Discus Systems PLC - IT Support Company in Birmingham West midlands
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Posted by Graham Keen on Tue 17th May 2011

 

 

The Discus Diviner

May 2011 

 

Welcome to the May edition of The Discus Diviner. This month, we take a closer look at a couple of hosted services.

 

The IT Support Guy finds himself down and dirty  on the farm.

 

Damien offers some tips if you are having difficulty installing a new hard drive.

 

 

The IT Support Guy

 

 

As  Victor pulls up  at Howling Wind  Farm, rain pelting down, he finds  the farmer, Harry Bellweather, leaning on the five bar gate, waiting for him.

Harry doesn't look pleased.

 

The call came in first thing that morning, Harry venting a string of expletives into poor Magda's ear, until he stopped, breathless.

'I cleaner,' she said. 'No fix computer.'

Of course, Victor should have been there to take the call - after all, he is on earlies. But a pair of Nike Air Max 90 Premiums took his fancy the previous weekend and, even at ninety-five quid, he couldn't wait to have them. Besides, Touchwood is only a couple of miles out of his way. It wouldn't take more than ten minutes.

If only the shop wasn't crammed for the sales . . .

'Forget desk duty,' said his boss. 'You can go and sort Mr Bellweather's little problem. He gave me an earful this morning.'

'What's the matter?'

'Problem with internet connectivity. I wanted to run some questions by him but I didn't get the chance, the air was that blue.'

 

'About bloody time, son. I'm losing money hand over fist, thanks to you. C'mon, follow me.'

Harry swings open the gate with a meaty hand, then storms off across the yard in the direction of the byre. Victor looks down at the ground, a mush of mud and cowpats, and curses. Why did he leave the Nikes on?  Now he'll have to spend hours  picking out the unmentionable  from between the treads with a matchstick.

Inside the byre, Harry is holding a netbook in his hand. 'Here, have this before I take a hammer to it.'

Victor takes the netbook (he's never seen a pink one before), balances it on top of a bale of hay and fires it up.

Perfect. Almost.

Except it can't find a wireless network.

'Well?' The farmer's face is inches from Victor's. His breath smells of fried egg mixed with whisky.

'Where do you keep the router?'

'The what?'

'The router. It's like a box with aerials. Connects to your telephone socket.'

'If that's an excuse to flog me something, you can beggar off right now.' He clenches his fists. The vein in his neck is standing out like a rope.

'No, no . . you can't access the internet without a router. Didn't they tell you that when you bought the netbook?'

'They never mentioned anything at IT IS US. I said I wanted a cheap laptop and they said this fitted the bill. Look,' he points at a label Wireless Enabled. 'That means it connects to the internet, doesn't it?' 

 

NEXT MONTH: Victor goes back to school

 

 

 

Dains stays with Discus

  

After an extensive evaluation of the marketplace, Dains, a leading Midlands firm of accountants & business advisers has again selected Discus for its IT support.

'Dains and Discus have a longstanding relationship,' says Terry Biddulph, Discus Systems' MD, 'but we have never taken their business for granted. In the current economic climate we have listened to them and taken their needs into account. Money is important, but at the end of the day we believe they renewed with us on the grounds of the excellent and timely service we have provided over the years of our relationship. They trust us to do a good job.'

 

 

 

A look at hosted services: IP Telephony  

 

In-depth, sector-wide market research has revealed that the SME voice communications industry is worth £2.3billion, with 240,000 organisations needing efficient solutions for up to 1,000 users.

 

IP telephony refers to communications services - voice, fax, SMS, and/or voice-messaging applications-that are transported via the Internet, rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

Voice over IP is extremely flexible, and there are several combinations of ways to deploy the technology. An IP based PBX can be combined with a normal telephone PBX, so that your telephones are IP based internally, then connect to the normal phone network. This is commonly much cheaper than deploying a standard PBX system, and can offer a range of extra features.

 

Recent years have witnessed amazing advances in IP telephony. IP telephones work in a similar way to normal telephones, but instead of connecting over the public phone network, they connect using the Internet.

 

If your company has an existing connection to the Internet, this can be used to route telephone calls.

 

IP telephony works extremely well if  you need to connect two or more offices - with IP telephony, it is possible to connect calls between the two offices over your existing Internet links. This results in one fixed cost per location, rather than having to pay a fixed cost and then the cost of calls on top. Home or external workers can connect over the Internet to your VoIP PBX, meaning that they can be a part of your internal phone network, no matter where they are. Your staff can dial the same extension number, and that person's phone will ring, regardless of whether they are working from home, in the office, or on a mobile

 

Calls can be listed on your Intranet, with staff's call management and statistics linked to their intranet login. Call records can be automatically logged and kept, and statistics can be automatically generated in real time. All of the usual PBX functions are available.

 

Even greater savings can be made by having your IP telephony hosted.  This avoids the need  to procure an IP based  PBX.

According to David York of Natterbox, in his experience, 'a saving of 15% is common, 30% is achievable.'   

 

Special Offer for May! Take advantage now of a free, no obligation trial.

 

By utilising Discus System's hosted IP telephony  you can save up to 30% of your annual costs. Yes, thats' right. Up to 30%. And we guarantee to save you 15% on call charges alone.

  • 100% guaranteed call quality - no loss of speech
  • 30 day contract- no 'tie-in'  

For further information email u2us@discus.co.uk  or for an informal discussion contact Terry or Martyn on 0800 880 3360

 

 

 

 

A look at hosted services: Microsoft Exchange

  

Ready access to communications services is starting to have a major impact on the way small to medium-sized businesses operate. SMBs have always prized flexibility and agility to compete with rivals that generally have more resources available to them. As such, they are often among the first to embrace any new technology that could give them a competitive edge provided it is reasonably accessible to them. Unfortunately, until recently they generally had limited access to communications services beyond what they could get from telecommunications companies.

With the rise of cloud computing, we're now seeing more providers of communications services that are specifically being designed for SMB customers. These providers are taking enterprise-class communications technologies, and making them available as a service to SMB customers.

Email, now a vital business commodity, is a prime example, and for many SMB that means Microsoft Exchange.

As an email hosted service is deployed over the Internet, there is no need for SMBs to modify their existing e-mail infrastructure, install and maintain any new hardware or specialized software, or invest in training for IT staff or end users. They can begin using Microsoft Exchange right away.

Hosted services also provides online tools to help SMB's  protect themselves from spam and malware, satisfy retention requirements for e-discovery and compliance, and encrypt data to preserve confidentiality.

For further information email u2us@discus.co.uk or for an informal discussion contact Terry or Martyn on 0800 880 3360 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that calving is over, peace and tranquility have returned to the office. Once again, we can take your calls without closing our ears to the sound of mothers giving birth.

 

But wait . . . what's that I hear? Twittering? (Not to be confused with Tweeting.)

 

Wendy, my PA, rolls her eyes and looks at me. ''The swallows are back, Terry.'

 

So, the next time you call . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading May's issue of The Discus Diviner.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any comments or criticisms.

 

Sincerely,

 

   

 

 

Terry Biddulph

Managing Director

Discus Systems plc 

In This Issue

The IT Support Guy

Dains stays with Discus

A look at hosted services: IP Telephony

A look at hosted services: Microsoft Exchange

Damien's Tips 'n Tricks

The Hampton Joker

 

 

 

Quick Links

  

Back Issues:

    

  

 

 

Damien's Tips 'n Tricks 

Hard Drive not Recognized/Found/ Detected/Accessible?

 If you install a new hard drive and install an Operating System on it and it suddenly acts like it is not there, it may be a loose connection.

If a bootable CD, such a s Knoppix, is not able to read your hard drive, it can have several causes. The list of possibilities below can also be used for troubleshooting hard drives, floppy drives, and CD/DVD drives.

CAUTION: Make sure the power is off and that the PC is disconnected from power. Also be sure to avoid static electricity, or you will need a new PC. Do not force any thing. All parts should easily fit together if they are properly aligned. Sometimes you may have to push or pull harder than you think. Just be careful to make sure any levers or buttons that hold it in place are not overlooked.

* Least likely is that a new hard drive has failed. Try the other options before assuming it is the new hard drive. If all of the below do not work, and it is a new hard drive, contact the manufacturer. New hard drives should include very good instructions for installation and troubleshooting. When in doubt read the instructions.

* Open the case and make sure that all the connections are correct.

* Unplug the power supply connection, make sure there are no bent pins, and plug it in securely.

* Repeat the procedure with the connection to the motherboard, make sure no pins are bent.

* If you have multiple drives, try hooking up just one drive to make sure you can read it.

* Make sure that the power supply, and other components are working correctly. It is possible that another component of the PC has failed.

* If you have another PC available, try connecting it to the other PC. This could point to failure of the power and/or motherboard cables in the original PC.

* If none of the above works, call in professional help!
 

 

 

The Hampton Joker 

 

Tech Support: "OK, sir, let's press the control and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter 'P' to bring up the Program Manager."

The Joker: "I don't have a 'P'."

Tech Support: "On your keyboard, sir."

The Joker: "What do you mean?"

Tech Support: "'P' on your keyboard, sir."

The Joker: "I'm not going to do that!"

 

******************

 

The Joker: "Your sound card is defective and I want a new one."

Tech Support: "What seems to be the problem?"

The Joker: "The balance is backwards. The left channel is coming out of the right speaker and the right channel is coming out the left. It's defective."

 Tech Support: "You can solve the problem by moving the left speaker to the right side of the machine and vice versa."

 

*****************

 

Tech Support: "What seems to be the problem?"

The Joker: "I have a huge problem. A friend has put a screen saver on my
computer, but every time I move the mouse, it disappears!"

 

 

 

Discus Systems -  solving computer problems throughout the West Midlands,

covering Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield, Tamworth,

Wolverhampton, Dudley, Bromsgrove and Redditch.

 

 

 
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Tue 17th May 2011
Codenamed “Mango,” the update to the software giant’s mobile operating system will introduce features around Microsoft’s cloud and unified communications services.
 
The details were unveiled at Microsoft’s annual TechEd conference, held in Atlanta this week.
 
Paul Bryan, senior director of business experience for the Windows Phone team, wrote on the division’s blog: “Customers tell us they’re continually trying to stay on top of their busy schedules. With this in mind, Mango is designed to make you even more productive right out-of-the-box, helping you quickly and easily stay connected with the people and information that are most important to you.”
 
Features revealed today included the ability to share documents from Office Hub – the business suite on Windows Phone – through Microsoft’s 365 cloud service and Windows Live SkyDrive, alongside the introduction of a downloadable app to use Lync unified communications on the handsets.
 
Microsoft also confirmed a number of new email capabilities, such as server search – to locate older emails no longer on the handset – pinnable email folders and a new “conversation view” for email threads.
 
However, it wasn’t all just surface technology, with the company confirming new security measures would be brought in as well.
 
“With new features such as complex (alpha-numeric) password support, Information Rights Management support for protecting emails and Office documents, and support for access to hidden corporate Wi-Fi networks, your IT organisation can stay on top of its game – providing you access to information you need while meeting corporate requirements,” added Bryan.
 
No exact release date has been confirmed for the update but Microsoft did say it would be coming to phones in 2011.
 
“In the weeks and months ahead we'll have even more to share on new features coming in Mango,” concluded Bryan.
 
 
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Tue 17th May 2011
Mobile users are different to the home worker and they're all different to a branch worker, so how do you find out what they need and give it to them effectively?
 
Finding out what end users want from their desktop and comparing it to what you think they need can be a sobering experience. Performance, fast access to data and the latest software are likely to be high on their list of requirements, while security and minimal management overhead will be high on yours.
 
But then, they have to use the machine every day and, if they're happy with it, they're more likely to be productive. So you need to give them what they want as far as is feasible within the boundaries set by budgets, company policy and legislation.
 
Let's establish a baseline. You need to ensure that machines handed out to end users are secure, backed up and easily restorable. Ideally, they won't be able to access the corporate network unless they meet certain security requirements, with the minimum might be running an OS with the latest patches, and up-to-date AV software.
 
Gold standard
You're likely to have generated a gold image that can blown onto the disk so that, if the worst happens, the machine can be wiped and re-imaged, and the user's data restored from the server - that's where your desktops store user data, presumably.
 
For remote or branch office users, that may not be quite so simple. They want local access to data so that they can continue working while offline. In this case, Windows' offline files feature works well and is pretty seamless, even if, for example, your servers are running a Linux back-end with CIFS on top.
 
Users may also want to load new versions of their software but your policies are likely to maintain a list of approved software that's permanently out of date, simply because of the time it takes to change test and approve new software, and then update the gold image. There's not a whole lot you can do about this except to make that list public, maintain it rigorously so that end users know where they stand, and notify them when it changes.
 
After that, it's important for users to understand that there's a cost to the business when downloading and installing new software in the form of licence fees and support. You should set up a process for requesting new software that allows you to understand users' needs without having to deal with them individually. Once approved, the deployment of an application can be automated with using one of the many available tools.
 
Give 'em what they want
Sometimes giving people what they want and/or need can involve infrastructure upgrades -or sometimes you may be able to think laterally. For example, it may be possible to deploy WAN optimisation technology to distribute software upgrades to users in remote offices across a slow pipe, without going to the expense of paying the monthly fee for a faster link.
 
Alternatively, it might be possible to meet users' needs in a different way by deploying thin client and using a virtualised desktop approach. That way, users' systems can be kept current from the centre, while the tendency of remote users to be less secure than those based in central offices disappears. Note that some users are better served by a virtual desktop approach than others, with mobile users offering a particular challenge.
 
Whatever your approach, care needs to be taken that the idea of the personal computer - one that's suited to the job each user is performing and which can be personalised even if only to a limited degree - doesn't vanish entirely.
 
Giving users what they want is never easy, especially in today's economic climate. But give them bandwidth, give them enough storage space and make it snappy, and give them access to the applications they need, and you're most of the way there
 
Manek Dubash
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Tue 17th May 2011
4G technology will bring over three times more mobile broadband capacity to the UK from 2013, Ofcom said on Thursday.
 
 
According to research conducted by the telecoms regulator, LTE (long-term evolution) is 230 per cent more spectrally efficient than HSPA, the 3G technology that currently provides cellular data connectivity to the country. However, LTE was not the only 4G technology considered in the research - Ofcom also looked at emerging and later generations of LTE's big rival, WiMax.
 
Stephen Unger, Ofcom's chief technology officer, said the efficiency of 4G spectrum use would increase even more by the end of the decade, by which point technologies such as the future LTE Advanced standard should be in place.
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Mon 16th May 2011
The revelation that US commandos who stormed Osama bin Laden's Pakistan bolthole unearthed a "massive smut stash" didn't much surprise those who'd been expecting news that the terrorist wasn't quite the paragon of Islamic virtue he claimed to be.
 
 
Of course, the "extensive" collection of "modern, electronically recorded video" may not have belonged to the al Qaeda leader - his son and two couriers also lived in the Abbottabad compound - and there's no evidence he ever viewed it.
 
Reuters' cautious initial report into the discovery stresses as much, but fails to address a critical question: does the porn repository actually exist?
 
Another report from "American-owned" Associated Press raised an eyebrow down at the UK's Independent on Sunday.
 
AP wrote: "The disclosure that US investigators found pornography... fuels the US narrative that Bin Laden was not the respectable or noble figure that his supporters embraced."*
 
Robert Strang, "former co-chair of the New York state Legislature 9/11 task force", expressed a similar sentiment down at the New York Post, saying: "He was inspirational to them [his adherents] in a big way. And the more that comes out about him, the more it shows that he's not the man they thought he was."
 
The Independent claims AP's words bear "the imprint of a spin doctor", and there's a certain legitimacy in suggesting that "fuelling the US narrative" is a euphemism for "feeding the US black propaganda machine".
 
Let's face it, the only way the US administration could have got more column inches out of the outrage was if bin Laden had been caught in bed with a Las Vegas hooker and a bottle of Scotch, toking on a post-coital spliff while reading The Satanic Verses.
 
Among the coverage highlights is a splendid News of the World piece (registration required), which insists that Bin Laden was "obsessed with US singer Whitney Houston - and especially enjoyed porn videos starring women who look like her".
 
The paper reckons CIA operatives are now staring drop-jawed at vids of "unnatural acts involving black, white and Asian women", which may have been used to carry "subliminal messages".
 
Whether al Qaeda really did use pneumatic Whitney Houston-alikes to disseminate information remains to be seen, as in fact does whether Bin Laden's penchant for porn was real or an invention of the CIA's dark imagination.
 
Roderick T Long, professor of philosophy at Alabama's Auburn Uni, refused to be drawn on Friday, when he blogged: "I have no problem believing that Bin Laden was a hypocrite. But I also have no problem believing that the US government is a liar. Hence I have no opinion one way or 'tother as to the existence of bin Laden's alleged porn collection."
 
Lester Haines
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Mon 16th May 2011
The Prime Minister has said the government is considering scrapping a multibillion-pound project to install a patient records system across the NHS.
 
 
Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions this week, David Cameron said the government was considering "terminating some of, or indeed all of" CSC's contract with the Department of Health to install the Lorenzo electronic patient records system.
 
CSC is due to install the system at health trusts across the Midlands and the north and east of England. However, work on delivering the systems is running years behind schedule.
 
Cameron was speaking in response to a question by Richard Bacon MP, member of parliamentary spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee and long-time critic of the project.
 
Cameron said: "The Department of Health and the Cabinet Office will examine all the available options under the current contract, including the option of terminating some of, or indeed all of, the contract."
 
The Department of Health has been negotiating the terms of a revised contract for the project with CSC for months, and Cameron said, "We are absolutely determined to achieve better value for money."
 
The project to install the electronic patient records system is one of a series of IT projects that fall under the National Programme for IT (NPfIT).
 
Cameron said no revised contract would be signed until a National Audit Office report on the NPfIT - due next week - has been studied, and reviews by the Public Accounts Committee and the Cabinet Office's Major Projects Authority have taken place.
 
Responding to Cameron's comments, a CSC spokeswoman said: "CSC is in the final stages of negotiating a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the NHS.
 
"The MOU for the realigned NHS programme is designed to offer the government greater value and flexibility, while achieving desired saving in healthcare," she said. "Completion of the MOU has always been dependent on final NHS and other government reviews."
 
"No existing CSC UK government contracts are impacted by the NHS reviews and CSC continues to support the NHS and other public sector contracts during these reviews," the spokeswoman said.
 
Last month, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, one of four trusts chosen to pilot the system before it is more widely rolled out, decided to abandon the system blaming "delays" in implementing functionality.
 
The Department of Health has previously stated that it is considering terminating the contract with CSC, after it missed a key milestone for rolling out the system.
 
The Lorenzo system is being installed by CSC under the terms of its Local Service Provider (LSP) contract, which is worth just over £3bn but the DoH has said it expects negotiations with CSC will reduce the contract's value by about £500m.
 
CSC is one of only two LSP suppliers to the DoH that are left, after previous suppliers Accenture and Fujitsu pulled out of contracts.
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Mon 16th May 2011
BT says it expects to double the speeds offered by its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) superfast broadband network next year.
 
 
The company is in the process of rolling out FTTC broadband as part of a £2.5bn fibre broadband network that will extend access to faster broadband speeds to two-thirds of the UK.
 
At present, FTTC offers download speeds of up to 40Mbps but BT believes it will be able to double this to up to 80Mbps in 2012. The upload speeds supported by the tech would also improve, with the current limit of up to 10Mbps "likely" to rise to up to 20Mbps, according to a BT spokesman.
 
Existing FTTC customers should expect a speed lift next year, according to BT. "Most customers within the existing footprint will get a higher speed," said the spokesman. "There will be a very small number of customers who have very long lines who won't benefit as the additional speed is generated by using higher frequencies and those frequencies do not work on long lines."
 
BT also reckons it could squeeze even higher speeds out of FTTC - suggesting download speeds could exceed 100Mbps in future.
 
The firm's announcement comes after Japanese company Fujitsu last month revealed plans to roll out a 1Gbps broadband network to five million UK homes. BT's network does not currently support 1Gbps broadband speeds. It said it will be testing a 1Gbps fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service next year. Its current FTTH service supports download speeds of up to 100Mbps.
 
FTTC is BT's preferred technology for its next-generation broadband rollout, with about 75 per cent of the planned footprint to consist of FTTC versus 25 per cent of the faster, and more costly to install, FTTH technology.
 
While FTTC involves laying fibre-optic cable from the exchange to the street cabinet - with data then being carried into a customer's premises along the existing copper telephone lines - FTTH eliminates the bottleneck of copper as fibre cable is laid all the way inside a customer's premises.
 
So far, BT has spent £600m of its next-gen broadband pot and is putting 80,000 new premises within reach of fibre each week. BT said it expects to have fibre access for five million homes in the next few weeks and aims to ramp this up to 10 million by 2012.
 
Orders for BT Infinity, its fibre-based broadband service, are running at an average of about 5,000 per week, the company said. The total customer base for BT Infinity now stands at 144,000.
 
In separate news, research conducted by telecoms regulator Ofcom has suggested 4G, the next generation of mobile network technology, will be able to deliver more than 200 per cent of the capacity of existing 3G technologies using the same amount of spectrum. The capacity boost is down to 4G having higher rates of spectral efficiency.
 
"4G mobile technologies will be able to send more information than 3G, for a given amount of spectrum. This increased efficiency means that 4G networks will be able to support increased data rates and more users," said Dr Stephen Unger, chief technology officer at Ofcom, in a statement.
 
He noted that a user on a 4G mobile network will be able to download a video in about a third of the time it takes on a 3G network today - owing to rates of spectral efficiency that are more than three times higher.
 
It is expected that 4G spectral efficiency will increase to more than five times the efficiency of 3G by 2020, he added.
 
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 11th May 2011
Microsoft has confirmed that it will buy Skype, the internet telephony company, for $8.5bn in cash.
  
The £5.2bn takeover has been agreed by the boards of both Microsoft and Silver Lake, the leading firm in the investor group that picked up a majority stake in Skype in 2009. Other members of that group include CPP Investment Board, Andreessen Horowitz, Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis — via their company Joltid — and eBay, which bought Skype in 2005 for $2.6bn and retained a 30-percent stake when it sold the service off in 2009.
 
The online auctioneers failed to integrate the peer-to-peer service into their business model as was originally planned. Microsoft said in a statement on Tuesday that its acquisition of Skype would "increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications, bringing benefits to both consumers and enterprise users and generating significant new business and revenue opportunities".
 
"Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world," said Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer. "Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world."
 
Microsoft Skype Division
Assuming it gains regulatory approval, which is hoped for by the end of 2011, Skype will become a Microsoft business division called the Microsoft Skype Division. It will be headed up by current Skype chief Tony Bates. According to Microsoft, Skype will "support" various Microsoft devices such as Xbox and Kinect — which already offers video-calling capabilities — as well as the Windows Phone platforms and "a wide array of Windows devices".
 
Skype users will also be able to connect with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and "other communities", Microsoft said, promising that the company would "continue to invest in and support" Skype clients that are available for non-Microsoft platforms. Apart from the Windows version, Skype can be downloaded for Mac, Linux, Android, iPhone and Symbian, and is also integrated with TV sets from manufacturers such as Panasonic and Samsung.
 
The market-leading service, which had until now been planning a public flotation, currently has around 170 million users and carried over 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010. Those figures represent a 150-percent increase in monthly calling minutes during Silver Lake's ownership tenure, Microsoft said. Silver Lake managing director Egon Durban said in the statement that his investor group was "thrilled with Skype's transformation during the period of our ownership and grateful for the extraordinary commitment of its management team and employees".
 
"We are excited about Skype's long-term future with Microsoft, as it is poised to become one of the world's most dynamic and comprehensive communications platforms," Durban added.
 
Enterprise customers
However, the takeover of Skype will not necessarily be enough to attract enterprise customers to Microsoft's voice and unified communications services, Analysys Mason analyst Steve Hilton said in a statement.
 
"Skype, while having some nice communications features, is still a consumer-grade solution," Hilton said. "Enterprises don't want low-quality communications services when dealing with customers. While enterprises will trade off lower prices for lower quality, they could have purchased Skype solutions long ago had they wanted to save a few dollars (or pounds or Euros)."
 
Hilton also pointed out that Microsoft had had "plenty of voice-centric train wrecks over the years", such as the company's IP PBX play, Response Point.
 
Informa analyst Giles Cottle said Microsoft would prove a better home for Skype than other companies rumoured to have been interested in buying the service, such as Google and Facebook.
 
"Microsoft... has numerous ways in which it can make use of Skype: video calling for Windows 7 Phones (and a competitor to [Apple] FaceTime), offering a true PC-based VoIP service with Windows Live Messenger, voice chat in Xbox Live and, of course, strengthening its enterprise communications proposition," Cottle said in a statement. He added that Microsoft had "undoubtedly... over-paid for Skype in the short term, but potentially not in the long term.
 
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 11th May 2011
Business social-networking site LinkedIn has valued itself at around $3bn for a planned flotation, according to an updated US Security and Exchange Commission filing.
 
The filing — updated on Monday — indicated that the company will be valued at around $3bn (£1.83bn) when it floats on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) later this month. LinkedIn announced its intention to make an initial public offering (IPO) in January.
 
LinkedIn expects to get a maximum of $35 per share, and to sell over 7.8 million shares.
 
The latest SEC filing revised the amount of cash that the company now expects to raise from the IPO to a maximum of $315.5m; up from $175m in its filing in January.
 
"In 2011, our philosophy is to continue to invest for long-term growth. We expect to continue to invest heavily in our product-development efforts to enable our members and customers to derive more value from our platform," the company said. "We expect to continue to make significant capital expenditures to upgrade our technology and network infrastructure to improve the ability of our website to handle expected increases in usage and to enable the release of new features and solutions."
 
During 2010 LinkedIn reported net revenue of $243.1m — an increase of 102 percent in comparison to 2009 — but generated just $15.4m of net income. Its current valuation is around 12 times its net revenue.
 
LinkedIn will be the first social network to publicly offer shares, despite previous rumours of social-network giants Twitter and Facebook gearing up for an IPO.
 
In March, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said the company had no plans to raise cash over the next 12 months. In January, Facebook announced that it had raised $1.5bn from private investors, giving it a total valuation of $50bn. Since then analysts have valued Facebook at closer to $100bn.
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 11th May 2011
BT Wholesale has signed a Deed of Undertaking with the Cabinet Office to become one of the providers underpinning the Public Sector Network programme, the company said on Tuesday.
 
BT Wholesale has signed a Deed of Undertaking with the Cabinet Office to become one of the providers underpinning the Public Sector Network programme.
 
Following the agreement, BT becomes a provider of Government Conveyance Network (GCN) services, which will interconnect Public Service Network (PSN) Direct Network Service Providers (DNSPs), which in turn supply the government departments. The PSN is a 'network of networks', created from existing commercial networks, for the public sector.
 
"Today's signature of the DoU [Deed of Undertaking] underlines BT's commitment to the PSN, providing a full range of services including the GCN. Drawing on our experience of co-designing PSN, we can help public-sector organisations achieve both cost and service improvements as well as help them transition to PSN compliance," Neil Rogers, president of BT global services for government and health, said in a statement.
 
The GCN is intended to act as a secure common backbone to PSN service providers and will enable cloud-based and shared services between organisations. It will also deliver datacentre rationalisation benefits such as reduced cost and complexity, BT said.
 
The GCN service will be built on BT's core Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network, which already has the Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG) 2.2.4 standard accreditation for security and performance.
 
BT said it expects there to be up to 20 DNSPs that will pay GCN providers to access to the interconnection service. BT's signing of the DoU represents a commitment to bring its GCN service to market within 12 months, the company said.
 
BT's DoU joins one signed by Virgin Media in November 2010; Virgin is already a major supplier to existing public-sector networks. Global Crossing and Cable & Wireless have also already signed up to provide GCN services.
 
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