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Intergen Smarts 11 (2006)


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Intergen's newsletter, Smarts, now available for online reading.

Intergen provides information technology solutions across Australia, New Zealand and the world based exclusively on Microsoft’s tools and technologies.

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Intergen Smarts 11 (2006)

  1. 1. INT SMARTS_11_5 29/3/06 4:40 PM Page 1 The other team to be affected by the Ecentric acquisition is Technical Services. In this case it was more an increase in demand than an increase in capacity. The Technical Services team have been working long hours to migrate the Ecentric internet hosting in to Intergen’s data centre. Ecentric's former clients now have a team of six specialists looking after their internet hosting rather than relying on a single person. As well as boosting the capabilities of our team, the acquisition of Ecentric has alleviated the pressures we had on space in our Wellington office. We have made good use of the office space occupied by Ecentric to house several project teams. Planning is under way for a move to larger premises later in the year to accommodate all of Intergen Wellington under one roof. Last year Intergen also acquired 50% of Microsoft Navision specialists, Interfusion. We did this because we projected increased demand for the integration services that Intergen provides to the Interfusion client base. This is proving to be correct and the teams are now working under the Intergen banner with a number of clients and opportunities. The Navision team are now working from Intergen’s Auckland and Christchurch offices with the Wellington move to come later in the year. This new area of the business is experiencing a lot of success, and has recently appointed Richard Jacobs as General Manager based in Auckland to further grow the business. We are very excited about our increased capabilities and look forward to introducing you to our new and improved services during the year. < Copyright 2006 Intergen Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission of Intergen Limited > 2005 was a year of strong growth for Intergen. Revenue was up by 25% and there is no sign that things will ease this year. There continues to be strong demand across all our offices and markets. Our team was boosted late last year with the acquisition of Ecentric. Ecentric’s strengths were complementary to Intergen’s and the acquisition has allowed us to speed up the evolution of our business. The most visible area for clients is our increased support capability with the establishment of a new business unit called Support Services. The Support Services team combines a helpdesk/ call centre with experienced developers, ensuring that we provide the same quality service and responsiveness after systems are live as we do during development. The addition of this team has enhanced our ability to deliver, measure and report on Service Level Agreements for an increasing number of mission critical systems. With the Ecentric acquisition came additional capability and capacity for our team of Business Analysts. Significant effort has gone in to merging and redefining our methodologies in this area. I S S U E E L E V E N >> HOT NEWS: >> T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E Growth provides increased capabilities HOSTING >> 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 BUSINESS ANALYSIS >> QUALITY ASSURANCE >> BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE >> PREVIEW >> INTERGEN AT LARGE >> Intergen’s Support Team THOUGHT PROVOKER >> We have been busy with web development recently and some of our recent successes include: Northland Regional Council (NRC): we developed a corporate intranet, upgraded the corporate Internet website, including implementation of EPiServer content management system (CMS) to manage its content. CommunityNet: Intergen were actively involved in the CommunityNet Aotearoa website winning an inaugural AccEase Accessibility Tick Accreditation award. The awards recognise websites that demonstrate best practice in accessibility. Navy: The Virtual Frigate part of the new Navy website won awards for allowing viewers to tour ANZAC frigate Te Mana. The virtual tour provides visitors with the ability to view all decks and get a 360 degree view of the various sections of the ship.
  2. 2. INT SMARTS_11_5 29/3/06 4:40 PM Page 2 What about the role of the much maligned ‘portal’? An enterprise version was on the strategic agenda of most CIOs at Y2K. The technology was available, but why were there so few notable success stories? And when there was why couldn’t we relate to them? Seen through yellow lenses the answer is simple – few enterprise portals offered ‘mutually reciprocated’ exchange of value. Few enterprise portals offered employees any genuine upside in the relationship, most focused on enforcing compliance with apparently efficient and effective re-engineering processes. Fast forward to 2006 and consider the situation of an energy company removing the annoying meal time sales call, providing hassle-free and prompt fault restoration, lowering prices and improving its own operating margin in the process. Not an easy task and one not achieved overnight, but neither is it impossible. The real challenge however is in understanding how to dissolve the human barriers, not necessarily how elegantly to architect and build the solution. Intelligent business is achievable and more than just a consulting buzz phase. I’d welcome your views, feel free to send me your comments on >> INTERGENITE: < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E E L E V E N >>> T H O U G H T P R O V O K E R>>2 Anthea Whitlock What do you do? I am a member of the Support Services Team in Wellington and manage service delivery supplied through the Intergen helpdesk. My role is to ensure that all our clients are provided with a consistent and high quality support service to meet their needs. How do you make a difference? I am committed to service excellence and strive to always understand the client and end-user view of the world. I work with the Support Services team to identify new ways to help clients and continuously strive for improvement in the services and benefits that we provide. What do you love about your job? Helping people and seeing them go away satisfied. On top of that, no two days are ever the same. I never know what’s going to happen next and I’m lucky enough to work in a great environment with very motivated and talented people. A bit about me I am a lover of nature and the great outdoors and have recently made a move to rural living where I will no doubt end up with an eclectic farmyard of animals! I believe personal growth is an important part of living life and enjoy seeing both myself and others succeed in challenging themselves and their boundaries. We provide a helpdesk service with both analysts and experienced developers permanently situated within the support team. Issues are resolved quickly using the most effective approach and with no impact on other project delivery work. Our strong track record in support provision and working with third parties means that we really understand what it takes to support systems. We get involved early in the development phase to ensure that Intergen-developed systems can be easily supported, so that by the time an application is released into production we generally know it well, minimising the support upskilling time that is required. We look forward to working with you in the future, to help understand your support requirements and how we may together identify ways to improve the value obtained from your systems. To learn more about Intergen’s support capability and services contact Keeping systems running smoothly With organisations investing significant time and resource into systems development, high quality post-implementation support is crucial. This is more than just ensuring system access is maintained and problems dealt with on a reactive basis – systems need to be proactively managed to keep on top of emerging issues and to continue evolving to meet needs and achieve critical success factors. Intergen operates a dedicated support function within the Support Services team. Its role is to ensure that production systems work effectively and to service a wide range of customer requirements – from direct end user support to technical escalation, defect fixes and small enhancement projects. INTELIGENT BUSINESS… meaningful concept or just another consulting buzz phrase? Engaging in business models in which entities collaborate to mutual advantage sounds intuitively intelligent. But is it little more than a pipe dream? When observed through ‘Intergen’s yellow lenses’ communities are collaborative in nature and this inclination has influenced businesses to seek opportunities to engage more with customers, employees and suppliers. ‘Intelligent business’ recognises and exploits the opportunity offered by collaboration to lower costs, enhance customer experience and extend service offerings. The internet evolved as a ‘mechanism to facilitate collaboration’, in an environment where it provided mutual benefit to the participants. Initially developed as a ‘translation service’ the focus soon turned to the ‘transport service’ as its benefits were recognised by a wider audience. As it became popularised the basic philosophy of fostering collaboration was suppressed as considerations such as reliability, security and protection of competitive advantage crept in. Seeing yellow
  3. 3. INT SMARTS_11_5 29/3/06 4:40 PM Page 3 It shouldn’t be a gamble Security and lawlessness problems mean the Internet can be a risky place to play. As an Internet hosting provider Intergen’s challenge is to be aware of these problems and continuously review our capacity to manage them on behalf of clients. Highlighting this challenge, a major security organisation, the US Government Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT), has published the top three attack strategies; automation, increasing sophistication and faster discovery of vulnerabilities. Together these strategies mean a smarter intruder is capable of discovering and attacking vulnerabilities faster than ever before. The duration between a vulnerability being discovered and a hacker exploiting it is quickly diminishing. It is now imperative that vulnerabilities are understood and security patches applied to Internet-connected devices as soon as possible. Effective security can only be achieved with a combination of technical excellence and the implementation of meaningful policies and procedures – this forms the basis of Intergen’s Security Framework. The key elements are: >> MULTILAYER FIREWALL SECURITY Providing multiple layers of firewall security from diverse vendors is a key strategy in accomplishing robust Internet security. >> PERIMETER INTRUDER DETECTION & PREVENTION Intergen has implemented two high availability Intruder Detection and Prevention (IDP) appliances which scan all internet traffic entering and leaving our hosting facility. Using this approach intrusions are terminated before the attack reaches our hosted platforms. >> INLINE ANTIVIRUS PROTECTION An effective approach to computer antivirus protection is similar to New Zealand’s bio-security safeguards. The most effective place to block pests is at the border. Intergen’s scanning service searches for viruses within all of the data entering and exiting our hosting facility. It identifies viruses, worms, trojans, adware and other threats, at the border and denies them entry into our hosting facility. >> HOST BASED SECURITY Although Intergen’s perimeter security framework delivers exceptional protection it would be complacent to assume that any system was foolproof. As a further layer of security, hosts within the environment are protected by local antivirus and intrusion prevention applications. >> RAPID CYCLE SOFTWARE UPDATE PROCESS Intergen has implemented a proactive automated process to gather critical and important software updates and distribute them to servers within our hosting facility. Although there is a risk that the implementation of an update may adversely affect hosted solutions, this is significantly outweighed by the risk of security breaches caused by an implementation delay. The risk is partially mitigated by our three day implementation cycle. Updates are applied to hosts supporting our testing and stage environments within 24 hours of the update’s release. Following this they are applied to Intergen’s production platforms (which include our shared hosting environments), within 48 hours. Finally, 72 hours after release, updates are applied to all other hosts. >> PROACTIVE SECURITY SCANNING & INTRUSION SIMULATION Malicious Internet hackers utilise a vast array of tools and techniques to probe, prod and compromise Internet hosting facilities. By regularly simulating the increasing array of attacks available we can identify potential weaknesses and react accordingly. Client confidentiality precludes us from giving too much detail about what we have done for some of our hosting clients, but if you want to discuss how your hosting can be improved then talk to us about stacking the odds your way. >> INTERGENITE: >> H O S T I N G < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E E L E V E N > >>3 Robin Tay What do you do? I am a Senior Developer Consultant at Intergen Auckland working in the Development & Integration team. I specialise in the both the portal and content management space utilising products such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal 2003 and CMS. How do you make a difference? Provide a professional service to clients and try to exceed their expectations. I believe in doing whatever it takes to get the project completed so I am always happy to tackle any issue head-on doing whatever is required. What do you love about your job? Getting to work with the latest technologies gives me a real buzz. Transforming new technologies into working applications that benefit our clients and moving up that learning curve. And of course, working with a great team in the Auckland office. A bit about yourself I migrated from Malaysia with my family to New Zealand about 19 years ago. I am proud to be a Kiwi and call New Zealand home. Outside of work I enjoy gaming (consoles, computers). I also have a strong background in graphics and multimedia. Other than that I enjoy my outdoor activities such as kayaking and rowing also spending time with my girl and family.
  4. 4. INT SMARTS_11_5 29/3/06 4:40 PM Page 4 >> INTERGENITE: < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E E L E V E N >>> B U S I N E S S A N A L Y S I S>>4 Kirsten Bockett-Smith What do you do? I’m a business analyst, part of the Professional Services team. My role involves eliciting and managing business requirements for our clients. I am the line of communication between the end user and the development team. How do you make a difference? I am involved at the beginning of a project. I coordinate stakeholders and bring a consensus on requirements which will then be translated into an application. Listening to customers and understanding their problem is one of the key skills of being a business analyst. What do you love about your job? I love the fact that I get to work with a large range of clients, private and public sector, and get to learn about their organisation along the course of a project. A bit about me I have recently taken up golf and am getting used to searching in the woods for golf balls rather than driving down the fairway. I’m looking forward to progressing to an under 10 handicap! I spend far too many of my weekends doing DIY house and landscaping projects. I think our next house will have to be new with no maintenance required. Business Analysis: the key element to gain a competitive advantage Unclear about the direction your project should take? Unsure who the stakeholders are or how to get their buy-in? Know what the outcome should be, just don’t know how to get there or what it will look like? So how can you resolve these dilemmas? Fortunately the solution is easy. It starts at the beginning When it comes to finding the right solution to your business problem, putting the right effort in upfront helps to reduce cost and increase the likelihood of success. The initial analysis of client requirements or investigation of business processes done by a business analyst are the most important tasks in ‘getting the project off on the right foot’. ‘When too many cooks might spoil the broth’, your business analyst will help you prioritise, balance interests against constraints, and ensure stakeholder buy-in that helps focus the project. Just as ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’, there’s no one method to perform analysis. A good business analyst will use the right tools for the job – from workshops, business and use case design to structured documentation. Even if your organisation has business analyst resource, there is benefit in working with external analysts to complement each other or provide mentoring to ensure project success. Projects that Intergen business analysts can help you with: I T s o l u t i o n d e v e l o p m e n t / p r o d u c t c u s t o m i s a t i o n >> Facilitation of stakeholder workshops >> Clarification and documentation of requirements >> Accessing feasibility and stability of requirements >> Production of comprehensive functional specifications. B u s i n e s s p r o c e s s i m p r o v e m e n t >> Business Modeling to display an accurate model of processes >> Advising on alternative paths for improving business processes C o n t e n t m i g r a t i o n >> Formation of content migration strategies >> Creation of a content audit C R M c o n s u l t a n c y >> Identification of business requirements through stakeholder workshops >> System configuration and customisation I n f o r m a t i o n a r c h i t e c t u r e >> Perform content analysis >> Definition of navigation structure >> Documentation of user workflow Help! I need somebody. (Help!) Not just anybody……. When your organisation has a problem or a goal in mind; you need help with decisions big or small, an Intergen business analyst can help you. To find out how our business analysts can add value to your business, please contact:
  5. 5. INT SMARTS_11_5 29/3/06 4:40 PM Page 5 The Quality Assurance Team: butterfly collectors on a bug safari < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E E L E V E N > >>5>> Q U A L I T Y A S S U R A N C E As the complexity and scale of projects at Intergen has increased over time, we’ve increased our dedicated Quality Assurance team to help projects of all sizes benefit from a focus on building quality into applications and services. While many people can’t fathom why we might enjoy bug hunting, I like to tell them that we’re butterfly collectors – we never know what kind we’ll catch next, or if we’ve ever seen it before. There is something fascinating in the fact that bugs are elusive and unpredictable. You get some good hauls from using a purely scientific approach, but the most colourful ones are caught by creative and out-of the-box thinking. I keep the best ones stuck down with pins in a little drawer. S t r a n g e l y s a t i s f y i n g All the good quality analysts I’ve ever met have an obsessive streak. We’re naturally curious and inquisitive people. We were the kind of children who took complicated machines apart to work out “Why?” It’s a vocation. While no-one wants any bugs, it is our job to find them. We usually get a feel for the ‘overall goodness factor’ or OGF pretty early on, but we need to gather solid information to identify and solve any problems. Where there are issues that need work, there is some consolation that we’ve successfully prevented any bugs from entering the production environment. Where things are working well, we like to recognise the good work done by the project team and give them some positive feedback. P r o c e s s i m p r o v e m e n t Bugs live in little gaps. These gaps can be introduced anywhere in the project, between the specification and the solution, between the documentation and the interpretation, or between the client request and their actual need. No-one intends to introduce a bug – but we have to recognise that humans (and developers) will make mistakes. By encouraging a strong core of interlocking documentation, we PREVENT bugs. Obviously, this is quicker and cheaper than reworking something that isn’t built quite right. P e a c e o f m i n d Of course things do sometimes slip through, so extensive testing is done – mainly to get CONFIDENCE that the solution will fly (and not just on the developer’s machine!). We catch the occasional issue but there tends to be more butterflies than hagfish, and we have a very talented development team behind us to sort them out. The type of testing we do depends on the nature of the system and its intended purpose. We have skills in testing techniques across the board – everything from system testing to test automation and performance. H e l p i n g o u r p a r t n e r s We encourage our clients to look hard at the solutions we deliver. To promote their adoption of the system, it helps to get familiar with it and prove that it meets their needs. Our team will guide clients through the planning and execution of their own testing process and supply tools and approach to make this as painless as possible. If you would like to ask us more about out quality assurance services please email: Software Methodology QA Methodology ENVISIONING PLANNING DEVELOPING STABILISING DEPLOYING Quality Assurance Analysis QU Planning Unit Test System Test Acceptance Test Scope / Test Requirements Testing Approach Component Testing Integration Testing Test Execution User Acceptance Test 1 2 3 4 5 KEY DELIVERABLES 1 Testing scope document 2 Master test plan 3 Test cases / execution artefacts 4 Test summary 5 QA sign off
  6. 6. INT SMARTS_11_5 29/3/06 4:40 PM Page 6 >>6 >> B U S I N E S S I N T E L L I G E N C E Business intelligence across the business – yeah right! Key improvements are: >> Integration: SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) replaces SQL Server 2000 Data Transformation Services (DTS). DTS provided a limited toolset and was challenging for developers to create complex interfaces. SSIS is a completely new product and solves many of the problems with DTS. >> Business Performance Management: Business performance visibility is increased by using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) where rich supporting information is used to compare metrics to goals and provide visual indicators of status and trends. >> Self Service Reporting: SQL Server 2005 extends ad hoc reporting to business users through a new interface known as Report Builder, which provides report writing functionality over a business centric data model. This encourages end- user independence and eliminates requirements for database familiarity. NEW TOOLS FOR DEVELOPERS A new development environment separates development tasks from operations. BI developers can now enjoy integration with Visual Studio 2005. Solution components can be developed and tested before any server deployment. This enables greater rigor in application testing and increases the speed of the development cycle. Visual Studio 2005 integration provides a consistent experience for developers encouraging cross-training and extends existing development practices such as source control, versioning, change management and deployment to BI solutions. < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E E L E V E N > Business Intelligence (BI) is a powerful tool for organisations that transforms overwhelming quantities of data into a meaningful, useful and valuable resource. Historically BI has been expensive and undertaken only by larger organisations. The release of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 provides an organisation running SQL Server with a powerful BI platform previously available only to larger enterprises. SQL Server 2005 is based on the solid architecture of SQL Server 2000 which ensures a natural upgrade path and protects existing investments. SQL Server 2005 delivers dramatic feature and performance enhancements with minimal investment. UBIQUITOUS BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE Excel helps all knowledge workers access, process, analyse, share, and display the information they rely on to run their businesses. Excel can be used to work with data stored in SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services. Microsoft Reporting Services is a complete report authoring and delivery platform that ships with SQL Server 2005. Many organisations deploy third party reporting solutions – now SQL Server has its own out of the box. Microsoft Business Scorecard Manager (BSM) is a comprehensive scorecard and dashboard application that provides greater visibility into business metrics. Microsoft SharePoint Technologies can be leveraged to develop a BI Portal using a combination of Microsoft Business Scorecard Manager, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and Microsoft Excel web parts. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from Microsoft SQL Server 2005. Integration with familiar knowledge worker tools allows a wide cross section of an organisation to interact with and derive beneficial information from the rich business data available.
  7. 7. INT SMARTS_11_5 29/3/06 4:40 PM Page 7 >> P R E V I E W < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E E L E V E N > >>7 Groovy!! Later this year Microsoft will release the next installment of its Office suite, the 2007 Microsoft Office system. Intergen has been part of the technical beta program for six months and has investigated how the new capabilities of Office can be used to increase productivity and drive more collaboration. If you have not heard much about what’s coming in this next version of Office, here is a sample of what’s on the menu: >> New user interface The big buzz around the new version of Office is over the new user interface for the standard Office tools such as Word and Excel. The interface has been redesigned to allow a more task centric view of available commands with contextual tabs which expose functionality relevant to your current selection or view. The result is an interface which is surprisingly easy to use, and allows you to get results faster and find the advanced features that you need. >> Microsoft Office open XML file format With previous versions of Microsoft Office, documents were stored in a proprietary binary format. By default, documents created in the next release of Microsoft Office will be based on a new XML-based file format. This will allow documents to be portable and allow ease of interoperability. >> Enterprise content management One of the big challenges facing modern organisations is handling the mass of structured and unstructured information that is generated each day. By integrating content management and workflow with Sharepoint, electronic content can be managed and repurposed in a single centralised manner while maintaining the appropriate processes required in the business. We are looking forward to presenting 2007 Microsoft Office in more depth at our Twilight seminars later this year. In the meantime for more information, please contact Jeremy at Intergen is a proud sponsor of the up-coming Webstock conference. Webstock is a four-day web experience in Wellington, with a speaker line-up the likes of which New Zealand has never seen before. To be held between 23 and 26 May, Webstock aims to show inspiration, education, insightful analysis and practical application will improve websites. These are also Intergen’s passions and as soon as we were offered the opportunity to become a sponsor, our answer was “where do we sign up”. Our sponsorship involves bringing Joel Spolsky, an internationally recognised expert on software development, to New Zealand. In addition to Joel’s appearance at Webstock he will also be making a presentation in Auckland Monday 22nd May with the New Zealand Software Association. So if you can’t make Webstock but want to hear Joel, check for more details. For those coming to ‘the’ IT conference event of the year come and join us at Webstock. Intergen will have an exhibition area where we will be running some competitions to entertain and challenge you. Joel Spolsky is an expert on software development and the founder of Fog Creek Software. His website Joel on Software ( is popular with software developers around the world and has been translated into over thirty languages. His latest book is Joel on Software (Apress 2004). Sneak preview
  8. 8. INT SMARTS_11_5 29/3/06 4:40 PM Page 8 >> I N T E R G E N A T L A R G E < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E E L E V E N > National Dragon Boat FestivalTo the land of ABBA When I was offered the opportunity to go to north Sweden in the middle of winter it was logical that I would need some time to consider if I should go. After the required 0.1 seconds to digest, the answer was a simple – “sign me up!” Intergen was invited to attend the EPiServer partner summit at Åre in north Sweden and I was privileged to be chosen to attend. EPiServer is the Content Management solution that Intergen represents in the New Zealand and Australian marketplaces. With over 1500 solutions based on EPiServer worldwide, it was obvious that there was going to be lots of opportunity to find out more about the product, partners and customer implementations and this proved to be the case. Yes, it was a shock going from +25 deg in New Zealand to -17 deg in Åre but some pre-travel purchases of Icebreaker thermals made it comfortable. The absolute highlight of the trip was Intergen being awarded Premium Partner Status and receiving the International Partner of the year award at the summit dinner. Intergen is the first organisation outside of Scandinavia to be awarded Premium Partner status and this is a reflection of the success we have had to date with EPiServer implementations. Other highlights were the preview of the next release of EPiServer (due April) and getting a glimpse into the future of EPiServer. Both confirmed that we have chosen well and will continue to be able to offer a world class solution ideally suited for our marketplace. If you would like to know anything more about EPiServer contact Wayne Forgesson on F i n d o u t m o r e a b o u t I n t e r g e n : Auckland: 09 966 3070 Wellington: 04 472 2021 Christchurch: 03 964 0017 Sydney: 02 9904 0443 It’s not all hard work at Intergen. The social club and other groups are always on the look out for a challenge or just a bit of fun. The newest team, the Intergen Yellow Raptors, were involved in both. The Raptors took to the water on March 11 after weeks of training as part of the Dragon Boat Festival on Wellington’s waterfront. They certainly made a big splash with their energy and colourful yellow tops. Way to go Raptors! Wayne Forgesson receiving the EPiServer Premium Partner status