Archive for May, 2012

Malware Security attacks in the Middle East.

May 29th, 2012

ITP recently published several security alert items.

The ‘Win32.Flame’ or ‘W32.Flamer’ is a major new cyber attack  that targets users in the Middle East and Eastern Europe .  Flamer seems to target individuals rather than organisations and has been detected in the Palestinian West Bank, Hungary, Iran, Lebanon, Russia, Austria, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates,

Flamer can steal documents, take screenshots of users’ desktops, spread via USB drives, disable security vendor products, turn on PC microphones, turn on Bluetooth, intercept network traffic and spread to other systems under certain conditions. The threat may also have the ability to leverage multiple known and patched vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, in order to spread across a network.

This is perhaps an even greater threat than  ‘Wiper’, which can wipe data from hard drives,and Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team confirmed it  was used to attack Iranian oil plants in April.  

Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab, commented: “….the Flame cyber-attack campaign is currently in its active phase, and its operator is consistently surveilling infected systems, collecting information and targeting new systems to accomplish its unknown goals.”

Three UAE banks’ online banking websites were the victims of DDoS attacks in the first quarter of this year, according to Bashar Bashairah, regional director of Fortinet

A  smartphone application that is capable of transferring prepaid phone credit without the phone user’s authorisation or knowledge has been discovered by the Network Security Group at the American University of Beirut (AUB).  Once installed, the app, which maquerades as a benign messaging app, starts sending and intercepting SMS messages, causing unauthorised credit transfers to another phone number without being detected.

U.A.E. National ID Card Deadline – EIDA – 31 May 2012

May 27th, 2012

The Emirates Identity Authority  called on Dubai residents to register in the ID card and to renew their expired cards before the deadline ends by Thursday. The Emirates Identity Authority emphasized that filling out the e-form at one of the typing centers would help in avoiding the delay fees, which will be applicable across the Emirate from June 1st.

  The Emirates ID stressed the necessity for customers to adhere to the given dates for visiting its centers to complete registration procedures (fingerprinting and photographing) as shown in the registration form or the SMS sent to customers after filling out their forms.  The Emirates ID called on the owners of residence visas which would expire before December 31st, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah to register by the time of renewal of their residence visas.

 As far as national and resident children below 15 years are concerned, the Emirates Identity Authority underlined the necessity for this category all over the UAE to register before October 1, 2012.

For :details, fees, fines, locations documents needed etc, see:

http://www.eida.gov.ae/en/home.aspx

 http://www.eida.gov.ae/en/process-and-fees/id-card-renewal-process.aspx

So.cl

May 26th, 2012

Microsoft has officially launched an “experimental” social networking site called So.cl, (prononced ‘Social’ 0which combines facets of social networking, search, and media sharing with a user interface resembling Google+.

Sign up using your Facebook or Windows Live ID.  Te layout closely resembles Google+’s layout, but it also takes ideas from Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

http://www.so.cl/about/faq

SQL2012 – Hyper-V Replica

May 26th, 2012

Hyper-V Replica is a built-in, free, asynchronous virtual machine replication mechanism – a killer feature.

( This blog is an a bridged version of a ZDNET article by Aidan Finn a Microsoft Valuable Professional (MVP) with an expertise in Virtual Machine – http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/one-of-windows-server-2012s-secret-weapons-hyper-v-replica/12707)

The list of new features in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V is staggering -one that stands out is Hyper-V Replica (HVR). HVR is built into Hyper-V at no extra cost and is designed specifically for  branch offices and small/mid-size enterprises that cannot afford an expensive SAN-based or host-based replication solution with their required expensive bandwidth.  HVR has been designed to work on commercial broadband with no special hardware.

HVR can be configured via PowerShell (there are a lot of native PowerShell cmdlets for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012) or in the GUI. Users configure each virtual machine (VM)  to replicate. VMs are usually just a few files and that makes these easy to replicate.

You will not be able to use HVR with Passthrough disks, and this is another reason to be excited about 64 TB VHDX files with near physical disk performance.

Once enabled, HVR will do light weight logging of changes to the VM’s virtual hard disks. Every five minutes, Hyper-V Replica will attempt to replay that log file, containing the changes only, with compression enabled from the source host to the destination host to reduce bandwidth utilization. If the network connection is not available then HVR will reattempt to replicate for up to 30 minutes before it goes into a state that requires attention. This asynchronous method assumes that the Internet connection to the DR site is unreliable, as commercial broadband usually is. The combination of compression and change only replication is perfect for low cost connections that are the norm for branch offices and SMEs.

Users might have  terabytes of data to replicate during the initial synchronization . If they have a small amount of data,then  they can do the first synchronization over the wire, with an additional option to schedule this for out-of-business hours. They can export the data to removable storage, preferably with BitLocker encryption to protect the data during transit. They can alsorestore the VMs from backup in the DR site, and fix up the differences over the wire.

Customers can choose to keep multiple snapshots of a VM on the replica host, to choose a past version of a VM when they start it up in the DR site. (This would be useful when a VM is corrupted and that was the reason for invoking the business continuity plan.)

Users can choose to configure an isolated network for testing the DR replicas. They can start up test copies of the replica VMs in the DR site, and verify that their plans will work during an emergency without impacting on systems on the production network.

HVR does not have a heartbeat and does not start up DR VMs automatically. It is designed to replicate across unreliable links and users don’t want accidental invocation of the DR site because all-too-frequent brief outages. VMs are manually started, a process which can be sped up by using PowerShell or a System Center 2012 Orchestrator runbook.

HVR allows replication of VMs from standalone host to standalone host, from Hyper-V cluster to Hyper-V cluster, and from standalone host to Hyper-V cluster and vice versa. This opens up a lot of options. SMEs are more likely to have standalone virtualization hosts. Many hosting companies choose this option, too, because it allows them to offer very low cost hosting plans.

There are a few scenarios where HVR will be used. The SME will find HVR very appealing because it is free and can avail of low cost bandwidth. Those SMEs with two offices might choose to configure each one as the DR site for the other. Managed services partners or public cloud companies can choose to offer hosted DR services, availing of the optional HTTPS authentication and policy mechanisms in HVR, and building on additional add-ons such as remote access and remote backup. Corporations can also look at HVR as a way to provide economic DR replication either to a local DR site or to a central data center.

HVR is asynchronous replication. Therefore it won’t be suitable for those organizations that need zero data loss. HVR is also not intended for replicating from massive environments such as a public cloud. In this case, users can expect to find high end storage with built-in replication and plentiful low latency bandwidth that can replicate at the hardware level, which is more suitable for large amounts of data and constant VM change.

SQL Server 2008 -Cumulative Update #10 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 2

May 26th, 2012

Microsoft has released two new cumulative updates for SQL Server 2008.

Cumulative Update #10 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 2

  • Knowledge Base Article: KB #2696625
  • At the time of writing, there is one fix listed
  • The build number is 10.00.4332

Cumulative Update #5 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3

  • Knowledge Base Article: KB #2696626
  • At the time of writing, there are four fixes listed
  • The build number is 10.00.5785

Note  these updates are NOT for SQL Server 2008 R2 (where @@VERSION will report 10.50.xxxx).

“The Consumerization of ERP Software”

May 23rd, 2012

Video about “The Consumerization of ERP Software”

ERP Analyst Derek Singleton released this interview with Christian Pedersen, Microsoft’s General Manager of Enterprise Applications and Services:

http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/enterprise/the-consumerization-of-erp-software-1051512

Infor10 Corporate Performance Management 10.3.2 release is now generally available

May 21st, 2012

 This release leverages the Infor10 technology stack, including Infor10 ION Suite.

 ION Suite simplifies data sharing and provides common reporting and analysis, workflow, and business monitoring. 

single, consistent architecture  helps your disparate applications work as one.

The Event-driven architecture (EDA), of the ION Suite proactively pushes: data, work activities, and exception notifications to users  – it provides them with  relevant information in the context of their existing workflow.

 his relase includes:

  •  feature enhancements,
  • additional product integrations,
  •  the customer service pack
  •  platform support updates.

Highlights of the new release:

 The Corporate Performance Management workstation navigation  for 10.3.2 incorporates many cutting-edge user interface techniques. It can be deployed with Infor10 ION Workspace—the consumer-grade user interface of Infor10 which unifies information from multiple applications and sources on one screen.Businesses can function more effectively and stay competitive—for exanple either in a SharePoint environment or without SharePoint.  

  • Corporate Performance Management’s default navigation presents the Infor fly-out menus, standard across all Infor products.
  • Navigate using a carousel of thumbnail images
  • Report screenshots allow users to preview the report or application function before  opening the page.
  • A list view supports fast navigation through very large menu structures for users who know where they are going and need to do it quickly.

Corporate Performance Management also offers a new bookmark capability and a running list of recently viewed pages as other navigation options.

The navigation administration is managed through a new browser interface, making it accessible to any Corporate Performance Management user with access permissions. 

Navigation access security can be defined at any level of the menu structure.

 Infor10 Corporate Performance Management is now certified by BDO Audit & Assurance B.V., as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) compliant. BDO’s certification is the result of an extensive audit of the IFRS compliance capabilities, reliability, and continuity of Infor10 Corporate Performance Management.

 Corporate Performance Management now has two-way Infor10 ION Suite support—master data and financial business object documents (BODs) can be both consumed to create Corporate Performance Management models and published using the Infor10 ION Connect business object document standards. This information could be consumed by an ION-enabled Infor product or the Business Vault—a single, optimized, unbreakable business repository where ION Suite stores enterprise data, enabling unified reporting, business intelligence, and analytics.

 ION Support Assistant (ISA) is available, free of charge, for all customers with a maintenance contract and can be installed in conjunction with your Infor10 Corporate Performance Management application. ION Support Assistant enables Infor to resolve issues faster and more accurately. ION Support Assistant gathers information regarding the Corporate Performance Management server, Corporate Performance Management’s configuration settings, and the database server referenced in Corporate Performance Management’s configuration settings.

 More than twenty additional software patches have been accumulated into a service pack.

Bing goes social

May 19th, 2012

The updated Bing search engine, was unveiled on Thursday, to include the user comments, likes and activities posted in popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

icrosoft’s contentionis  that the redesign is “the most significant since Microsoft launched Bing three years ago.

“Bing will tap into Facebook’s and Twitter’s capabilities. Unlike Google, Bing and Microsoft aren’t vying to create their own social media destination, so they will access the best-of-breed social media sites like Facebook and Twitter

The new Bing interface,  is expected to move from a private to a public beta test period soon, and offers users a sidebar that focuses on people in the user’s social networks and their opinions and search queries. A user might search for a local bike shop. Along with the usual search results, there will be a “people you know who may know” social sidebar that offers up bike shops that friends have “liked” or commented on.

The social sidebar is designed to let users ask their friends questions about their query topic, and those friends can respond either through Bing or Facebook, Microsoft said.

 Microsoft has shown a knack with Bing for boiling down functionality to a useful level. Since Microsoft first launched Bing in the summer of 2009, the company faced a daunting task in taking on Google’s dominant search enginewhich . has remained dominant despite all of Microsoft’s efforts.

Microsoft is hoping that its social search capabilities can become the game-changer the company needs. Because it has its own growing social network, Google+, arguably  Google is at a disadvantage when trying to work with widely used offerings like Facebook and Twitter. whereas Microsoft, , has strong relationships with both companies

Data Visualistion – Dubai needs Mind maps and Dashboards

May 19th, 2012

 The human brain doesn’t work like a filing system and isn’t good at multi-tasking for some time now, and  we should be looking for a better way of working that suits the way the mind naturally works.

Multi-tasking is fine if you don’t care very much about any task. “So tweet while you’re watching TV, listen to podcasts while doing the laundry…But — and this is a big but — you cannot do two things at once if you care much about either task. People are often amazed to find they can write an entire white paper during a 3-hour flight, but it takes them all day at the office. Yep, because there’s Internet access at the office! You truly will get more done if you create blocks of time for the different priorities in your life.” Laura Vanderkam, author of a time management book called 168 Hours. She blames our ability to log on to the world 24/7 for growing feelings of frenzy and agitation.

Mindlab International at The Sussex Innovation Centre,carrie dout a studythat  looked into how office workers manage existing data through traditional software and what developments could be made to impact on the efficiency of how it was managed.

Throughout the last few decades , the amount of data we have to process has increased substantially. We’ve made very little movement forward to help our brains to cope with such a huge influx.

 In the last 150,000 years, our brain’s structure has developed minimally,  yet we’re still expect o cope with more and more , and increasingly complex: documents, spreadsheets, databases, e-mails, social resources, specialist software and much more.

The research suggests:

  • When carrying out routine, everyday tasks in the office, that when  the data is displayed more visually, such as through visual maps, individuals are 17% more productive and need to use 20% less mental resources.
  • What’s more, teams collaborating on a joint project use 10% less mental resources and are a whole 8% more productive when using visualisation tools.

So if we need to use such a lot less mental resources  to deal with the same information once displayed in a more visual way, and we’re able to deal with a greater amount of information in a successful and effective manner, then this instantly increases our efficiency levels.

We are told a picture is worth a thousand words,and we’re virtually drowning in words ( information overload!) so companies should be jumping at the chance to condense data visually with mind maps and dashboards. That is why tools like Dundas Dashboards and Mind Manager  are used by many of the world’s leading companies.

 In an article from O’reilly Radar by Julie Steele, she writes that when it comes to data visualization they can be “at best confusing, and at worst misleading. But the good ones are an absolute revelation…The best data visualizations are ones that expose something new about the underlying patters and relationships contained within the data” . The real power of data visualization is both interesting and engaging,.Help the readerto  easily understand the information, while  presenting it in an entertaining and engaging manner .

iPhone® app for Mindjet Connect® Action for Dubai

May 19th, 2012
Did you know that there is an iPhone® app for Mindjet Connect® Action? There is and it’s free!

Mindjet Action for iPhone allows you to manage all of your tasks anytime, anywhere. Mindjet Action gives you the ability to create, review and share tasks, create and edit comments and more, all from your iPhone. 

SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 CTP released today

May 17th, 2012

SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 CTP with various fixes and enhancements – For more details please visit the KB article 2630455 accompanying the SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 CTP release.

Management Reporter 2012 – Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

May 17th, 2012

Managment Reporter 2012 is a  major enhancement as mentioned previously in thsi blog series  here is recap and some more information that emerged at Convergence.

One of the welcome changes involves the format account numbers -see diagram  – you can now turn off  the ‘+Account =’ description on a user-by-user basis.

Features added:

  • Missing Account Analysis—this is similar Exception Reporting in FRx, although implemented in a different way.
  • Headers for rolling forecasts— again similar to FRx

Drillback capability:

  • Drill back works for either account or budget
  • Drill to Dynamics icon: opens the voucher transaction screen on a selcted transaction
  • Drill back in budgets to budget register - iew the Detail Inquiry screen on an account level then drill—all the way back to the source document

For AX2012:

  • AX organizational hierarchies are available for use in MMR. A newly published organizational hierarchy appears in MMR, and you can use either it, or a reporting tree. The system picks a hierarchy based on the report date. Also use a hierarchy as starting point—save it as a reporting tree and edit it.
  • Manage all users from inside AX .

Architecture change— A Datamart is available

The AX 2012 GL changed substantially from AX 2009.

  • It doesn’t track summary GL balances.
  • It no longer has a single transaction table. Instead it has 5 separate tables and these all have to be joined in order to get a number to add to the beginning balance in order to get a balance in an account.
  • This is what MR is doing behind the scenes, and that is why it was slow on AX 2012 before Management Reporter 2012  was released
  • The new datamart changes things significantly since MR will pull already calculated numbers from the datamart (which is simply an SQL database)

Report Distribution:

  • Publish to Sharepoint or to a network share
  • Email reports via Sharepoint alerts
  • Email a link to a report from within Report Viewer
  • Generate to multiple Report Library locations like Library/Finance, /Operations, /Sales and Related Report Link Locations for network shares
  • Schedule either an individual report or a report group
  • On a Sharepoint site, there are 3 options for opening a report—the Report Viewer, Excel, and XPS
  • If you have the licenses for it, then install the Report Viewer for the optimum drilldown experience

Performance:

  • Performance enhancements across the board on the engine
  • Calculated rows are considerably faster

What else?:

  • Company integration: import companies instead of creating those manually (everyone but the datamart implementations)
  • Personalized & secure view of data in all output types (Viewer, Excel, XPS)
  • Attach comments to important rows
  • Chart a single row (or selected rows & columns)
  • Instant Messenger icon on toolbar—launch IM client from within a report
  • Page within a report with paging icons on the lower right
  • Jump to key areas of a report with GoTo section at lower left
  • An enhanced toolbar—it has an Export to Excel icon!
  • Find a key value in a report such as an account description

Note:

  • You  need a viewer license for the Report Viewer
  • NP rows do print in excel
  • Row linking—
  • Migrating from FRx—currently you must go to MMR v2 first, then to MMR 2012
  • Side by side installations of MMR v2 and MMR 2012 do work
  • Licensing is different from FRx—named Ax users instead of concurrent users
  • Status quo: a Forecaster integration tool pushes Forecaster budget data into the ERP

PaaS – new offerings in ‘the cloud’.

May 13th, 2012

Microsoft recently announced that it was killing the Windows Live brand, and it is apperently also remove Zune . Microsoft is also dropping the “Azure” brand from a wide lineup of cloud services, too. This  was revealed in an email message to Azure customers. “In the coming weeks, we will update the Windows Azure Service names,” These are only name changes: Your prices for Windows Azure are not impacted.”

 Each Azure service is being rebranded with a simpler, more obvious name. and the whole oeefirn is now PaaS ie Platform as a service.

Microsoft’s Platform as a Service (PaaS),  is now joined by Amazon, who have announced support for SQL Server alongside MySQL and Oracle in its AWS-based Relational Database Service (RDS). Amazon is also providing .NET support via their Elastic Beanstalk, and Visual Studio integration, so the two products are starting to look very similar. RDS is not new; it has been running for two and a half years now, but SQL Server support is newRDS is much more like Azure, because the underlying EC2 infrastructure auto-magically expands and contracts to meet the demands of the database workload. RDS also takes care of deploying, patching, and backing up of the database.

To add to the competition Tier 3 launched a CloudFoundry-based PaaS called Web Fabric that supports .NET framework, and their data Fabric supports SQL Server. This service is more akin with Amazon’s EC2-based AMIs, but based on VMWare.

For any business contemplating moving their windows-based IT services to the cloud  they are not forced to turn to Microsoft both as their service provider and  as their software provider. It takes away one of the stumbling points that has hindered take-up of Cloud services.

Infor10 ION Suite 10.2 – Now Available from Synergy Software Systems Dubai

May 10th, 2012

This new release provides connectivity to SAP and legacy applications.

Infor is pleased to announce the general availability of Infor10 ION Suite version 10.2. This is the fourth release of ION, and continues to set the foundation for interoperability, business process management, and more.

ION 10.2 has more than  20+ new features :

  • New connectivity options with SAP which enable Infor strategic applications like PLM, EAM, and WMS to connect to SAP or enable two-tier ERP strategy where corporate financials uses SAP and manufacturing is Infor.
  • New file connector to integrate legacy applications or homegrown systems.
  • Business process management improved with loopback functionality, decision tables, and conditional alerting.
  • Pulse can now send all activities to Business Vault for business process reporting.
  • ION ActivityLocator allows end users graphically to see the progress of a specific workflow.
  • Enables document attachments to tasks and alerts.

ION Suite – Certified Partner- Dubai- Synergy Sofware Systems

May 8th, 2012

ION Suite is a new generation of business middleware that is lighter weight, less technically demanding to implement, and built on open standards. It is designed to meet the needs of the business and the needs of the CIO to contain IT costs.

But there’s more to ION Suite than just easy to use connectivity. With ION Suite, businesses get common reporting and analysis, workflow, and business monitoring with one, consistent architecture. In addition, ION Suite uses event-driven architecture (EDA), so it can pro-actively push data, work activities, and exception notifications to users.

Users don’t need to go to the system to get the information they need—ION Suite makes sure the information comes straight to those.

Synergy Software Systems has certified consultants on all 4 areas of the solution which is now a cornerstone of Infor’s solutions and future road map.

ION Suite includes four powerful services that are easy to install and configure:

ION CONNECT—Get your applications to operate together easily, so you can seamlessly execute business processes; quickly bring new partners and customers onboard; and reuse business functionality so you realize quick ROI.

  • Easy set up. Infor applications operate with a standard business language so ION Suite setup is easy. You don’t need to do any translation or mapping—two of the biggest integration challenges.
  • Easy operations. If you’re running a portion of your business in the cloud, ION Suite can exchange data working in a hybrid model. You don’t need a second, separate integration stack to maintain it.
  • Easy connections. ION Suite includes a library of “connectors” to integrate to third-party applications, so you can quickly integrate non-Infor apps into your system.

ION BUSINESS VAULT—A single, optimized, unbreakable business repository where ION Suite stores enterprise data. This unifying source for all the data that flows through ION Suite makes it a robust platform for reporting, business intelligence, and analytics.

  • Up-to-date data. The Business Vault uses an event-driven model for synchronization, so data is synchronized as soon as a transaction occurs in the originating system.
  • Easier search. Enterprise search is easier, since data resides in one place—there’s no need to index your transactional systems.
  • Better reporting. The Business Vault features a master data reference for excellent reporting and integrations scenarios.

ION EVENT MANAGEMENT—Monitor the status of your tasks in relation to promised completion or established service level agreements (SLAs), and automatically receive alerts about exceptions and potential non-compliance.

  • You make the rules. ION Event Management detects exceptions based on business rules that you define. Notifications and alerts can be triggered by Event Management and directed to the appropriate users with ION Workflow. Also, ION can detect exceptions within a single source system.
  • Detect non-events. Event Management can also detects non-events—things that should have happened, but didn’t—for example, a shipment to an important customer that missed its due date or time. Sales or Operations Management can be immediately alerted, so they can address the business issue.
  • Provide better service. Event Management can also be used to monitor SLAs, so you meet your performance levels and maintain excellent customer service.

ION WORKFLOW—Direct work activities, events and business documents to any user so you execute business processes quickly and accurately

  • Create quickly. Workflow modeling is graphical and based on Business Process Management Notation (BPMN 2.0) standard. This makes it easy to create even complex workflows, and know that they’ll work across applications.
  • Automate approvals. Create simple to more sophisticated workflows to automate document routing and approvals across departments and office locations worldwide.
  • Manage centrally. All tasks and alerts generated by Event Management and Workflow are managed through the Tasklist, which features an Activity Stream- based user interface. And because ION Tasklist can run stand-alone or in a portal, you can work the way you want to work.

Get ready  for support for mobile and tablet devices later, to provide even more flexibility.

Be an early adopter at a very, very  special price.