Gift Ideas for IT Managers

Feature Article | December 9, 2011 by Frank Völkel

Let’s be honest; most businesses plan out their budgets and investments for the year far in advance. It’s not often the case that a company is looking for ways to spend leftover funds come December. On the chance, however, that some IT managers find themselves in this very situation, we have a compiled a list of noteworthy investments. Our suggestions include both well-known products and insider tips that you won’t find anywhere else.

  • Server and SAP HANA
  • Desk with touchscreen surface
  • For the office: blood pressure monitor on the iPhone
  • ERP software: Business ByDesign app 3.0
  • Newest updates and patches: SAP Solution Manager 7.1
  • Flash memory: 1 TB

Server and SAP HANA

We’ll start off with this year’s biggest sensation: SAP HANA. The software is based on in-memory technology, which enables real-time analysis of data stored in the main memory of high-performance servers. Since data is stored in memory, the previously necessary detour to call up information from a database has become passé.

With impressive software performance on the front end and speed and storage to die for on the back end, SAP HANA makes an IT manager’s job a dream. Cisco, HP, IBM, and Fujitsu offer the complete solution. But even as advances are being made at breakneck speed in the hardware world, some things remain the same. For example, a decent server should not only have copious memory but also allow for cluster systems.

Desk with touchscreen surface

In the near future, computer monitors will no longer be positioned vertically on a desk in front of the user. As large-size touchscreens gain acceptance in the workplace, it is likely that monitors will be integrated directly into desks. The EXOdesk – with a 40-inch touchscreen and high-definition resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) – is among the first manifestations of this expected development.

The system is Windows-based, but, in addition to a developer kit for Javascript extensions, there should also be a separate store for apps and widgets based on HTML5. The EXOdesk system recognizes finger movements at an operating angle of 178 degrees. In addition, the screen surface is separated into so-called touchpad zones and room for an adjustable keyboard, so arrangement according to individual preferences is possible.

For the office: blood pressure monitor on the iPhone

The blood pressure monitor from Withings not only fits in with the design aesthetic of the Apple world, it also works with every iPhone and iPad. Users can automatically carry out an oscillatory blood pressure test with this device. Once the cuff is placed on the upper arm, a pump, encased in an aluminum cylinder, increases pressure until no more blood flows through the arteries and the user’s blood pressure can be measured.

Initial set-up and configuration is extremely easy. After connecting the Withings device to an iPhone or iPad, the relevant app is automatically downloaded from the App Store and installed. Working together with the blood pressure monitor, the Withings app first displays the increase in air pressure in the cuff and then begins the evaluation. Color-coded symbols classify blood pressure readings for easy understanding. For those who want to reduce measurement inaccuracy, there is an automatic mode that will carry out three readings in the period of one minute. The app will then calculate the average, ensuring accuracy in the reading.

The blood pressure monitoring device itself has no buttons or controls. Instead, numerous settings and functions are triggered by the app installed on the connected iPhone or iPad. Results can be graphically displayed either according to time or in a list. There is also the possibility to send readings to a trusted contact via CSV file.

ERP Software: Business ByDesign app 3.0

This year, SAP Business ByDesign, the ERP solution for small and medium businesses, entered the third round with Feature Pack 3.0. The most important feature: the software is operated in a browser. Also notable is the fact that hardware, such as server racks, isn’t required. SAP provides all hosting services. Business ByDesign comprises various modules that users can individualize. These cover all the necessary business processes of an enterprise. Version 3.0 has a refurbished user interface and some additional functions.

The Business ByDesign app for the iPhone and iPad allows users to access important business data from anywhere. The free version for the iPad boasts an eye-catching design and is also easy to navigate even for users with no background in business management. With just a few finger movements, for example, it’s possible to create attractive charts, insert notes and comments, and send per email. If a wireless printer is nearby, the app can also have reports and graphics printed out on paper. For those who want even more functions, app extensions for Business ByDesign can be found in the SAP Store.

In a nutshell, this on-demand software is an affordable ERP solution that frees users from having to maintain hardware and worry about software updates. Particular SAP partners, for example Steeb All for One or Arvato, offer starter packages for CRM and ERP. The starter package for CRM supports the most vital business and marketing processes, such as calculating sales opportunities, planning campaigns, performing analyses, managing customer contacts, and generating leads and opportunities. Pre-configured dashboards enable predictions and create reports, and data analysis occurs in real time.

Latest Updates and Patches: SAP Solution Manager 7.1

When it comes to maintaining numerous IT systems, the relevant software support is crucial. Recently, SAP Solution Manager Version 7.1 became available. This software contains a tool called System Recommendations which gives users tailored recommendations of the most important SAP updates and patches for ABAP and Java-based systems. Depending on current system status and recent updates, the tool delivers further notifications regarding security, performance, and regulatory changes.

Without a monitoring process, system maintenance is difficult and time-consuming. New and expanded tools, applications, and services in SAP Solution Manager 7.1, however, allow users to set up a process that will automatically update software at regular intervals and maintain security settings.

Flash memory: 1 TB

Today, flash memory, or solid-state drives (SSDs), can have a storage capacity of up to 1 TB (1000 GB). Although the price for such a large storage capacity is rather high compared to traditional hard-disks, in the business world, it’s worth considering. With the Colossus 2, OCZ offers 1 TB of memory packed into a tiny 3.5-inch case.

The drive has two SandForce 1222 controllers and a RAID controller that should be able to read and write data at 260 MByte/second. The connection to PC systems occurs per SATA interface at 3 GBit/second. The manufacturer gives the mean time between failures (MTBF) as 1.5 million hours. At the request of customers, OCZ plans to customize the firmware to individual requirements.

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