Building the Converged Teams that Transformed IT and Enhanced Service to the Business

first_imgAchieving our present hybrid cloud environment based on a converged IT infrastructure may have taken two go-rounds for us. But the results have certainly been worth it—for both the business units we serve and for our converged team members.Energy Future Holdings Corp. (EFH) is a privately held, Dallas-based company with a growing portfolio of competitive and regulated energy companies operating in Texas. EFH companies include Luminant, a diverse power-generation business, and TXU Energy, a retail electricity provider with 1.7 million residential and business customers in the state.Technology plays a key role in how we compete for business, engage with customers, and innovate. In 2009, when we first virtualized our IT infrastructure, we made a conscious decision to avoid going with a vertical stack from a single vendor. We didn’t want to be locked in. And we succeeded in creating a robust private cloud environment.But with each major upgrade, we had to spend another $1 million to $1.5 million on labor alone over the six months it took to complete the build. This dated the new environment before we could even leverage it, and the quality of the builds varied dramatically. Equally concerning, our business-unit customers were beginning to think of us in terms of red tape, not getting things done.So, in 2014, we reversed course. We chose Dell EMC’s Enterprise Hybrid Cloud running on Vblock® Systems. And we began a transformation from teams responsible for managing a specific technology such as Windows or UNIX, or networks or databases—to being capable of supporting our entire converged environment from the hypervisor on down.Building the converged teamsWe are very data driven. In creating our converged teams, we reduced the number of outside contractors, which had been the lion’s share of our IT team, and focused on expanding the team members’ skill sets. In many cases, contracts simply weren’t renewed when they expired.Among the factors we considered were:What roles existed then, and what would we need to address in the near future?What roles might we need outside of our converged environment—such as handling patches within a specific OS, or dealing with enterprise equipment such as SANs or NAS?What qualifications were required for each role? Level one, two, or three? Novice, intermediate, engineer, or high-level architect? Improved collaboration and agilityGoing into the transformation, we were of course concerned about the impact on our culture. But the changes were accepted very well—especially with the commitment we made to training. Teams were sent to conferences and training classes and everyone was given numerous opportunities from Dell EMC, Cisco, and our IT team partner to stay current on the latest technologies.This enabled people to keep their skills relevant in a constantly changing operating environment. And it also led to improved collaboration and the agility to respond much more quickly to service requests, even with far fewer resources.It’s also had a tremendous impact on our builds. With the shift to converged, we can now connect, configure, power up, and start provisioning new systems in about a week, rather than requiring six months or more. And we can do that with just one or two resources—eliminating the $1 million or more we spent on labor previously.Impressive results—with more to comeWith the transformation to Dell EMC’s Converged Platforms well underway, we’ve seen some impressive results:Our investment of $20 million in Enterprise Hybrid Cloud and Vblock Systems is expected to return $54 million in avoided costs and net operating savings through 2020We’re providing higher quality service with 75% less IT staffWe’re enjoying performance gains from the Dell EMC converged platforms, averaging 40% to 50%, with improvement on some tasks of up to 300%We’ll have shrunk our data center space from 35,000 sq. ft. to 6,000 sq. ft. by year-end, with a goal of reaching 2,500 sq. ft. by the end of 2017We’re also now able to use our converged teams to pursue our goal of becoming a service broker for business-unit clients. With the implementation of cloud services and automation, I see our teams’ focus shifting away from the simple delivery of infrastructure to providing catalogs of services that will ensure business users can get completely out of the IT business.Just as importantly, this will enable us to see the true big picture of what’s being spent and do a better job of managing IT usage and costs for EFH.To learn more about how Energy Future Holdings benefits from Dell EMC’s Enterprise Hybrid Cloud and Vblock Systems, read our case study and watch our video.last_img read more

Ireland program provides internship opportunities

first_imgTags: Dublin, Ireland, Irish Internship Program, O’Connell House Photo courtesy of Ciaran Pollard Many Notre Dame students are are all too familiar with the arduous search that is finding a summer internship. With that experience in mind, Irish Internship Program offers students a unique and challenging opportunity of not just an internship experience but a chance to live abroad in a country many on campus hold dear: Ireland.Senior Megan Ball, who participated in the Irish Internship Program last summer, said the program lasts for eight to 10 weeks and offers a wide variety of internship opportunities for students. The program is made possible by the O’Connell House, Notre Dame’s study abroad headquarters in Dublin.“It encompasses around 50 internship opportunities in various sectors from education to finance to research to the arts,” Ball said. “The program also incorporates, in addition to valuable work experience, a cultural enrichment program that exposes participants to all aspects of Irish culture through trips, and a professional development series.”Ciarán Pollard, intern coordinator for the program, said internship placements for 2016 include the Bank of Ireland, Abbey Theatre, Department of Foreign Affairs-Press Section and the Irish Cancer Society.Ball said her favorite part of the program was the immersion experience of living and working in Ireland.“The best part of program is certainly the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the world of another culture,” Ball said. “While studying abroad is a truly great experience, to live and work in a city brings things into a whole new perspective.“You are a part of the hustle and bustle of a busy work day,” she said. “The office culture differs, and the lifestyle of Irish working persons is slightly different than Americans, [and] experiencing these things allows you to re-enter the U.S. with a new perspective.”Sarah Witt, a senior who also participated in the internship program last summer, said anyone can apply to the program. It is not restricted by interest or major but simply to students looking to spend time getting to know Ireland and Irish culture, Witt said.Ball said the program is especially helpful for students in the College of Arts and Letters, who often struggle the most with finding summer opportunities.“It is rare to find great internships in your particular field of study that are funded if you study in the liberal arts,” Ball said.“But the Irish Interns program allows for a fully-funded opportunity that is not only fabulous for career and educational development, but is also super fun!”Witt said she encourages all students to consider spending their summer in Ireland. The deadline to apply for the program is Friday, Witt said.“This past summer was one of the best experiences of my life,” Witt said. “I strongly encourage you to apply. … You will have a wonderful summer going on adventures across Ireland, gaining work experience and making lifelong friendships.”last_img read more

Cast Photos! Funday in the Park with Idina Menzel & Her If/Then Friends

first_img James Snyder View Comments Related Shows LaChanze Show Closed This production ended its run on March 22, 2015 If/Then Jenn Colella Star Files Anthony Rapp The wait is almost over: Tony winner Idina Menzel Jenn Colella, LaChanze, Jason Tam, Anthony Rapp, James Snyder and the cast of If/Then can now be seen outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre! Check out this Hot Shot of the musical’s brand new artwork, featuring the cast hanging out in the park together. Written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, If/Then is set at the intersection of choice and chance, where the road you takes meets the road you didn’t. Menzel will play Elizabeth, a woman rebuilding her life in New York, a city of infinite possibilities. Check out the cast in action, then catch If/Then, beginning March 5 on Broadway. Jason Tam Idina Menzel View All (6)last_img read more

Pippin’s Kyle Dean Massey Returns as a Video Blogger

first_img Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 4, 2015 Massey will be our first return vlogger; Fans will remember Normal Life, his series that took us backstage at Next to Normal. We can’t wait to follow him around again, this time as he and his fellow stars make magic eight times a week at the Music Box Theatre. Look for the Fresh Prince vlog on March 20, and every Thursday for the next eight weeks. Pippin Related Shows Hey y’all, guess who’s back! Kyle Dean Massey, who is set to begin performances as the titular character in the Tony-winning revival of Pippin on April 1, will return as a video blogger. Look out for his new series, Fresh Prince: Backstage at Pippin with Kyle Dean Massey.center_img View Comments Kyle Dean Massey Massey most recently appeared on Broadway as Fiyero as Wicked. His additional stage credits include Next to Normal, Xanadu, Lucky Guy and Altar Boyz. He can be seen on TV and film credits include Inside Amy Schumer, Up All Night, Hart of Fixie, Cupid, The Good Wife, Sex and the City 2 and The Contest. Star Fileslast_img read more

Spider time

first_imgIt seems to me that fall is spider time as I notice spider webs hanging from everything imaginable. I’ve seen dew-covered spider webs strung between power lines, and I’ve encountered a web of two in my face when I walked out my front door. The first hard frost will kill them off, but for now they are mating and producing egg sacs so their eggs can overwinter and re-establish the population next spring. Two orb-weaver spiders with large webs are the most commonly seen.Barn spiders and yellow garden spidersBarn spiders (Araneus cavaticus) can be found on porches, where flying insects attracted to porch lights get trapped in their webs. These spiders are nocturnal and construct a new web every evening and take it down before dawn. This rusty brown spider has legs extending about two inches, making it look large and noticeable. These spiders hide during the day, but at night are found in the middle of the web, waiting for their meals to be trapped.The yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is one of the longest spiders in Georgia. It is frequently found in gardens and around shrubbery where it constructs large webs to entrap flying insects. The abdomen has distinctive yellow and black markings, while the front part of the body, the cephalothorax, is covered in white. The female yellow garden spider typically remains in one spot throughout her life, repairing and reconstructing her web as it is damaged. Her web may have a distinctive zigzag of silk through the middle, explaining her other common name, the “writing spider.” Unlike the nocturnal barn spider, the yellow garden spider can be found in its web at anytime. Sometimes a smaller spider will be found in the web with her. This is the male garden spider.Here all alongThese spiders have been present all summer, growing and eating insects. By late summer they are large enough to be noticed. Georgia has more than 800 species of spiders, all of which are harmless if left alone. For more information on spiders and other pests, see the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences publication site at read more

Tata Group looks to jump start India’s EV transition with battery manufacturing plant investment

first_imgTata Group looks to jump start India’s EV transition with battery manufacturing plant investment FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg Environment:A mega lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant is in the works to help support India’s transition to all-electric-powered two- and three-wheeled vehicles by 2025. As the Indian government rolls out policy incentives to speed up the transition toward electric mobility, the Tata Group is making plans to build the plant.According to media reports quoting Jai Prakash Shivhare, managing director of the government-owned Dholera Industrial City Development Ltd., a joint venture between the government of Gujarat and Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Co., the plant is expected to have a manufacturing capacity of 10 gigawatts.Shivhare confirmed to Bloomberg Environment that Tata Chemicals applied for 126 acres of land “to set up power storage solutions” within the Dholera area in the state of Gujarat, an industrial cluster that the government is setting up specifically for sunrise industries such as high-tech. “Dholera fulfills the three main criteria for industrial battery development,” he said. “Free land, ready infrastructure and reasonably priced power tariffs.”According to various media reports and to a source familiar with the matter, Tata Chemicals, a branch of Tata Group, is ready to invest 40 billion rupees ($582 million) in the new plant. A company spokesperson added that while Tata Chemicals isn’t ready to share specific details of the plan, it is investing very heavily in the battery sector.Energy storage is in its early stages of development worldwide, but it’s widely regarded as a key sector if India wants to become an international leader in emerging technologies and successfully scale up electric mobility in the country, said Kashish Shah, a researcher at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Australia.Shivhare said that Dholera is “offering one of the cheapest power tariffs in the whole country,“ explaining that the power companies in the city only serve local industries and don’t have to provide free power for agriculture, which increases the price of energy for commercial users in other parts of the country. According to Shah, this means that industries such as Tata Chemicals “will be running a highly power intensive manufacturing unit at half the electricity cost, which eventually could make their batteries cheaper.”More: Tata set to build large-scale battery plant in Indialast_img read more

Understanding mortgage types

first_imgFor those looking to buy a home, it might seem a little daunting, especially when you consider how many mortgage types there are. Here’s a simple list of 5 loan types with a basic description of each so you can begin to make the best decision on how to acquire your dream castle, complete with a moat and drawbridge. NONE SHALL PASS!!!CONVENTIONAL / FIXED RATE MORTGAGENumero Uno is the most common of the mortgage types. If the title didn’t give it away, the interest rate, and thus the monthly payments, don’t change over time. The most common of these is the 30-year term. It should be noted that a 15-year term will give a better interest rate and get your mortgage paid off in half the time. 94SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Derek San Filippo Derek is a freelance writer who spends his off time either working with his rescue animals or writing children’s books. He lives in San Diego with his beautiful wife … Web: Details INTEREST-ONLY MORTGAGEThese are kind of cool because they allow the borrower to pay interest only for the first five to seven years. Obviously, you can pay more if you’d like, but you don’t have to. So, if you’re budgeting lean, this could be a helpful way to go. Once that five- or seven-year period is done, however, normal payments including principal and interest, will kick in.ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE (ARM)Much like the Fixed Rate Mortgage, the name of this mortgage type explains what it does. Basically, the interest rate can change (typically upward) over the lifespan of the loan. This might not sound like an amazing way to go, but it does make it possible for someone to pay low interest rates to start with on an expensive home. More bang for your buck in a manner of speaking.FHA LOANSFHA means Federal Housing Administration. They tend to be very attractive to first-time home buyers because they require a low down payment and your credit doesn’t have to be stellar to qualify. The drawbacks are the borrower is required to pay for mortgage insurance (insurance that protects the lender in case you default) and the house must meet certain criteria from an appraisal by an FHA-approved appraiser.VA LOANSServed in this great country’s military? These loans are designed for you. Need a down payment? No. Require mortgage insurance? Again, no. Can work with a credit score that’s low? Of course!There are other mortgage types and even more information about the ones listed above. However, this should get you pointed in the right direction.last_img read more

Broome-Tioga BOCES hosts forum on cyber security

first_imgAround 180 people including school superintendents, school board member, information technology administrators and others attended. The panel also had an assistant superintendent from Monroe Woodbury Central. The district had to delay opening school this year due to a cyber attack on its computer system. “School administrators, staff, [are] here to talk about how to protect student data under the new law in New York State which mandates we put a system in place to protect all students,” said Broome-Tioga BOCES District Superintendent Allen Buyck. (WBNG) — The Broome-Tioga BOCES Regional Information Center Hosting a Regional Forum on cyber security and data privacy Thursday.center_img Several break-out sessions followed on varying related topics. The event began with a panel discussion and Q&A session which featured the state’s chief data privacy officer, a FBI Cyber Task Force representative.last_img read more

COVID-19 crisis exposes holes in social aid disbursement

first_imgThe COVID-19 crisis has exposed fundamental problems in the distribution of social assistance, particularly the lack of reliable recipient data, as the government scrambles to shield the most-affected parts of society from economic pain.The initial phase of social aid disbursement was far from smooth sailing after reports emerged about slow or mistargeted distribution amid red tape and a lack of coordination among central and regional governments.Read also: Social aid feud between central govt, city leaves some poor Jakartans in limbo However, they proved to be too sluggish in the database upkeep, and the current health crisis has become its unraveling.“The economic crisis caused by the pandemic should serve as a marker for all stakeholders to improve the data collection system, so that aid programs can be managed well both under normal circumstances and in times of shock, as is currently the case,” Athia said.Read also: Poverty elimination back to square one as COVID-19 wipes past progress: ExpertsThe Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) deputy for prevention, Pahala Nainggolan, said the agency had urged regional authorities to use citizenship identification numbers (NIK) to clamp down on mistargeted aid disbursement, which he also said was the result of outdated DTKS data.Pahala argued that a lack of urgency among regional authorities to update their datasets had resulted in mistargeted distribution.“We see huge inefficiencies [in aid distribution], with stories of poor people [not getting their share of relief] due to inaccurate data,” he said.The KPK is working together with various stakeholders to monitor aid distribution and disbursement. It issued a circular on April 21 instructing the relevant ministries and regional officials to use the DTKS database as the first reference for distributing aid.In the event of data discrepancies, the circular instructs that aid should only be disbursed to beneficiaries who meet the criteria, while new data should be submitted to the Social Affairs Ministry.Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara acknowledged on Tuesday the difficulties in data collection at the local level, with various social assistance programs running simultaneously and from different stakeholders, including among Cabinet ministries and from city, regency and provincial governments.He also admitted to a lack of coordination that had caused problems in the initial phase of aid distribution but insisted that regional authorities would take care of any data glitches.Read also: ‘Not our responsibility’: Minister fends off criticism of COVID-19 social aid distributionPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has instructed the relevant parties to solve the data discrepancies and simplify disbursement procedures, so that the aid packages could be quickly distributed.The government has allocated Rp 172.1 trillion for social safety net programs to alleviate the economic strain caused by the restrictions aimed at curbing COVID-19.The funds are supposed to be disbursed through regular and nonregular social safety net schemes, which include the Family Hope Program (PKH), basic food cards and staple food packages for 1.9 million households in Greater Jakarta.Some of the funds will go to 9 million households outside of Greater Jakarta through direct cash transfers.Nonregular schemes are meant only for residents who meet the government’s aid recipient criteria but have yet to be recorded in the DTKS database.The government has identified 8.3 million households that are eligible for direct cash transfers outside Greater Jakarta, which Juliari expects will be disbursed with the help of the postal service by Saturday.Topics : The root cause of the problem, left unresolved for years, was the sluggish pace at which regional governments regularly update their list of beneficiaries, said Athia Yumna, a researcher at Jakarta-based SMERU Research Institute.“Poverty is dynamic in nature. People who were poor last month could be better off this month, and people who thrived last month may become poor this month due to COVID-19. That is why regular updates of the database are necessary,” said Athia.The disbursement of all state-sponsored social assistance falls under the purview of the Social Affairs Ministry’s Integrated Data for Social Welfare (DTKS), which was built upon a 2015 Statistics Indonesia (BPS) survey that sought to map out the distribution of wealth in the bottom 40 percent of the population.The survey was the last of its kind to date, with the central government opting to give regional administrations the mandate to regularly update the database for their respective areas.last_img read more

Dutch schemes’ recovery stalls as funding plateaus at 109%

first_imgMercer said that the coverage ratio drawn from market rates – 107% at the end of August – hadn’t changed either in the past few months.The consultancy noted that the 30-years swap rate – Dutch schemes’ main criterion for discounting liabilities – had fallen by five basis points to 1.47%, leading to a 0.8% rise in liabilities.Aon, which took the overall swap rates into account, came out with a liabilities increase of 1%.Frank Driessen, executive chairman at Aon Retirement and Investment, said the stalling recovery further increased the pressure for a new pensions system in the Netherlands, in particular because rights cuts at the large pension funds were still a possibility in 2020 and 2021.Dutch pension assets increased by approximately 0.3% on average in August, Aon reported.According to Mercer, based on the MSCI World index, worldwide holdings of developed markets equity gained 1.9% during the month, aided by a 50% hedge of the dollar, the pound and the yen. Without such a currency hedge, the increase would have been 1.6%.The pensions adviser reported a 2.1% decline from emerging markets stock as a consequence of unrest in Turkey, Argentina and Brazil. Euro-denominated government bonds lost 0.6%, while and corporate bonds edged up by 0.1%. Pressure is growing in the Netherlands for unions, companies and the government to agree on pensions reform as benefit cuts are a growing prospect at several schemes.The average funding ratio of Dutch pension funds failed to improve in August, stalling at 109% according to consultancy groups Mercer and Aon Hewitt.Both companies reported in monthly data updates that a limited increase of liabilities in the wake of a drop in interest rates had been almost fully compensated by returns on investments.Last May, Dutch schemes’ funding – calculated as the average of pension funds’ monthly coverage ratios, with the application of the ultimate forward rate, during the past 12 months – stood at 108% on average.last_img read more