Microsoft announce launch of Office 365 in Africa
Previously only available as a trail, Microsoft’s cloud-based service combines Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Lync Online in one constantly up-dated package. The trail period, which only lasted a few months, proved to be hugely popular throughout the region. More than 100,000 small and midsize businesses signed up, creating one of the largest global beta programs for businesses in Microsoft’s illustrious history.
The package will now be commercially available from local service providers in 16 countries across the region, as well as South Africa, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
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Microsoft Office Business Group Lead at Microsoft, Yasir Khokhar commented:
“Today, we are evolving from the information age to the collaboration age, where the ability to take action on information will set successful businesses apart from the rest. Today’s launch of Office 365 will accelerate that evolution by delivering enterprise-grade collaboration for everyone.”
Businesses considering moving operations to the cloud via Office 365 won’t necessitate changing the way it already functions, due to the service being based around well-established programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Access. New ways of working can be integrated within existing businesses as employees take advantage of new lines of communication and functionality through electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Additionally, businesses can achieve the necessary levels of reliability, security and control without the need for a dedicated IT department.
The Office 365 package combines tools such as email, instant messaging, voicemail, enterprise social networking, web portals, video/web conferencing, and extranets, with more scheduled to be added on a regular basis. Available for a monthly fee, the system can be set up in only 15 minutes, is ideal for businesses and governmental organisations of any size, and includes Microsoft Office Professional Plus desktop software on a pay-as-you-go basis for the first time ever.
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GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
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.”