May 19, 2020

Looking forward, companies will do more with security

Johnson Controls
Neil Cameron
4 min
Looking forward, companies will do more with security

Current trends predict that companies do more with their security solutions than just secure their people, assets or data in the near future. Security solutions are providing critical links to drive automation, increase access, accuracy and the efficiency of key business systems, facilitate and improve compliance, and create better experiences for employees. As it becomes clearer just how valuable these additional capabilities are, companies acquiring new security systems will demand them.

Consider the possibilities for automation of processes if access control systems can hook into and update time and attendance and payroll systems in real time as workers enter and leave a facility. At the same time, consider the implications for better compliance with Health and Safety policies if the access control system can create and deliver alerts in response to rules and policies as they apply to individuals entering a facility. For example, if a worker has not attended a required safety course, the access control system can, in response to a notification from the HR system, deny access to the facility and redirect the worker to the admin office to take the course.

What’s spurring this trend is the growing ease with which multiple systems can connect. Built using open formats, it’s now possible to easily share data across systems using multiple technologies, from Web services to XML and database scripting. With improved integration and communication between security, facility and people management systems (e.g., HR, payroll), numerous opportunities for value add are opening up.

Security systems are now also playing a key role in fulfilling growing demand for personalised services in the workplace—helping to enable environmental and concierge services, driving productivity and energy savings while improving employee and partner experiences.

Productivity, efficiency, concierge services

How hard can it be to assign a hot desk? More organisations are doing away with static employee seating arrangements and implementing hot desks but managing this can become challenging.

In addition to being able to assign available desks with the correct technology capabilities to staff as they enter the facility by matching desks to profile requirements, the access control system can communicate with HVAC and lighting systems to ensure these systems are functional. This will create a comfortable environment conducive to productivity. When the occupant signs out, the security system ensures services are switched off, saving energy costs.

In a digital business environment, information is everywhere and having the right information to hand delivers advantage. Some organisations are making better use of it than others.

Consider the experience of a first-time visitor to a facility. An security system can assist an external person invited to a meeting through the whole process, from issuing an access pass to directing the visitor to the meeting room. The access control system can also be a conduit for relevant information from the HR and other systems, providing a list of the people attending the meeting and notifying participants or the host as they arrive, and providing access to background documentation. It’s an inexpensive and reliable way to add value to the business.

Big data inputs - a better experience of the working environment

Organisations are also leveraging security solutions to provide employees with a better experience of the working environment. This is happening in surprising ways through the addition of third-party software. For example, in Ireland parking is at a premium. Staff are thus kept abreast of train schedules and traffic trends via security systems that track their location, feeding them real-time information from public transport and other systems in the environment. Expect to see the first security systems with built-in third party software of this kind arriving in South Africa very soon.

This technology is available today and it’s being used globally to meet the needs of organisations. By creatively combining these technologies and services with security systems, security and IT managers can drive enormous value for the business and its people.

It is not difficult to do—with an advanced security platform in place, there is minimal effort involved in integrating internal and external systems to create new or value added services.

For more information about Johnson Controls, go to http://www.johnsoncontrols.

Neil Cameron is the Genral Manager of Building Efficiency at Johnson Controls Area Africa.

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Jun 18, 2021

GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud

3 min
VMware has been walking GfK along its path through digital transformation to the cloud for over a decade.

GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.  

In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade. 

“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.

Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.

By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.

One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.

“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.

Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs. 

“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.

The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment. 

The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.

One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.

“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.

“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client. 

“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”

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