Posts Tagged ‘Software’

Timetable slip delivers further blow to UK government IT projects

August 27th, 2014

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Sweeping plans for Whitehall departments to share back-office services are running behind schedule in the latest blow to the UK government’s reputation for delivering IT projects.

Under a blueprint unveiled last year, services such as human resources, procurement and payroll are to be provided to several Whitehall departments by a private sector-run “shared services centre”. The Cabinet Office said the strategy could save up to £400m a year in administration costs and was a key element in its plans to reform the civil service.

However, the timetable has slipped and the transfer is unlikely to be completed before the end of next year.
The project has been championed by Stephen Kelly, Whitehall chief operating officer, who last month announced he was stepping down to become chief executive of Sage, a software company.

The Financial Times understands that some departmental permanent secretaries had expressed worries about the speed with which the changes were to be implemented.
Under an agreement struck with the Cabinet Office, Arvato, a business processing company based in Surrey and part of Germany’s Bertelsmann, is providing back-office services to the Department for Transport and its executive agencies, before moving on to provide services for a number of other government departments and bodies.
The economies of scale would enable Arvato “to drive down costs and improve service levels by sharing expertise across customers, adopting common processes and systems, and investing in new tools”, the Cabinet Office said last year.

It is thought that under the original plans, departments such as culture, media and sport and communities and local government, were to have started switching to the new shared services centre in the autumn. The plan also involved migrating users from one form of software to another.

Arvato said that, together with government, it had made “a strategic decision to adjust the timing of the migrations to a new platform. This is to ensure the right balance between speed of implementation and continuing to provide a low risk, high-quality and reliable service to our clients. We expect the first migration to take place at the end of 2014, with others following throughout 2015.”

Last week it emerged that the government had been ordered to pay Raytheon, a US defence contractor, £224m for unlawfully terminating a £750m contract for an electronic border control system, turning a fresh spotlight on the difficulties governments can have in implementing IT programmes.

The Cabinet Office confirmed it had agreed changes to the original timetable but emphasised that it remained fully committed to the Arvato contract, and the company continued to deliver a good, stable service.

The shared services centre remained on track to deliver long-term savings and effective services for customers, it said.

Peter Smith, a former senior civil servant, now managing editor of Spend Matters, a procurement website, said Whitehall must have been well aware of the potential for serious embarrassment if the scheme had been implemented too rapidly. “Operational problems can hit the headlines quite quickly, for instance if staff and suppliers are not being paid.”

He said the decision to use Arvato had been motivated by a desire in the Cabinet Office to “move away from some of the usual suspects in outsourcing such as BT, IBM, Accenture and Capgemini, and they were keen, understandably, to bring in some fresh faces”.

“The problem with that is fresh faces maybe don’t understand the specific issues or complexities of UK government work and although Arvato is not a small company, it is not experienced in large-scale UK central government work”, he argued.

Meanwhile, the move of other Whitehall departments into a second shared services centre, formed last year through a joint venture between the government and Steria, the French business services company, has been completed to the planned timetable.


It will take a while to get growth back, says Infy

August 27th, 2014

Infosys Ltd, the country’s second largest software exporter, has said it is on track to meet its growth estimate of 7-9 per cent this fiscal despite macroeconomic volatility and lower demand from top clients, but added that it will take a while for the company to report higher growth.outsourcing19

Infosys’ growth estimate is much lower than the industry guidance, which, according to Nasscom, is in the range of 13-15 per cent for FY-2015.

Addressing Motilal Oswal analysts in Mumbai, UB Pravin Rao, chief operating officer, said: “We have definitely underperformed over the last few years and it will take a while for us to get growth back.”

The company’s margins are expected to be in the range of 24-25 per cent, lower than market leader Tata Consultancy Services’ 28.8 per cent. “Our focus is on growth and the company cannot sustain margins without growth,” Rao said.

Acquisition plan

Signalling the company’s intent to grow business through acquisitions, he added Infosys will look at buying firms in the life sciences and IT infrastructure management segments in markets such as Latin America and Japan.

On Tuesday, the company’s scrip closed marginally down at ₹3,620.60 on BSE.

‘Market is stable’

Infosys, along with other IT companies, believes demand for outsourcing continues to be strong and the situation looks better at this point compared to the year-ago period. “Our pipeline is good and the market is stable,” said Rao. Also, the company is seeing traction in financial services, communications and energy sectors.

Rao added that high attrition is an area of concern and it will take several quarters to bring it down to 14 per cent, from 20 per cent now. Rao attributed this to the distraction around CEO succession, coupled with a spate of top management exits. “With the new leadership in place, that distraction will go away.” Infosys, in June, appointed Vishal Sikka as the first non-founding CEO of the company.

Rao also maintained that the company would use its $100-million venture fund to invest in start-ups, something that Sikka has outlined as a part of his strategy since taking over the company.


70 pc stalls booked for Subisu CAN SofTech

August 21st, 2014

The four-day long Subisu CAN SofTech 2014, which is scheduled for September 11, has received 70 percent booking for stalls. Outsourcing53

The expo which will begin at Bhrikutimandap aims to bring local and international firms under a single roof for business promotion, product exhibition and knowledge transfer so that visitors can get all information related to software and technology.

The Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) is organizing the event.

According to Amrit Kumar Pant, general secretary of CAN, the expo will have 142 stalls related to computer education, computer security, banking, information management, account management, antivirus, and hospital management. In the service sector, there will be stalls providing internet service, cable and television service.

Likewise, in the solution sector the stalls will be providing security solutions, wireless solutions, printing solutions, power solutions and various applications for different computing devices and smart phones.

“We have already received booking for 70 percent of the stalls,” said Pant.

Local IT companies, business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, software developers, ISPs and telecom companies, software as a service (SaaS) among others, are taking part in the event.

“As software promotion helps a lot in economic development of the country, the expo will help a lot in software promotion and development,” said Binod dhakal, president of CAN.

Visitors at the expo will get discounts and benefit from various schemes. Midas Education is providing its e-Learning application worth Rs 400 free of cost to those bringing laptop, pen drive or smartphone. Sagar Infosys is providing special discount on Kaspersky antivirus and Prestigio smartphone and tablet.

Subisu is bringing special internet package. Erasoft is launching a special app named onver smart taxi from which customer can hire a taxi service staying at their homes.

CAN is also organizing seminar on web security in association with SQA Enthusiast and workshop on virtualization in association with Green IT solutions on the sidelines of the event.

General visitors will have to pay Rs 50 as an entrance ticket while student will get 50 percent discount. The expo will last till September 14.

The expo received 131,000 visitors last year and this year CAN expects a footfall of 150,000 visitors.

Subisu Cable Net will be title sponsor for CAN SofTech 2014 and for CAN InfoTech and CAN ICT Conference scheduled for next year. Likewise Neo ERP is the associate sponsor for SofTech and Sidhhartha bank is the official bank.


“India has become a preferred outsourcing destination for software testing”

August 20th, 2014

Software testing as a function until recently had not developed the level of maturity seen in the developed markets of US, EU, etc. The focus was mainly on functional testing with very limited attention given to other types-automation, performance and other Outsourcing48non-functional testing. This is all changing and we now see a lot more interest in testing and greater extent of automation due to increasing adoption of IT, growing importance of quality and awareness & focus on different types of testing. Dataquest spoke to Rajesh Sundararajan, Practice Head, Testing Services, Marlabs Software. Excerpts

Breif us about cloud based software testing.
As we all know, ‘cloud computing’ refers to the utility based model of consuming shared computing resources as a service over the Internet. Let’s see what it means in the context of software testing.
There are 2 primary categories of computing resources that can be accessed over the cloud:
Application Test Environments: The test environment infrastructure can be provisioned on the cloud with the appropriate configuration for the required timelines rather than have a dedicated infrastructure in-house. The application under test is then hosted on this cloud infrastructure and tested. This is an example of IaaS (infrastructure as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service).
The Testing Tool Rig: which includes the Testing tool (Automation, Performance etc.) software and/or infrastructure required to host the testing tools – can be provisioned and accessed from the cloud. This can be SaaS (Software as a service), PaaS or IaaS depending on the Test setup. This testing tool can test applications hosted on either cloud or dedicated in-house test environments.

What are the benefits of testing and running enterprise software in the cloud?
The benefits if planned well are significant.
Cost is a primary factor:
I.Large upfront costs of capex like servers & other hardware, testing tools are replaced by opex which are spread out over a period of time.
II.With cloud, there is value for money as we pay only for the resources that we consume. The testing life-cycle is often intermittent and is a good candidate for utilizing the cloud. At the end of testing, the cloud based resources can be stopped and restarted when testing resumes to avoid accumulating higher costs.
III.Some activities like performance testing require large production-like configurations for short cycles. Creating this environment on the cloud is an attractive proposition for IT organizations which otherwise often avoid performance testing due to prohibitive investments.

Dedicated physical infrastructure requires a lot of time to procure & setup. That is where the cloud provides an option of – quick provision of the required environment, a set configuration which can be recorded and applied at short notice. It is also very easy to scale up the environment and provision additional resources whenever required.
There are other interesting possibilities. The global distribution of the cloud enables us to run ‘distributed’ performance tests and generate load from multiple regions across the globe to simulate live usage patterns

What are the risks or downsides?
The cloud comes with its fair share of risks and users need to comprehensively evaluate the relative benefits it offers.
First of all, Organizations face a risk in giving control of their assets to an external entity
a)The data and resources are not in your physical control. The responsibility for the data and its safety is with someone else.
b)Business continuity and disaster recovery are completely in the hands of the cloud provider.
c)There is a dependency on the cloud provider for SLAs and other support activities.

But there is another side to it- many organizations especially those lacking in technical expertise and dealing with less critical data may actually be more comfortable with leaving security and infrastructure challenges to the expertise of Amazon EC2, Microsoft azure, Google, etc.
Compared to the live production, the test environment is a less risky option when testing the waters with a movement to the cloud. So, organizations are more open to moving test environments to the cloud

A very well know issue is that of security. The cloud brings in additional dimensions which impact security:
a)Multi-tenancy: the cloud is a shared resource and there are risks, known/unknown of data leakage to other users sharing CPU, Memory, and Servers etc.
b)Virtualization-While the vulnerabilities to the underlying physical resources remain, the additional vulnerabilities of the virtualized environment pose an added layer of risk.
c)Data stored on the internet especially in large volumes on the cloud are prone to cyber-attacks, having said that most cloud providers do have stringent security measures in place.

How does a company pick a strong test tool?
There are tools for a range of testing activities. For each type of testing, there are many tool vendors who have come out with products. Many of the vendors provide tools for end-to-end test activities. Choosing a tool or tool platform is very much context driven depending on:
Application technology: Web applications are supported by most tool vendors. Applications based on niche technologies have limited tool options for testing.
Cost of the tools- This is relative and depends on the size of business, application criticality, company policy, etc.
Availability of skill set , ease of use, learning curve of the tool.
Extent and quality of support provided by the tool vendor.
Alignment with existing tools and technologies. An organization using UFT from HP may prefer to extend their partnership and select load runner performance testing tool from HP itself.

Two strong trends in recent years are:
The growing maturity and adoption of open source tools for a wide range of testing activities. Though these tools require skilled resources to use, their cost advantages make them a very good option for companies to choose.

Many of the tools are now being delivered in SaaS model over the cloud. This is increasingly becoming a criterion for companies to choose a testing tool for to gain the benefits of cloud.

What is the role of APM (Application Performance Monitoring) in cloud testing?
APM tools find usage in- test and live environments, in-house as well as cloud deployments. Major vendors like – Compuware and CA to name a couple have come out with products to address these use cases.

During performance testing, the APM tools provide a complete and in-depth view of system and application performance including:
Resource utilization at the level of server, application, user, transaction to help in better analysis, performance troubleshooting and capacity planning.
Analyze performance down to the method level, break-down performance bottlenecks and pin-point latencies at each layer of the architecture from the UI to the back-end database and service components.

This advanced analysis is especially helpful in the cloud context because of the dynamic, complex and multiple components involved in cloud architecture. This analysis is also very helpful in defining auto-scaling strategies for cloud hosting.

How do you see India as a market for software testing?
There are 2 parts to this. One is the software testing services market. The Indian IT services industry is expected to see about 14% growth to reach a market size of about $16 bn by 2016, according to a report brought out by BCG (Boston Consulting Group) & CII. This is mainly due to increasing adoption of IT by companies, more outsourcing- reflected by many of the recent big ticket IT deals e.g. indiaPost, Bharti Airtel and growth of new technologies like mobile, cloud, big data. So, the software testing market can be expected to grow on similar lines and the growth will be more in testing related to these new technologies.

The other component is the market for software testing products (tools). Apart from the above reasons, the fact that India has become a preferred outsourcing destination for software testing along with a large pool of technical resources has led to sustained demand for software testing tools. The visible presence of the large Product companies- HP, IBM as well as many of the niche players- Neotys, PerfectoMobile etc. at various forums is a testimony to the importance of India as a market for testing products.

Do you think adoption of this is still less in India as compared to other countries?
IT & software adoption has been lagging in India compared to some of the developed markets. For this reason, until a few years back the India market was not the focus for most of the software service vendors and the Indian market still forms a small component of India’s more than $100 bn software industry. Software testing as a function until recently had not developed the level of maturity seen in the developed markets of US, EU, etc. The focus was mainly on functional testing with very limited attention given to other types- automation, performance and other non-functional testing. This is all changing and we now see a lot more interest in testing and greater extent of automation due to increasing adoption of IT, growing importance of quality and awareness & focus on different types of testing.


Vishal Sikka’s 5-point strategy for Infosys

August 19th, 2014

Around noon on June 12, Vishal Sikka, named chief executive-designate by Infosys a couple of hours earlier, spoke in a townhall meeting, webcast across all of the company’s development centres.Outsourcing45

An hour later, one employee at the Mysore facility who anxiously heard every word Sikka spoke, was a relieved man. “It was just so assuring hearing him,” the engineer, who joined the software company in 2011, said.

“Not that he (Sikka) spoke of anything grand but whatever he spoke (including) digital transformations, on areas of cloud etc were in such a saint-like manner. That was it. That’s all what we want here,” said the engineer.

It may be marked as the biggest resurrection at corporate India.

Since his appointment, Sikka has taken five key steps, early signs of which seem to suggest that there has been a change in the mood from near-despondency to excitement. Note that on June 12, the day World Cup soccer kicked off, Vishal Sikka was the most discussed subject globally on Twitter.

Sikka since then has tried to win the confidence of senior ranks at Infosys, instill confidence among the software engineers, and even reached out to former company executives, making many believe he has an “inclusive leadership style.”

Finally, in between making three trips to Bangalore, Sikka has also met with several clients and venture capitalists, leaving some to even suggest if Sikka is the new Murthy.

“From what we can tell through our contacts, the mood has changed… employees, clients and investors are definitely excited,” said Ray Wang of Constellation Research. “There is a more can-do attitude than before,” adding that “culture and people are key to success” in any services-focussed IT company.

On the day Sikka was named the CEO-designate, Infosys elevated 12 leaders to the position of executive vice-president with additional responsibilities. Experts then dubbed it as a good start by Sikka for it could help the company stop the exodus of senior talent. Since then, only one senior vice president, K Murali Krishna, has left the company. This is heartening for Infosys which saw at least four senior vice-presidents quitting in the six months starting January this year.

‘Home’ for a week
Immediately after his appointment, Sikka, based out of California, started meeting clients and even got together many of Infosys’s business unit heads to meet them in the US. To be based out of the US, a region which accounts for about 60% of Infosys revenues, Sikka has a ringside view on business. Sikka will be working out of India for “at least a week” every month while his deputy and chief operating officer UB Pravin Rao will oversee daily operations.

Significantly, Sikka, based out of the Silicon Valley which is also home to most disruptive technology startups, gives Infosys boss an added advantage to recruit and make investments in companies, said John Appleby, global head of SAP Hana at Bluefin Solutions, the consultancy.

“You (Infosys) couldn’t have chosen a better man to head the company,” one client told a recently elevated business head at Infosys during a meeting. “During any transition, clients adopt a wait-and-watch approach. This time, we all seeing clients telling us how they look forward to working with us,” the executive said.

“One of the great things I came to understand about his (Sikka’s) role at SAP was engagement with customers,” said Dave Gardner, founder of Gardner & Associates Consulting, a California-based advisory firm. “The companies that will win in this century will be customer-focused, helping clients solve the daunting challenges they face and taking them to a place they could not have realized on their own. This is ingrained in Vishal’s DNA.”

“This made analysts who were negative on Infosys come out with positive outlook on the company, with Keith Bachman, an analyst who tracks Infosys for BMO Capital Markets, writing in an August 8 note that “management changes are close to complete” at Infosys. “We expect (the) new management to offer a new strategy toward the end of the calendar year,” Bachman said in a note, titled ‘The Times They Are Changing’.

As he was meeting clients and Infosys senior ranks, Sikka also had multiple meetings with venture capitalists, seeking their thoughts on how to get the missing innovation strand in an $8.2 billion company. Sikka, in a freewheeling chat with ET on July 31, did mention that he will like to start with the corpus of $100 million to incubate both internal and external startups to help Infosys be at the forefront of innovation.

Well done, boss
On July 15, Sikka first connected with the over-160,000 engineers at his company with his crowdsourcing initiative Murmuration, under which he asked employees to share with him what key areas of innovation they thought clients are focusing on. In the first week starting August 1, since he officially took charge, Sikka okayed promotions for over 5,000 employees.

“It is better than it was,” said an engineer working at the Electronics City campus. “Now we are wondering what he is going to do and the promotions made it better. I was worried about the company, with all the bad news. Even my mother was asking what is happening, but it seems better now,” said the employee, who joined the company last year.

Another woman engineer, who started with the company in 2012 said promoting people is certainly a great morale booster. “I mean, everyone was talking about leaving. All the bad news made lots of people leave. But now you hear less of that,” said the employee.

“Vishal promoting executives and connecting with employees is a great move as it does away with the insecurity any leadership change brings,” said Vijay Vijayasankar, Arizona-based vice-president of global channels and business development at MongoDB. “Even at SAP he had a knack for spotting talent from within the company and promoting them. I’m sure at Infosys too he would do the same.”

In the same week, Sikka wrote an email, titled “A new beginning” to former employees of Infosys, highlighting the great work done by them, a move some dubbed as reaching out to those people to return to the company.

“There are simple changes that are being made to help folks feel more empowered and creative and to reduce the hierarchies so that the organization can be more innovative and creative,” Wang said.

In his first interview with ET, Sikka did mention about how he wanted Infosys to also create new intelligent software in more advanced areas. Some experts believe this is “heady stuff” and the company will continue to focus on its traditional approach of winning more “bread and butter” outsourcing deals, with Bachman of BMO Capital Markets estimating the company should retain its 25% margin for fiscal year 2014-15.

His old univ
On August 3, Sikka, along with 20 senior executives, left for the US on a fortnight-long trip. On August 14, the team was at Stanford, where senior staff was given an overview on design thinking from the ‘D School’ at Stanford. Interestingly, D School was set up in 2005 after Sikka’s mentor at SAP, Hasso Plattner, gave a $35-million donation.

Plattner continues to be a professor at the school. Sikka too has said he wants to continue teaching in a consulting role at Stanford. People who know Sikka say this first session at his alma mater suggests Infosys may look at forging a deeper partnership with Stanford, a university famed for its links to successful startups.

“Even while at SAP, Vishal ensured a strong partnership with his alma mater,” said Vijayasankar, who was Sikka’s colleague at SAP. “Now (he may) want to have more employees visiting (the) campus, exchanging ideas. He himself will like to speak with some of his colleagues/professors.”

But all this and more notwithstanding, some doubt if Sikka will be able to live up to high expectations. “I think he (Sikka) has a couple of months and that might be difficult,” said Frances Karamouzis, vice president at Gartner. “Because when you make major changes, the impact of that takes time. But the reality is that the patience of typical industry watchers is one or two quarters.”

Nonetheless, Gardner said “the best is yet to come” for Infosys. “Vishal is doing what outstanding leaders do: listen and learn. He’s working tirelessly to meet his team, the employees and Infosys clients. In the world of Nascar auto racing here in the US, Darrell Waltrip, a former driver and now a TV analyst, offered, ‘Sometimes you have to slow down to go fast’.”


Zensar acquires e-commerce firm Professional Access Software

August 14th, 2014

Pune-based Zensar Technologies Ltd, the software services outsourcing arm of the RPG Group, on Thursday announced the acquisition of India-registered e-commerce company Professional Access Software Development Pvt. Ltd for an undisclosed amount.

“The board of directors has approved the acquisition of Professional Access Software Development Pvt. Ltd, a company registered in India. In addition, Zensar Technologies Inc., the US-based wholly-owned subsidiary of Zensar Technologies, has acquired 100% outstanding equity shares of Professional Access Ltd, a company registered in US. Both companies are engaged in the information technology business with specialization in the e-commerce domain,” the company said in a filing to the BSE.

Zensar, with a net worth of Rs.945.5 crore, had said in an analyst conference call after it announced its fiscal first-quarter results on 24 July that it was scouting for an acquisition in the e-commerce space with a ticket size of $30-50 million (Rs.183-305 crore), or an acquisition in Europe in the second quarter of the year.

A banker with knowledge of the deal who requested anonymity said the company was also eyeing an acquisition in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) space to boost its analytics portfolio.

Earlier this month, Zensar announced that it had won new deals in Germany, including a multimillion dollar government agency project, as well as other significant deals elsewhere in Europe in July. Gurdeep Grewal, senior vice-president and head of Europe for Zensar, had said in a statement to BSE that the company expected Europe to contribute over 15% to its revenues by 2017.

Zensar reported a 13.8% rise in revenue in the June quarter to Rs.604.78 crore from Rs.531.28 crore a year earlier. In the last one year, Zensar’s share price has risen 92.81%.

In July last year, the company told Business Standard that it was in talks with two US-based firms for a possible acquisition to the tune of $20-50 million to help it reach its target revenue of $1 billion by 2017-18, out of which $100 million was expected to come from acquisitions.

Zensar Technologies shares gained as much as 3.4% in intra-day trade before falling 0.4% to Rs.428.20 apiece at 2:06pm, while the benchmark Sensex index rose 0.62% to 26,078.98 points.


MENA banking sector on pace to spend $13.2bn on IT this year

August 13th, 2014

Banking and securities companies in the MENA region will spend approximately $13.2bn on IT products and services in 2014, an increase of 2.7% over 2013, according to the latest figures from Gartner.

The latest forecast includes spending by banking organisations on internal IT services, IT services, software, data centre technologies, devices and telecom services, Gartner said.

The research house predicted that telecom services will be the largest segment in overall IT spending in the banking market, with MENA firms set to spend $5.7bn on telecoms in 2014 – an increase of 0.6% compared to 2013, Gartner said.

Meanwhile, software and IT services will be the fastest-growing segments, with growth expected to reach 9.2% and 8.4% respectively in 2014. This would largely be down to the expansion strategies of banks across the region, and the modernisation and replacement projects banks are putting into their back-office systems, Gartner said.
“Software spending is being driven by the replacement trend of back-office systems, especially from the larger banks, while newer banks are being created from the scratch which opens a lot of new opportunities for IT vendors, ” said Vittorio D’Orazio, research director at Gartner.

The research house added that outsourcing is also picking up among banking firms in the MENA region.

“The outsourcing of IT, as well as business processes, have become more common across some Gulf countries. This market is still far from mature, but it is already a good start and miles ahead compared to a decade ago,” D’Orazio said.

“Business process outsourcing (BPO) is expected to have a strong growth at 12.6% in 2014, while IT outsourcing is forecast to increase 8.5% from last year.


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