Archive for June, 2019

Oman and VAT – Ask Synergy Software Systems to help prepare and update your systems

June 30th, 2019

Oman government representatives have said that the state is looking to implement a 5% VAT regime from 1 September 2019. In 2017,
it signed the Gulf Cooperation Council VAT Framework Agreement, which included: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. Local media reports in March 2019 quoted a senior official from Oman’s Ministry of Finance as saying that the date of implementation of VAT in Oman is under review. The official reportedly indicated that the target date had been 1 September 2019 but that this is not confirmed, although the intention clearly remains to implement VAT as early as possible. Businesses should take this as a cue to continue their VAT implementation plans in Oman, or restart and reinvigorate those if the work has been put on hold.

A key lesson from our experience of VAT implementation projects in UAE, KSA and Bahrain, across more than 100 companies is that companies that started their VAT planning and implementation projects early had a smoother transition to VAT, than those that waited for the final publication of the domestic law and regulations. A ‘wait and see’ approach backfired on many businesses in the UAE, KSA and Bahrain where there was minimal time between the release of the law and regulations and the go-live date for adequate training, data preparation and testing, and a shortage of resources in the market to cope with the backlog.

There are practical steps to take now. the first is to form an internal VAT working group of key stakeholders to monitor developments in VAT and ensure that VAT is on the Board agenda and is included in budget discussions. The working group will be best placed to negotiate professional services to support implementation, to train end users, and to define test scenarios, etc.

Next ensure there is VAT awareness is key – customers, vendors, and staff. Many in the region have never dealt with VAT, and a solid understanding of the mechanics, scope and terminology of the tax takes time, and that is a necessary foundation for the next steps.

Document your transaction flows . VAT is a transaction tax, with each transaction triggering a potential VAT consequence. This will help you to identify: software changes, processes to update, training needs, data collection needs, commercial document redesign, financial report redesign etc.

Review Contract to ensure they are ‘future proofed’ for the introduction of VAT. For example, to identify whether they include suitable clauses allowing VAT to be charged in addition to contractually agreed prices. The UAE VAT law clearly mandated that communication be sent to all customers within a specific timeline stipulating whether their contracts will be treated as exclusive of tax, failing which customers can dispute the tax being charged in the contract. Therefore, revisiting contractual obligations for both customers and vendors and determining cutover dates, incorporating tax clauses and revising prices and quotations will play a pivotal role to safeguard the business interests of all parties to a contract.

There will be transactions which are closed before the go-live date, and there will be instances where payment is received post the go-live date or where the supply is scheduled post the go-live date, but where the relevant invoices are paid prior to it. Failure to assess and communicate/agree on the VAT impact between all parties to the transaction on such spillover transactions might increase the cost of such transactions and either of the parties may be out of pocket in such scenarios, and there may be unwelcome friction with trading partners, if not managed.

IT infrastructure will be the ‘backbone’ of the VAT compliance function from issuing VAT compliant invoices to producing the VAT return.

Identify VAT resource requirements, particularly external consultants and auditors. Skilled VAT resources are drawn from a diminishing pool of individuals. Take advantage of the experience gained by service providers implementing in Dubai, KSA and Bahrain. There are many wrinkles, not immediately obvious.

Industry associations can raise common issues and concerns with the Ministry of Finance, particularly in advance of the formal publication of the VAT law.

While you can choose to defer VAT implementation be ready to demonstrate to your owners/investors/respective boards and shareholders, that you have done so only after undertaking an appropriate level of due diligence of the likely preparation of the VAT environment. Some key areas include:

Upgrades to ERP systems and user acceptance testing Reporting
Timely VAT registration, (company by company or at Group level?)
Timely Collection of Tax registration numbers for Trading partners
Timely returns, accrual and and payment of taxes
Scoping the need for professional service and selection/references, time for reaching agreement with partners.
Unforeseen penalties
Cash flow management – how will this change? the delayed inflow on account of receipts from customers; outflow after the discharge of tax liabilities on supplies without consideration/deemed supplies (if any); outflow on account of payment to vendors; and additional outflow due to the payment of taxes (net of input tax recoverable) to tax authorities.

Tracking changes in law/ public clarifications

Some businesses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia faced challenges when ERP systems were not implemented in time to capture VAT on transactions or to generate customised VAT payable or receivable reports. The first quarter of the respective VAT regimes required substantial manual effort to properly account for transactions.

Another hurdle was training staff on the upgraded ERP software as well as new reporting standards

In a test system for financial or erp system, for training and requirement scope you could get early familiarity with the Dubai or KSA framework – there are unlikely to be major changes in the Oman framework.

If you current system is largely manual, or has significant limitations then now be the time to plan for upgrade, or reimplementation or a new system. The UAE VAT law has a penalty provision whereby every incorrect invoice can trigger an AED 5,000 fine (approx. OMR 500), irrespective of the value of the invoice. Exposure to these fines can be significant in industries where high volumes of transactions are made per day, for example the retail, utilities and banking industries. Compliance depends on a robust system and operations preparedness. The audit trail of the process, and other documents, help to ensure correct and timely filing of the returns as well as avoiding any unwarranted penalties.

Businesses across the globe tend to see a fall in demand where the display prices on products do not include VAT, specifically in the case of products which are price sensitive. The implementation of a new indirect tax law will have an impact on turnover and consumer preferences. Some prices ma need to be rounded up or down. You may need to show VAT separately, item by item on a receipt or invoice – is your software able to do that?

Given that the potential VAT rate in Oman may vary between 5 per cent, exempted, non-taxable and zero-rated, businesses should ascertain the price impact of VAT on imports which are recoverable and non-recoverable, final product pricing and alternative sourcing if imports are expensive, and vice versa.

Calorie display on Dubai menus – are you ready? Ask Synergy Software Systems.

June 30th, 2019

It will soon be mandatory to display the caloric value of each and every item in the menu, in whichever form it is. The Food Safety Department announcement is that:
All food outlets in Dubai have to display calorie content of ready-to-eat foods by January 1, 2020.
An early deadline of November 1, 2019 is set for establishments with more than five branches to implement it.

The circular and guidebook is posted on municipality’s portal www.dm.gov.ae and has clear instructions for labelling nutritional value with examples for manual calculation in Excel-sheet templates.

The department will verify the accuracy of the calculations through auditing. It will also at a later stage, provide an electronic-platform for computing the calories

Eateries, including fast food chains, must display caloric value of food items either on the menu or at the point of sale. There are some establishments that already declare calorie content on packaging, flyers, tray mats, websites etc. However, the municipality wants everyone to display the caloric value, against each item in the menu from which diners choose items at the point of sale. When there is no menu, then it should be in the menu boards or the menu displayed on tablets — basically, whichever form of the menu which the consumer checks for choosing the food.

Dubai eateries will have options how to calculate calorie contents for display in the menus to comply with a new regulation that aims to help diners make informed choices. For most a software package will be administratively simplest to ensure compliance.

For online menus displayed for food ordering services, the rule will not be mandatory, for the time being, since the department is not regulating electronic platforms for food delivery.

Dubai Municipality says that Food establishments in Dubai should declare in their menus the calorie content of all ready-to-eat food items.

The primary objective of the rule is to help diners make healthy food choices for reducing obesity and related diseases. The Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality hopes to make a big difference in food decisions taken by diners just with the knowledge of how much of calories they consume.
The population of Dubai is three million. As per our calculations, we expect more than one billion food decisions to be based on the calorie count displayed in menus in a year,” Iman Ali Al Bastaki, Director of the Department
.
During the six months of the World Expo 2020 starting on October 20, 2020, Dubai expects to welcome 25 million visitors. Hence, the number of food decisions taken based on displayed calories is expected to be multi-billion during the Expo.

For example, a food outlet making a traditional meal with a lot of oil will have to display a high caloric value for the meal. When consumers prefer to go for another meal with less calories or a smaller portion of the same meal, the establishment will encourage its chefs to reduce the use of oil, thereby reducing the calories and providing a healthier meal.

Dubai, is the first emirate in the UAE to implement such a rule. It referred to similar practices in countries like the US and Canada. Dubai already has a system of nutrition labelling that displays all nutritional values in packaged food items e.g.: sugar, sodium, fat.

For cooked or prepared food that is ready-to-eat, the first step in declaration is the basic declaration of calories. The municipality wants to ensure the readiness of the market before moving to the next level of detailed nutrition labelling in cooked foods.

This is part of a holistic approach that Dubai Municipality has been working on to improve health and to reduce obesity and diabetes in Dubai that include healthy meal project in school canteens, an initiative to reduce salt and sugar content in bakery items and verification of claims about healthy food items.

With over 100 branded hotels and industrial caterers, and other food producers as our customers we have more than 20 years extensive experience in the F@B area, and our solution for nutrition data is widely adopted.

If you need, a software solution or to integrate our nutrition data to your erp system or F@B software, then contact us to learn more about our solutions.

Synergy Software Systems: 00917 43365589
Deyafa Systems: 00971 4 3240066

Electronic health data originating in the UAE – Federal Law No. 2 of 2019 (the Law)

June 26th, 2019

Important changes for anyone who collects, processes or transfers electronic health data originating in the UAE.

Besides a host of new data protection measures and new rules around use of a centralized database managed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Health, a general prohibition on transferring health data outside the UAE has a significant impact on healthcare service providers and life sciences companies operating locally.

Cloud based health solutions which involve collection, storage and processing of health data, such as wearables and health monitoring apps, may be particularly affected. It is imperative for companies operating in the sector to carefully monitor developments.

On 6 February 2019, the President of the UAE issued Federal Law No. 2 of 2019 (the Law) which regulates the use of information technology and communications (ITC) in the healthcare sector. This Law:
• aims to raise the minimum bar for protection of health data and to introduce certain concepts which are on a par with best international practice in information law;
• supports the legislative trend towards localization of sensitive categories of data;
• paves the way for centralized health data capture and analysis to support public health initiatives conducted by the UAE Ministry of Health.

The Law was published in the Federal Gazette on 14 February 2019 and will come into force three months from publication. (May2019). The implementing regulations which will provide further details on its application are to be issued within six months from the date of publication.

The law is the first Federal data/privacy law of its kind in the United Arab Emirates albeit limited to healthcare data.

The law prescribes 31 articles and its application is wide both in terms of geographical spread and industry sectors. The law covers the entire United Arab Emirates (UAE) including its Free Zones and will impact on many sectors including local healthcare regulators in the different Emirates as well as all sectors dealing with healthcare data/information.

The health authorities in each local emirate are empowered to establish the rules, standards and controls for their own electronic data and health information systems, such as the methods of operation, exchange of data and information and their protection, as well as access to and copying of data and information

The Law applies to all entities operating in the UAE, whether onshore or from one of its free zones (including Dubai Healthcare City), which provide:
• healthcare services;
• health insurance services (including insurance brokers or providers of related administrative services);
• healthcare IT services; or
• any other services, directly or indirectly, related to the healthcare sector, or engaged in activities that involve handling of electronic health data.

1. Regulation of health data

The scope of the Law is broad – it regulates the processing of all electronic health data regardless of its form, including names of patients, information collected during consultation, diagnosis and treatment, alpha-numerical patient identifiers, common procedural technology (CPT) codes, images produced by medical imaging technology, and lab results among other types of data.

2. Prohibition on storage of health data outside of the UAE

The Law formalizes the longtime informal regulatory policy that health data must be processed and stored inside the UAE. Critically it provides that such data may not be transferred outside of the UAE, except where an exception is issued by the relevant heath authority. The Law also prohibits the creation of health data outside of the UAE which relates to health services provided inside the UAE. Accordingly, cloud solutions hosted out of country, outsourcing of IT services to overseas locations, remote IT support from other departments within multi-national Healthcare Service Providers and remote collection and monitoring of patient information within the UAE, such as heart rate, sleep patterns, or steps walked, from outside the UAE through apps and wearables may be significantly impacted.

The Law envisages certain exceptions to the default data localization requirements. These will be set out in subsequent ministerial resolutions or the implementing regulations.

3. Minimum standards for processing of health data

In addition to reinforcing the duty of Healthcare Service Providers to maintain the confidentiality of health data, the Law introduces a number of concepts similar to overseas data protection frameworks. For example:
• Purpose limitation: Patient information must not be used other than for the purpose of the provision of health services, except with the prior consent of the patient;
• Accuracy: Healthcare Service Providers must ensure that the health data processed is accurate and reliable;
• Security measures: Healthcare Service Providers must put in place measures to protect health data and to prevent its unauthorized processing, damage, alteration, deletion or amendment; and
• Non-disclosure/patient consent: The Law reiterates existing obligations not to disclose patient data to any third party without the prior consent of the patient.

4. Retention period

Health data must be retained for a minimum period of 25 years from the date on which the last procedure on the patient was conducted, or as long as is necessary if longer.

5. Centralized data management system

A new centralized data management system (DMS) will be established and operated by the UAE Ministry of Health to facilitate access to, storage and exchange of health data. Healthcare Service Providers are required to register to access the DMS and identify all members of personnel who are authorized to access it.

6. Website blocking for advertisement or licensing violations

The UAE Ministry of Health is entitled to instruct the relevant local or federal health authorities to block any website, whether inside or outside of the UAE that does not comply with the regulations applicable to healthcare advertising or which provides healthcare information without a license or permission from the UAE Ministry of Health.

The only circumstances in which a patient’s information may be used or disclosed without the patient’s consent are:
• to allow insurance companies and other entities funding the medical services to verify financial entitlement;
• for scientific research (provided that the identity of the patient is not disclosed and applicable scientific research standards and guidelines are complied with);
• for public health preventive and treatment measures, for example. in the case of a public health crisis;
• at the request of a competent judicial authority; or
• at the request of the relevant health authority for public health purposes including inspections.

There is a delicate balance to be struck between the potential benefits of this practice and the protection of each individual’s right of privacy. Where to draw the line in this assessment remains a topic of discussion between industry stakeholders and regulators, particularly in light of high profile breaches in recent years such as the collaboration between the Royal Free London NHS Trust and Google Deep Mind to identify patients at risk of kidney disease, or in the context of using health data for secondary research purposes. In January 2019 the European Data Protection Board issued its opinion on the European Commission’s draft Q&A on the interplay between data protection under the EU General Data Protection Regulation and clinical trials regulation. Wewait for the Law’s implementing regulations to see what position the UAE authorities will take on this sensitive issue.

As well as certain penal sanctions for breach of key requirements, such as the data localization obligations, the Law sets out a number of overarching disciplinary sanctions for breach of its provisions. These sanctions range from warnings to fines of AED 1 million and/or cancelling the breaching company’s permit to use the DMS.

Typically, access to centralised systems – such as the planned healthcare system – is facilitated by open APIs (application programme interfaces) made available to third party suppliers of IT systems which access the system. Where those IT systems already exist and are in use (under contracts between healthcare providers and the suppliers), technical changes to the systems will be required.

Some businesses will need to revisit their business procedures to comply with the Law. We recommend that companies affected by the Law:
• Keep up to date with the executive regulations setting out further details
• Ensure IT systems are capable of interacting with the central IT system
• Complete necessary administrative steps to obtain access to the central IT system, such as registration / licensing requirements
• Have technical and organisational processes in place to ensure that all patient data is treated confidentiality, kept secure, kept accurate and uncorrupted, not used for other purposes and retained as required
• Not transfer or store any patient data outside the UAE unless authorised to do so by a resolution issued by the local health authority
• Conduct a data mapping exercise to identify what type of health data is held, where it is processed and with which third parties it is shared.
• Where such third parties are based overseas, take steps to cease the transfer of health data to them, or to anonymize / denonymize the health data transferred;
• for any health data which cannot be anonymized / denonymized due to the nature of the processing activities, source alternative third party service providers to conduct the processing of that data within the borders of the UAE
• review contracts with third party service providers which process personal data and ensure that the contractual obligations for data processing and information security are sufficient to meet the new requirements of the law
• consider contracting obligations on service providers to support compliance with the law, such as annual rights of audit;
• add a step to the existing compliance sign-off process prior to adoption of new operational processes and business lines to ensure that no health data leaves the UAE and that the minimum statutory compliance standards are met.

VMware on Azure

June 25th, 2019

VMware on Azure has been Globally Announced

While running VMs on-premises is often a good idea, running other types of VM workloads in the cloud offers significant advantages. Transform your VMware environment with Azure by:
• Lowering total cost of ownership
• Unlocking new application innovation with new hybrid scenarios
• Benefitting from a highly scalable, reliable, and global infrastructure
• Getting first-class, consistent support from a single vendor

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/campaigns/vmw-to-azure/?wt.mc_id=AID736046_EML_6014358

Contact us 0097143365589

June 24th, 2019

Guides is a new solution that works with Microsoft applications based on HoloLens (and, increasingly, mobile and tablet devices) in mixed reality, in four core areas: remote assistance, training, collaborative visualization, and contextual data access, (‘your data in your space’.)

Guides, trains people on how to correctly work with assets in a real-world setting.

Guides can display 3D visuals, training materials, and interactive tasks through HoloLens. It is intended to train workers and measure their performance. It has the ability to capture and store data on their usage history via the Microsoft’s Common Data Service – or in other apps that consume CDS data like Dynamics 365 Field Service or Finance and Operations.

SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 – end of life July 9, 2019 -ask Synergy Software Systems

June 23rd, 2019

Microsoft has previously announced that SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 will reach end of life on July 9, 2019.

This means that in less than a month, Microsoft will no longer release regular security updates for the product.

There are several reasons this is important to you.
• Attacks against software products of all types are common and ongoing. With Microsoft SQL being such a prevalent platform, attacks against it are ubiquitous, and it’s important to keep your database platform up-to-date with the latest Microsoft security patches.
• Many compliance requirements dictate that you must be running currently supported software.
• As Microsoft drops support for a product, many third-party applications may also discontinue support for their products running on those platforms.

So, if you are still running SQL Server 2008/2008 R2, then what are your options?

1.Upgrade to a newer version of SQL.
SQL 2019 is in preview release as of this writing, so the current production version of SQL Server is 2017. Its end of life will be October 12, 2027.
Evaluate your applications and databases to make sure they are compatible e.g. Dynamic Ax 2012 is not supported beyond SQL 2016

Plan a migration for either on-premises or cloud. A move to an Azure SQL Database Managed Instance, will not require you to upgrade in the future. By choosing this option, you will also gain access to new features which have appeared in the latest SQL Server versions. However, it only offers subset of SQL features so you need to be sure it will support your application and use.

2.Migrate to Azure to receive three more years of Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. If you need to stay on the same SQL code base for a bit longer, Microsoft will allow you to rehost your SQL 2008 environment in Azure and still provide you with security updates for an extended period. There is no extra cost for the extended updates beyond the standard Azure VM rates.

3.Purchase extended support. Microsoft allows customers with an active Enterprise Agreement and Software Assurance subscription to purchase and receive three years of Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. The annual outlay for the updates is 75% of the full license cost.

4.The least desirable option is to stay where you are and pray. If circumstances prevent you from moving forward now, then at minimum you should:
• Recognize and account for the risk;
•Plan and budget for a transition as soon as possible;
•Re-evaluate your security and tighten it as much as possible.

Microsoft provides guidance for handling the end of support of SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 at https://www.microsoft.com/2008-eos.

Of course, Synergy is ready to help you to evaluate and to progress to the next level. 0097143365589

If you are running newer versions of SQL Server, then here are their End-of-Life dates.
•SQL Server 2012 – July 12, 2022
•SQL Server 2014 – July 9, 2024
•SQL Server 2016 – July 14, 2026
•SQL Server 2017 – October 12, 2027

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, support is coming to an end.

June 23rd, 2019

Sometimes lifecycles end because of age or workload and other times they expire due to vendor support.
In the case of Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Microsoft announced that Extended Support will end on January 14, 2020.

Microsoft provides: Mainstream Support, Extended Support, and Beyond End of Support.

Mainstream Support

Mainstream Support is Microsoft’s first phase of support and lasts five years. It includes the following benefits:
• Incident support (no-charge incident support, paid incident support, support charged on an hourly basis, support for warranty claims)
• Security update support
• Ability to request non-security updates

Extended Support

The Extended Support phase follows Mainstream Support, and also lasts five years. The key features of Extended Support are:
• Paid support
• Security updates at no additional cost
• Ability to request non-security updates (available only via Unified Support, a new model of support that offers comprehensive support that covers your entire organization)
• Microsoft will not accept requests for warranty support, design changes, or new features during the Extended Support phase.

Beyond End of Support

The Beyond End of Support phase is the final phase of the product lifecycle and lasts for three years. Here are the key things to remember.
• Request to change product design and features are not available
• Security updates are available only with the purchase of the Extended Security Update Program for up to three years. This typically costs 75% of the on-premises license cost annually.
• Technical support is provided when you purchase Extended Security Updates and have an active support plan in place on the product that has moved beyond the Extended Support date.

Server 2008 and 2008R2 are moving out of the Extended Support phase on January 14, 2020. From that date on,
non-security updates will no longer be available,
security updates will be available only if you pay for the Extended Security Update Program,
and other vendors will diminish their support of this operating system version.
If you are not prepared, then this will leave your environment open to security holes, application instability, and support restrictions.
If you have not already planned for this then now is the time to get it into your budget for first thing next year.

Synergy certifications

June 22nd, 2019

Happy to announce that our Gold partnership with Microsoft has been confirmed again for the next 12 months.

Recently we have also certified consultants in ABBY the industry leading OCR software.

Earlier in the year we became a gold partner with UIPath the market leading Robotic Process Automation solution, for which Synergy has more than 50% of the certified consultants in the region.

This is part of our commitment to deliver professional service for digital transformation to our clients.

UAE and AI

June 20th, 2019

A report commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY says the UAE has seen the second highest AI investment over the past decade, more than USD $2.15 billion
• One in five companies in the country consider AI as their top digital priority
• 94% of C-suite leadership consider ‘AI strategy’ as an important topic and 35% of non-managerial staff are actively having AI discussions

New research shows the state of AI within businesses across the UAE is expected to improve dramatically over the next three years,as a growing number of executives look to AI to drive their digital agendas. Already, 18% of businesses in the country consider AI their most important digital priority. (AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Click here – a new study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY.)

The UAE’s progress in elevating the AI agenda is a direct result of leaders across the country recognising that the technology is a key differentiator across all sectors. 94% of companies in the UAE report involvement in AI at executive management level – the highest percentage of any surveyed country in MEA.

“When we examine companies with high AI maturity, it’s clear that the technology is driven directly by the CEOs themselves. This high level of involvement typically results in greater investment in AI, broader adopti on and a greater number of successful implementations,” says Sayed Hashish, regional general manager at Microsoft Gulf.

Leadership capability in the UAE is also rated high when compared with other countries in MEA. While 64% of respondents believe they have moderate, little or no AI leadership competency, 24% of executives in the UAE rated themselves as highly competent, with another 46 percent indicating they are either competent or very competent. Most companies still consider themselves to be in the planned phase of AI maturity, meaning AI has not yet been put to active use. On the opposite end of the spectrum, just 8% of businesses perceive themselves as advanced in their application of AI.

It’s not surprising that the UAE is the second highest regional investor in AI over the past ten years, investing $2.15 billion in total. The bulk of this investment went towards social media and Internet of Things (IoT) transactions. This was followed by notable spend across a further eight technologies, including smart mobile, gamification, and machine learning.

Machine learning is ranked as the most useful AI technology, with primary emphasis placed on decision support solutions, then smart robotics and text analysis, where customer interactions are the key focus.

The UAE’s open culture around AI is a highly positive indicator of the health of the technology within the country. 94% of UAE companies have ‘AI Strategy’ as an important topic at C-suite level and a significant 35% of companies say AI discussions are filtering down from top management right the way through to non-managerial levels. As a result, employees in the UAE embrace opportunities to participate in skills training and pilot programmes.

UAE companies are, in general, heavily focused on customer engagement when it comes to AI. The use of chatbots in the marketing space has become common, largely because they enhance the customer experience, ultimately demonstrating obvious value to management. UAE respondents expect AI to deliver greater operational efficiencies, drive down costs and, most importantly, enable them to be more competitive. Companies within the Emirates view prediction (76%) and automation (76%) as the most relevant applications of AI for their businesses.

65% of UAE companies rate themselves as highly to very competent when it comes to drawing on external alliances to strengthen their AI capabilities.

Synergy Software Systems offers Integration as a service, Robotic Process Automation, Machine learning, and Advanced analytics solutions

The first Microsoft cloud datacenter regions in the Middle East are now available!

June 20th, 2019

On the 19th June 2019, Microsoft launched two new cloud data centres in the United Arab Emirates – in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
These new cloud regions join Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure – one of the largest and most innovative in the world.

Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365 are now available from the new cloud regions in the UAE and give local access for Middle East organizations, enterprises and developers to scalable, available and resilient cloud services to bring applications closer to users, while maintaining data residency, security and compliance needs.

These new cloud regions in the UAE are the dawn of a new era, driving digital transformation, economic growth and job creation,” said Sayed Hashish, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf. “We are committed to empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Now, more customers in the Middle East can move with confidence to the trusted and intelligent Microsoft Cloud. They will be more competitive as they start their digital transformation journeys – engaging customers, empowering employees, optimising operations, and reinventing products and services.”

Azure, is an ever-expanding set of cloud services, that offers computing, networking, databases, analytics, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT). Office 365 provides email, collaboration, conferencing, enterprise social networking and business intelligence.

Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, offer the next generation of intelligent business applications and tools, and are anticipated to be available from the cloud regions in the UAE by the end of 2019.

Microsoft provides expertise in data protection, security and privacy as well as the industry’s broadest set of compliance certifications to helpmanage compliance with supported industry standards and regulations such as ISO 27001/27018, SSAE 18 SOC, and GDPR.

Data residency in the UAE will help enable government organizations and enterprises to comply with in-country regulatory frameworks and decrease the obstacles for cloud adoption. This allows, for example, public sector departments to revitalize their service delivery with the ability to improve data gathering, promote teamwork, portal development and analytics.

Regional organizations of all sizes from across all industries have placed their trust in the Microsoft Cloud. These include the Emirates Group, Emaar Properties, Majid Al Futtaim, Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts, Landmark Group, Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM), Miral, Daman Insurance, RAK Ceramics, Imdaad, Gulf Air, Viva, Kuwait Finance House, and Dubai World Trade Center.

Entities from sectors such as government, aviation, financial services, manufacturing and healthcare are among those that are already benefiting from the new cloud regions. These include Dubai Airports, Etihad Airways, Mubadala Development Company, Mashreq Bank, The First Group, Network International, and Shelf Drilling.

Microsoft has been working closely with Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) and Dubai Electronic Security Center (DESC) to enable compliant adoption of Cloud Services by the UAE government and semi-government entities. Microsoft is the first cloud service provider in the UAE to achieve DESC’s Cloud Service Provider certification.

Power BI advanced analytics and AI

June 19th, 2019

There is a huge demand to get more insight from the data using AI and advanced analytics.
See how to use visuals in Power BI to get more insight from your data and how to use embedded AI features in Power BI.

Power BI is about helping our customers embrace a data culture, where every employee can make better decisions based on data. The growth of Power BI has been staggering – customers ingest more than 20PB of data to Power BI every month, lighting up over 30M reports and dashboards, and the Power BI service processes over 12M queries per hour.

Gartner named Microsoft a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI Platforms for 12 consecutive years.
Power BI has led the way in infusing AI with BI through capabilities like Quick Insights which help unearth trends in data and Q&A which enable business users to get answers by simply asking questions.

Microsoft recently announced the general availability of Azure Cognitive Services and Azure ML dataflows integration, to provide analysts with a toolkit of powerful AI functions:

● Azure Cognitive Services are sophisticated pre-trained machine learning models for intelligent applications. Analysts can use these models to extract insights from images by detecting objects. Text fields like customer feedback can be analyzed for positive and negative sentiment as well as have key phrases extracted. All these AI enrichments can be easily consumed by end users through interactive Power BI reports.

● Azure Machine Learning is a powerful platform where data scientists can develop machine learning models. These models can now easily be shared and used by analysts. Power BI automatically discovers which models an analyst has permissions to and provides an intuitive point and click user interface to invoke them. Analysts can now easily collaborate with data scientists as well as visualize and use insights from the model in their reports.

Learn more about the general availability for cognitive services, Azure ML and the AI workload in Power BI Premium.

Some exciting new capabilities that will be available soon:

● Two new AI visuals—Distribution Changes analyzes what makes a distribution look different, and the Decomposition Tree enables users to drill into any dimension to understand what is driving a key metric.

● Expanding Power BI’s vision and text analytics capabilities and adding entity detection and text and handwriting recognition, enabling one-click transformations for insights on unstructured data.

● For enterprises that need custom lifecycle management or further tuning, models created in Power BI can be exported to Azure ML

● Extending Power BI’s natural language capabilities. The new updates include the ability to train Q&A so it understands and adapts to company-specific language like synonyms, phrasings, or specific domains, and the ability for report authors to see every natural-language question asked so they can adjust how Power BI responds.

Template apps are integrated packages of pre-built Power BI dashboards and reports, configured to connect to specific data sources. With them, Microsoft partners can quickly provide analytics for the apps and services they provide. Partners can also manage the Template Apps development lifecycle, from dev to marketplace to updates. With template apps, users can immediately begin exploring, learning, and acting on key data with off-the-shelf apps. Today, Template Apps become generally available. Users can find and install template apps on AppSource.

Embedded analytics keeps evolving

With Power BI embedded analytics, you can extend the value of Power BI Premium and Power BI Pro. Embed analytics in internal websites, applications, and portals to empower your organization to make data-driven decisions. Here is some of the exciting news we are sharing today:

● Service principals with Power BI are now generally available. With service principal, application developers can authenticate an external application to embed Power BI content or manage and automate Power BI operations with Power BI using an app-only token. Read the full article.

● Use the AI-based ‘Key Influencers’ visualization in your application to allow end users to see which factors affect the metric being analyzed and contrast the relative importance of these factors.

Databases breaches

June 18th, 2019

Verizon has published a Data Breach Investigations Report annually and the latest report is the 11th edition, and all are extremely well detailed. Not all data breaches are discovered, and those that are discovered aren’t necessarily reported. The 2018 report covers 53,000 incidents, defined as: A security event that compromises the integrity, confidentiality or availability of an information asset. . It also covers 2,216 breaches, which are defined as: An incident that results in the confirmed disclosure — not just potential exposure — of data to an unauthorized party.

These numbers ), do NOT include breaches involving botnets. The additional 43,000 successful accesses via stolen credentials associated with botnets are handled in a special insights section of the report.

Those are scary numbers.

The Verizon report show s 73% perpetuated by outsiders, 28% involving internal actors, 2% involving partners, 2% featuring multiple parties, 50% carried out by organized criminal groups, 12% involved actors identified as nation-state or state-affiliated. These figures are regarding those confirmed data breaches, not all security incidents. While 28% involve internal users, the bulk of data breaches were caused by from people outside the organization, using malware or social attacks, or exploiting vulnerabilities created due to errors.

While the exact internal actors weren’t found for all of the reported data breaches, analysis was done for 277 data breaches and a screen shows: 72 system admin, 62 end user, 62 other, 32 doctor or nurse, 15 developer, 9 manager, 8 executives

Database administrators may focus on denying permissions to developers for production, but developers proved much less likely to be involved in data breaches than system admins …which includes … the DBAs.

You don’t need production system access to cause a data breach. It’s common practice in an enterprise to make copies of production data for use by analysts, developers, product managers, marketing professionals, and others.

Privacy law compliance makes this all the more concerning.

Biometrics – privacy and security concerns

June 18th, 2019

On Monday last week a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) subcontractor suffered a data breach that exposed the photos of tens of thousands of travelers coming in and out of the United States, through specific lanes at a single Port of Entry over a one and a half months period, in what was described as a “malicious cyber-attack.”

The database of traveler photos and license plate images was transferred to a CBP subcontractor’s network without the federal agency’s authorization or knowledge, the CBP explained. The subcontractor’s network was then hacked. BP said its own systems had not been compromised. Fortunately no other identifying information was included with the photos, and no passport or other travel document photos were compromised.

Images of airline passengers from the air entry and exit process were also not involved.

CBP’s “biometric entry-exit system,”is the government initiative to biometrically verify the identities of all travelers crossing US borders. which it is racing to implement so as to use facial recognition technology on “100 percent of all international passengers,” including American citizens, in the top 20 US airports by 2021.

The concern is whether that is urgency is ignoring vetting, and regulatory safeguards, and privacy legislation. Only last month, Perceptics, the maker of vehicle license plate readers used by the US government and cities to identify and track citizens, was hacked, and its files were dumped online. It is not clear whether the attacks were connected.

Summer discount on SQL protection tools

June 18th, 2019

Security, privacy, performance, and up time, all depend on a well maintained database with timely reports and alerts.
for an Enterprise system this is mission critical.
Few DBAs have the time and training to write and maintain a comprehensive set of scripts. Yet they also often lack the tools to do the job.
We offer fantastic suite of tools to help you to mange your SQL databases and with discounted bundled prices.
With privacy laws and compliance adding to the ever rising security threats, a well managed system is now often key to whether a customer will share data it you, and directly impacts whether you can secure and retain business.

Talk yo us about System health checks and administrator training, and how you can reduce administrative cost, and system risks with SQL management tools.
00971 43365589

Microsoft showcases power Apps with AI at the Atlaata Business Application Summit

June 15th, 2019

Microsoft is in Atlanta is hosting its Business Application Summit where it is announcing three significant updates to its Power Platform to give users new tools and more advanced features.
- AI Building and PowerApps Portal,
- updated AI capabilities for PowerBI,
- enhanced cognitive/AI capabilities in Microsoft Flow.

Microsoft’s narrative is to democratize AI and ML f to eliminate the need for years of coding experience to properly utilize the technology in your application or at your company – ‘Citizen developers’.

Power BI’s new UI is more closely aligned to other Office 365 applications
• Text and image analytics in Power BI powered by Azure Cognitive Services, and the ability to invoke Azure ML models are now generally available.
• Microsoft announced two new AI visuals—Distribution Changes analyzes what makes a distribution look different, and the Decomposition Tree enables users to drill into any dimension to understand what is driving a key metric.
• Microsoft is expanding Power BI’s vision and text analytics capabilities, and aiso also adding entity detection and text and handwriting recognition, to enable one-click transformations for insights on unstructured data.
• For custom lifecycle management or further tuning, models created in Power BI can be exported to Azure ML.

The PowerApps Portal is a new tool that was previously in Dynamics 365 wall but is now available directly with PowerApps to enables customers to create websites that can be accessed by external users with a wide variety of identities, including personal accounts, LinkedIn, and other Azure Active Directory organizations, and enable anonymous access to content.

The Microsoft Flow, app will have AI capabilities and In conjunction with AI Builder, Flow users can extract data from images and text to drive logic in their processes to make more informed decisions.

Making AI more accessible in the power applications means that rather than have to model your application around an AI framework , AI and ML can be built around your application.