Integrate - Alpha Data's Blog
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About this podcast
Integrate - Alpha Data's Blog
UAE excellence through the lens of Blockchain technology
Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin currency, has become a very widely discussed topic in just a couple of years. Blockchain’s broad applicability convinced hundreds of leaders in governments across the world to consider employing this technology to achieve their countries’ short and long-term objectives. The enthusiasm around this technology is increasing as governments begin piloting and testing blockchain applications for payments, supply chain, identity management, secure data sharing, and more. UAE Vision 2021 was launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the closing of a Cabinet meeting in 2010 made its aim to make the UAE among the best countries in the world. To translate the Vision into reality, its pillars have been mapped into six national priorities, which represent the key focus sectors of government action in the coming years. Innovation will surely drive most of these visions and blockchain is the technology that delivers tangible benefits for governments. The list of potential public sector blockchain applications is growing exponentially. Here are three fascinating benefits UAE public sector can enjoy today. Blockchain helps governments to build trust with country citizens. One of the blockchain-based solutions’ qualities is transparency aided by decentralization, allowing participating parties to see and verify data. A blockchain solution for some city services could allow for independent verification of governmental claims. For example, land registration departments would be able to benefit from blockchain solutions enabling multiple parties to securely hold copies of the registry. Sweden, Estonia, and Georgia are already experimenting with blockchain-based land registries. When citizens and governments share access to records trust is much stronger and people will rely on public services more often opposed to private consultancies. Protecting sensitive data will become much easier with blockchain technology in place. Breaches of personal data have become a hard reality in today’s world of everything digital. Such documents as Emirates ID contain a lot of sensitive data such as person’s full name, birthday, address in the UAE, visa status, driver’s license information and more. Today people can register new bank accounts using Emirate ID card and even travel in and out of the country. Considering the amount of information available on our ID cards, hackers make such sources some of their top targets. Loss of sensitive data can lead to identity theft that can be potentially associated with serious crimes. Instead of accepting the consequences of such breaches, governments can prevent and avoid this from happening by deploying thorough blockchain data structures. Such data structures massively improve security by dropping single-point-of-failure risks and can make attempting a breach almost impossible. Reduction of operational costs and improved efficiency are few of many UAE government’s priorities that can be excelled via implementation of blockchain technologies. Even financially successful countries are looking at reducing unnecessary spends and making their operations more cost-effective. If applied properly, blockchain solutions could streamline processes, increase the levels of homeland security while ensuring data integrity. According to the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the adoption of blockchain will reflect on the quality of life in the UAE and will enhance happiness levels for citizens. 50 percent of government transactions on the federal level will be conducted using blockchain technology by 2021. This technology will save time, effort and resources and enable individuals to conduct most of their transactions in a timely manner that suits their lifestyle and work. Alpha Data is very optimistic about the impact blockchain technology will make on both private and public sectors in the nearest future. Our team of experts is one call away from introducing this brilliant innovation that can change the way your organization works, develops and succeeds. Please contact us now for free consultation and the proof of concept meeting. Article written by: Natarajan Gnanasekar, Technical Manager, Alpha Data.
Where is Blockchain Market Heading?
There is clearly much more to blockchain technology than cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and Ethereum cryptocurrencies are very well known to a lot of people by now since they became blockchain phenomenon in 2009 when Bitcoin has been first created followed by Ether in 2015. Ever since blockchain technology started making global headlines and sparking a lot of interest from public and tech communities.While back then it was a “science fiction” topic surrounded by a lot of uncertainties, today global Blockchain market is evaluated to reach spending of over USD 9 billion by 2021 according to IDC. Alternative market reports estimate global blockchain market to grow to over $60 billion by 2024 as more companies adopt distributed ledger technology and mass-use cases appear. Led by financial services, industries are ramping up spending on blockchain distributed ledger technology at unprecedented rates. The United States will lead the world in blockchain investments, accounting for 40% of spending. The Middle East is a leading player in some respects with clear government strategies, regulatory engagement, and technology accelerators all playing a part. IDC expects blockchain spending in the Middle East and Africa to come to $307 million in 2021. While multiple industries are assessing the use of blockchain, IDC research suggests the region’s public sector will spend an estimated $120.8 million in this space in 2021, accounting for 39.2% share. It will be followed by the financial services sector at 35.5% and the distribution and services sector at 14.1%. From a technology perspective, IDC’s forecast indicates IT and business services accounting for 52.7% of MEA blockchain spending in 2021. Blockchain software platforms will be the biggest and fastest-growing category in the software space over the coming years, while cloud will be the fastest-growing component in terms of hardware. In April this year blockchain technology experienced an additional boost across MEA markets when Bitcoin jumped more than USD 1,000 to break USD 8,000 over just a 30 minute period. Twitter users have speculated that this spark has been influenced by the news that Bitcoin has been declared compliant with Shariah law – according to a report published online. Arab markets were flooded with new investors in April after an Islamic scholar announced cryptocurrency is halal. The announcement settled contradicting statements issued by several other Islamic experts, but there are still conflicting interpretations of Sharia’s allowance of virtual currencies among Muslim leaders. Middle East forecasts show that blockchain technology will be focused on 3 main use cases that include cross-border payments and settlements, assets and goods management followed by identity management. While this technology is still considered to be at its early development stages, technology vendors, start-ups, fin-tech companies, and end users will continue establishing new use cases. Alpha Data experts anticipate a rapid growth and adoption of blockchain technology not only globally or regionally but in the United Arab Emirates, where innovative drives supported by the state government make international headlines. It’s is only a matter of time that blockchain tech will become instrumental for any organization to function and to be able to leverage vast market opportunities that were not there a decade ago. We believe that the IT industry will continue flourishing and helping organizations adopt new technologies that include blockchain. We already see a lot of interest and incoming inquiries from the public sector and it will not be too long for the private sector to recognize the importance of it. Relevant technology regulations are being put in place and it is becoming more and more safe to consider blockchain solutions. Healthcare, hospitality, banking and finance, telecommunications, trade, and other market players will hugely benefit from considering blockchain implementations in the nearest future. Our team of experts is open to this conversation and we are one call away from setting up a meeting and brainstorm ideas on how this technology can help your organization to reach is maximum financial potential and return on investment. Article written by: Natarajan Gnanasekar, Technical Manager, Alpha Data.
We have approached the New Year - 2018 with high expectations and a lot of discussions about Artificial Intelligence along with a bundle of other technologies that may disrupt the industry in the coming days. In new digital economy Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA) would play a major role along with other emerging technologies. As per Gartner in 2022, one in five workers engaged in mostly nonroutine tasks will rely on AI to do a job. Artificial intelligence is poised to take a prominent place within organizations in 2018, and the same year will mark the beginning of the democratization of AI. In other words, a much broader range of companies and government departments will use AI. What is Artificial Intelligence? Artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as adaptive behaviors within an environment or context, visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. AI is of the inevitable technology that aims to add intelligence to machines. Machine includes from a simple mobile phone with Siri / Cortana interactive applications / sensitive biomedical equipment’s / fully automated and even self-driving cars / intelligent drones etc. Apart from the devices there are multiple software that have been developed to address the mundane/ routine tasks across various Industries, Corporates and Govt. Sectors. Basically these applications are focusing on core problems of AI including programming computers for certain traits such as: Knowledge, Reasoning, Problem solving, Perception, Learning, Planning, Ability to manipulate and move objects etc. Why AI is a becoming a reality? AI is not a new invention, the concept and technology has been in use for a while in many industries. Implementing AI across the business wasn’t realistic earlier as other complementing technologies such as Internet, Machine Learning, Neural Network, Robotic Process Automation, Interactive Chatbots has evolved recently. Moreover the data accumulated on digital format within organizations in different formats, with Big Data same can be analyzed and extracted dynamically. So, AI builds the platform and add intelligence to existing or new systems by doing self-learning through Machine Learning Capabilities to build its Dictionaries. The knowledge base can be optimized to have libraries that has been built based on Robotic Process Automations configured based on organization processes, self-learning, Feeds from IoT sensors, historic data analysis and various other sources. Automation can be triggered based on the algorithm built and can perform any repeated tasks within corporate. Benefits & Use Cases of AI Though AI can do lot, such as mental fatigue, loss of memory, efficiency, work without break, ability to learn beyond human brain capabilities, more accuracy than manual process. There are few real time examples as below are evident, most of us are already benefiting with its capabilities. Facebook recognizes the picture and locations and giving various recommendations Companies like Amazon and Netflix are setting trends for personalization based on predictive patterns, and providing responsive, interactive, and engaging experiences for their customers to maintain loyalty and develop innovative ways to retain them." There are local banks already using voice biometrics to improve security on their telebanking Intelligent Chatbot been used as a virtual customer service executives Larger banks & ISPs across globe are using Robotic Process Automation for performing their Know your Customer (KYC) process which requires lots of manual efforts and that takes more time. Controversy / Risk / Myths There are lots of controversy around AI especially advanced Artificial Intelligence that may be real risk or it is just myth which we have to wait and see in future. Apart from those sensitive destructive use cases, AI would be in the corporate sooner which may automate certain task what we do today!! Adopting technology and being agile in professional environment can help rather than not been aware of the disruptions. References: https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/2018-will-mark-the-beginning-of-ai-democratization/ https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3837763 Article written by: Natarajan Gnanasekar, Technical Manager, Alpha Data.
5 tips on how to protect office IoT
Today’s office is no longer about desk with static PC and printers, it is more about bringing your own device (BYOD) and connecting all accessories with connected IT devices. As technology is moving forward so is our office infrastructure and we are adding more and more connected devices that will help us to go through our day-to-day operations. These connected devices are expected to increase from 2.5 billion 2017 to 5.4 billion IoT devices in 2020. Organizations’ key priorities today are to be more efficient, agile, connected and to be able to integrate all their connected devices to allow smooth and seamless operations. Many organizations still follow the traditional security approach by implementing best of breed technologies when it comes to firewalls, endpoint security on the IT assets while completely neglecting the fact that their security is still under a lot of pressure should they not take a proper care of their connected devices which operate on supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) and machine learning that we refer to as artificial intelligence (AI). . Such devices, as physical security devices, lighting, personal electronic gadgets, multi-function printers and many more,are points of attack surface which will increase the cyber threat directed at organizations. Alpha Data advises its clients on how to establish holistic cyber-security infrastructures since 1981 and we observed that while ignoring multiple warnings, organizations believe that they do need to invest in better security solutions. They simply believe that because “nothing really happened up until now”, nothing needs to be enhanced. This might be the case so far and your company is lucky that it was not yet targeted by hackers, but once you become the victim of cyber-crime, you will want to turn back the time and improve your defense systems. According to Arbor Networks’ 12th Annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report, cyber-security breaches, mainly caused by the distributed denial of services (DDoS) type of attacks, may cost your organization up to USD500 per minute which is AED 1,900 per minute and up to AED 110,500 per hour . Is your organization ready to pay such amounts for something that could be simply prevented? If you decided that security is of an utmost importance for your organization and you are ready to upgrade your cyber safety levels, start with simple steps you or your company IT administrator can start taking today. 1. Identity First thing your organization can do to improve your IoT security is to ‘lock all the doors’ and not allow hackers to penetrate your connected devices. All the hardware installed in your office is an entry point for cyber-criminals if not protected well. As soon as an installation of a printer, scanner, camera or any other device is complete and internet connection is established, change default passwords. 2. Authorization If possible, set up access authorization passwords for all the employees. Different people should have different clearance levels as most of the data breaches today are due to either neglect or an ‘inside job’ which still puts human error on the top of the list of most of the cyber-security breaches. 3. BYOD and encryption Bring your own device trend is amazing, employees manage to do much more when agile and connected at all times. You, however, need to be sure that your employees understand all the risks that come with the freedom of choosing their work devices. 4. Wi-Fi protocol analysis Your Wi-Fi connection can carry a potential danger. Let’s assume that you are now protected on all fronts, but your router is still connected to your network, your network is connected to your data storage or cloud and anybody who brings malware on their device can infect the entire system letting cyber-criminals in. Ensure your guest and internal networks are separated. 5. Visibility Every aspect of your company security is a priority. You can’t compromise on any of the security units and need to ensure that your network security, endpoint security and IoT security measures are well maintained. To do it effectively you may want to consider a unified or integrated security management solution. This will allow you to have a full transparency on your overall security performance and will help you not only reflect attacks but prevent them from happening. Article written by: Biju Bhaskaran - Presales Manager, Alpha Data.
There is much more to IoT than connectivity
The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way we live, work, travel and learn. It is also changing the way governments and businesses interact with the world. We are on the brink of the next Industrial Revolution and we need to learn what is the best way to benefit from this amazing transition that the world and the Middle East is going through. IDC reports estimate a worldwide market of $1.7 trillion by 2020 and the Middle East and Africa spend of more than $6.6 billion, by the end of this year; generating the need for intelligence and machine learning. UAE government is regularly holding open summits where the smart city concept is a hot topic. But what is a smart city without an intelligent transportation system? How can organizations contribute to this important piece of a smart city puzzle? They definitely can, and they should join their forces with the UAE government who works tirelessly to realize its Vision 2021. Creating and maintaining a sustainable environment and infrastructure is a pillar of National Agenda in line with Vision 2021. The UAE Government wants to ensure sustainable development while preserving the environment and to achieve a perfect balance between economic and social development. The significance of IoT in fleet management and transportation sector overall can’t be overstated. Major Middle East markets like the UAE look to improve their transportation infrastructure, digitalization will drive the uptake of telematics, connected vehicles, data processing and analytics in the country and the entire region. There are so many IoT elements that make our transportation smart and they include connected vehicle, telematics solutions, intelligent traffic control systems, in-vehicle wi-fi connection and many more. How about integrating all these elements into one big network of connected things? By adding more and more connected devices and networks we are adding more data that can be processed, analyzed and they used to the benefits of improving overall city operations on the public and private levels. While creating an intelligent IoT infrastructure will add value to every business’ bottom line and will increase their productivity and profitability tremendously, it can also positively contribute to a much more meaningful impact on a country-wide transportation sector. By connecting multiple devices thus allowing a secure flow of information, we can: Become more sustainable and reduce city pollution by dissolving traffic jams and diverting them from highly populated areas such as hospitals, residential blocks as well as schools and universities. Improve overall operational efficiency of any fleet by predicting better travel routes and reducing road congestions. Increase emergency services’ response by allowing vehicles and intelligent road cameras to communicate better, channel information about accidents faster and even prevent them by alerting concerned parties about upcoming dangers and road complications. The Internet of Things is here and information accessibility to the network is even more profound as homes, buildings, offices and even the whole city begins to connect to each other, providing a whole new experience of a connected world and a seamless virtual reality which can only be made possible through strong connectivity. Machines are getting smarter to enable a faster and more efficient delivery of services. Alpha Data has a wide range of M2M (Machine-to-Machine) solutions and network connectivity for smart devices in offices, buildings as well as city services. We are helping our clients to create intelligent next-generation infrastructures and IoT solutions are one of our superpowers. Get in touch with us today for more information about our capabilities and free consultation on how we can help your business to be more connected and smart. Article written by: Geetika Sood, Manager – IOT & Big Data-Analytics Practice, Alpha Data.
Artificial Intelligence: Past and Future
Artificial intelligence is front and center, with business and government leaders pondering the right moves. But what’s happening in the lab, where discoveries by academic and corporate researchers will set AI’s course for the coming year and beyond? The beginnings of modern AI can be traced to classical philosophers' attempts to describe human thinking as a symbolic system. But the field of AI wasn't formally founded until 1956, at a conference at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, where the term "artificial intelligence" was coined. Let’s take Google Duplex Project example that is very explained on Google AI Blog. Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, introduces a new robotic assistant in his keynote address to Google's 2018 conference in California on Tuesday. The virtual assistant, powered by Google Duplex, uses a very natural speech pattern that includes interjections such as 'er' and 'mmm-hmm' so that it sounds eerily lifelike. Google's robot assistant now makes really life like phone calls for you https://ai.googleblog.com/2018/05/duplex-ai-system-for-natural-conversation.html Gartner Think cast has shared the perspective on Provider ViewWell you can find the Artificial Intelligence Provider’s Gartner view by Jim Hare (Gartner) in the following article & Webinars. There are more links below that are providing more information & perspectives of ongoing & upcoming Projects https://www.gartner.com/podcasts/artificial-intelligence-the-provider-view/ In 2011, IBM's question-answering system Watson won the quiz show "Jeopardy!" by beating reigning champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. Credit: IBM/Jeopardy! Well, there is history of AI starting since 1940, but let’s take a quick look the AI milestone technologies of this decade below. 2010 Microsoft launched Kinect for Xbox 360, the first gaming device to track human body movement, using just a 3D camera and infra-red detection, enabling users to play their Xbox 360 wirelessly. The award-winning machine learning for human motion capture technology for this device was developed by the Computer Vision group at Microsoft Research, Cambridge 2011 IBM's Watson computer defeated television game show Jeopardy! champions Rutter and Jennings. 2011-2014 Apple's Siri (2011), Google's Google Now (2012) and Microsoft's Cortana (2014) are smartphone apps that use natural language to answer questions, make recommendations and perform actions. 2013 Robot HRP-2 built by SCHAFT Inc of Japan, a subsidiary of Google, defeats 15 teams to win DARPA’s Robotics Challenge Trials. HRP-2 scored 27 out of 32 points in 8 tasks needed in disaster response. Tasks are drive a vehicle, walk over debris, climb a ladder, remove debris, walk through doors, cut through a wall, close valves and connect a hose. NEIL, the Never Ending Image Learner, is released at Carnegie Mellon University to constantly compare and analyze relationships between different images. 2015 An open letter to ban development and use of autonomous weapons signed by Hawking, Musk, Wozniak and 3,000 researchers in AI and robotics. Google DeepMind's AlphaGo (version: Fan) defeated 3 time European Go champion 2 dan professional Fan Hui by 5 games to 0. 2016 Google DeepMind's AlphaGo (version: Lee) defeated Lee Sedol 4–1. Lee Sedol is a 9 dan professional Korean Go champion who won 27 major tournaments from 2002 to 2016.  Before the match with AlphaGo, Lee Sedol was confident in predicting an easy 5–0 or 4–1 victory. 2017 Asilomar Conference on Beneficial AI was held, to discuss AI ethics and how to bring about beneficial AI while avoiding the existential risk from artificial general intelligence. Poker AI Libratus individually defeated each of its 4 human opponents—among the best players in the world - at an exceptionally high aggregated winrate, over a statistically significant sample. In contrast to Chess and Go, Poker is an imperfect information game. Google DeepMind's AlphaGo (version: Master)  won 60–0 rounds on two public Go websites including 3 wins against world Go champion Ke Jie. An OpenAI-machined learned bot played at The International 2017 Dota 2 tournament in August 2017. It won during a 1v1 demonstration game against professional Dota 2 player Dendi Google DeepMind revealed that AlphaGo Zero - an improved version of AlphaGo - displayed significant performance gains while using far fewer tensor processing units (as compared to AlphaGo Lee; it used same amount of TPU's as AlphaGo Master). Unlike previous versions, which learned the game by observing millions of human moves, AlphaGo Zero learned by playing only against itself. The system then defeated AlphaGo Lee 100 games to zero, and defeated AlphaGo Master 89 to 11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_artificial_intelligence#cite_note 0-54 Although unsupervised learning is a step forward, much has yet to be learned about general intelligence. AlphaZero masters chess in 4 hours, defeating the best chess engine, StockFish 8. AlphaZero won 28 out of 100 games, and the remaining 72 games ended in a draw. 2018 Alibaba language processing AI outscores top humans at a Stanford University reading and comprehension test, scoring 82.44 against 82.304 on a set of 100,000 questions The European Lab for Learning and Intelligent Systems (aka Ellis) proposed as a pan-European competitor to American AI efforts, with the aim of staving off a brain drain of talent, along the lines of CERN after World War II. Announcement of Google Duplex, a service to allow an AI assistant to book appointments over the phone. The LA Times judges the AI's voice to be a "nearly flawless" imitation of human-sounding speech. Reference Links for Artificial Intelligence Projects & more information. https://www.gartner.com/webinar/3838573 https://www.gartner.com/webinar/3805163 http://www.eu-ems.com/summary.asp?event_id=4342&page_id=9546 https://deepmind.com/ https://hackernoon.com/50-killer-ai-projects-f1b6966c7dbc Azeem Ahmed Mughal, System Support Engineer, Abu Dhabi. Azeem is tech savvy and started learning computer at the age of 10 but he never thought that his curiosity & passion will turn into his profession. He has always enjoyed the mystifying challenges, in the Black Text VGA screen era of Games, OS CLIs or Hardware & Network Trouble shootings skills since the times of GWBASIC, Dangerous Dave and DOS 5.0.
Cloud is Big Threat for IT admins or decision makers..
We are currently in yet another era of IT transformation where Agility is the key for new generation Information Communication Technology (ICT). Indeed the business is transforming in to agile regardless of the industry to meet the current demands. Decades ago we go to restaurants and order the coffee and explain our personal preference like...”a strong coffee, low sugar, hot, no foams etc.”. It used to take almost 5-10 minutes for us to get the coffee, however most of the time it won’t be in line with the order given since the message gets diluted at each layer before reaching kitchen. With the help of technologies today, many restaurants taking order in gadgets including all personalized requests which directly goes to Kitchen (through KoT) and processed immediately or there are coffee machines available to make the choice of individual. Adoption of technology is the key driver to move along with current business trend here. In mid 2000s organizations realized that there is a need for collaboration between the employees to bring out the silos. The organizations deployed SMS, email, internal chat communication systems, video conferences, Intranet portal and so on. Always early adopters take advantage of first movers approach in completion. Information Technology especially ICT played a vigorous role in this business transformation, the result is most of us always on our smartphones or our gadgets to get connected for business activities. It is “Chicken and Egg story” who brings the change technology or business and other adopts the same, however both technologies and business moves hand and hand. So, the trend today is Agility; whatever technology complements agility that will be the choice of business and business leaders. Business Intelligence (BI) might be transforming in to Big Data Dashboards, Internet of Things (IoT) will bring lots and lots of valuable information from different sources like machines, devices etc. to its command center, eventually all key information should be made available on Mobile especially with three dimension dashboards. This brings a major swift in the Datacenters of today. There are multiple changes in technology, platforms, visualization & reporting, application delivery, availability, security etc. leads huge investment and time. Also can’t ignore the existing investments and user comforts on their current interfaces. Cloud bridges the gap of existing IT and need of today with cost effective solutions in short turnaround time. Hybrid cloud is inevitable scenario today where on premises datacenter can securely get connected with other cloud service providers network based on their strength and best offerings. For example Hybrid with Office 365 for messaging & collaboration, Hybrid cloud with local service provider for Backup as a Service (BaaS) for achieving better throughput and SaaS based CRM with Active Directory as a single sign on. Cloud is Big Threat for IT admins or decision makers if they haven’t adopted and leveraged to bridge the gap between current and business expectations. Cloud gives greater advantage of pay as you go / grow and delivers the solution almost instantly and lower CAPEX which simplifies budget approvals. IT Decision makers might start looking the suitable cloud service providers and products on the cloud that suites to their business than building the new with longer life cycle and higher CAPEX. Please do assessment rather caught up with technologies, involvement of respective business stakeholders will give smooth take off….have a safe cloud journey. Article written by: Natarajan Gnanasekar, Technical Manager, Alpha Data.
Where to start the Cloud Journey....
As we can see the cloud adoption is increasing day by day, many organizations wanted to start however still few queries like below listed are not clear or not satisfied with the justification given by the consultants or Cloud Service Providers for the obvious reason of not knowing the depth of the sea. What will be the latency? How Secure the Cloud ? Can I integrate with my existing Infrastructure / applications. How about Performance? Of course the accountability remain with IT decision makers of the organization hence they are more concerns about taking the first step. I would recommend anybody to start doing some POC and play around with technologies before taking the baby step. Once familiar with know how then the ideal way is to start with Test & Dev. environment to taste the water before moving the production workloads. Not every organizations are having dedicated test and development environment (may not for all applications), and SMBs mayn't afford to have. Such organizations can start with offloading their painful job of moving the backups to offsite instead of moving the backup tapes manually. Old Archives or Backup dumps can be offloaded to cloud which will reduce the backup window and can release some space from existing storage for current projects and active data. Backup as a Service (BaaS) can be a better choice for taking backups from endpoints like laptop especially from roaming users. Also BaaS will be an ideal choice for multisite environments to centralize the backup and to implement global backup policy. This will reduce multiple investments on backup tools and devices as well. Eventually BaaS will simplify the backup admins job of managing, monitoring, restoring from multiple backups, coordinating with multiple person for offsite movement etc., Cloud can be a excellent choice for those who is planning to build their datacenter for Disaster Recovery site. DR on cloud not only reduces TCO it will also take away the headache of choosing tools & technologies for different applications. DR on cloud can be a complete DRaaS delivery model where CSP can comply the customers RPO (Recovery Point of Objective) or RTO (Recovery Time Objective) or it can be a DR on Demand for their warm and cold DRs. Software as a Service which address niche area of customers business applications like CRM / communication & collaboration system are having lots of traction (i.e Office 365, Salesforce etc.). Many ISVs are already upgraded their application for cloud readiness and hosted / planning to host in market places of multiple clouds. SaaS based delivery model will give a greater ROI and will reduce the CAPEX as well. The manthra of cloud is "Pay as you Go / Grow" might be excited for CFOs. Also cloud budgeting eases gives comfort for better forecasting with fixed cost models for both scaling up & down the IT workloads. Nutshell, recommend to approach the cloud with greater vision and start smaller. Article written by: Natarajan Gnanasekar, Technical Manager, Alpha Data.
Top 5 Cyber security Threats to Watch Out for in 2018
Cyber attacks are growing in prominence every day - from influencing major elections to crippling businesses overnight, the role cyber warfare plays in our daily lives should not be underestimated. In fact, billionaire investor Warren Buffett claims that cyber threats are the biggest threat to mankind, and that they are bigger than threats from nuclear weapons. We have compiled a list of top 5 cyber security threats to watch out for in 2018: Information Theft The act of information theft isn't new, but the methods hackers are using to steal information are only becoming more sophisticated. Information theft is not something to be taken lightly in 2018. Hacks of Mobile Payment Systems With Apply Pay, Google Wallet, and other mobile payment systems, consumers don't even need to carry their wallet in to order to make transaction, which is great for malware authors who want to steal funds. Chip-and-PIN Card Attacks Each card has a chip that proves it is a legitimate back card and generates a one-time transaction code with each purchase. But while chip-and-PIN cards helps prevent in-store purchase fraud they can't do much for online purchases. Cloud Hacks For a while in 2017 it seemed like you couldn't watch the news without hearing about cloud hacks - from celebrities' cell phones to major corporations' data storage. And unfortunately, in 2018, cloud hacks will still be a major issue. Extortion Hacks For hackers that don't feel like taking the time to use the day they steal from major corporations, extortion hacks or cyber shakedowns are the new trend. And we we're not talking about the cyber shakedown that locks you out of an account until you pay a ransom. We're talking about threatening to release data from major corporations unless a ransom is paid. If you have any queries related to cyber security solutions then do contact us at email@example.com
Biggest Cyber Security Breaches of 2017
2017 was another record year for the number of cyber attacks and breaches, with hackers becoming ever more sophisticated. Here are some of the biggest breaches which we witnessed. Wonga: A British payday lender; Wonga was hacked in April of 2017. Customer’s personal details were stolen such as telephone, address, and bank account details. The hack could affect up to 270,000 users and result in millions of pounds in fraud costs for their customers. Equifax: Up to 143 million people in the US, UK and Canada could have been affected by a hack in February on consumer credit rating company Equifax. The hack was done by exploiting software vulnerabilities and resulted in millions of peoples social security numbers and other private information being stolen, which could be used by criminals to take our credit cards and loans fraudulently. Cloudbleed: Cloudflare is one of the largest content delivery networks and DDOS mitigation services. In February a Google security researcher found a bug which was leaking very sensitive user information such as login details, and even security keys. The bug could potentially have aided hackers in gaining access to user accounts of Cloudflare’s customers including big names as OKCupid, Fitbit, and Uber. Freedom Hosting Pop: On a semi positive note the hacker group Anonymous pulled down a very large portion of the “dark web” by hacking the web hosting service Freedom Hosting. A large number of the sites operating on the onion network were sites sharing child pornography. Wannacry: By far the most controversial and widely publicized cybersecurity attack of 2017. The Wannacry ransomware attack affected computers by encrypting data and demanding bitcoin payment for removing the data encryption. Organisations worldwide were infected by the attack, the most well-known being the British National Health Service. The attack is thought to have originated from North Korea, however the US National Security Agency was already in aware of the software flaw, before the attack which they had not made public. Days after the attack the US Congress introduced a bill prevent the government from stockpiling cyberweapons. We hope your have enjoyed the video, tell us if you think there were any more important or high profile breaches which you experienced. Please stay tuned for our upcoming video on the major threats to be aware of in 2018. And as always be vigilant when online.
Digital Transformation fueling Smart World
Information Technology is one industry which transforms quite often and most of the transformations are not straightforward upgrade from the previous generation. As we all aware today’s era of digital transformation has been driven by technology like Mobility, Internet of Things (IoT) and other emerging industries. Technologies are building platform for innovations and niche use cases, this shift transforms the entire world from the way it has been earlier regardless of the industry. Business leaders, decision makers and organizations needs an openness to transform their organization strategy based on these emerging technology to leverage the first mover benefits and leading in the front in their respective domain. Innovation requires lots of brainstorming and collaboration between all stakeholders that includes business users, decision makers, internal & external technical specialists etc. The transformation is not going to be cake walk as it requires lots of push from the top, focus and persistence towards the goals & objectives. Also it might disrupt the core functions of existing operations, process, and delivery of their services and so on….. Organizations are maturing for the transformation to agile business by bringing the changes like below however more to learn and accommodate to be the pioneer. Defining the mobile strategy (e.g. Mobile First approach) Aligning the Finance Strategy to introduce process for agile business processes. (e.g. budgeting, billing & payment mechanism for Cloud / subscription based services) Security policy for publishing business application through internet and mobility Data access policies and Readiness for Social Media integrations Extract meaningful information from data source that never been considered earlier Enterprise Dashboards based on job role. Digital Transformation is: Totally organized and agile Connected & Collaborated Every single bit of information is analyzed & visualized Information on the go and secured Proactive & Predictive Greater Return on Investment (ROI) with lower Capital Expenses (CAPEX) / OPEX based Smart world is ahead for Smart People with Smart Governments, Smart Banks, Smart Health, Smart Organizations etc. obviously on Smart Gadgets :) Today’s smart Investment & Smart Governance will transform the organizations to next generation world. SMART: Secure, Mobile, Analytic, Responsive, and Tolerable. Article written by: Natarajan Gnanasekar, Technical Manager, Alpha Data.
Elements of an IoT Solution
Device Data Insight IoT produces data in large volumes and in diversity that leads to challenges in classical approaches to storage and data processing. As a result, data scientists and developers are working together to find new ways of extracting business insights hidden in this huge device data. Companies then benefit by seeing their IoT insights turn into business efficiencies, new customers and new revenue streams. Basics of IoT Solution Compute Data flows from “Things” to collection, analysis and storage. Insights derived from data analytics can be required in real time for immediate response or can be aggregated for later use. For real time insights, data processing should occur at its source. Computing at the edge reduces delay and avoids bandwidth consumption while transmitting data to the cloud or data center There must be right amount of compute resources at the right place whether at the edge for immediate insight, in the cloud or data center to efficiently power IoT deployment. Connectivity IoT connectivity represents great potential. It can automate decisions and will be crucial for new products and services, but only when insights come from data collected through secure connections and trusted devices. IoT can enable new business models and revenue streams by monetizing device data through a scalable, modular, universal IoT platform that offers device and service management on premise or through the cloud. Security The vast volumes of device data in the IoT must be protected from theft, modification, and exploitation from the instant it is created. Security has to continue while data is in transit through the network, at rest in data stores, and when in use by applications. Leverage effective countermeasures proactively, end to end. Partner Ecosystem IoT solutions need to tap into multiple technologies. IoT requires an ecosystem of companies enabled by education, tools, and support. Engaging with right ecosystem partners is key to address constantly-evolving requirements and stakeholders. Services No matter where customers are in their IoT journey, they can benefit from an experienced services partner to help navigate the landscape of sensors, gateways, connectivity, compute, analytics and business processes, who is capable of helping customers to assess their current environment and financial model, design the architecture and implement IoT based on business needs and industry parameters. Gibi Abraham, Head of Technology and Presales Manager - Alpha Data
Fault Tolerance at Mahul Branch
Within Six months of joining CMS, I was assigned the role of “Escalation Support Engineer”, with an important KRA to reduce escalations being raised to Central Tech Support Team. This meant, resolving every escalation forwarded to me which included Server, Network and even OS level issues. My typical work day used to start post lunch but attendance started at 9:00 am and while my other colleagues left at 6:00 pm, me and the HD Team were regulars in office till 9:00 pm. Starting noon my pager started to beep with emergencies, which mostly got resolved over phone calls, however to make life more challenging! many a times personal onsite visit was required. The “Vadapaav shop” (pls. google vadapav 😊) adjacent to the office was a blessing in disguise and being its regular customer we had its privileged customer membership. It was Friday April 29th 1999, I was enjoying my vadapaav, when the HD Coordinator came running as Mr. Kurian was looking out for me. Kurian John, VP Sales was a dashing personality, 5’6” in height, always in casuals, far away from stereo typical suited booted Sales VP. But man! What skills he had, I remember he was the only one who had been consistently over achieving the numbers for the region. So I had all the reason to become tensed when I got his message. In my heart of hearts I was happy that he had already left when I reached his office, so his PA connected me with him over the phone and there he was “Swapnil, my friend, we need a miracle to happen. Deepak told me you would be the guy, have a word with the team and sort this out”. Now, this was very surprising, as Deepak, happened to be GM Services, and when recommendation came from GM I realized it’s a serious escalation. I called the team, it was 10:45pm, they were going berserk, they just kept repeating, “Swapnil, we had got this order on our technical merits and this issue is still not resolved as per SLA, Vivek’s team has screwed up”. Now that was more serious, as Vivek was my reporting manager and issue was escalated to GM Services bypassing others. I took cab to “Mahul Village” (yes I had privilege for cab, while other engineers they had to justify 😊). When I reached On-site, I met the Bank Manager (customer) standing tensed, we spoke and I assured him that the issue will be resolved. Then I met my team Engineer, he was sitting in the midst of servers, and had no clue on solving the issue. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw me, issue was now owned by me as per organizations process protocol, so like a war zone movie, I called our HD Team and said in my style “Taking over Mahul Issue”. Poor guy, the Field Engineer had not faced such situation earlier, so he could not address the issue, but briefed me about what was reported and what steps he followed. He was struggling since afternoon and then it was late 11:00 pm. I started looking into the problem, those days many nationalized banks had their application running on Novell NetWare SFT III and their setup was down since afternoon and they couldn’t perform End of Day procedure. It took almost an hour to conclude there was a problem with heartbeat card and even the system board. Replacing a system board was a long process, around 3:00 am, replacement board came in and by 5:00 am I was able to start one server and it managed to run EOD. I was then focusing on second server but customer had some relief that they could start the work. There was a problem with one SCSI controller card, around 7:00 am next morning, I briefed the branch manager “he can run the branch operation on one server and by afternoon second server will become functional too, since there is urgency I shall go to office and get the required controller”. Only, then the Bank Manager of the Bank was relaxed, and he said “Swapnil I understand you have worked overnight and you would get required part to restore the redundancy, I request you to stay back. As today is salary day and all refinery workers would be visiting branch today to withdraw money, if for some reason they couldn’t withdraw it, it would become a major issue” and he took me out to the main lobby, approx. 300 odd refinery workers were gathered there, branch manager continued “if system fails and we tell them about systems they will ransack the branch but if they see someone is trying to fix it we can calm them down”. It was like climax of ARGO, very tensed, the other support engineer went to office and got the card second server problem got solved, I reported back to office “Issue resolved going back to normal” branch manager thanked us personally and when we walked out of the server room while on the way to main exit, we were taken by surprise to see the bank staff members clapping for us. That was a very proud moment etched in my heart and memory! Swapnil Gupte, Lead Solution Architect - Alpha Data
Get to Know GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
What is the GDPR? The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU) Why was the GDPR drafted? The drivers behind the GDPR are twofold: Firstly, the EU wants to give people more control over how their personal data is used, bearing in mind that many companies like Facebook and Google swap access to people's data for use of their services. The current legislation was enacted before the internet and cloud technology created new ways of exploiting data, and the GDPR seeks to address that. By strengthening data protection legislation and introducing tougher enforcement measures, the EU hopes to improve trust in the emerging digital economy. Secondly, the EU wants to give businesses a simpler, clearer legal environment in which to operate, making data protection law identical throughout the single market (the EU estimates this will save businesses a collective €2.3 billion a year). When will the GDPR apply? The GDPR will apply in all EU member states from 25 May 2018. Because GDPR is a regulation, not a directive, the UK does not need to draw up new legislation - instead, it will apply automatically. While it came into force on 24 May 2016, after all parts of the EU agreed to the final text, businesses and organisations have until 25 May 2018 until the law actually applies to them. So who does the GDPR apply to? 'Controllers' and 'processors' of data need to abide by the GDPR. A data controller states how and why personal data is processed, while a processor is the party doing the actual processing of the data. So the controller could be any organization, from a profit-seeking company to a charity or government. A processor could be an IT firm doing the actual data processing. Even if controllers and processors are based outside the EU, the GDPR will still apply to them so long as they're dealing with data belonging to EU residents It's the controller's responsibility to ensure their processor abides by data protection law and processors must themselves abide by rules to maintain records of their processing activities. If processors are involved in a data breach, they are far more liable under GDPR than they were under the Data Protection Act. Why is GDPR such a big deal? Essentially, the principles and core objectives of GDPR are the same as those in the existing 95/46/EC data protection directive currently in force. While there are some new requirements to consider, GDPR represents more of a continuation of existing regulatory intentions, rather than a step change in requirements. The main difference between the existing and new law is what happens when things go wrong. Regulators, also known as supervisory authorities, in charge of data protection wield a number of hefty sticks with which to enforce the new regime under GDPR. These include (but are not limited to): - Substantial fines for non-compliance, up to 4% of global annual revenue - Mandatory breach notification within 72 Hrs, which could affect company reputation Consider the following: An employee loses his or her company-issued computer at the airport, and the information on the drive is not encrypted. An employee emails a spreadsheet containing customer names and contact details to the company’s marketing agency, but accidentally sends it to the wrong email address. An unencrypted USB thumb drive with customer details is dropped at the train station A malware attack uses compromised user credentials to get access to the customer database, laying bare millions of customer records. What do all four have in common? All are potential data breaches, with a high likelihood of exposing personal data to people who are not authorized to access it. - The right of data subjects to be represented by a third-party body in the pursuit of a complaint, similar to class action lawsuits - A suspension of the right to conduct personal data processing (which could severely restrain a company from operating) The net effect of these sanctions is that the processing of personal data now represents a substantial risk to the operations of most businesses. It is the intention of the regulation that these sanctions force a change in behavior towards processing personal data. Companies will be incentivized no longer to treat personal data protection as a minor issue: it will now feature highly on every company's risk register. How are companies approaching GDPR? In many ways, the answer depends on their starting point. Companies that have a strong understanding of personal data throughout the organization, with rigorous data management processes and controls, are generally at a good starting point with regard to GDPR. Companies that have been less focused on personal data and have been loose in their adherence to existing laws will struggle. This starting point is influenced by a number of factors, the main ones being: Industry: Companies that operate in a regulated industry are generally more prepared for GDPR, mainly because they understand the process of compliance. Even though they may not have an ideal resume with regards to data management, they have a mechanism for reaching compliance. Clearly, those industries that do focus on personal data as well have a greater advantage. Size: Generally speaking, larger firms tend to have more resources to apply to obligations like GDPR and have a greater standard of process and technology maturity. Location: Some countries in the EU have a robust set of data protection rules that correspond closely with the incoming GDPR. Other countries in the EU have a much lighter data protection regime. These variances also exist beyond the EU. Companies operating predominantly from one country will naturally assume the required level of data protection prevalent in that country. GDPR changes this situation by unifying (to a large but not complete extent) the rules and their application across all EU countries. Extraterritoriality so extends the application of the law globally. Is GDPR an Obstacle or an Opportunity? For some companies, GDPR represents the chance to re-architect their information governance regimes, orientating the management of personal data around recognized best practices. The Motivation for this could be a desire to operate efficiently and cost-effectively, or even to create competitive advantage by processing customer data appropriately for Eg Industries like Banking , Retail, Telecom, Utilities..etc. For other companies, GDPR is a chore, a distraction from other business priorities that must be addressed, but with the minimum effort. Overall, the split between those companies seeing GDPR as an opportunity and those regarding it as an obstacle is remarkably even, almost 50:50 (see Figure 1). But this even spread masks a high degree of variance between industries. There is a world of difference in the approach of companies in regulated industries such as utilities, banking, oil and gas, and telecommunications: these companies tend to be GDPR "Opportunists." In contrast, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transport, media, and (worryingly) education are much more GDPR "Obstaclers." Is GDPR an IT issue or a legal and compliance concern? The answer is both, and in fact is broader still. The impact of GDPR is far-reaching, and should involve sales, marketing, HR, lines of business, and, of course, the board. The leadership of GDPR may also then depend on who within a company has the prevailing authority and gravitas, and their vision will influence the company's approach. Does GDPR Represent an Opportunity or an Obstacle? Q1.The following best describes industry wise approach to GDPR compliance TECHNOLOGIES REQUIRED FOR GDPR COMPLIANCE Modern Applications For Collecting, Storing, And Processing Personal Data Data Discovery, Cataloguing And Classifying Data Loss Protection(Dlp) Data Encryption Email Encryption Data Breach Identification And Blocking Pseudonymization Data Portability Endpoint Security And Mobile Device Management Perimeter Security Cloud Storage And Sharing Services Anti-Malware Application Security Testing Behavior analytics, privileged access management and format-preserving encryption Identity And Access Management The GDPR – the EU's newly introduced legal framework for the protection of personal data – is now in place, and will be enforced from May 25, 2018. Organizations have less than 11 months to ensure they have appropriate organizational and technological measures in place to ensure compliance. The cost of non-compliance is extremely high in both financial and nonfinancial terms, making the option of doing nothing in response to GDPR invalid. The Regulation applies to every organization anywhere in the world that controls or processes personal data of EU residents, and the financial penalties regime for organizations found in non-compliance is based on total worldwide revenue, not only on revenue earned within EU member states. The Major Implications to summarize that Decision maker must consider Re- Examining the Data Strategy Rapid catch-up Strategy for Non EU Firms Organizational and Techological collective ownership to address the Mandate. Information Courtesy: IDC Reports, Osterman Research, Inc , Network Security Magazine Article written by: Prasad Babu, Enterprise Account Manager, Alpha Data.
We all may aware of one of the new industry that is growing and expected to grow much rapidly than current growth is Blockchain. Blockchain is not only to deal with financial transactions, which can be used for various use cases (Business Purposes) such as Smart Contracts, Digital Assets, Smart Voting Systems, Smart Securities, Smart Identities and so on… Now, we may more curious why Blockchain, the key here is the Data Integrity and Distributed Architecture. Any data that has brought into Blockchain network is read only and that will replicate in to all authorized nodes in the network. The fundamentals of Blockchain is to maintain the data integrity through distributed database in distributed infrastructure of multiple peers in Public / Private Blockchain network. Based on majority nodes voting mechanism it retrieves the data and provide, with multiple copies of data it ensures data availability as well. It is important to know some of the basic Jorgen’s of Blockchain to understand better. Basic Concepts of Blockchain: A Blockchain is a distributed database that is used to maintain a continuously growing list of records, called Blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. It is a public ledger of all transactions that have ever been executed. A Block is the “current” part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed, goes into the blockchain as permanent database. Each time a block gets completed, a new block is generated and existing can’t be edited. If at all any changes to be done, then a new block will have the latest update with link to existing block for reference. A distributed ledger is a consensus of replicated, shared, and synchronized digital data geographically spread across multiple sites, countries, and/or institutions A Blockchain Network contains the nodes of Blockchain databases & applications that hosts the Blocks for storing the data. All nodes in this network authenticated based on the Digital Certificates and replicates the encrypted data. Typically there are two different stream of Networks are growing Private Blockchain Network Public Blockchain Network As these technologies are open standards based on open source applications / protocols, most of large organizations and Governments are focusing on developing Private Blockchain network for their needs. Alternative Blockchains / Blockchain Startups Alternative blockchains, also known as altchains, are based on bitcoin technology in concept and/or code. There are multiple organizations is leveraging the power of Blockchain technology to resolve the business problems of Enterprises / Governments. Some of the organizations and their focused verticals are below for your references. Ethereum | Decentralized Applications Hyperledger | Decentralized Ledgers Ripple | Global Financial Settlement Today’s Reality for Enterprises / Governments: There is no doubt that Blockchain will be major game changes such as internet which changes every individual’s life. Though the technology is growing and going to disrupt the entire digital world, most of these initiatives are maturing and developing interfaces for existing business applications such as Oracle, SAP etc. Currently most of the developments are in Ethereum / Hyperledger for decentralized solutions such as smart contracts, smart voting systems etc. whereas Ripple plays major role in BFSI industry. Article written by: Natarajan Gnanasekar, Technical Manager, Alpha Data.
It was January 1999, had just received an Appraisal letter and my contribution was appreciated in recent Standard Chartered Bank’s project. I had acquired a reputation of daredevil for any Technical Escalation and was promoted as Team Lead - Escalation. It was all going very smooth and was on Cloud 9. And it was time where email was a new toy and something grabbed my attention and it was Y2K Bug. It was an awareness article on Y2K and possible issues. Honestly had not thought that a new year could cause such be problem and then realized its not just one year transition but a transition from 20th Century to 21st Century. It was interesting. And I started reading articles related to the same. Had attended few lectures in Computer Society of India and similar institutions and got the bigger picture of that. And then came across one tool which I found very interesting. It was Y2K Compliance tool for desktops. Out of sheer curiosity I ran that tool on our shared PC but was totally disappointed as it showed our PC as “Compliant” and then felt bad as one opportunity to upgrade it was lost. Then did tried same on couple of other PC’s and got mixed results. I compiled a result and next day met our GM with the same. He asked me what exactly that tool was and how it was doing the test and how authentic the tool was and asked me to find is there any way to make “Non-Compliant” PC’s compliant ones. PC Magazine was one of favorite those days and got some clue. What we see in Dubai “Computer Street” in Mumbai we had Lamington Road, been to few known places to check that clue. It was a PCI card and after installing it into non-compliant systems they were becoming compliant. Our GM was very happy he smiled and said “Swapnil, you have no idea what a service offering you have just discovered”. I was then made Program Manager for Y2K Compliance. And first project was done for one Co-Operative bank. Sales team was very happy with the result as they were trying to sell new PC’s there but were not successful and then this project helped them to get the breakthrough. I was MOST WANTED person in the organization, for better reasons 😊 As transition was nearing we started seeing competition in this service. And as usual it became a price game. Then had chance to attend one seminar by CDAC (those who don’t know CDAC, that’s the origin of computerization in India and they design Super Computers) had never seen such in depth analysis of subject and it was convincing that millennium transition would be smooth. However news (or shall we say rumors) were surfacing that Year digit will be rolled to 00 and not 20 which will have problems for bank accounts, flight timings & their path and what not. At HW level there was nothing much possible and wherever possible software people had corrected the errors. But yet people were not confident or were not believing their support teams. And then just a week before transition I was told that I should be in office on 31st night, why me ? that too on 31st night (I didn’t had ANY reason for not to be present during that time but I still tried to protest) and then I was told that “if any problem arises someone should be there”. I said you can page me or call on my residence number but I was told what if pagers won’t work or phone line collapsed. I understood there is no point in arguing as the person who was talking to me was from department where usually common sense is absent. If phone lines were collapsed how the customer was going to ring us, probably this was beyond thinking level of that department. On 31st morning everyone was greeting each other and deliberately discussing their 31st celebrations plans in front of me. People were making fun of me. And then our GM Services called me and genuinely said “Swapnil I know nothing much we could do if any problem arises but still I want you to be there in office just to give confidence to our sales team that we support them.” I had a lot of respect for him, he had joined that organization 28 years back as Trainee Engineer and today was General Manager –Services, I was relaxed after that. We had a small party and people started leaving early around 4PM entire building was empty. I was in Tech Support room, and our help desk coordinators on their desk. Just 3 of us. Usually that’s the time where problems used to get reported for escalation and it was routine for me. But this day it seemed to be only three of us on this planet. Not a single customer had any problem (Non-Y2K related) there was no printer problem, no switching issue, no server problems, we wished what if everyday is like this. But then at 6PM we were eagerly waiting for problem to be reported. Till 10 nothing happened. 11 passed, 11:45 still nothing, we had bought a cake in advance and at sharp 0000Hrs we cut the cake and it seemed everything was normal. None of the sales team members bothered to check but our GM Services & VP Sales did called, my other team members greeted, even some customers called and greeted us. That was the beautiful feeling to receive a customer call at odd hours and yet customer is happy. Next day we called all customers for whom we had done Y2K Compliance tests, and almost 90% results were correct. There were couple of systems did had issues but they were desktops, all servers had rolled over. I happily left office on 1st morning around 10AM and then spend time with family. And around 1130 in night my phone ranged, it was John from my help desk team calmly saying “IDBI Backup failed will you be able to attend”
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” - Bill Vaughn, The post is similar to new year’s resolution and hence let me take this wonderful story from Oliver Emberton, founder of Silktide: The secret to making resolutions that actually work is also the secret to making a hit movie. So let me advice you how to make a hit movie. At the start, our hero lives their ordinary life. We wouldn’t care to watch that for long, but fortunately all good stories push our hero through a door. The door is something irreversible; once you walk through, you can never go back. For the Matrix, it’s Neo ( Keanu Revees ) choosing the red pill. For Gravity, it’s having your shuttle sliced to ribbons. In Shawshank Redemption, an innocent man is sentenced to life. The door is where the story begins. It puts our hero on a path they cannot escape, and the tension compels us to watch. Near the end of the story, our hero must pass through a second door. Again, the door is one-way. But this door demands a resolution. To pass through it guarantees a conclusion, whatever that may be. Our hero must fight their nemesis to the death, or chase their love to the airport, or stand before disapproving parents and dance for their hopes and dreams. It’s the formula of nearly every story ever told, because it works. Once you pass through a door, you can never go back. Now let me tell you what a good movie isn’t. Our unhappy hero wakes up one late December morning and stares at the mirror. “Oh god” he sighs, at his portly reflection. “In the new year, I swear – I’m going to lose weight!” And then he updates his Facebook status, buys a copy of Runners World, and goes to the gym three times. The End. If you want to make a resolution – a real resolution – you’re gonna have to walk through a door. The smart, resolute part of yourself might be in control now, but you know that’s not who will stop you. The lazy, stupid, reflexive part of yourself will be in control later, when the air is cold and you feel sort-of-ill-ish-I-think, and if you haven’t got something to drag that screaming brat out of bed you will fail. You do this already, by the way. School, for example, is a door you can’t well choose not to pass through, which is why you attended it so successfully. Nearly everyone fails their new year’s resolutions, which should be about as surprising as learning that the words. Just saying words doesn’t make a thing happen. Try walking through a door instead. Vishal Vidyadharan, Sr. Account Manager - Alpha Data Recruitment.
Alpha Data - Past, Present and Future
FLASH BACK Timeline: Year 1981. Raegan and Brezhnev were busy with what they did best – Cold war. NASA launched the world’s first space shuttle - Columbia. IBM introduced the first “Personal Computer” with Microsoft’s operating system, MS DOS. Many of you reading this blog were not born. For some of you, the biggest priority in life was the very next diaper change. I was struggling in Grade 5, was wondering whether I would ever pass 10th Grade. A young engineer named Fayez Ibbini, who had relocated from UK to the UAE, founded Alpha Data and embarked on a journey, which would eventually inspire, gravitate and cater to a thousand people, their families and dependents. Time takes its toll on everyone, but the determined. With a long sailor at the helm, this company has evolved from what it was to become one of the best places to work as it is today. During past 36 years, Alpha has seen it all - from the PC revolution of early 1980’s, Ethernet revolution of 90’s, Internet, .com explosion to the current digital disruption. Here we are, with all those tidal waves behind us, due to one reason - the way we chose to respond. WHAT WE ARE, WHY WE ARE Many of us, coming from different places, different backgrounds and different companies, were lucky to be a part of this amazing platform to learn, work and lead a quality life. It is important that we, the inheritors take a moment to acknowledge the contribution and efforts of the leader and some great people who built this company brick by brick, block by block. More than 3 years with Alpha, I have been trying to understand why are we successful. We do not invent technologies, we do not possess any IP, we are not in a monopoly market and we do not carry any significant political clout. In my opinion the foremost reason is the people behind this well-oiled engine. Our very existence today is a testament to the unlimited capacity of human potential. Three most critical success factors for you to consider, agree or disagree. We are authentic. Most lasting companies are. The brand Alpha is not a result of any continuous, targeted propaganda or campaigns. This brand is built through human spirit. We look after well the three pillars of our business - Employees, Customers and Partners. No doubt, those who could understand and conceive these ideas have been extremely successful with us. NEXT IS WHAT? Inheritance brings fortune and responsibility alike. While we delightedly occupy the space given to us, it’s also our obligation to take the legacy forward to a bigger and better future. This very blog reflects the open atmosphere this company offers to express your feelings, voice your opinion and share ideas. I am confident that this openness will continue as longs as we keep rowing together in one direction regardless of our personal preferences and views. Success is not a status that we can be comfortable with. We should rather be paranoid of losing that status. We have a good history and story to tell. But history alone will not help in future. It is our belief and actions that will take us from here. I don’t think we need to tax our brains worrying about where we go from here. Believe and act on a few fundamentals, future will take care of itself. Take pride in Alpha - the name, people and values. Enjoy and take advantage of quality of life and enormous learning opportunities that this company offers. Never cease to transform – in your thoughts and actions. Passion@Work. Sajeev K. Perunnelly is Director-Sales in Alpha Data. Sajeev is an avid blogger and passionate about reading.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a secure, shared, distributed ledger comprised of unchangeable, digitally recorded data in packages called blocks. Traditionally ledgers are centralized and they use a 3rd party or a middleman to record all the transactions done. But Blockchain helps to make the system De-Centralized by distributing the ledgers safely across the entire network. Below you can find the definitions explaining the basics of Blockchain. There are advantages over the De-Centralized process: Helps in eliminating the middleman which help the organization to recreate new Business Models. Helps in reducing the Fraud as there is no people in the middle and is impossible to change the historical record. Helps in increasing the efficiency by simplifying the transaction. Helps in increasing the revenue by eliminating the middleman, paperwork and save a lot of time and money. Removal of the centralized system is risky, Blockchain replaces the Central Authority with CRYPTOGRAPHY (Security), means we need an electronic system based on the cryptography proof, and it allows the sender and receiver to transact direct without any intervention of the middleman. All the digital assets are protected via digital signatures and hashes Digital Signature and hashes are created by cryptography one-way hash function (This is mathematical function which has a unique output which comes from a specific input where there is no chance of deriving the input based on the output) Digital signatures and hashes makes Block chains more secure while being distributed. Blockchain also creates the transaction chain that maintains the history of an ownership of an asset. Blockchain 1.0 was focused on transacting payments. Blockchain 2.0 expands the power of ledger to have additional code through smart contracts also has multiple /linked block chains and can also craft Blockchain solutions around business needs based on user choice of being private or public. Smart contracts are contract that contains code and execute various terms inside the contract. These contract are based on agreed upon conditions like the normal contracts. They are store in Blockchain 2.0 ‘distributed ledger Blockchain Business Potential - In BSFI segment are the main five developments Smart Contracts, Smart Assets, Clearing and Settlement, Payments, Digital Identity. In Media industry we can help to find solutions to business problems like Ticket purchases, Real time auctions, Game monetization etc. For IOT the main used cases are on Connected Vehicles, Smart Appliances, and Supply Chain Sensors etc. For Government and public Sectors we can have the Blockchain solutions for Vehicle registration, Licensing and Identification, copyrights etc. On the Medical segments we can have the Block Chain solutions for Record Sharing, Compliance, Personalized medicine, Prescription Sharing
When I travel
When planning a holiday, it is very important for me to consider 3 rules to have an enjoyable trip. First is that the journey to whatever destination should be easy, not too many connecting flights or other forms of travel to get to the destination. Second is to have enough time to relax on the holiday, I am not a fan of the “country tour” where every destination has to be seen and half the holiday time is spent on a bus. Last is to stay in a hotel or accommodation which is safe and comfortable with enough space to be able to relax without feeling the need to get out all of the time because the room is small. So with those rules in mind my wife and i set off on our summer holiday. Sometimes life shows us that even with all of the prior planning and research things still go wrong. My wife and I chose Brussels for a number of reasons and researched in depth for the right place to stay. We selected an Airbnb which from the pictures posted online looked Awesome. It was big, in a trendy area, and seemed decorated in a snazzy way. As soon as we walked in the door, however we knew it was not the place for us. It was dirty (the owner had a dog), hot, and the overall design made the apartment seem dingy. So. We just landed in a new country, we don’t know anyone, and we are now sitting a place that could potentially ruin the whole experience. WHAT TO DO? In the end we were very lucky, after frantically searching for a suitable hotel to stay in and making the booking on the spot, we caught a taxi across town hoping for the best. The hotel was very nice, clean and well situated. It became our base for enjoying the whole of Brussels, and had one of the best hotel breakfast spreads I have ever enjoyed. Overall I would recommend Brussels over both London and Paris. After visiting all three cities I found Brussels had everything the 2 much bigger cities have to offer, without the crowds, traffic, and the high prices. The center of Brussels can be walked across in a day. It is the location of the European Parliament and European Commission so it is a mixing place for people from all over the world and especially the European Union. Situated between both France Germany and the Netherlands it takes many of their cultural aspects and its own to have a vibrant mix. Our visit was in summer so the weather was perfect, warm during the day and cooler at night. We spent our days walking the streets of the city and enjoying the different aspects it has to offer. Close to the hotel was the area of Ixelles which contains many nice restaurants and much of the high fashion shops. 30 minutes walk from our hotel was the historical center of Brussels with the famous Grand Square, where the buildings have all been renovated to their Baroque era splendor, after being destroyed during the world wars. Around the Grand Square is the main tourist areas along with the popular restaurants and chocolate shops. About the chocolate. Belgium is famous for its chocolate and we were not disappointed by the number of different shops and wonderful flavors on offer. Something unexpected for us which we frequently enjoyed is the Belgian Waffles. Around the city and everywhere in Belgium, the first sign you will notice is the wonderful smell of the waffle shops. We enjoyed them plain with a cup of coffee. They are better than any donut or croissant in my opinion. Something enjoyable for us in Brussels was being able to walk 20 minutes and be in an almost completely different place with a different vibe and atmosphere. The area of Sainte Catherine is very good for independent outlets selling fashion and very interesting consumer goods. There is also and artistic district with unique galleries and flea markets selling antique goods. One day we decided to visit the Botanical Gardens, which is situated about 20 minutes drive from the city center. It was the highlight of the trip for me. A very interesting experience for us and a great opportunity to get some good pictures. Zak Ibbini is an avid traveler and passionate about health and well being. He has lived in the UAE for more than 30 years and is Director of Alpha Data Recruitment, the outsourcing and recruitment division of Alpha Data.