stronger than we thought it would be.”
Citrix has already begun to see several benefits in the BYOC, chiefly around maintenance and support, Brockhoff says.
“Support for the device becomes a function of the provider of the device, because the requirement in purchasing the PC is to have a three-year contract with the provider for hardware and software support,” he says.
“The cost of the devices is only a small percentage of the total cost of a desktop over a three-year period, so if you are taking away the support and management costs, there are significant savings.”
Another benefit, Brockhoff says, is access to greater support coverage for wide-spread and distributed enterprises.
“Among many organisations IT is centralised somewhere, so if it’s in Sydney, you need to get your hardware to there to get support,” he said. “Most IT providers have locations in each state so they can do a better job of support than we can.” Toby Knight, director of desktop technologies for Citrix ANZ, says that of about 3500 global Citrix employees, roughly 450 have adopted the BYOC program. In addition to a strong return on the initial $US2000 investment, Citrix is also experiencing a lower attrition rate on notebook PCs, Knight says.
“One of the side benefits is that we are getting a much lower incidence of stolen or broken hardware as people who own their own assets take care of them better,” he says.
Brockhoff adds that despite the benefits of employee-owned technology, IT managers need to be on the look out for ‘support creep’ — where the lines between what is company-owned and employee-owned IT and whose responsibility it is to support either can become blurred.
A Citrix spokesperson said the scheme has not yet been started in New

Tony who?: Budde

The first priority of the new shadow communications ministers, Tony Smith, should be to consult with industry and develop positive, constructive policies on the National Broadband Network (NBN), according to telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde.

Kiwi broadband study stirs Aussie NBN debate

Australia's shadow minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Nick Minchin, has used the publication of a new report into the productivity of high speed broadband to reiterate his call for a full-cost benefit analysis of the NBN.

Beware cloud lock-in: BMC CTO

Cloud management tools may be being used by cloud providers to lock organisations in to specific hardware and services, according to the US chief technology officer (CTO) of BMC, Kia Behnia.

Fosters to outsource IT support to Wipro

Fosters is moving its entire US, UK and Australian helpdesk infrastructure and support functions to a single outsourcing provider, Wipro, resulting in an unknown number of redundancies at the global beverage company.
A company spokesperson could not confirm the total number of IT staff affected, but said the group had more than 200 staff working across the group. Fosters is believed to have about 100 IT staff working in Australia.
“Some jobs will go to Wipro, there are many roles existing but not filled, and we are still going through the transition process, so we haven’t got a final number,” the spokesperson says. “Some will move back into the business and work on business process roles, and some will be redundant as part of this process."
According to the spokesperson, Fosters had spent much of 2009 tendering for a single, global IT services provider following the 2008 demise of its previous outsourcing partner, Commander.
“Following the collapse of Commander we took many of those staff on to maintain our service; so many of our staff were previously outsourced, came into Fosters for a short-ish period, and now we are just appointing a new outsourcer,” the spokesperson says.
“We believe that that [outsourcing] model provides the best source of efficiency. It’s Wipro’s skills to run infrastructure support, helpdesk and software maintenance, not ours, so an outsourced partner is where we are heading to.”
Despite the reduction in internal staff, the company’s CIO role is unlikely to change and a number of IT field staff will still be retained at its US, UK and Australian operations. There would also be no impact on the company’s migration from legacy voice communications systems to a Cisco platform across its contact centers, offices and production locations worldwide announced in August, the spokesperson says.
The redundancy process and transition of its helpdesk infrastructure and support functions to Wipro is expected to be complete by the end of the year, the spokesperson says. However, the company’s IT transformation is expected to continue well into next year. It will also consider further outsourcing contracts.

Australian datacentres withstand dust storm

The largest dust storm in recorded history hit the east coast of Australia last week, but datacentre providers are reporting that customer servers have come through unscathed.
Aidan Tudehope, managing director of hosting for Macquarie Telecom, says the Macquarie Hosting data centre in Sydney did not experience any adverse affects from the dust storm.
“The Macquarie Hosting data centre in Sydney is operationally equipped for air quality issues,” Tudehope says. “We predominantly recycle air for cooling purposes and our air conditioners have filtration systems to remove any dust particles from the air.”
With reliability being obviously critical to customers, the hosting company has also undertaken precautionary measures to ensure service levels are maintained.
“We shut off external mechanical ventilation systems to prevent dust entering the environment,” Trudehope says. “Staff were on heightened alert for any issues in the facility and a response plan was in place.”
Despite being based in Melbourne, Primus Telecom wasn't taking any chances, according to its datacentre team.
“Our computer room fresh air intake is filtered and an air-conditioning technician was on-site all day yesterday ensuring that the intake filters servicing the building did not clog,” the team told Computerworld Australia in an email.
“Air-conditioning unit coils were inspected during the day for build-up of dust. Our computer rooms also have positive pressure to exclude dust ingress from within the building as well as sticky mats at ingress points,” the email says.

Telstra replaces Telecom in $1 billion CBA deal

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has announced Telstra is to be the beneficiary of a 10-year, up to $1 billion, managed service contract ahead of a planned telecommunications network upgrade aimed at creating a future-proof IT platform.

Aussie ISPs hail $43b network announcement

Australian Internet service providers (ISPs) have lauded this morning’s announcement that the federal government will establish a new company to roll out the National Broadband Network(NBN).