Category Archives: UK

Telco industry ranks bottom in UK for customer service

The Institute of Customer Service has released its Customer Satisfaction Index stating the telco industry is the lowest ranked sector in the UK, reports

While the industry has made improvements over the last twelve months, it finished in last place with an index of 72.9, behind the likes of utilities and public services. The industry was one of the strongest improvers over the course of the last twelve months, improving its score by 1.2, it is still the industry with the highest numbers of complaints, 20% of customers compared to a national average of 12%.

“It’s encouraging to see the telecoms sector is making progress, but prevention is always better than cure, so the industry should take note of the areas which need to be focused on,” said Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service. “Efficiency, effectiveness and empathy are key and organisations should always follow up with customers to ensure that the problem is resolved.”

One statistic which could be seen as concerning for the industry is the number of customers who would be prepared to pay a higher cost for enhanced customer service. This was another area where the telco industry was ranking last with only 24% agreeing. The concern here would be surrounding the industry’s long-standing quest to avoid being relegated to the ranks of utilities, though the survey does suggest the industry is heading that direction.

Over the course of recent months, numerous value adds, bundle packages, brand marketing campaigns and customer services initiatives have been launched by the telcos in an effort to avoid being commoditised. Competing on price is worst case scenario for the industry, and despite the efforts, when surveys like this imply a high proportion of customers are basing their decision on price, in could indicate the industry is heading towards a ‘race to the bottom’.

In terms of best performers, giffgaff and Tesco Mobile were the highest performers in the telco industry, and the only two who featured into the top 50 overall.

Parallels adds new resources for UK channel partners

UK Channel Partners With nearly 20 years of experience in the IT industry, Steve Wilson is a seasoned veteran in the IT world. Recently, Steven has taken his talents to Parallels, where he will be joining the UK team to reinforce and boost the channel development in the region. John Leahy, the head of sales […]

The post Parallels adds new resources for UK channel partners appeared first on Parallels Blog.

SMEs not prepared for the threat of cyber criminals – Barclaycard

Hacker performing cyber attack on laptopResearch from Barclaycard claims cyber security is not being prioritized by small businesses, putting numerous organizations at risk of attack.

The findings state only 20% of the organizations surveyed believe cyber security is a top business priority, with 10% claiming their team has not invested in cyber security at all. The average attack costs UK businesses between £75,000 and £311,000 according to HM Government’s 2015 Information Security Breaches report, as more than 50% of the respondents believe their organization is at risk of a breach within the next 12 months.

“Businesses of all sizes face a constant and growing threat from cybercrime,” said Paul Clarke, Product Director at Barclaycard. “As our research shows, many small businesses are failing take the necessary precautions, either because they don’t know how to protect themselves or, more worryingly, because they don’t think they need to. At Barclaycard we work with our customers to ensure they are aware of the growing threats they face and understand how they can protect themselves from cyber threats.”

Worryingly for business owners throughout the UK, only 13% of those who completed the survey believe they have the relevant skills to adequately protect themselves online. This statistic, combined with the lack of prioritization around security, may indicate decision makers believe their organization is safer, as cyber criminals would target the larger and more data heavy businesses in the UK.

While this may be considered a perception held by small businesses, the findings claim just under half have been hit by at least one cyber-attack in the past year, with a tenth experiencing more than four attacks.

“Cybersecurity is not a one-off investment that can then be forgotten about, especially as criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they target businesses,” said Clarke. “For fifty years we’ve been working in partnership with customers to ensure they are not only putting the right measures in place from the outset, but are also continuously reviewing their policies to keep up with the latest industry developments.”

Oracle launches a mission critical PaaS from its Slough data centre

OracleOracle has added new Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud offerings from its Slough data centre, which currently caters for 500 UK and global customers.

Clients from both the private and public sector are being promised tailored versions of the new services, which include Oracle’s Database, Dedicated Compute, Big Data and Exadata cloud services.

Oracles claims that it is offering enterprises a mission critical PaaS and outlined four main selling points for the new services. Clients will now be able to develop, test and launch applications much more rapidly and cheaply, it claims. No supporting figures were given to exemplify this, however. Secondly, the new service will give companies greater flexibility without compromising their security, Oracle claims.

It will also use Hadoop’s open-source software framework for storing data and running applications on clusters of commodity hardware. This, says Oracle, will provide massive storage for any kind of data, boost the available pool of processing power and allow the data centre to handle a far greater volume of concurrent jobs. Oracle claimed that this can be delivered as a secure, automated service that meshes with existing enterprise data in Oracle Database. The fourth plank of its new offering is instant access to a virtual computing environment to run large scale applications on the Oracle Cloud.

Oracle currently has 19 data centres running its Oracle Cloud from various points of the globe. Last week it announced the intention to open a new Cloud data centre in Abu Dhabi. Oracle will be investing in two new cloud sales centres in Amsterdam and Cairo along with new offices opening this year in Dubai, Dublin and Prague.

In December 2015, BCN reported that Oracle’s co-chief executive Safra Catz warned fiscal 2016 will be “a trough year for profitability as we move to the cloud.”

In January 2016, however, BCN reported that Oracle had announced aggressive expansion plans with a recruitment drive for junior and senior sales staff to be based in six cities across EMEA.

The cloud software giant is now actively headhunting for 1,400 new cloud sales staff to work out of sales HQs in Amsterdam, Cairo, Dubai, Dublin, Malaga and Prague.

IT conflict in UK companies stunts growth claims DevOps study

software code devopsBritish firms are falling behind in the app economy thanks to conflict between their development and operations departments, according to a business analyst’s study. British organisations were the second worst in a European study group at harmonising their combined IT effort, with only their German counterparts proving to be less adept at DevOps.

The study was conducted by analyst Freeform Dynamics on behalf of CA Technologies. In the accompanying report Assembling the DevOps Jigsaw, the analyst concluded that UK organisations have three major failings to address. They don’t take a business-led approach to development, they lack skilled and collaborative IT resources and they are missing important control mechanisms for governing the process of DevOps.

As a consequence, the analyst says, UK organisations are at risk of falling behind in the application economy. To support the contention that companies in Europe’s two biggest economies must spend more on DevOps, DevOps supplier CA Technologies said that 84% of UK organisations agree it’s important to have IT and business alignment in relation to DevOps activities, but only 36% have this in place. While 87% of the survey group agreed that relevant IT skills must be in place, only 24% currently do so. Similarly, on the subject of having the right DevOps controls in place, 85% agree it is important but only 20% have already achieved this.

The ‘capability gap’ stems from a lack of cultural harmony in IT, according to the report. While 68% of UK organisations recognised the danger of cultural barriers between Dev and Ops teams, only 38% have fully dealt with cultural transformation. The barriers were identified as traditional lines of demarcation, ingrained mind-sets and long-established turf wars.

While only 11% of UK organisations are ‘Advanced DevOps Adopters’ in Switzerland there are twice as many (23%). Britain also lags behind Spain (13%), France and Italy (both 12%). Only Germany, with a 10% business population of Advanced DevOps Adopters, was worse than the UK in adopting a DevOps culture.

“This study reveals that UK organisations are missing out on the opportunities heralded by the application economy,” said Ritu Mahandru, VP of Solution Sales at CA Technologies, “they are failing to adopt a fluid and experimental approach to product and service development.”

The upshot, he claimed, as that digital interaction with customers, partners and suppliers suffers.

UK Competition and Markets Authority to launch legal probe into cloud storage

personal cloudThe UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) is to launch a review of how the cloud storage sector may be affected by consumer law, in the wake of rising concerns about pricing and services charges.

With an estimated 40% of consumers now using cloud storage to store music, images and documents, according to the CMA, compliance with consumer law is increasingly critical.  The CMA says that it is taking action as reports emerge of possible breaches of consumer law through rogue practices and terms.

In one case consumers were hit with surprise price increases and reductions to their ‘unlimited’ storage capacity deals after contracts had been agreed. The CMA is also concerned about incidents of loss and deletion of some consumers’ data.

The CMA’s review is to investigate how widespread these practices are, whether they breach consumer law and how they are affecting consumers. The process, which begins on December 1st, is open for responses until 15 January 2016. The CMA says it wants to hear from businesses about their practices and from consumers and industry experts about their experiences.

“We want to assess whether companies understand and comply with consumer law and whether cloud storage services are working well for consumers as a result,” said Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director.

If the review finds breaches of consumer protection laws it will take action to address these, it says. This could include enforcement action using the CMA’s own consumer law powers, namely Part 2 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 relating to unfair terms and for contracts entered into before 1 October 2015 the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. It can also invoke the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). Alternatively, it may seek voluntary change from the sector or provide guidance to business or consumers.

The CMA has a general review function under section 5 of the Enterprise Act 2002. Information gathered can help the CMA to determine whether further action is warranted. However the CMA says it has not taken any decisions about what it might do once this review is completed.

BT offers customers direct connection to HPE’s Helion managed cloud

BT Sevenoaks workstyle buildingBT is to give its IP VPN customers direct connections to Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) Helion Managed Cloud Services.

BT’s service currently uses HPE’s Rapid Connect to bypass the public internet when it connects to HPE Helion Managed Cloud Services. Now the new direct connectivity gives BT customers access to HPE’s portfolio of services when they need to build and consume computing workloads. It gives BT customers more reliable and secure access, better performance and lower latency, according to Keith Langridge, VP of the Connect Portfolio at BT Global Services.

It also simplifies the process of using cloud services, when a lot of companies are coming to terms with a mixture of private public and hybrid clouds, said Langridge. “We have already optimised our network to help customers take advantage of multiple cloud services through our Cloud Connect portfolio of services,” said Landgridge. “By adding direct connectivity to HPE Helion through BT’s global network, customers will benefit from a solution that is consistent, secure and reliable, wherever they operate.”

BT’s direct connectivity to HPE Helion Managed Cloud Services via Rapid Connect is already available in Germany, France and the UK. This will be followed by additional connections at key business hubs around the world. The services are managed by customers through a single service catalogue using BT’s Compute Management System.

Customers want high performance from the cloud, but there is an evolving regulatory and threat landscape, said Eugene O’Callaghan, VP of Enterprise Services Workload and Cloud at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Our partnership to deliver these services with BT will bring a whole new level of confidence to global organisations,” said O’Callaghan.

New players ally to G-Cloud 7 amid accusations of anti-cloud behaviour

Cloud computingA number of new service providers have announced their participation in the latest iteration of the UK’s government computing services framework, G-Cloud 7. Among the new suppliers pledging to meet the conditions of the latest framework were Fordway, Acuity, Company 85, RedCentric and Komodo Digital.

However, critics have argued that The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has introduced uncloud-like behaviour, as newly introduced limits could hinder buyers from expanding their use of cloud services.

Under the new rules in G-Cloud 7, users will be forced to re-tender via G-Cloud if they intend to buy additional capacity or services that will cost more than 20% of their original contract’s value. This, according to industry body EuroCloud UK, goes against the defining principle of cloud computing, scalability.

“It deters buyers from using the G-Cloud framework, because it actively discourages the pay per use principle,” said Neil Bacon, MD of Global Introductions and a member of EuroCloud’s G-Cloud working group. Worse still, he said, it will prevent buyers from getting the economies of scale that are the original motivation for their buying decision.

Several G-Cloud providers, including EduServ and Skyscape, outlined their concerns about the move in writing to the Cabinet Office. However, Surrey-based service provider Fordway has committed to the new system, launching its Cloud Intermediation Service (CIS) on G-Cloud 7.

The new service helps clients assess, plan, transform and migrate their infrastructure partly or completely to public cloud. It promises agile project management, bundling together the resources that clients will need to support their in-house team at each stage of the transition.

Fordway claims its relationships with public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google allow it to create a pivotal single point of contact to manage a transition irrespective of the target platforms.

In Fordway’s case, clients may not be subject to unexpected fluctuations in capacity demand, according to MD Richard Blanford.

“Most IT teams will only migrate their systems to cloud once, and it’s a big step. For the sake of their organisation and their own careers it needs to be planned and delivered successfully, on time and within budget, without any surprises,” said Blanford.

Our cloud ambitious are frustrated by barriers, enterprises tell Hitachi

Network servers

An overwhelming majority of enterprise decision makers want cloud services, but practically all of them are blocked from adopting it, according to new figures released by Hitachi Data System (HDS).

HDS recently announced the results of a study the IT growth issues in UK enterprises. In the research it surveyed 200 UK IT decision makers at companies with over 1000 employees in a bid to discover the issues that cause “innovation inertia”.

HDS reported that a large majority (81%) of IT leaders say their companies aren’t set up for the digital age. It also established two other pieces of evidence for a growing clamour for cloud services, with 75% of IT leaders complaining that they can’t make informed investment decisions and 90% of the study group confession that their organisation is at risk of being outpaced by digitally-born brands.

However, HDS has released statistics to BusinessCloudNews that reveal that even more of the study group are prevented from applying cloud solutions to these problems, with 86% of respondents saying they experience barriers to cloud adoption. The main blockages, according to Hitachi, are security concerns (reported by 50% of the study group), data protection concerns (39%), budget constraints (28%) and legacy technology restrictions (20%).

“It’s not surprising that IT leaders feel concerned,” said Bob Plumridge, EMEA CTO at HDS, “the digital evolution feels scary because they are having to throw out every theory and intuition they have.”

In response HDS has a launched additions to its flash portfolio in order to improve the performance of cloud infrastructure and remove any performance doubts from nervous cloud buyers. The new offerings include an all-flash Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) F Series, enhanced models of the Hitachi VSP G series offerings, next-generation Hitachi flash modules with inline data compression (FMD DC2) and enhanced Hitachi Automation Director and Data Centre Analytics tools for improved response times and greater effective capacity.

AWS announces UK will be its third region in the EU by 2017

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is to add a UK region to its empire. On its opening date, mooted for the end of 2016 or early 2017, it will be the third region in European Union and the 12th in the world.

The presence of an AWS region brings lower latency and strong data sovereignty to local users.

Amazon organises its ‘elastic computing’ by hosting it in multiple locations world-wide. The locations are, in turn, sub divided into regions and Availability Zones. Each region is a separate geographical area with multiple, isolated locations known as Availability Zones. The rationale being to give instant local response but geographically diverse back up to each computing ‘instance’ (or user).

Announcing the new UK base in his blog, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels promised that all Britain’s ranges of local and global enterprises, institutes and government departments will get faster AWS Cloud services than they have been getting. The new region will be coupled – for failover purposes – with existing AWS regions in Dublin and Frankfurt. This local presence, says AWS, will provide lower latency access to websites, mobile applications, games, SaaS applications, big data analysis and Internet of Things (IoT) apps.

“We are committed to our customers’ need for capacity,” said Vogels, who promised ‘powerful AWS services that eliminate the heavy lifting of the underlying IT infrastructure’.

The UK government’s Trade and Investment Minister Lord Maude described the decision as ‘great news for the UK’. The choice of the UK, as the third european presence for AWS is, “further proof the UK is the most favoured location in Europe for inward investment,” said Maude.

By providing commercial cloud services from data centres in the UK AWS will create more healthy competition and innovation in the UK data centre market, according to HM Government Chief Technology Officer Liam Maxwell. “This is good news for the UK government given the significant amount of data we hold that needs to be kept onshore,” said Maxwell.

Yesterday, AWS evangelist Jeff Barr revealed in his blog that AWS will be opening a region in South Korea in early 2016, its fifth region in Asia Pacific.