Not a week goes by when Computerworld UK's inbox isn't inundated with press releases about the latest technology and outsourcing deals being carried out across the country.
For example, this week we have seen some big announcements come through, including the news that Birmingham city centre is set to receive free Wi-Fi, thanks to an agreement with Virgin Media Business, and that BAE Systems Military Air has penned a deal with Infor to rationalise its ERP estate.
Imperial College also revealed that it has done a deal with Bomgar to overhaul its remote support for 6,500 staff, and international trading and investment firm Fidessa has selected Cold to design and deploy a new global managed network.
However there are a number of other deals that are worth mentioning. For example, film production company Pinewood Studios worked with Veeam Software to create a data protection strategy for its new virtual environment. Pinewood recently moved its 14 physical servers to three VMware vSPhere hosts running 30 Windows VMs, and with this virtual environment in place it implemented Veeam's monitoring and reporting solution, which eased the transition to virtualisation management.
"Over the last 10 years IT has become critical to our organisation and therefore our goal was to create a virtualised environment that incorporates a strategy of high availability and disaster recovery (DR)," said John Chase, Group IT Manager at The Pinewood Studios Group.
"When it was time to choose a new backup solution, we knew we needed something built for virtualisation. We had three requirements: ease of use, low maintenance and replication. Veeam was recommended to us, and it turned out to be the perfect fit."Hampshire Fire & Rescue also announced this week that it is using technology provided by UK-based developers CrowdControlHQ to better communicate with the public across social networks, whilst not compromising on security.
CrowdControlHQ aims to reduce risk by giving central control to authorised individuals. Enabling them to keep passwords secure and give other users a tiered level of access and permissions. It also provides monitoring tools, so organisations have a clear audit trail of who posted and when and they can see who is talking about them across the social media networks and what they are saying.
"Before we bought CrowdControlHQ we were sharing passwords across multiple social media outlets so there was a potential risk that we wanted to manage," said David Broomfield, of Hampshire Fire & Rescue's marketing communications team.
He added: "We could only have limited number of people logged in at any one time and that caused issues. Now we can have many people using system across several departments and fire stations."
Whilst in West Yorkshire, five district councils (Joint Services) have teamed up with SecurEnvoy by signing a three year contract to receive a tokenless authentication solution. Employees are now able to access the company system remotely via an app on their mobile phone, instead of using the existing hardware token method.
The councils had been using hardware tokens since 2009, but found that they often ended up damaged or went missing. In May of this year, SecurEnvoy rolled out the software which turns users' own mobile phones into authentication devices by using SMS technology.
West Yorkshire Joint Services ICT support officer, Matt Wharton, said: "We have a lot of people who work remotely so it was becoming a big challenge to continue with a physical token system. We also work with temporary contractors and found that we would distribute tokens which the contactors would have for a long time but only use very rarely.
"It was then a challenge to get the tokens back, which presented a problem because there were only a limited number of them available to the whole organisation."
He added: "The fact that the SecurEnvoy solution is software based is a real plus point for us and it has saved both our IT department and our end users a lot of time even at this early stage. We found ourselves having to change our solution in a bit of a rush but fortunately the app was a breeze to get up and running.
Finally, Merseyside Fire & Rescue (MFRS) has signed a five year deal to have its finance, procurement, HR and payroll solutions hosted and delivered by managed services provider, Advanced 365. Hosting of the finance and procurement applications are set to go live in August 2013, followed by HR and payroll in the coming months.
MF&RS currently benefits from Advanced's eFinancials, eProcurement and document management application (powered by V1), as well as SAP BusinessObjects. The new contract will include NorthgateArinso's 'ResourceLink Aurora' HR and payroll software, and all applications will be hosted at Advanced's London-based data centres.
The managed service contract will cover 24/7 infrastructure support, a dedicated service desk manned 8:30am-6pm, and a full disaster recovery solution. In addition to the application deployment referred to above, Advanced Business Solutions is providing consulting and change management services.
Mike Davies, Project Manager, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: "We were looking for a one-stop solution across accounting software, HR and payroll, including the hosted service. The Fire authority must make £10 million worth of savings over the next two years and there is a lot of pressure on back-office functions."