Archive for March, 2012

Prophix positioned in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management

March 27th, 2012

 Prophix Software, a leading developer of solutions designed to automate financial processes, yesterday announced that it is positioned by Gartner Inc. in the Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management Suites report. According to Gartner, “Corporate performance management supports cost optimization and growth initiatives. CPM is a suitable fit for nearly all organizations, and should be a priority initiative for CFOs to enable the finance functions necessary to deliver short- and long-term strategic benefits to the business.” Prophix enables companies to align their strategic business objectives with tactical plans to allow for daily monitoring, as well as financial, and variance reporting. A unified solution, Prophix fully integrates budgeting, forecasting, planning, reporting, financial consolidations, scenario management, dashboards and in-depth analysis capabilities, providing a forward-looking view of company performance to stakeholders.

 “We believe our position is a reflection of our commitment to innovation, our customer-centric approach, and the increasing need by companies for CPM solutions that support both cost optimization and strategic growth,” said Paul Barber, Prophix’s CEO and President. “As a result of our ability to deliver high-end CPM functionality, low total cost of ownership, and fast implementation times, we have a rapidly growing set of both domestic and international satisfied customers.” Barber further outlined how Prophix continues to build out its customer support infrastructure in order to maintain their customers’ quality experience.

 With more than 1,850 customers worldwide, Prophix’s current generation CPM solution, PROPHIX 10, is built on a Microsoft platform to leverage Microsoft Analysis Services, Reporting Services, and Office and SharePoint Services. PROPHIX 10 automates budgeting, planning and consolidation at half the cost of traditional CPM solutions and serves organizations of all sizes and industries.

Synergy Software Sysems is a Prophix Certified Implementation partner.

 1.           Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Suites” by Neil Chandler, John E. Van Decker and Christopher Iervolino, March 19, 2012 

 About Prophix Software Inc.

Prophix is a leading developer of innovative performance management solutions designed to automate financial and operational processes. Thousands of finance leaders in nearly one hundred countries use Prophix to empower their organizations and gain valuable insight into business performance. Prophix and its partners deliver superior value by combining high-end functionality with low cost-of-ownership and fast implementations. For more information, visit www.prophix.com. 

 About the Magic Quadrant

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

 

Don’t hire crooks and frauds in Dubai – what to do about it?

March 27th, 2012

Financial experts in Dubai today warned UAE companies not to hire “crooks” if they want to avoid falling victim to fraud.  Dubai World, says that more than 15 percent of executive résumés are falsified, while internal fraud on average slashes company revenues by around 5 percent.

Our own experience is that many cvs are works of fantasy.  I smile each day at the new inflated fancy job titles invented – two recent examples: Advanced Senior Consultant and Junor  Assistant VP  etc This is furthe rcompunded by grandiose and oftem falsified self publicity on various social media sites - is has almost got to the stage sadly that when someone with a profle on a Facebook or Linked In account  its a reason not to employ.  Exam dumps and cram courses substitrute for training and experience – the term expert is reduced to mean ‘;we covered it one afternoon during my course but it was a long time ago and I don’t really remember much about it’  as one candidate cheerfully confessed to me.

I have had the identical  cv provded by  head hunters several times  over with just the name at the top changed. And i lose track of how many times I find that 20 different people single handedly implemented the same solution for the same company, or who all claim to have been the Project Manager, or those who manage to fill up a side of a cv with their knowledge of an entreprise solution forq  job position that they  held for less than 6 months and never implemented nor on whch they ever  got trained.  

Wrose you wilfind many epxample sof people who fl,aisfy refereces by phtopyiong key sections from someone else”s and printing out on compsny letter head, or who misrepresent a letter to a bank as a statement of service etc.  So Caveat Emptor – fi you dont sk and you don;t check then ????? We have sometimes been stunned by some people who take references from us by claims made sometimes from people who have never even been employed by us !

Such nonsense affects employers, customners,  and other staff who have genuine experince and certifcations. So what can you do? First is to have a formal objective  interview and reference checking  process. Be suspicious of anyone who changes jobs mor than once in their career with less thna 2 years service is usually a sign they failed, or at least failed to get any worthwhile experience .  Anyone can make a mistake or just not fit in once, but they should not make it again and they when they have a long list of excuses about bad jobs and employers –  then it at least implies that their judgement and loyalty  is not so great.

Second is to have a probation period with some clearly defined, realistic and measurable goals.  

Third is to have some proper systems in place. 

  • Appropriate IT systems:

 HR systems:

  • A comprehensive  recruitment module is amsut for a busy HR department especially in an expatriate, often project based, job  market where labour turnover is inevitably higher. Manage cross compny applicants, the GRO and on board process.  and track multiple docuemnt expiry dates. HWta security checks are necessary for ecample in a hotel where staff have access to VIP rooms. How do you know they were not dismissed or rejected by another hotel in the same group?
  • Make your HR  policies and processes transaparent via a self service portal and approval workflow
  • Appraisal and training modules and employee survey tools can all help

IT Policy and Security

  • Software to design and apply and audit IT policies  who cna access what and when and print what and copy what etc.  Who controls the  IT staff –  what stops a disgrunted employee going to a commnad prompt and entering   DEL *.*  or printing off the CEO’s payslip – how do you prove it?
  • Access control to your office – biometric systems also need softwaee that can set access control rules by area, time, role etc and  interface with rostering and payroll systems. who leaves early and gets in late? Who does buddy punching for missing coleagues?
  • Who spends time on  inappropriate   chat,  internet surfinf and dowmloading , emails large file attachments, accesses and pritnes confidential files, prirgs perosnal documents,  sends flame mails,  does not comply with coroorate house rules with regard to house rules of emails, disclaimer messages etc
  • Do you have approriate maitenance and back up and failover systems systems in place in case of  system crashes due to incompetence, exposure to virus attack or deliberate theft of documents  and files?

Its a trusim that a company is only as good as its staff and hard working loyal employees suffer when unqualified inexperienced or deceitful or lazy and disloyal staff exploit them and their company

We offer advanced systems to address all of these issues:  Biometric devices, Access Cotnrol and T@A software, CCTV systems,  Collboration and Self Service Portal, Audit and Compliance tools, IT policy enforcement tools, silent network montioring tools with drilldown dashboards of e.g. top 10 sies accesses, who uses most bandwidth or tries to access secure foklders or banned sites, who copied or printed what, with drilldown to  evidential  recordings, failover disaster reocvery, Email managemnt etc. .

 

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Firms also need to carry out adequate reference checks and personal assessments if they want to reduce corruption from within their organisation, Ali said.

Other panelists added that many firms were unknowingly hiring workers without assessing them for illegal activity previously.

“There is a background check done on individuals coming into the country,” said Tania Fabiani, who heads up the Middle East Fraud Risk Assurance Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

“[But some companies] fail to realise that the background check is actually done from a political and religious perspective rather than criminal background, so does this person have a bankruptcy or drug history or have they committed a misdemeanour in the country that they came from?

“I really think for discipline to exist… you need a culture of corruption prevention.”

Recent figures from the UAE’s State Audit Institution (SAI) said authorities are currently seeking to recover more than AED1bn (US$272.4m) lost due to misappropriation of public funds, forgery, fraud and bribery.

In a statement released by official UAE news agency WAM, the SAI said it had referred more than 10 cases of corruption to the Public Prosecution department in the last two years.

According to PwC’s Middle East Economic Crime Survey, more than a quarter of businesses and organisations in the region have also reported economic crime in the last 12 months, with main crimes being asset misappropriation, bribery and corruption, cybercrime and accounting fraud.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they would likely to face bribery and corruption in the next 12 months, a rate which is much higher than the global average of 23 percent.

The survey also revealed that fraud detection mechanisms in the Middle East were not as robust as other regions, and two in five respondents reported that their organisations have not performed a fraud risk assessment in the last 12 months.

Some 69 percent of those surveyed said the most serious fraud incidents were committed by internal perpetrators, typically male, between 31 and 40 years old, a graduate degree holder and someone who had been with the company for three to five years.

Almost half of those surveyed reported that incidents of fraud had cost their organisations between US$100,001 and US$5m in the last year

GCC growth 2012?

March 26th, 2012

 A new study by McGill Consulting Group  shows that many companies in the GCC implemented stringent cost-cutting duirng the last two years of gloabl ecomonic problems. In the UAE, , 34 percent of businesses cut between 11 percent and 20 percent of their overall budget in the last three years.

In the Saudi Arabia, it was a different story however, with 38 percent of survey firms saying they had cut less than five percent of costs.  A similar picture for Qatar and Kuwait, 69 percent and 73 percent, respectively, claimed that  they had trimmed their operating expenses by less than five percent.  Bahrain was worse affected and  almost half of companies surveyed indicated cuts over 50 percent of their annual budgets.Legal departments were the least hit by cuts, largely driven by mounting legal issues stemming from poor payment and supplier performance. The biggest cuts affected human resources departments, followed by marketing, sales, and logistics.

On Monday global shares were  looking weaker  due to concerns about profits and a  slowdown in the global economy especially declining demand for Europe and China .affecting Asian materials and technology stocks. Over the last year or so projected growth rates for the UAE have varied signifcantly from almost zero to 7% –  a more realistic rate of around 4% is now expected for 2012  but there are many uncertainties due to oil price fluctuations, regional polical tensions, sluggish global economy etc. A third of companies in the region indicatedthey  intend to engage in cost cutting in the near future and the debt collector lawyers may well be visit for while longer. Still any sign of sustainable  growth is very welcome and its good to see the hotels full and construction picking up again.

We have seen a definite upturn over the last 2 quarters and our focus on specific verticals, and carefully selected clients and projects and  our reputation for support continues to prove itself and we have multiple project go lives at the end of the week.

SQL 2012 xVelocity – what is it?

March 24th, 2012

In SQL Server 2008 R2, Microsoft released PowerPivot for Excel which introduced an in-memory analytics engine called VertiPaq. Vertipaq enables Excel to process hundreds of millions of rows with sub-second response times on desktop hardware. This engine uses in-memory column-oriented storage and innovative compression techniques to achieve these remarkable results.

In SQL Server 2012, Microsoft usessame Vertipaq engine and integrated it into Analysis Services. The results are  staggering with scan rates up to 10s of billions of rows per second on typical server hardware. and compression ratios in excess of 100 times.

In SQL Server 2012, the Vertipaq engine that runs inside PowerPivot and Analysis Services is the xVelocity in-memory analytics engine. This engine is part of the xVelocity family that represents the next generation performance improvements across SQL Server. Microsoft will stop using the Vertipaq name and transition the product, documentation to use the xVelocity name.

SQL 2012 Licence cost?

March 24th, 2012

 When you deploy it on machines with more than four physical cores in each processor.

Microsoft announced late last year that it would  make  changes to its SKU lineup and pricing when it released SQL Server 2012. Officials . Microsoft also made pricing and licensing changes with the 2012 release, adding a new core-based licensing option for the SQL Server 2012 Enterprise and Standard products, and dropping the server-CAL license model on Enterprise.

The new Business Intelligence SKU, conversely, is server-CAL only, with no per-core licensing option – but has a server license price identical to what the previous version of Enterprise edition cost.

SQL Server 2012 will be generally available on April 1, 2012.

Its not lcear to me yet but it seesm that users could be paying substantially more to license SQL Server 2012 under the new per-core model.

SQL Server 2008 Cumulative Updates Sp2 CU9, Sp3 CU4

March 24th, 2012

SQL Server 2008 Cumulative Updates are available!

SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 2 Cumulative Update #9

  • KB article : http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2673382
  • Build number is 10.00.4330
  • 7 fixes (5 in database engine, 2 in SSAS)
  • Relevant for : Builds of SQL Server between 10.00.4000 and 10.00.4329

    SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3 Cumulative Update #4

  • KB article : http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2673383
  • Build number is 10.00.5775
  • 10 fixes listed
  • Relevant for : Builds of SQL Server between 10.00.5000 and 10.00.5774

Note  these updates are NOT for SQL Server 2008 R2

SQL 2012 bugs

March 24th, 2012

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/psssql/archive/2012/03/20/setfileiooverlappedrange-can-lead-to-unexpected-behavior-for-sql-server-2008-r2-or-sql-server-2012-denali.aspx

Wide ranging in SQL from invalid write location, lost read or write, early access to a page that is not yet fully in memory, I/O list damage such as AVs, incorrect timing reports, and many others. You may not even see the situation until days later.

The fix for this will be issued through Windows Update and through SQL Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 2 (not yet released). In the meantime, disable Lock Pages in Memory to avoid these potential problems, if you are using SQL Server 2008 R2 or SQL Server 2012 *unless* you are already running on Windows 8.

In the SQL Server 2012 RTM release, there seems to have been some debug code left in that is filling the Agent log with useless status messages and this can cause performance issues when you are trying to read the log

Management Reporter 2012 – More Feature Highlights

March 21st, 2012

see

Configuration Console – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXcAHtb8phY&feature=player_embedded

Attributes – Management Reporter 2012 Feature Highlight – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvYn9nAq73M&feature=player_embedded

Here are some new features soon available:

Dynamics Ax 2012 Retail – new benchmark results

March 21st, 2012

Microsoft Corporation recently conducted a benchmark test to simulate an inventory workload with more than 4.96 million transaction lines.

 The inventory transactions simulated the import of point of sale (POS) transactions for a large retail chain into Microsoft Dynamics AX.

The benchmark results demonstrate that Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 can successfully process:

  •  >  55 million transaction lines
  • aggregated to 3.68 million inventory adjustment journal lines.

The benchmark also created and posted:
 

  • more than 1 million transfer order lines
  • and more than 90 thousand item arrival lines.

Office 365 prices cut 20%

March 20th, 2012

Microsoft is slashing the prices of many of its Office 365 plans by about 20 percent effective immediately, the company said this week.

Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based suite of applications  includes hosted versions of Lync, Exchange and SharePoint, with Office offered as a customer-installed option. The service was launched last summer,to  replace Microsoft’s older hosted offering, Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). The price cuts are the result of economies of scale: The more people who adopt Office 365, the less costly it is for Microsoft to offer the service.

As we rapidly add customers, the cost to run Office 365 becomes more efficient. This is the beauty of the cloud where we can deliver economies of scale through our worldwide data centers and economies of skill with our engineers, administrators, and support teams operating the service,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Office Division Product Management Group, in a blog post. “With these efficiencies, we’re able pass on savings to make it even more affordable for customers of all sizes to move to Office 365.”

Stolen digital certificates

March 17th, 2012

Security companies have recently identified multiple malware threats that use stolen digital certificates to sign their components to avoid detection and bypass Windows defenses.

In 2010, the Stuxnet industrial sabotage worm surprised the security industry with its use of rootkit components that were digitally signed with certificates stolen from semiconductor manufacturers Realtek and JMicron.

A backdoor discovered by Symantec in December installed a rootkit driver signed with a digital certificate stolen from an undisclosed company

If Microsoft were to block the loading of all known files signed with that certificate, probably millions of users of  hardware from around the world would find their motherboards, network cards, etc. inoperable. Therefore, Microsoft cannot block the execution or loading of files signed with stolen certificates.

A malware component identified by Kaspersky Lab researchers during the last few days was signed with a certificate stolen from a Swiss company called Conpavi AG. “The company is known to work with Swiss government agencies such as municipalities and cantons . The threat is detected as Trojan-Dropper.Win32/Win64.Mediyes and is part of a click fraud scheme. However, the signed component is not a driver, but is the actual malware installer, also known as the dropper.

Malware authors are interested in signing installers and not just the drivers, because some antivirus solutions assume that digitally signed files are legitimate and don’t scan them, said Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at antivirus vendor BitDefender.

Signed modules are more likely to be included in whitelisting collections meaning, the chance of them being fully analyzed is lower and they remain undetected for longer period of times.

Kaspersky Lab and BitDefender have confirmed seeing a steady increase in the number of malware threats with digitally signed components during the last 24 months. Many use digital certificates bought with fake identities, but the use of stolen certificates is also common,

http://www.infoworld.com/d/security/digitally-signed-malware-increasingly-prevalent-researchers-say-188792?page=0,1

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AX PACT – DUBAI – Synergy Software Systems – Dynamics Ax 2012

March 17th, 2012

Dynamics Ax is an enterprise erp. To roll out an enterprise solution needs a global network of skilled resources.

AXPACT is an alliance of proven, global Dynamics Ax partners working to an agreed code of conduct and partnership that  sell over 10% of all Ax licences. Synergy has worked informally with AXPACT for several years. As the regional representative for AX PACT we are better able to suppport global deployments in this region and to deliver global projects for local companies.  Synergy Software Systems is the regional partner for most of the global Dynamics Ax partners  and has worked on projects in  partnerships with mca Connect,. Tectura, Interdyn, Logica, etc.  

Our membership of AX PACT further strengthens our ability to support our clients with a wider range of vertical modules, greater geographic coverage,  collaborative knowledge sharing, access to specialist training resources, and greater access to Microsoft.

Scale: The largest global supplier of Microsoft Dynamics AX.

  • Experience: Over 1100 AX projects since 1999.
  • Methodology: A proven international delivery template based on SureStep.
  • Coverage: 30 members covering 80 countries.
  • Resources: 1250 Certified Microsoft Dynamics AX specialists.
  • Solutions: Over 100 readymade industry and vertical solutions.
  • If you are considering a multi company deployment then Dynamics Ax 2012 should be on your short list – multi company, multi language, dual base currency , support for central services and ofr publsiing master data, parameters, policies etc across companies. A global solution needs global deployment from a partner with  global reach and experience .  Right now we are working on several such projects and our methodology and experience goes way beyond what most partners can offer. Don’t take our word –  ask our clients.

    http://www.ax-pact.com/

    DUBAI INTERNATIONAL HORSE FAIR OPENS TODAY

    March 17th, 2012

    Enjoy the region’s biggest trade fair and exhibition for the leisure and professional riders, owners, stables and clubs. Admire the beauty and agility of the purebred Arabian Horse as world champions compete for top honours at the most prestigious equine event* in the Middle East.

    Opening Hours
    15 March: 11 am – 8 pm
    16 March: 2 pm – 8 pm
    17 March: 11 am – 8 pm
    Venue
    Trade Centre Arena
    Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre

    www.dihf.ae.

    FREE ADMISSION FOR ALL!
    Enjoy breath-taking art and sculptures.

    See the best in equine care and equipment.

    Preview next season’s styles and accessories.

    Access the Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship*

    Urgent Patch for dangerous ‘Wormable’ RDP

    March 14th, 2012

    Microsoft released six new security bulletins yesterday for the March 2012 Patch Tuesday

    One of those six is a very dangerous flaw in RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) (remember  CodeRed, Nimda, and SQL Slammer?)   RDP allows remote access to systems–often to serversfor remote managmenet –and an exploit would not even require network credentials. This is also a very serious security issue for the millions of servers residing in public clouds where user-enabled RDP is likely to be the method for access.

    Microsoft emphasizes in a Microsoft Security Response Center blog post that organizations using NLA (Network Level Authentication) are at significantly less risk. NLA adds an authentication layer that would make it much harder for an exploit of the RDP flaws to work.

    The MS12-020 fix requires a server reboot,  and you may be  reluctant to apply patches without first testing these  so as a temporary workaround, Microsoft has developed a one-click, no-reboot Fix-It that enables NLA to mitigate the issue. 

    Note: ,  NLA is only native on Windows Vista and later versionsi.e.  Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2. There is,  client software available to make NLA work with Windows XP if necessary.

    Dynamics on the cloud ?

    March 14th, 2012

    Microsoft’s 2012  Convergence conference,  starts March 18 in Houston.

    Expect to hear  a lot about the Dynamics ERP software on the  Azure cloud services. When combined iwht hsoted CR, SharePoitn and Exchange server and Offcie 360 there are some obvious reasosn for this.  Flexible scalability, rapid deployment and integration with other cloud services for example.

    What does this mean for for the enduser – a different cost and pricing strucuture for sure.  No hardaware and database  or operating systems to install and to maintain . That will affect deployment speed but also the role and size of client IT teams. What does it mean for software vendors – and local support and the skills they need> What are the legal compliance and  contractual points to consider? How long and how easy wili tbe to change platforms in future if your data sits in the cloud?

    How will Microsoft maintian its partner base and capacity for gloabl rollouts  if they damage possible, lest it damage relationships and revenue modles? 

    Expect  Microsoft to  provide release dates and pricing for the availability of NAV on Azure.

     Microsoft is expected to follow CRM  software cloud strategy , which uses the same code base for both the on-premises and on-demand versions,. Many customers will pursue hybrid deployments, and many won’t be interested in Azure at all.

    Microsoft is pushing the idea of consulting partners developing add-ons for Azure-based ERP deployments, but the way forward doesn’t seem as clear for pure hosting companies. For example, Microsoft is not planning to let hosting partners run the Azure software fabric in their own data centers.

    There wll always be  regionswhere laws require a single-tenant architecture, with dedicated servers for each customer, or thiose where the customization is best doen on premise.

    For smaller clients it may make sense . For a global, multibillion dollar company ,  who is going to support multi languages, and localisation  24-7 and all the related add ons e.g local payrolls and bar code systems. ?

    So more choice for our customers to deploy using the cloud  that are more cost effective we welcome,and indeed can already provide –  however there are many factors to consider and on premise is not going away.   The rleative merits change frequently for example last Friday:

    • Windows Azure Storage Pay-As-You-Go pricing has been reduced by 12% ($0.14 to $0.125)
    • 6 Month Plans for Windows Azure Storage have been reduced across all tiers by up to 14%
    • Windows Azure Extra Small Compute has been reduced by 50% ($.04 to .$02)