Archive for November, 2011

Abu Dhabi update

November 30th, 2011

Al Hallab camel competiton returns just before the start of the fifth Al Dhafra festival in Zahyed City Al Gharbi

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) yesterday announced that the ‘Footsteps of Thesiger’ expedition team has now entered the UAE having reached the half way point of their 1,500km trek from Salalah in Oman to Abu Dhabi.

National day – Dubai – Synergy

November 30th, 2011

As the U.A.E. nation clerbrats tis 40th anniversary Synergy also celebrates its 20th anniversary of receiving its first Trade registration in November 1991. We have seen many changes in that time, for example  regional wars,  oil prices below $20 and above $100, surging rents, unprecedented construciotn projects, revoltuionary developments in IT – in those days email and Internet were almost unknown concepts , mobile phones were like  house bricks and no touch screen, no facebook no Twitter no sms text no Google – no Internet city.

For those who have moved to Dubai in the last 2 years – a high percentage of the population – the metro , Festival City, Emirates Mall, the Marina, Burj Kalifa and Downtown Dubai, are established venues that 5 years ago were barely on the planning board and Dubai more or less  stopped at the now shut down and now barely visible Hard Rock cafe .

So like Dubai we have  grown, but had to adapt, and we thank our staff and our customers for helping us reach our own milestone to be here to congratulate the U.A.E. on its 40 th anniversary.  Our own small celebrations are planned for Friday so come an denjoy yourselves -10 a.m  till 1pm.

We offer  a note of caution for those celebrating over the weekend  – avoid drink driving – not only is this a muslin coiuntry but there is zero tolerance and the courts recently handed out the longest prison sentence for drunk driving. There is also bad weeather coming in from the West – so please think carefully  before indulging in water sports in rough seas,  or venturing into the desert or along wadis where there may be flash floods.

Saudi miltant group hack AT&T – penetration testing Dubai

November 29th, 2011

The FBI and Philippine police have arrested four people over a hacking operation on US telecommunications firm AT&T, designed to funnel money to a Saudi-based militant group, according to Reuters.

 The four people arrested last week in Manila were allegedly paid by the same group the FBI accuses of having funded the Mumbai attacks in 2008, according to the Philippines’ Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said.

 AT&T lost approximately $2 million as a result of the hack, the CIDG told Reuters in a statement.  The hackers broke into the AT&T phone system and made calls on customer’s accounts to expensive international premium-rate services.

To esnure your network is secure ask about our advanced pentraiton testing .

National Day 2011

November 28th, 2011

Dubai Rally to run on National Day weekend

Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the UAE and given the full support of the Dubai Ruler’s Court the 33rd Dubai International Rally, the final round of the 2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, will be staged on UAE National Day weekend December 1-3. under the patronage of Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture.

The Dubai International Rally has over the years provided many classic and memorable battles between the Middle East’s top drivers, and has special significance as as the first annual sporting event staged in the Emirates and the starting point for today’s multi-discipline motorsport calendar, headlined by the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which is controlled by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) on behalf of the FIA, the world governing body.

The rally action begins at 9am the following day from High Colleges of Technology, and after 12 special stages in a route totalling 802km, the event finishes at 4.30pm on Saturday, December 3, back on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai.

Deira  mall will also be running a Facebook competition where fans are asked to submit UAE-inspired heart photos. Incorporating the UAE colours, pictures that receive the most likes can win shopping sprees at Deira City Centre worth AED 5,000, AED 3,000 and AED 1,000! Dubai’s first-ever mall Deira City Centre, is revealing a news headline exhibition of the UAE’s most memorable stories from nearly 40 years. On display at the mall’s Central Stage, this enlightening exhibition recognizes all aspects of the nation’s life and heritage .

At the Burj Al Arab the  longest, and biggest, UAE flag will be on display in the hotel lobby, and projected onto the hotel’s exterior. A National Day-themed cake will be also be on display within the Sahn Eddar lobby, and each visitor will be provided with a UAE National Day book showcasing the momentous growth and prosperity of this great nation .

Today n the presence of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, Dubai Women’s College has organized a seriers of events in celebration of the UAE 40th National Day. 11:15:00 – 21:00:00 DWC Campus Dubai

The main event marking the National Day celebrations in Dubai will be held at the Heritage Village in Shindaga area

Major Saeed Obaid Bin Aran, director of the traffic department at Umm Al Quwain, said it was decided to reduce the traffic fines 50 per cent on the occasion of the UAE National Day.The offer will take effect from November 27 until the end of December, he said. Obaid urged all motorists to take advantage of this grace period and renew the registration of their vehicles.The discount in fines applies to all traffic fines before November 27 this year, Obaid added.

UAE Ballooning Championship – Thursday, 1 December 2011 to Saturday, 3 December 2011 -17:00:00 – 19:00:00
Dubai There will be specialty flying competition between the pilotsfor the crowds to watch.

THE CORNICHE FESTIVAL

30 November 2011 to 3 December 2011 - 5:00 pm – 1:00 am, Abu Dhabi Corniche. Along the shoreline of the famous Abu Dhabi corniche an action packed, thrilling entertainment festival  including

 30 November Armed Forces Air Show 16:00:00 – 17:15:00,

Traditional live show 30 November 2011 to 3 December 2011 – 05:00 PM – 12:00 PM

Emarati Fashion Show

30 November 2011 05:00 PM – 12:00 PM UAE Fashion show for the traditional dresses since the establishment of the United Arab Emirates to the present time

The Global Champions Tour Grand Prix 30 November 2011 16:00 – 17:15, Al Forsan International Sports Resort
The top ranked riders in the world .

Lots lots more in Ajman, Al Ain RAK, Fujeirah and almost every schol and university.See Sega World and Dubai Aquarium and Dubai LAdies Club and so on
Its 40 years this year since my graduation so thanks to everyone for helping me celebrate! –  and I hope you all have a great weekend celebrating the U.A.E.’s 40th in style.

Security, security, security

November 28th, 2011

Fraudulent emails in spam traffic increased by 2000% in Q3 2011, in Q2 2011, fraudulent emails made up 0.1% of spam volume; this has increased to 2% of all spam traffic in Q3.  It may not sound a lot but its one in every 50 mails which is a lot of wasted time and space and bandwidth.

 Spammers use a  social engineering techniques  including; sending email offers on behalf of online games to steal usernames and passwords and fake notifications from major organisations which then link to a phishing resource. Spammers also use multi-stage attacks such as messages inviting recipients to take part in a survey and win money for doing so. . After submitting the survey, they are redirected to a further form asking for their full credit card details in order to process the promised payment. The information is then likely to be used to clean out accounts, rather than pay out cash.

More and more spam comes from developing countries. India (+0.7 percentage points), Indonesia (+4.7 percentage points) and Brazil (+0.8 percentage points) were the top three sources of spam reported by Kasperky labs..

The android platform seems to be the main target for malware.  

The Duqu Trojan captured the attention of the world this month because of its similarities to the first major cyber weapon, the Stuxnet worm. The similarities between the two malicious programs suggest they were both written by the same group of people or the Stuxnet source code was used.  However, instead of directly affecting the uranium enrichment process like Stuxnet, Duqu is more of an industrial espionage tool. Duqu files include an additional Trojan-Spy module capable of intercepting data entered via the keyboard, capturing screenshots and gathering information about the system. New Duqu victims were discovered by Kaspersky, primarily in Iran.

Saudi Arabia remains the most spammed country, both in the Middle East and globally with a spam rate of 84%.

September’s spam levels remained fairly stable, but many spammers took advantage of vulnerabilities in older versions of WordPress blogging software on a large range of websites across the globe. The WordPress blogs themselves appear to not be compromised.

Sumantec figures indcacte:

The automotive industry sector remained as the most spammed industry sector, with a spam rate of 77.8% in September, followed by the education sector at 77.2% and 74.6% for the chemical & pharmaceuticals, 74.4% for IT services, 74.3% for retail, 74.5% for public sector and 74.3% for finance.

 The Public Sector remained the most targeted by phishing activity in September, with one in 125.8 emails comprising a phishing attack. The chemical and pharmaceutical sector had the highest rate of virus attacks at in 104.5.

Ask about our solutions for setting, enforcing and auditing IT policy -even at command line level.

U.K. travel disruption

November 27th, 2011

The UK Border Agency has announced they will be on strike on 30 November,” said a statement on the Emirates Airline website. All Emirates flights to/from the UK on that day may be disrupted or forced to be cancelled.”

Etihad Airways said on its website that the strike would start from 12.01am Wednesday UK time until midnight on Thursday. and will most likely affect operations at all UK border crossings and has the potential to cause disruption at all UK airports.

Other U.K. public sector strikes are also anticipated as a result of the economic austerity.

Makes a change from last year’s volcano and ice and snow.  with the UK being one of the few countries to take firm action to cut costs in line with income and to also introduce quantititive easing to cushion the economy it is disappointing that anyone should think that strikes will somehow make things better. Greece and Egypt are just two   fmany countries that are finding its easy to protest but the result is even less confidence from the financial market  and it does not make it any  easier to come up with solutions.    Dubai weathered a debt crisis but not without pain  , part of its recovery this year is down to the fact that is seen be stable boih politically and economically.

Protesting about a world ecominc crisis iw as effective as protesting about the sun rising.  I hope the U.K does not fall into this trap when it has done much to put it house in order.  Otherwise i will again miss Chirstmas at home.

UAE National Id card – fines

November 27th, 2011

The Emirates ID Authority has seen a surge in applications from UAE residents for ID cards, following the threat of an up to AED20 daily penalty for those not holding a valid card.  Today it is registering more than 17,000 people a day.

Each card contains the holder’s address, photo, date of birth and fingerprints, and can be used as an official source of identification in the Gulf state. In November, EIDA introduced fines for UAE nationals who failed to apply for ID cards before the final deadline of June 30 this year, in a bid to boost the number of card holders.Fines of AED20 per day were issued for late registration, failure to renew cards and failure to update important biographical data, with a maximum fee of AED 1,000.

Expatriates in all emirates except Sharjah and Dubai must have, or have applied for, an ID card to renew their residency visa. Sharjah intends to enforce the same ruling from Dec 1.In July, Dubai ruled that workers in any of Tecom’s 11 free zones would need to register for an ID card before applying to renew to secure their visa.

Fines for late registration and non-renewal among expats are being gradually introduced, with the northern emirates subject to fees from Dec 1, Sharjah from Feb 1, Abu Dhabi from April 1 and Dubai from June 1.

UAE government will  increasingly require expatriates and nationals to present ID cards when dealing with federal agencies . To date, only Ajman has linked all of its government services, including Ministry of Interior services, to the ID card. Abu Dhabi requires emirates ID for car registrations and traffic services, and Dubai requests the document for other transactions, such as monthly metro passes.

Al Khoury said he expected ID cards to be linked with all government processes in all emirates within two years.

“Our strategy assumes that the whole population will be enrolled in the program by the end of 2013.”

Note this also applies to  resident dependents.

Insecure passwords

November 26th, 2011

Users rely on dangerously simple passwords, such as strings of sequential numbers (“123456″ or “654321″), series of letters that sit side by side on keyboards (“qwerty” and “qazwsx”), or passwords that demonstrate little to no imagination (“password” and “111111″). Other users avoid overly common words or strings of numbers and letters in favor of proper names, types of animals, interests, or short sentences but  many users think alike, and  rely on passwords such as “michael,” “monkey,” “baseball,” and “iloveyou,” all of which reside on SplashData’s top 25 list.

The complete list, which SplashData compiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers, and the top 25 most common passwords indentified by hackers are:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. monkey
  7. 1234567
  8. letmein
  9. trustno1
  10. dragon
  11. baseball
  12. 111111
  13. iloveyou
  14. master
  15. sunshine
  16. ashley
  17. bailey
  18. passw0rd
  19. shadow
  20. 123123
  21. 654321
  22. superman
  23. qazwsx
  24. michael
  25. football

Why doe sit matter?

Data from Norway’s oil and defense industries may have been stolen in what is feared to be one of the most extensive data  espionage cases in the country’s history, security  officials from  the Norwegian National Security Authority said last week,. At least 10 different attacks, mostly aimed at the oil, gas, energy and defense industries, were discovered in the past year, but the agency said it has to assume the number is much higher because many victims have yet to realize that their computers have been hacked.

Bringing back memories of the Sony PlayStation hack that compromised thousands of gamer accounts, some British Microsoft  Xbox Live users have been scammed in a phishing attack. Although Microsoft insists its network  has not been hacked, the phishers have nonetheless fooled some gamers into disclosing credit-card information .

The Sun, a paper in the U.K., first reported that online crooks hacked into thousands of Xbox Live accounts to steal millions of dollars. The paper said the average catch was 100 British pounds, or a bit over $150 — but that many suffered losses of more than 200 pounds.

, Microsoft is warning people against opening unsolicited e-mails because the messages may contain spyware or other malware that can access  personal information on their computer  without their knowledge or permission. Microsoft is also reminding all customers that they should be very careful to keep all personal information secure  whenever online and never supply e-mail addresses, passwords or credit card information to strangers.

News reports have suggested the phishers convinced gamers to enter the information in exchange for reward points. Enderle expects most credit card companies will indemnify the victims if they dispute the charges.

A  warning for anyone using the Internet: If someone is representing themselves as the vendor, they already have your password and ID. They don’t have to ask you for it So it should be a red flag if anybody asks you for both your password or ID. Never provide it, even if the site looks to be safe.

Meanwhile in the UAE a recent news article claims in 4 facebook users locally have been targets of various scams.

A less well known privacy debate is brewing around Facebook: What Facebook is learning about those who visit its web site. Facebook officials are now acknowledging that the social-media giant has been able to create a running log of the web pages that each of its 800 million members has visited during the previous 90 days, via tracking cookies. In recent weeks, Facebook has been wrangling with the Federal Trade Commission about whether the social-media Web site is violating users’ privacy by making public too much of their personal information Relevant Products/Services.

Far more quietly, another debate is brewing about a different side of online privacy: what Facebook is learning about those who visit its Web site. the company relies on tracking cookie technologies similar to the controversial systems used by Google, Adobe, Microsoft , Yahoo and others in the online advertising industry, says Arturo Bejar, Facebook’s engineering director.

Cumulative Updates for SQL Server 2008 SP2/SP3 are available

November 26th, 2011

 Microsoft has jsut released two new cumulative updates for the SQL Server 2008 platform.
Cumulative Update #7 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 2

Cumulative Update #2 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3


Note: These updates are for SQL Server 2008, *NOT* for SQL Server 2008 R2. Check SELECT @@VERSION; if it shows 10.50.xxxx and not 10.00.xxxx, you’re in the wrong place. :-)

Cumulative Updates for SQL Server 2008 SP2/SP3 are available

Very early this morning, Microsoft released two new cumulative updates for the SQL Server 2008 platform.

Cumulative Update #7 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 2

Cumulative Update #2 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3

Note: These updates are for SQL Server 2008, *NOT* for SQL Server 2008 R2.

Check SELECT @@VERSION; if it shows 10.50.xxxx and not 10.00.xxxx, then you’re in the wrong place. :-)

Emirates Winter

November 26th, 2011

http://vimeo.com/32033844

Lewis De Mesa  -  time-lapse masterpiece Emirates Winter.

Even if you’re a long time resident of the UAE, you’ll be amazed at the images that Lewis has managed to capture on his journey around the seven Emirates, each one unique and taken from a completely different viewpoint.

Lewis started his project in January 2011 and finally completed shooting in May of this year. Lewis’s incredible journey saw him travel around 4,000 kilometres, visiting Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

Economic snapshot in and around Dubai end 2011

November 24th, 2011

So as 2011 bumps along  and Dubai survived its debt crisis and its hotels filled up due to the the Arab Spring  , and exchange rate to the Indian rupee hits a 2 year high –  what is the current status of the region?. Its probably more unclear now than ever!  The expansions by Etiahad and Emirates and the new Dubai airport is strenghening the region’s tourism, and capacity both as a logistics hub and as a travel hub.

So I took a quick snapshot of current news items :

In Dubai:

A bankruptcy law designed to help mitigate future financial difficulties of the type experienced by some of Dubai’s largest state-owned firms is likely to be introduced in 2012, the Director General of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) said.

Abu Dhabi

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s state-owned renewable energy company, has trimmed its staff numbers by nine percent as it seeks to create a leaner organisation, the company said Tuesday.

The redundancies followed a company-wide review of the $22bn venture, amid wider spending reductions in Abu Dhabi prompted by the global financial crisis.

Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi’s biggest developer, plans to cut its workforce by 24 percent as it focuses on existing projects and properties that generate steady income, the company said this week. Sorouh Real Estate, Abu Dhabi’s second largest developer by market value, said in July it had trimmed staff by 17 percent over the previous year as it sought to cut costs. Further job cuts were possible as projects reached completion, the company said.

Government-owned Tourism Development & Investment said on Oct 29 that it would delay the completion of the Zayed National Museum as well as branches of the Louvre and Guggenhem due to the “magnitude of work.”

“In general most developers are facing big issues as to how exactly they are to keep their businesses going as starting new residential or commercial projects is a non-starter because it is difficult to raise money from the banks,” said Neil. “The off-plan market is dead, and raising capital from the public is difficult in view of the weak equity market.”

Abu Dhabi is fast becoming the worst construction market in the GCC after Dubai amid a scaling back of projects, investment bank Arqaam Capital said Wednesday. A scaling down of state-backed projects is expected to have repercussions on developers, particularly Arabtec Holding and Drake & Scull International, analyst Mohammad Kamal said in a research note

TDIC, which also develops hotels, cut its 2011 budget by 28 percent to AED13.4bn ($3.6bn), according the prospectus for a $3bn bond sale in July. The sale was postponed.

Masdar, a $22bn state-owned renewable energy company, shelved plans for a 100,000 sq m headquarters building that would produce more energy than it uses, it said in September. A year earlier, the company scaled back the zero-carbon ambition for its purpose-built city and delayed the city’s first phase by two years to 2015.

“They are downscaling to reality,” said Saud Masud, an analyst at Dubai-based Rasmala Investment Bank. “You don’t have ample liquidity today to finish projects. Abu Dhabi as a sovereign state is solvent, but there is a liquidity problem in sectors like real estate.”

The oil-rich UAE capital has pushed back the delivery of major projects including s, in a sign it may be feeling the pinch of funding its $500bn ‘2030’ development plan.

Both markets have been hurt by a drop in private investment in the region that has persisted since the global economic slump

U.A.E

I a recent survey an average of 84 percent of Gulf residents who took part in the survey say they do not have enough money for the future, while, at the same time, their biggest expenditure is eating out, which indicates they  a very short-sighted view of their finances

The United Arab Emirates’ nuclear- power program, a joint venture between state-owned Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp and Korea Electric Power Corp, will cost about $30bn, according to two people with knowledge of the project.

Financing will be split into one-third equity and two-thirds debt, the people said, declining to be identified because talks are confidential. Fahad al-Qahtani, a spokesman for Emirates Nuclear, said the financing strategy has yet to be decided.

Emirates Nuclear is going ahead with plans to develop four nuclear reactors in the UAE even as other countries halt atomic programs after the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused radioactive material to be released from its Fukushima plant. Korea Electric, the country’s biggest electricity producer, won a contract in 2009 to complete the plants from 2017 to 2020, which will make the UAE the first Gulf Arab nation with atomic power

In KSA:

Expatriates account for nine out of 10 private-sector jobs in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter. They fill roles that range from domestic service and factory work to management positions in large finance companies.

The value of their remittances has almost doubled in the past five years from an officially recorded SR15.3bn in the second quarter of 2006. Three economists said the true figures for money outflows were probably much higher because they did not include informal transfers.

“In practice, when oil prices are high remittances go up, and when oil prices fall, remittances go down automatically because employment falls and new recruitment falls,” said Khan Zahid, chief economist of Riyad Capital.

Labour Minister Adel al-Fakieh said in an Oct 22 television interview that the Labour Ministry was “preparing a monitoring programme aimed at reducing the huge quantity of transfers of foreign workers”.

Oman

Oman forecasts a fiscal deficit of 5.4 percent of GDP next year in its 2012 budget, a finance ministry official said on Wednesday, as the government plans to increase spending by 10 percent to create jobs, a key demand of protesters who took to the streets earlier this year.

However, 

Oman’s retail offering is set to grow by a third over the next 18 months with the sector being boosted by a rise in disposable incomes in the sultanate, a report said on Sunday. Cluttons, the real estate specialist, said five retail developments were currently under construction that will deliver an additional 100,000 sq m of retail space, adding to the 300,000 sq m already available in Oman. Cluttons said the market expansion was being facilitated through rising oil prices in the first half of 2011 and the resulting rise in national revenues and Government income.

Qatar

Labour unions have said Qatar should be stripped of hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup unless it improves working conditions for foreign labourers.

Qatar’s Al Jazeera to launch sports news channel

Al Futtaim eyes $1.3bn deal for Qatar growth

Qatari Diar to invest $339m in Montenegro resort

Yemen

Celebrations erupted in the capital Sanaa as Saleh inked the agreement that made him the fourth leader to be forced from power in 10 months of mass protests that have swept the Arab world (AFP/Getty Images)

Rest of world

Almost every week since August has brought news of firings by the world’s biggest banks. HSBC Holdings, Europe’s biggest lender, announced that month it would slash 30,000 jobs by the end of 2013. In September, Bank of America, the second-largest US lender, said it would cut the same number of jobs. Both banks are trimming about 10 percent of their employees. Last week, BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, said it will cut about 1,400 jobs at its corporate and investment- banking unit, and UniCredit, Italy’s biggest, said it plans to eliminate 6,150 positions by 2015.

In China Wenzhou’s 400,000 businesses are facing financial hardship because of rising costs, soaring black market interest rates and a sudden credit squeeze, Zhou said. Similar problems are happening across China because private enterprises in China rely on underground borrowing rather than banks to operate,

The sudden collapse of informal lending networks reveals the fragility of China’s unregulated financing system when credit tightens and creditors lose confidence, said Tao Dong, a Hong Kong-based economist at Credit Suisse Group. Money supply has shrunk as the government tightens lending to try and rein in inflation running near a three-year high. “This is a much bigger problem across the country,” said Tao, who estimates outstanding private loans stand at 4 trillion yuan, or 8 percent of total lending in China. “Wenzhou is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Huge job cuts at Nokia Siemens as company eyes $1.3bn savings – the Technology firm is to axe 17,000 jobs under wider changes aimed at gearing up for IPO.

Meanwhile the USA has failed to reach a decision debt reduction, the Euro zone pronblems continue, no progress with the Israel -Palestine problems, unrest in: Egypt , Yemen, Syria and sanctions agaisnt Iran, Somai priates, natural disasters all make for gloomy reading.

 A key factor for this region is oil price. Many analysts see the chance of modest falls in oil prices if economic activity in Europe is hit hard by the euro zone debt crisis, but even the lowest forecasts are relatively high. In the most recent Reuters oil price poll, only two of 35 analysts predicted Brent would slip below $90 per barrel next year and the average forecast was that prices would be close to where they are now, around $106 per barrel. Goldman Sachs, the most accurate oil price forecaster over the last year, now sees Brent at $125 per barrel in 12 months.

So the region is likely to avoid the worse of the ongoing recession. The global economy has expanded for years on credit, cards and low interest rates that drove up real estate and commidty prices  -a s credit is tightened and every country seems to be short of funds  and wash with unwanted bonds at high interest rates the problems are not going to away quickly it seems.  Yet USA and European and many UAE companies are reporting significant profit increases because they have downsized and got their costs under control since 2008 and are better placed for tough times.

What is clear is that there is much more uncertainty, much more volatility,and much more need for agility in business.  We have seen this in out own bussiness and in our clients and new  technologies are supporting new processes whether for collanboration, mobiltiy, data mining, sociel media integration, etc. Dynamics Ax 2012 and Dynamcs CRM 2011 are example, as is the new Infor ION integration tool, BIM for construction,  in memory BI tools, the cloud, and application stores.

The road ahead is certainly not clear, or unsafe but good drivers with good cars will have an interesting journey – Synergy has been helping business evolve and transition for 20 years with proven solutions and technologies delivered by a consistently excellent team. and as the UAE moves to a 40 year celebration we  look forward to another 20 years of successful delivery.

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Microsoft what’s new

November 21st, 2011

Microsoft provides a lot of underlying technologies we often forget about.  There many recent or imminent relases that will have a significant impact for example Dynamics Ax 2012 is a pardigm shift from previous versions. Dynamics CRM 2011, Sharepoint 201o and EPM are all major advances. Power Pivot has been around for some time and so has Management Reporter  and both will have an impact on BI and MIS reporting particularly for the Dynamics solutions. The next release of SQL will  include the impressive Power View and SSRS can also now include Sparklines.

Behind the IT manager’s door there are also some signifcant advances of which you should be aware :

1: System Center Configuration Manager 2012

 SCCM was known as Systems Management Server (SMS). With the upcoming release of SCCM 2012, Microsoft  will enhance the end-user experience and streamline IT operations to make the user the focus rather than computers. As users begin to rely on more and more devices this is a logical srep forward. . With SCCM 2012, as users roam between different computers, an dmobile devices their applications can go with them.  While SCCM always had a concept of a portal, it wasn’t intuitive. With SCCM 2012, the software portal is a Web-based service from which users can proactively choose to install new software.

 These features are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SCCM 2012,  along with initiatives such as BYOD and VDI, .

2: System Center Operations Manager 2012

,SCOM 2012 provides support for much more in the way of native device monitoring and  the ability to discover and monitor network devices, including the various interfaces and ports on those devices.

Microsoft offers various System Center bundles  . SCOM has always been an outstanding monitoring tool for Microsoft environments. SCOM 2007 added support for some third-party platforms, and extends the infrastructure monitoring capabilities of the product.

3: Windows 8 client

 If Windows 8 works the way that Microsoft wants — and the market accepts it as a viable option outside the confines of the traditional computing space — the product could revolutionize computing by allowing the same operating system and applications to run seamlessly across a wide variety of devices, including PCs, laptops, tablets, phones, and even gaming consoles. Obviously, Microsoft has Windows Phone 7 as another mobile option for mobile devices, and  the interface similarities may help when it comes to widespread adoption.

 Microsoft may have  an uphill battle for the mobile space. Windows 8 is a  massive opportunity  for developers to get their applications in front of audiences on any device form factor they use ad may be its key weapon. .

4: Lync

.The product has the potential to seriously disrupt the telephony space, and it adds serious unified communications capabilities to organizations that deploy it. Lync 2010 added a number of user-centric features, including the “me” area, which allows users to set their own status and track their own visibility. Lync also enables users to share individual desktops and to collaborate with other users. In addition, Lync includes audio and video conferencing capabilities and much more.

 Combining Lync and Microsoft’s Skype the company is well positioned to own the voice and video space if it can execute well. Lync could be a full-fledged replacement for an existing PBX and makes person-to-person communication very easy via a number of different channels.

5: Hyper-V 3.0

Microsoft has gone on record to say that Hyper-V 3.0 will catapult the company’s virtualization efforts and move it,  beyond whatVMware is offering. Hyper-V 3.0 will add the ability to perform multiple concurrent live migrations and introduces the new VHDX virtual disk format, a virtual fibre channel adapter and boot from SAN capabilities.

From a scalability perspective, Hyper-V 3.0 supports up to 160 logical processors on a host, as well as up to 2 TB of RAM. Guests will be able to support 32 vCPUs and up to 512 GB of RAM.

A combination of circumstance and feature gap closing may help Microsoft. VMware may made some serious errorswith  its new licensing schemes and this provides an outstanding opportunity for Hyper-V 3.0 to begin to supplant VMware in some environments.

Windows 8 patch improvement

November 20th, 2011

Microsoft will reduce the number of distracting restarts for updates to Windows 8, part of its plan to simplify how people interact with the upcoming operating system, a company manager said today.

Security experts, including ones who have criticized Microsoft’s updating practices in the past, applauded the changes.

Security – ever more risks.

November 20th, 2011

A desktop computer stolen from healthcare organization Sutter Medical Foundation has potentially exposed the personal information of nearly 4 million patients.

The password-protected but unencrypted machine contained a patient database. Ironically, the Sacramento, Calif.-based healthcare organization had been implementing encryption across the organization at the time of the theft. Unfortunately, the machine that was stolen was not yet encrypted.

Anoher worrying piece of news is that aaround 85 percent of the 100 network administrators surveyed in Tufin Technologies’ 2011 Firewall Management report say that half of their firewall rule changes eventually need to be fixed because of improper setup. Just 7 percent say their firewall audit processes are automated, and 40 percent say they spend a month or more per year on handling firewall audits.

SQL Server 2012 is coming to Dubai sooner than you think

November 20th, 2011

SQL Server 2012 adds lots of features, but it also builds on many existing ones. High availability matures with the AlwaysOn technology, Resource Governor is expanded, Filetable, expanding the Filestream capabilities, and more. . There’s a new user-mode version of the Express edition, called LocalDB.

The Release Candidate is now out and is the feature complete version of the product, which means that everything we can expect to see in the final RTM version is in this version.