OCS Announcements

UNIT4 Connect 2016 - Amsterdam

posted May 25, 2016, 1:54 AM by Caroline Nzui

Keynote and product related presentations from the conference are available on the OCS GDrive. The video streams from the conference are available on the UNIT4 web site.  

Structural changes and future direction

In the last 18 months UNIT4 has made huge organisational changes within the company. They have moved from country based silos to a global structure organised around products. Business World ERP is their main product but there are many other products many of which target specific industry sectors. As an example Travel and Expenses is available as a standalone product but is very similar to the Business World experience pack of the same name.

People Platform is the technology architecture that underpins all new versions of their products. It supports their objective of creating “self-driving” products using Microsoft predictive technologies and digital assistants. One workflow engine will work seamlessly across all UNIT4 products. The availability of open APIs will increase to connect and integrate with many partner solutions or for customers to build solutions on top of UNIT4 products.

UNIT4 has developed a very close partnership with Microsoft, the cloud solutions are based on Azure. Business World connects to several Microsoft products including Office 365 Delve that makes contextual information and analytics easily available to users from unstructured information contained in many products. The new digital assistant will initially be available through Skype for Business but the expectation is for the assistant to be available from many different collaborative tools.

All new updates and products will be designed as Software as a Service (SaaS) but most will still have the option for an on premise version (CGIAR has an on premise version that we install in the Amazon cloud).

UNIT4 Service and Support

Service and Support has also gone from country level to a global level. There will be one service desk supporting all customers and all products. Solutions will be submitted to a knowledge base for customers to search for a solution to their issues while waiting for support from a support consultant. It is planned that the new service desk will be live before the end of the 2nd quarter 2016. The main support Centre is now based in Poland and will eventually (by the end of 2016) operate 24/7 that will provide more timely support to offices located in Asia and the Americas. Consulting services are coordinated from a centre in Portugal, the consultants have all the necessary resources required to provide remote support to customers or can work on-site if necessary.

In future we can expect more frequent but smaller updates for UNIT4 Business World. This is in line with SaaS products that are updated regularly but in smaller increments that enable fast user acceptance testing. UNIT4 Development has started using the Scrum/Agile methodology and will obtain earlier user feedback with the expectation of improving user acceptance and minimising errors in new releases.

UNIT4 Business World On!

The next version of Business World will be named Business World On! (this name replaces milestone6), it will be available in the Azure cloud as a SaaS product and as an on premise version. The expected release date is 2nd May 2016.

UNIT4 has changed its pricing model. CGIAR has a site license for 10 organisations allowing us unlimited use of the core software but we purchase any new modules that we require. Site licenses are no longer available to new customers (if additional CGIAR Centres decide to implement Business World they will be offered prices using the new pricing methods). UNIT4 will review how they can simplify the licensing without losing the benefit we have with a site licence at a future meeting.

Introducing Amazon Workspaces for the OCS Environment.

posted Oct 5, 2015, 6:28 AM by Caroline Nzui

The OCS Operational Support Unit has released the Amazon Workspaces for OCS users. Amazon mentions that WorkSpaces is a managed desktop computing service in the cloud that allows customers to easily provision cloud-based desktops that allow end-users to access the documents, applications and resources they need with the device of their choice, including laptops, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android tablets, and zero clients.  

This enables OCS users to access published applications on the OCS environment. This is particularly useful for users who access OCS and travel or work from home.

Some of the benefits realized in using Amazon WorkSpaces are:

1.       Easy to use - Users will be provided with a link to the Amazon WorkSpace client, where they can to login to the OCS eminent using the credentials provided by OSU support.

2.       Secure – When users are using Amazon WorkSpaces, data is not sent to or stored on end-user devices. This offers a secure, high quality experience between users’ devices and their WorkSpaces.  Amazon WorkSpaces incorporates PCoIP technology from Teradici which compresses, encrypts, and encodes the users’ desktop computing experience and transmits ‘pixels only’ across any standard IP network to users’ stateless zero clients, PCs, laptops and mobile devices.

3.      Desktop and Mobile compatibility: Amazon WorkSpaces clients are available for both Windows and Mac computers, for iPad, Kindle Fire, and Android tablets, as well as for zero clients. When WorkSpaces are provisioned for users, they will get an email containing details on how they can download the clients. The WorkSpaces PC or Mac client provides users with full access to their desktop and includes support for multiple monitors, audio, and video.

4.       Flexible payment structure: Amazon offers a pay-as-you-go model with no long-term commitment. This means that Centers will only be charged for what they use.  This is a unique feature that distinguishes Amazon Workspaces from other cloud virtual desktop providers, such as Citrix.

OSU Service Desk Launch.

posted Sep 15, 2015, 11:57 PM by Caroline Nzui

The long awaited ServiceNow service desk system went live for OSU on Monday 14th September 2015. It will now be easier to follow up on issues and view regular reports on pending tickets and service level attainments from the service desk.

ServiceNow is a cloud based solution that offers effective IT Service Management as per ITIL Best Practices. It’s process automation platform that can manage most aspects of ICT services from incident and problem management, change management and configuration management.

To log all issues and requests to “OCSSupport List” ocssupport@cgiar.org. All messages sent to this address will now be automatically logged in the system and assigned to an OSU Support person. The self-service module will be operational within a few weeks that can be used to log issues and requests online.

Agresso UK User Group

posted Sep 25, 2014, 2:19 AM by Caroline Nzui   [ updated Sep 25, 2014, 2:19 AM ]

The CGIAR OCS project is now a member of the UK Agresso User Group . One of the main benefits will be access to the Yahoo group that Agresso users group members have access to. This will be an alternative location for obtaining solutions to issues from other Agresso users. 

Anyone from a CGIAR  OCS Centre can sign up to join the group. You have to register to join and will need to link your business email address with a Yahoo account. Requests for membership are moderated but will be given automatically to @cgiar.org email addresses. For IRRI staff please make sure that in the comments field you indicate that you are a member of the CGIAR and you will then be able to register using your irri.org address.

More information can be found Agresso UK User group webiste

UNIT4 Agresso Customer Conference 2014

posted Sep 25, 2014, 1:48 AM by Caroline Nzui   [ updated Sep 25, 2014, 1:59 AM ]

Edinburgh International Conference Centre - 8th & 9th October

This two-day event will be exclusively for UNIT4 Agresso customers with a new format which has been designed to give you direct access to consultants, partners and product experts.

Exciting new features and software enhancements will be presented and on the evening of the 8th October, the annual black tie Gala Dinner will take place.

Edinburgh International Conference Centre - 8th & 9th October. Registration closes 5pm on Tuesday 30th September.

Read more about it here: Unit 4 User Conference 2014.

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