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This month's news

This month's news

Professional news and events.

We were approached about the idea of publishing a calendar featuring women IT professionals, but decided “we can better promote our energies in other ways” to show what a vibrant industry IT is, says Cheryl Horo, general manager of Women in Technology.

Horo says WIT’s programs include working with secondary schools and colleges and companies like Microsoft, IBM and New Zealand Post, in promoting IT as a career for women. It also holds regular forums with IT leaders, and organises mentoring and career management programs.

Across the Tasman, however, the IT Screen Goddesses Calendar is now out, featuring women IT executives photographed as movie stars (like Mena Suvari’s rose petal scene in American Beauty and the bikini-clad Ursula Andres in Dr No). Profits from the calendar are earmarked for groups “promoting careers in IT for women and girls”.

The calendar, says a statement from Australia’s Women in IT founder Sonja Bernhardt, “aims to dispel the ‘geeky’ image of IT and the perception that IT is not a desirable career for women, by providing a life expose of real women with unreal careers?–?all living and loving IT”.

The calendar’s website groaned with a reported 3.5 million hits in one day last month, and the initial print run of 2000 copies have nearly sold out as of press time.

The calendar has received a lot of flak. “We just didn’t need that,” says Horo. “We want the industry to consider Women in Technology as a serious organisation.”

Nonetheless, she says, it would be “fabulous” if somebody comes out with an idea to promote women in the IT industry. WIT estimates only 17 per cent of IT workers in New Zealand are women, and less than 10 per cent of them are in roles from mid-management upwards.

On the move

Allan Sainsbury is the new IT director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Glenn Patrick is now GM, domestic and international payments, BNZ. Steve Johansen, is moving on from CIO to container operations manager at the Port of Napier. Steve Watson, IT manager, is taking over his tasks.

Leanne Gibson is now acting general manager, Quarantine Service, at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; and Allan Frost is the MAF CIO. Johan Vendrig, former IS alignment manager, is the new CIO of the Auckland District Health Board following the departure of Steven Mayo-Smith, now CIO of the Radius Health Group. Steve Saunders moves from University of Auckland CTO to CEO of Theta in Auckland. Alma Hong leaves her post as manager knowledge solutions at the Wellington City Council. Callum Holmes joins Simpl as general manager Southern Region, based in Wellington. Geoff Croshaw is the new ANZ general manager of Fuji Xerox Printers.

Australian Paul Levins takes on the new role of executive officer and vice president of corporate affairs for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers in California. Jonathan Kirkpatrick, CEO of the AUT Tech Park in Auckland, is the new chair of Incubators New Zealand. Glenn Sutherland is appointed Talgentra national business development manager.

A meaty cost-cutting move

The Invercargill-based Alliance Group meat processor is claiming major savings from a new “pay-as-you-go” computing environment.

The farmer-owned co-operative has installed a Unisys ClearPath Libra 595 server alongside its existing ClearPath CS 7201 server, coupled with RAD Enterprise Application Environment software.

The implementation utilises a new business model which enables Unisys mainframe clients to pay only for the processing power they use. The system also features highly available back-up to minimise productivity losses and safeguard data during any interruptions or outrages.

Alliance group IT manager Kevin McCrone says the hardware can cope with six times more throughput than before. The installation happened without hitches and for the 500 users, the switchover from the old to new system took just 15 minutes. This was achieved by applying the disaster recovery process jointly developed by Alliance Group and Unisys personnel. The ClearPath technologies double the business processing for Alliance group, says McCrone.

Green sleeves against ATM fraud Bank of New Zealand is installing ‘anti-skimming’ devices to their 400 ATMs across New Zealand to curb fraud.

The Fraudulent Device Inhibitors or ‘green sleeves’ make it impossible for a card-skinning device to be placed on or around the ATM card reader.

Cards are then inserted into the plastic looking device as normal, with their distinctive appearance reassuring customers that the individual ATM should be secure.

Integration: Solve the headache

Applications integration is an issue affecting the biggest financial institutions, government, the telecommunications industry and even SMEs.

MIS New Zealand is holding a luncheon conference on 29 September in Wellington (venue TBA) and has invited CIOs and technology experts to discuss ways to manage the problem of migrating data stored in legacy applications to new dynamic applications.

The conference is part of the MIS Integration Series being held in New Zealand and Australia in conjunction with EDS.

If you or a member of your team would like to attend this free event, please contact Delilah Wright at dwright@fairfaxbm.com or 09-3084592. See misweb.com for additional details.

Object lessons in quality control

Software developed by AUT students is helping Fisher & Paykel Healthcare maintain strict quality control standards.

Third year students Greg Randall, Kwok Chan and Reza Servia developed a production service system for F&PH as a research and development project for their Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences degree.

The project aims to generate useful information from the new service database to help monitor production line faults.

The new system records data about faults and subsequent servicing (or scrapping) of products through a web interface, and allows for extensive statistical analysis of the data and dynamic reporting.

The database was developed in SQLServer 2000 and the web interface was developed in the Visual Studio .Net 2003 environment.

TenderLink reveres ASP savings

Online tender gateway TenderLink.com claims internet traffic cost savings of two-thirds by outsourcing its hosted computing infrastructure to Revera.

TenderLink IT manager Stephen Persson says the company’s ASP business, which enables large corporate and government sector clients to host their own private tenders, had outgrown its backend IT systems.

Previously, the work was all done internally, relying on the company’s Telecom Jet Stream connection. The centre has now relocated its web server and Jade database backend to Revera’s Auckland data centre, where it is delivered from Revera’s virtual data centre computing infrastructure provisioning platform.

A dedicated 1MB network connects TenderLink’s New Plymouth office with its remotely hosted application, database and email gateway, and replaces a Jet Stream internet connection.

The new set-up has reportedly slashed TenderLink’s internet traffic costs and provides the impetus for a Windows remote desktop protocol thin-client PC environment, supporting the company’s 35 employees.

Persson says while there are many cost advantages in removing so-called backend IT systems from the balance sheet and leasing back core infrastructure on the basis of operational expense, application service providers are most interested in gaining strategic business advantages.

“We have moved IT from backroom to front-of-house and have a much stronger conversation when we talk to customers. Revera’s expertise has been enormous for us, simply because we can satisfy all our customer’s demands for security and robustness of service.”

Reducing SOA dramas

New Zealand organisations are joining the trans-Tasman shift towards service orientated architecture, BEA Systems revealed at its first Asia-Pacific Analysts & Media Summit in Sydney.

The software vendor reported findings from a roadshow across Australia in May, which revealed three-fifths of companies are evaluating SOA strategies, with 28.3 per cent of companies planning an SOA implementation within 12 months.

IT, finance and government organisations were most likely to be building or implementing SOA within the next 12 months, BEA found, but the methodology was coming up against resistance, sometimes at top-level.

Laurence Cole, managing director for BEA ANZ, says IT projects are increasingly expected to deliver short-term ROIs when SOA is more of a longer term project.

BEA defines SOA as “an architectural approach that enables the creation of standards-based, loosely coupled, interoperable business services that can be easily shared, combined and re-used to meet business needs”.

“If an organisation’s plan is to build and maintain only one key application, then the investment in SOA may not be the right solution. However, if an organisation plans to build an extensive set of web-applications and portals, then the business case to invest in SOA is extremely compelling,” says Cole.

Implementing SOA, Cole says, will allow firms to re-use existing assets and quickly achieve these goals.

He advises organisations to pick a starting point for such projects and plan with a two-to-three-year vision. They need to execute it project by project and on six dimensions: Business strategy and process, architecture, building blocks, projects and applications, organisations and governance and costs and benefits.

SOA is a mature technology, he says, and “there is a lot of traction around New Zealand” from organisations looking at its potential, particularly in the public sector.

Roadblocks to virtualisation

Server virtualisation of x86 systems is gaining worldwide momentum.

A Forrester survey reveals 40 per cent of respondents in North America have already implemented server virtualisation.

Forrester also interviewed delegates to its recent IT Forum, and found the most popular environments for server virtualisation are infrastructure applications.

Surprisingly, database servers gathered votes from 40 per cent of the firms, but Forrester believes these are not core transaction databases that are sensitive to performance. Enterprise- and industry-specific apps have the lowest adoption rates for server virtualisation, at 28 and 16 per cent respectively.

Forrester believes firms are more cautious about using new technology such as server virtualisation on such critical applications, and are unlikely to use it under these apps until there is clear support from ISVs.

Flexibility, rather than cost savings, is a top motivation. Users say virtualisation isolates the OS from hardware-specific drivers, which allows them to easily move virtual servers from one box to the next without adjustments to OS configuration. Nearly a quarter use server virtualisation to assist in disaster recovery and business continuity. The main concerns are maturity of the technology and support from vendors.

Virtual machines introduce new concepts requiring new skills such as installing and operating the virtual server infrastructure itself.Fortunately, says Forrester, these are one-time start-up costs accompanying any new technology and not long-term increases in cost or overhead. Respondents also cite the challenge of software incompatibility or performance limitations on virtual machines.

Forrester says these are real limitations that can make the technology unsuitable for some applications, but they will be greatly reduced in the next two years.

Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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