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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Physical Servers Vs Virtual Servers Vs Cloud

Physical Servers Vs Virtual Servers Vs Cloud

There can be several different reasons why Kenyan businesses ad companies are choosing either a Physical or Virtual Server for their day to day errands. Considerations such as business size, needs and price are all factors to take in to account. My goal is to give you a helicopter view of the key points of each so when you discuss the options best suited for your firm,you are informed on some of the terminology and factors.
Physical Servers:
Physical Servers are the traditional way of doing things (in IT traditional means more than 3 years ago!) and involve a piece(s) of hardware that are configured to perform the tasks of your business. Generally this hardware is in your server room or broom closet. They can play any role required in the business, from Mail Server to a Web Host Server or even a combination of a wide variety of roles where required. With physical servers there is a tendency to try and do more with less.
The advantage of a Physical Server for a small business with limited server needs, is that the one server can perform all the tasks required for the day to day running of the business. As your business scales up in size you will have a 2nd server and 3rd and so on, the number generally corresponding with scale of the business. Each server will generally be critical to the business in some form because rarely do people sign off on implementing a new server to do something inconsequential. Inconsequential tasks are added to an existing server where it won’t conflict with something in place.
Virtual Servers:
A Virtual Server is normally one of many servers that operate upon a single physical server with each virtual server sharing the resources of the physical server between them. However an effective virtual infrastructure cannot run upon a single physical server so proper implementation of virtual servers requires the use of multiple physical servers and more than likely a device capable of providing shared storage between the physical servers. This means the starting cost of a Virtual Server solution is higher than that of a single physical server solution.
The advantage of Virtual Servers is that each server can be run upon any capable physical server and so the failure of a physical server, with a proper environment in place, means any affected servers that were sharing that physical server, can be started up seamlessly on any other available physical server. This can even be automated within most virtual infrastructure solutions which leads to near zero downtime. One of the consequences however of Virtual Servers is that because you can have multiple Virtual Servers on a physical server the temptation is to put each software product onto its own server because there is not the cost limitation of having to have one physical server for each. This is known in the industry as “server sprawl” and it is something to be avoided. While the benefits of Virtual Servers are significant, they still need to be planned and maintained effectively to ensure their continued productivity.
Cloud:

Cloud is a general term, largely expressed in marketing, to describe any server/service that is put outside your own control for someone else to maintain on your behalf. This type of solution is not new and have historically been called outsourcing, services from Application Service Providers and more going back over the last 4 years in Kenya. The Cloud terminology has gained great traction with decision makers because it sounds like a wonderful and cheap solution to remove IT considerations from a business.
My note of caution with Cloud solutions is that anyone who has used IT services will know that the quality of service varies greatly between providers and even over time, with some providers being exceptional but gradually failing to deliver sometimes after years of effective service. Cloud solutions are generally designed by the provider as a one way solution. They assume that everyone that uses them will be forever happy with them and will never want to leave and so designing or considering the process of a customer leaving is rarely addressed. Strategic use of Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud and any other Cloud term you are likely to see or hear is definitely effective and a number of Kenyan Engineers have been providing services that are considered Cloud for a number of years now. In fact they are probablyamong the most experienced Cloud providers there is in Africa. However implementing a Cloud solution is something that everyone has to go into with their eyes wide open and a clear understanding of what will be provided, who will provide, who has access to your information, is it protected from disaster (and is the provider responsible for its loss!) and ultimately can you move to more advanced services or services that suit your business better in the future that will inevitably occur.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to each option. These range from power consumption, storage requirements, maintenance, product licensing and more. This wide range of considerations also mean almost no business has the exact same needs as another and so it is important to ensure you engage someone competent in all of these options and considerations before you make any decision so that the decision you make is the right one. The cost and effort involved in reversing decisions that turn out to be wrong can be catastrophic.
There are several Kenyan engineers who are now widely versed in these solutions and implement and support every conceivable variation of them on a daily basis. If anyone would like to mail and find more on these expertise and knowledge please email sknjeri@wichita.edu or samwelkariuki@icloud.com and i will gladly assist you.May Africa stars shine beyond the so called or discussed Cloud services.Its time for africa to rise and shine.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

NEW SERVICES ABOUT CLOUD COMPUTING

   Kenya is an amazing place to gather knowledge#trustMe,just mingle with the right group.Recently i just learn how to install some cloud computing services to other OS's like ubuntu and the likes-This lovely sunday,i wanna share the same with our african techno-gigs,telcom aficionados and ICT lovers:Its about SALT.
Salt is a tool which is used for remote exection, configuration management, code deployment and communication topologies. Salt competes with popular cofiguration management tools like chef and puppet. Salt claims to scale up to tens and thousands of servers. Salt is used by one of the social networking giants Linkedin for their infrastructure management.Salt has a very shallow learning curve and you can get going quickly.

Architecture:
  1. There is a master server and it connects to the agent servers (called minions) in your infrastructure.
  2. The master can run commands in the minions parallelly, it is what make salt very fast.
  3. The minions will execute the command sent by master and return it.
There are few concepts associated with salt.

Also Read:  Opscode Chef Configuration Management tool setup

Returners: Using which you can redirect the return object of executed code to any system which can accept data, like reddis, mongodb, or a PostgresSQL database.


Salt-syndic: salt syndic is an interface which lets you to control various salt masters in different data centers or different sections in an infrastructure from one centralized salt-master.

Reactor:
Reactor sit up in the master. You can configure the reactor to list to the events .When the minions fire some events to the even bus in the salt master , the reactor handles the event by taking necessary actions based up the conditions set in the reactor. For example , if Jenkins is running on one of the minions and it fires an event to master saying the build has finished, the reactor in turn handles the event and redirect to another minion to take actions based on the Jenkins successful build.

GitFS:
In salt you can git as a source repository and pull the source files to server them to minions.
In this tutorial, am goin to set the salt master in RHEL and salt minion in Ubuntu 13.04.

Setting up salt master on RHEL6:
1. Enable the EPEL repo
rpm -Uvh http://ftp.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/epel/6/i386/epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm
2. Install the salt master package using yum
Yum install salt-master
3. Set the salt-master service to start on system boot
Chkconfig salt-master on
4. Start the salt master
Service salt-master start
Setting up salt minion on Ubuntu server:
If you want both the master and minion in one server, you can install the minion in the same server using yum command. Here am going to use a separate server for installing minion.

1. Add the salt repository
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:saltstack/salt
2. Update the repo database
apt-get update
3. Install salt minion
apt-get install salt-minion
Configuring salt Master:
By default salt master listens to post 4505 and 4506. So make sure these ports are open in Iptables and any firewall if any. If you are using AWS instance , make sure these ports are open in the security groups.

Configuring salt minion:
By default salt minion listens to 4505 and 4506 , so make these ports are opened as mentioned above.
Open the /etc/salt/minion and uncomment the master option and give your masters ip
master : ip of master 


By default you have the hostname “salt”. You can use the same name if you edit your /etc/hosts file and make an entry for your salt master with name “salt”.

Registering minion with the master:
1. Start the minion
salt-minion
2. The above command will contact the master with keys for authentication.
3. Go to salt master and issue the following command to see it has any requests for authentication from new minions.
salt-key –L
4. You will see the hostame of the minion under unauthorized keys.
5. Accept the keys using the following command
salt-key  -a  
6. Once you accept the keys from minion , it will be registered with the master and the master can now issue commands to the minion.
7. You can list the minions using the following commands.
salt-run manage.up 
salt-run manage.status 
salt-run manage.down
Testing master minion connection:
1. You can check the master minion connection using the simple salt ping test. It gives you output as "true"
salt <minion-name> test:ping
Managing Keys:
If you want to re-register a minion to the master delete the existing minion key from the master using the following command
salt-key –d minion-name
Restart the minion after deleting the key and start it again to register it with new keys. 

Salt has a GUI called Halite, which is in pre-alpha stage.

Kindly share the article and leave a comment for queries. - 

Author:Samwel Kariuki
website:www.sknjeri.wordpress.com

Sunday, 29 December 2013

DYNAMICS OF CLOUD COMPUTING IN FIBRE OPTICS

  Technology has evolved almost immeasurably in the past several decades. I remember a few months back watching Telkom kenya discuss optical fiber. It went something like this: “Telkom(k) Company has fiber that can carry 24 phone calls on a fiber as thin as a human hair.” Using a standard calculation that a single phone call is 64 kbits/sec (64,000 bits per second), a total of 24 phone calls would be 1.54 Mbits/sec (1.54 million bits per second)—or the equivalent of a Digital Signal 1 (DS1).
Let’s jump to current day. We now have fiber carrying Terabits—one trillion bits per second. That is an enormous amount of information passing at the speed of light through this one strand of fiber the size of a human hair.With this as a frame of reference, let’s now take a look at the impact of fiber in a data center environment. Data centers of the past were copper-based with multiple DS1 and Digital Signal 3 (DS3, approximate transmission rate of 45 Mbits/sec) lines handling the load of servers to an Optical Carrier 3 (OC3) with a transmission rate of 155 Mbits/sec. This OC3 would connect the servers to the network cloud or outside world. Copper dominated in a data center environment and the only fiber installed was that single line connecting the servers to the network cloud. All DS1 and DS3 connections were on copper panels, possibly with a digital access and crossconnect system (DACS).
    Now in 2013, video (iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and others) and cloud computing/hosted servers, backup and storage, Microsoft CRM, hosted private branch exchanges (PBXs), web analysis tools and web hosting are driving enormous growth in data center server deployments. Data centers are offering rates at DS1, DS3, 5 Mbits/sec, 10 Mbits/sec, 20 Mbits/sec and up to an OC3, all connecting to the outside world via 10-Gbit Ethernet or 100-Gbit Ethernet connections from multiple providers. Today fiber is heavily deployed in Kenya, placing a large concentration of revenue-generating traffic in a small place. To alleviate risk, the data center architecture is evolving away from the previous copper DS1 and DS3 panels, to fiber panels with multiple connections to the client and to the cloud for redundancy.

Fiber connectivity, management

     Historically, fiber in the data center was not protected with the same level of sophistication as was provided by telecommunications service providers. There were two standards—the high-end product lines that were used by the telco provider to ensure the ultimate in reliability, and the low-end solutions used in the data center. However, the line between data and telco have become blurred, and as a result, the sophisticated standards deployed by the telco provider are now being implemented in the data center. Fortunately, this does not equate to a huge increase in cost. In fact, choosing a fiber-management architecture that delivers reliability, modularity and scalability, without giving up density, will actually reduce the cost of fiber deployment. Choosing a modular fiber panel ensures that additional fiber connections can be added, on an as-needed basis, thus lowering the ongoing cost per port.
For maintaining a fiber connection, proper handling techniques like cleaning the fiber are now brought to the forefront. Some copper connections can be wiped clean simply; not so with fiber. A dirty fiber connection can cause a completely blocked signal or introduce attenuation, thus limiting the distance of the signal. Equipment such as a fiber microscope is used to look at a fiber to see how clean the connection is. (Note: Never look into a fiber that is connected to a system.) Cleaning the fiber can be performed with specialty products available on the market, used in adherence to industry cleaning standards. These specifications are good references.
  • IEC 61300-3-35, Fibre Optic Interconnecting Devices and Passive Components – Basic Test and Measurement Procedures
  • IPC 8497-1, Cleaning Methods and Contamination Assessment for Optical Assembly
  • IEC 62627 (DTR), Fibre Optic Interconnecting Devices and Passive Components – Fibre Optic Connector Cleaning Methods

Performance expectations

Ensuring minimal insertion loss is key to performance of the network. In recent years, Telkom (k) ltd has established that the standard for loss should be no more than 0.4 dB. When it re-set the standard to 0.4 dB of loss, most patch cord vendors reported performance “typical” of the Telkom standard. As “typical,” the process to build the patch cord was capable of delivering 0.4-dB performance, but each individual cord that came off the line may or may not meet the standard—did 51 percent of the cords match the standard? 75 percent?Few patch cord vendors were “guaranteeing” the 0.4-dB loss, as it required extensive quality-control measures in their production process and very tight tolerances in their test metrics. These tightened performance specifications were perceived by the vendor as expensive and cost-prohibitive. Achieving a “guaranteed” performance level was expected to result in extensive production-floor “scrap” as patch cords that did not meet the guaranteed number were either set aside as “seconds” or repolished to achieve the desired results. Because there were no guarantees, network designers needed to allow for variation in patch cord performance. As a result, their network designs did not fully benefit from the reported performance enhancements.
     Performance of the fiber, guaranteed for immediate and ongoing performance for the life of the network, is critical to delivering the user experience that cloud computing promises. Not only should you demand guaranteed (rather than typical) performance of your fiber, but 0.4 dB should not be good enough in today’s demanding world. Vendors that have built their data centers for optimal performance are delivering guaranteed 0.2-dB loss.Entering the 21st century, we have seen a significant increase in the use of data centers. As a telco guy by heritage, Im now growning up with the central office as the core of a telco network and have seen an incredible amount of evolution that will occur over the coming years(vision 2030). Today there is even talk of data centers being the central offices of the future. With fiber being tested and verified by telco service providers over the past 20 years, the data center manager has some great practical wisdom to follow. We find ourselves at a time of great opportunity as we learn from the past to continue to create an exciting future. The best is yet to come.
   Africa needs to shine and its the natives that will do so.Hope is a waking dream so lets all make Africa and moreso Kenya the Tech point of this great continent.

Source:sknjeri.wordpress.com
Author:Samwel Kariuki

Friday, 13 December 2013

Telkom Orange Kenya Ltd in Relation to Fibre Networks

   Increased use of cloud services by kenyan businesses has created a need for increased capacity in the data network. Telkom Orange Kenya Ltd is responding to this trend with a Ksh 40 billion investment in fibre optic broadband for businesses.
 Telkom Orange Kenya Ltd spends over Ksh 40 billion per year upgrading and modernising the telephone, TV, and data networks in Kenya. Much of the investment goes into the comprehensive expansion of the fibre optic broadband network for the business market.The need for higher bandwidth in kenyan businesses is rising. We are currently experiencing a trend where services that were previously on local servers at each individual company are now moving to the Internet as cloud-based services. In addition, the use of video services in businesses is also increasing, both for live use and for training.
  The opportunities for savings through the use of cloud-based services are substantial, but services such as email, document storage and sharing, and accounting software require a stable and secure Internet connection with high capacity. Telkom Orange Kenya Ltd has therefore set in motion a vigorous investment programme into fibre optic broadband for the business market, both in terms of Internet access and virtual private networks (VPNs). With fibre optic broadband,  companies will be ready for tomorrow’s digital solutions.

Simple model

Telkom Orange Kenya Ltd has been building fibre optic infrastructure for the business market for many years. The model, now being used as a basis by the company for its proactive initiatives, will make fibre optic services more accessible to the nation’s businesses, including small and medium sized companies. The prerequisite is that there must be a minimum customer potential in an area for the company to start expansion.When a customer contacts us wanting a fibre optic connection, we check the company’s location and proximity to other companies. All companies in urban areas with a certain concentration of businesses will be able to receive fibre optic broadband from Telkom Orange Kenya Ltd.

Modernising the copper network

Even though Telkom Orange Kenya Ltd is now investing heavily in fibre optic, DSL broadband over the copper network will still be the technology that offers the best coverage across kenya for a long time to come. Therefore, Telkom Orange Kenya Ltd will in parallel with the fibre optic expansion also be upgrading the copper network in several places.In areas where  broadband is on several different technologies, Telkom Orange Kenya Ltd consider replacing the copper network with faster technology. A course of modernisation such as this will take place over many years, and no services of solutions will be removed before they are able to offer something that is at least as good. They will then help customers to move to new solutions, and  will notify customers well in advance within the applicable notice periods and existing agreement terms.

Source:sknjeri.wordpress.com
Author:Samwel Kariuki Njeri

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

DEVELOPING A MOBILE APP ON THE CLOUD IN LESS THAN AN HOUR

  Two of the hottest topics in technology today are “mobile” and “cloud.” They are at the top of most CTOs list of objectives, yet they also seem to be the ones most shrouded in mystery. So where do our young Kenyan tech savvy and/or computer aficionados start?
With the video and do-it-yourself guide below!
2013-05-17 14.06.14This year, at NCSIT 2013 Nairobi, I ran a session where we built a complete database-backed web application from scratch using the SpringSource Tool Suite and the Grails framework for Java. Then, we published the application to Cloud Foundry—an open VMcloud Platform-as-a-Service offering. Finally, we proceeded to build a mobile application that consumed the data from the web application built earlier.  I broke a cardinal rule by doing the entire session live, but it all went off without a hitch and audience participation with the application was an absolute blast. By the time we were done, we had built two applications from the ground up, and folks had an application that looked, smelled, and tasted like a native mobile application running on their phones. And, we did all of this in less than one hour!
In the months since, I have had multiple interactions with STEM advocates for Africa,start-ups Innovation firms in Kenya,Youth initiative programs directed towards Konza city and OpenWorld Ltd attendees. I have heard from many who followed the session content—they were building their own mobile applications using the same technologies and using the guide we used at OpenWorld!
In particular, a gentleman in the audience interrupted me recently as I was presenting at an event in Sarova Panafric. As I started talking about Cloud Foundry, he said that he was in our OpenWorld session and had redone the whole lab himself. And, the best part of his interruption? He wasn’t a traditional programmer. He was more focused on infrastructure, which was very rewarding to hear.  These are the things that make it fun to get up and go to work each day.
During the OpenWorld session we talked a bit about the “mobile dilemma” and the challenges that exist in mobile application development.  In this post, I thought I would:
a) trim down the session content into just the programming pieces,
b) make a video to share with the blogosphere,
c) provide a complete “Do It Yourself Guide” to download and follow along.
  The guide is a walkthrough and very basic introduction to some 101 “mobile web” concepts and technologies.  So, let me attempt to pull on my flame-proof suit up front with the following disclaimers:
    This is not a formal dissertation on proper enterprise mobile application development methodologies and lifecycle management.
    This is not a “full stack” bootcamp that will make you a mobile rockstar.
    This is not a formal class on any specific development technology.
    This is not a  “best practices” view on mobile development.
    This is not a substitute for taking a proper mobile development course!
The purpose of this blog post is to simply have some fun and provide a simple introduction to help folks write their own mobile applications using a web technology stack that could easily be scaled in the future. And, I wanted to do it with technologies that
a) folks could go and grab easily and
b) implement immediately without having to buy anything, require existing services, or have any other “stuff” to deal with.  We will show you everything: from how to sign up for your very own Cloud Foundry account and download the SpringSource Tool Suite; to writing the web and mobile applications.  All from scratch.
In my travels,trainings and interactions, I find many enterprises big and small(SMEs) struggling to get started in this space.  Most everybody has a mobile application of some sort nowadays, but many times they are little more than what used to be a static website in the late 90’s.  Or perhaps, it’s a marketing tool.  More times than not, the entire development process was outsourced.  But now, people want to start building mobile apps themselves with real data and real logic.  And, they want real applications that provide business value or competitive differentiation. A good example of such an application is "OpenBusiness" which is 100% Kenyan made from design to the functionalities that befit the Kenyan business environment. My hope is that you will get an introduction to some technologies that allow you to reuse the web skills you have in house to build your very own mobile applications and use the experience as a launching pad into your next generation mobile strategy.
If nothing else, I hope you have some fun and can show off your new crazy mad mobile chops to your friends!   :-)
Now go build something!
Author:Samwel

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

MERITS AND DIMERITS OF CLOUD COMPUTING SERVICES IN BUSINESSES.

  Cloud computing is one of the most buzzworthy tech developments of the past few years in Kenya. Everyone is talking about how cloud services can help businesses to be more productive, nimble and scalable.

But what exactly is the cloud? What are the potential risks and rewards for your business?

Defining the cloud

Tech gurus and cloud service providers like OpenWorld Ltd,IBM and others all have a slightly different spin on defining the cloud. Essentially, the cloud is an Internet technology platform with computing and storage capabilities. Customers can access groups of virtual servers on-demand and providers typically charge fees on a per-use basis.

Maybe the easiest way to define the cloud is to discuss the business needs it meets. The cloud allows developers, website managers, IT departments and businesses of all sizes to quickly develop, test and roll out new tech capabilities without spending a lot on infrastructure and training. Companies can lease software, add IT services and boost storage capacity offsite. Ramp-up times are short and large support staffs are unnecessary.

Types of clouds

Various types of cloud environments meet the scalability, security and performance needs of different users. Generally, clouds for business customers break down into three main categories.

    Private clouds: Also referred to as an internal or single-tenant cloud, a private cloud has a proprietary network or data center that is devoted to a single organization. Employees access it behind the company’s existing firewall. Businesses that need large amounts of data stored for long periods often choose private clouds, which are the most customizable and secure option.

    Public clouds: Public or multi-tenant clouds are comprised of a pool of scalable resources delivered securely to multiple clients as a service over the Internet. Public clouds are the most widely used cloud platform and work well for growing businesses or companies that need immediate access to cloud services to meet rapid increases in storage needs or computing demand.

    Hybrid clouds: As the name implies, a hybrid cloud combines features of both the private and public clouds. Ideally, a hybrid lets businesses take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness of a public cloud. Companies that use this type have the security features and customization options of a private cloud. Businesses may begin using certain applications in a public cloud and then migrate them to a private cloud as needs or numbers of users change.


Security considerations

When it's properly implemented, cloud computing offers more security than most offices. Yet many business owners are nervous about having a large portion of their data housed off-site. When you're choosing a cloud service provider, it’s essential to understand what security measures are in place to safeguard the integrity of your data, and to ensure your consistent and trouble-free access to it 24/7.

Businesses new to the cloud and looking for the right service provider might consider first partnering with a technology firm that is well-versed in data-replication standards, encryption and authentication methods.

Why try the cloud?

Cloud services offer flexibility for businesses of all sizes. Large companies can get to market faster, respond to changing customer demand and meet seasonal spikes trouble-free—all with less hardware, software and support costs.

Small businesses can compete using high-tech resources once reserved for the big boys—leveling the playing field and boosting bottom lines. In the rarefied atmosphere of making businesses run faster and smarter, the cloud just might be the ultimate rainmaker and one application that can sum up all this in the African market currently and more so in Kenya is "OpenBusiness".For more information about the BMT application that is cloud based,visit www.openbusiness.co.ke.

Source:www.samwelkariuki.com
Credit:Samwel Kariuki.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

BIG DATA'S NOT JUST FOR BIG COMPANIES ANYMORE.

New apps and tools e.g. "OpenBusiness" bring cool and affordable analytics to smaller businesses, providing the data they need to compete with large chains.
          When many small-business owners think about “big data”—the idea of using large and varied volumes of data to gain better customer and business intelligence—they assume it’s too costly and complicated. How can, say, a local restaurant downtown in nairobi or an independent retailer in Gikomba affordably access the data to compete with large chains?
Good news: New applications and platforms such as "Openbusiness" are emerging quickly to help make big data accessible to even the smallest businesses.
Java House, a company that owns coffee and tea shops in Kenya, uses Micros, a smartphone app that allows it to easily visualize point-of-sale data, labor metrics and other accounting data so managers can more efficiently and effectively make decisions. Using micros, the company has been able to shave its labor costs by 10 percent, according to a recent case study.
 “One might assume that the exploitation of Big Data is the province of big companies but that’s not the case, thanks to several forces that are democratizing Big Data. These include affordable cloud computing storage, open source software for processing large volumes of data, and Big Data sets being made available in the public domain.”
Other companies are rolling out big-data products and analytics targeted at small firms. OpenWorld Ltd recently raised a substantial amount of money in order to expand and enhance its suite of applications aimed at making data “more accessible to all businesses, not just those that can afford data scientists.
Many small companies already have useful data at their fingertips through programs such as Google Analytics—helping them see how and why customers are accessing their website. But newer tools can help business owners access helpful data.
Here are some big data tools for small businesses to check out:
SumAll: A data visualization tool for companies for online retailers. It’s currently free.
SizeUp: A free online tool from the Small Business Administration that provides competitive benchmarking information to help companies compare themselves with other businesses in their area.
OpenWorld Ltd: A company that helps local businesses build customized loyalty programs and, in turn, gives them customer analytics.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SMEs IN KENYA


 I think we have come into a time where there is an enormous amount of art where people go: “we need social media”. Now we are in a time where people say: “we have got to get social media measured”.
I think we are only seeing the beginning right now. We are also seeing a lot of copycatting, more than innovation.The other part is taking equity in businesses. It has now started already in various spaces around the world.I think it is a very, very tough game. It is going to take a while for people to feel safe. It has happened but it takes a while.In Kenya the only way it’s going to work is lower offers. You need a couple of success stories. You need to be sitting around the table saying: “I used this site and I just got a 5,000,000 KSH return on my 800,000 KSH.”Establishing an ecosystem and a track record is what is going to be necessary in that space.OpenWorld Ltd is working hand in hand with SMEs in Kenya to beat all odds and use these amazing platforms to make giant leaps in there businesses.
I also believe that the worst problem Kenya faces on the entrepreneurial ecosystem today is that the entrepreneurs who have made it are not helping the entrepreneurs who were there before or are aspiring to become.in that regard,OpenWorld Ltd developed OpenBusiness as a fast,easy,secure and reliable business management tool that entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to really flourish. 
All the guys who have had big exits… where are they?Our CEO's Directors,etc- They are not investing in already flourishing companies,most of them start investing in Small and Medium sized businesses because they make almost the biggest capital share in driving economy in regards to the types of businesses out there.
Entrepreneurs in Kenya need to make their time available even if its through social media because I think Clarity is the future. I’d say LinkedIn is the most amazing way to speak to people. Twitter is an unbelievable lead generation and Facebook gets word out there.Technology is a great connector and a great leveler.Anybody can lead, anybody can contribute but you have got to be real and you have got to be humble.When I look at our website(www.openbusiness.co.ke), I am utterly humbled, constantly, by the quality of work and drive put forward by our team to help and assist SMEs learn and keep that attitude at all stages in their day to day en devours while running their businesses.
Social community, interaction and feedback are what is going to allow us to grow the platform that the SMEs of Kenya deserve to get to where their ambitions,dreams and will would want to take them

Thursday, 23 May 2013

CLOUDING FOR SMEs

....."We are in a world where use of mobile & internet technologies is profoundly rampant,creating a bigger room for all type of businesses to embrace the services being offered.That doesn't go away without touching on our SMEs:the most neglected category in our business sector yet the implications they bring is unmatched for.Given the rate at which technologies grow & change, would it be feasible for SMEs to invest so heavily on those technologies? Does it make sense to invest on expensive software,hardware,human resources & updates at a time when they are still finding their feet?Some will give an obviously “NO” answer factoring cost as the major hindrance to enjoying the much fast,easy,secure and reliable platform to doing business on.As SMEs,we shouldn't refrain from this amazing services fearing from high costs. Cloud computing is a technology through which firms host their data or entire network to a third party, saving them the expense of buying and maintaining network infrastructure.Here is a link(www.openbusiness.co.ke.) with a demo that shows how a cloud-based business application tool works with ease,the fastness it offers,security measures put in place for safety and the affordability it gives to SMEs who have been sidelined for a long time. So why should SMEs use cloud computing? Lower hardware & IT costs: Instead of having to invest millions on hardware, software & human resource to run them not to mention attendant costs like power etc, business should simply purchase cloud computing (CC) services to cater for all their needs while running their day to day errands in the business world. Add capacities: Say you own a server & your business gets featured on television or gets positive responses on Facebook. People will naturally want to visit your website. Chances are that your server may crash. However, with cloud computing, these capacities are added on so your website is available to users all the time. As a business you can also add or remove resources depending on the demand. For example, accounting, auditing & tax-based applications work more during closure of financial year. These services can be given priority over other services. Flexibility: Most CC companies offer a pay-as-you-use facility. That is, you only pay for the services you use. Imagine the savings!A good example would be OpenWorld Ltd which has designed a business management tool that caters for all type of business set-ups in Kenya through their module sign-up packages. Cloud computing companies normally offer software based solutions, or a set of applications or even hardware that you might require to run applications.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

CLOUD COMPUTING IN AFRICA.

....Seacom known for its undersea optical fiber cables is expected to make their first move into offering cloud services with the launch of their Pamoja Cloud Services
Pamoja is a cloud services marketplace that the company says will revolutionize the way the SME sector conducts business. Seacom becomes the second infrastructure company to move into this space after Safaricom who launched their service about a year ago. Read Safaricom launches cloud services
According to the company website, Pamoja's business model is "built on the growing demand for IT-as-a-Service from small and medium enterprises (SME), coupled with the need for service providers to increase the value of their existing offerings and grow broadband revenue." Pamoja is building a SME Cloud services marketplace, which it will then offer to its channel partners and service providers to on-sell under their own brand (white-labelled) to their customer base.
Pamoja is expected to "remove the capital expense barrier to entry for International content owners who want to expand their service footprint to the African continent; no upfront capital investment is required," the statement said.
Pamoja is investing, initially, in Cloud computing infrastructure in South Africa and Kenya. This will allow Pamoja to service the Southern African markets with a strong focus on South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia. From the Kenyan based platform services will be delivered to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
 To the technical teams in pamoja Cloud Services,applesam ventures ans samtech investments salute your panache of your work.Keep up the nifty work folks.

Source:Applesam ventures
Credit-sam

Sunday, 7 April 2013

MOBILE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS IN AFRICA


.....Although still in its infancy, Africa is experiencing exciting technological advances thanks to a boom in mobile phone use of the past decade and the growing availability of the Smart Phone, with its advanced features and opportunities.
In many parts of Africa, the use of mobile phones is higher than computers, allowing for growth in the nations educational avenues. It has been well documented that over the past few years Africa has struggled with low levels of educational opportunities and access, a shortage of teaching staff, low level literacy and numeracy.
The answer for many lies in the opportunities that new Smart Phone technology can offer in the field of education. Computing in the average African schools consists of a small computer lab, but thanks to rapid growth in mobile phone technology, the possibility of distance learning is closer than ever before.
The smart phone could provide the answer to educating those in remote areas. Research carried out by applesam ventures indicated that 96% of the distance education students had access to mobile phones, while only 1% had access to the internet at home.
In the Western world our mobile phones have become handheld computers. But in Africa, where many of the population have poor electric supplies and affordability issues, the mobile phone companies and developers have ensured that mobile phones are the primary source of communication. It has the ability to do things such as mobile banking(m-pesa). There are 84m internet-enabled mobiles in Africa and it is predicted that 69% of mobiles in Africa will have internet access by the year 2014.
Social networking such as Facebook in Africa is on the up and in turn, debate and interactive learning is transforming the education system. People, young and old, on the continent can access knowledge on their mobile phone devices.
Mobile learning on Smart Phones differs from e-learning on computers in that activities are not set in one place and can be conducted at any time and at any place.
Examples of this mobile education are in farming and their livelihoods. A number of smartphones have been leased to farmers so that they can receive information, such as market prices, weather reports and advice and pass this information on to others.
There are barriers to mobile learning in Africa, such as illiteracy levels, access issues (remote areas and price factors) and a gender gap (more men have mobile phones than women). However, thanks to the availability of solar power and mobiles running on much less power than computers, education through mobile phones is becoming a great possibility to help those formerly excluded from educational opportunities.
Smart phone technology offers advanced systems such as interactive voice response (IVR) and barriers are breaking down, with mobile phone usage becoming more affordable.
Africa Initiatives is a Microsoft project focusing on Africa with the release of ‘Huawei 4Afrika’ Windows 8 smartphone and the creation of the ‘Afrika Academy’ to teach Africans important business and entrepreneurial skills.
If Smart Phone technology is developed in a robust, low cost manner, more and more Africans will continue to take advantage of this information technology and new and exciting learning styles available to them.

Source:applesam ventures

Monday, 1 April 2013

SEACOM PROMISES FOR FURTHER UPGRADE

...The privately owned communications service provider SEACOM has selected Ciena Corporation’s (NASDAQ: CIEN) 6500 Packet-Optical Platform and OneControl Unified Management System for the upgrade of its submarine network across the Southern and Eastern African coastlines. This falls in line with SEACOM’ s focus on driving the development of the African internet and opening the broadband tap for African consumers.
Ciena’s technology will allow SEACOM to meet the growing capacity demands of its customers and enable affordable Internet access to East Africa with a network that offers a better cost point and a smoother evolution path for the future.
The upgrade includes key countries in SEACOM’s 17,000km undersea network, including India, Egypt, Dijbouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa. The solution will allow SEACOM to deliver its capacity in very short timeframes and provide for future demands. The deployment will initially use Ciena’s 40G coherent transport technology, with ultra-long distance 100G wavelengths planned for future upgrades.
“Connectivity services in Africa are booming due to the growing needs of business IT users, the rise of ”cloud” based services, and growing requirements for the processing and storing of personal data,” says Claes Segelberg, chief technology officer at SEACOM. “Ciena’s technology will enable us to cost-effectively scale our capacity to address this growing demand for connectivity throughout the continent. The company’s future-proof network design has mitigated the risks associated with the upgrade project, ensuring a seamless transition for SEACOM’s carrier customers and end users.”
 Ed McCormack, vice president and general manager, submarine systems at Ciena said: “In the last couple of years, bandwidth penetration in several African countries has increased tenfold with the support of SEACOM’s submarine network. Ciena’s coherent technology will enable SEACOM to evolve and grow its network cost-effectively. It will lay the foundations for a unified terrestrial and submarine network and evolution path to a GeoMesh network architecture. This project demonstrates a key aim of Ciena’s OPn network architecture vision: to bend the cost curve of networking in the face of new service requirements.”
For folks wondering about Ciena;


Ciena is the network specialist.It collaborates with customers worldwide to unlock the strategic potential of their networks and fundamentally change the way they perform and compete. Ciena leverages its deep expertise in packet and optical networking and distributed software automation to deliver solutions in alignment with OPn, its approach for building open next-generation networks. It enables a high-scale, programmable infrastructure that can be controlled and adapted by network-level applications, and provide open interfaces to coordinate computing, storage and network resources in a unified, virtualized environment.

About SEACOM
SEACOM, the only privately funded and truly neutral carrier in its market, is a bandwidth solution enabler with an extensive network of submarine and terrestrial high speed fibre serving the east and west coasts of Africa with onward reach to and from Europe, India and Asia.
In service since July 2009, SEACOM has increased the availability of International bandwidth in Africa ten-fold and more in many of Africa’s most underserved nations – providing high quality, cost effective, end-to-end wholesale connectivity.
SEACOM sees Africa as a rich source of content and ICT activity and continues its commitment to closing Africa’s digital divide by building a truly African Internet.

After experiencing some few short comings a couple of weeks earlier  due to fiber cut vandalism in the upper part of our African continent,one of the 5 sub marine FO providers have promised to upgrade their network system robustly.I and applesam ventures wish SEA COM all the very best in their en devours.

Source:www.samwelkariuki.com
Credit:Samwel kariuki

Sunday, 24 March 2013

VPN SERVICES AROUND THE GLOBE

....About an year ago applesam ventures took a look at a selection of the web’s VPN providers to see which ones really take privacy seriously. During the months that followed we received dozens of emails begging us to carry out an update and today here it is. The first installment in our list of VPN providers that due to their setup cannot link user activity to external IP addresses and activities.
Prompted by a high-profile case of an individual using an ‘anonymous’ VPN that turned out to offer less than expected protection, applesam ventures decided to ask a selection of VPN companies some tough questions.
With our findings we compiled a report of providers that due to their setup were unable to link their outbound IP addresses with user accounts. Ever since we have received countless emails demanding an update.
It’s taken a long time but today we bring the first installment in a series of posts highlighting VPN providers that take privacy seriously. Our first article focuses on anonymity and a later installment will highlight file-sharing aspects and possible limitations.
We tried to ask direct questions that left providers with little room for maneuver. Providers who didn’t answer our questions directly, didn’t answer at all, or completely failed by logging everything, were simply left out. Sadly this meant that quite a few were disregarded.
This year we also asked more questions, which are as follows:
1. Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you or a 3rd party to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold?
2. Under what jurisdictions does your company operate and under what exact circumstances will you share the information you hold with a 3rd party?
3. In the event you receive a DMCA takedown notice, how are these handled?
4. Which payment systems do you operate and how are these linked to individual user accounts?
The list of providers is a tiny sample of the thousands out there today and is not comprehensive by any means. Providers not covered this time around will be added during the coming weeks. All responses listed below are in the words of the providers themselves and the order of the list does not carry any meaning.

BTGuard

1. We do not keep any logs whatsoever.
2. The jurisdiction is Canada. Since we do not have log files, we have no information to share. We do not communicate with any third parties. The only event we would even communicate with a third-party is if we received a court order. We would then be forced to notify them we have no information. This has not happened yet.
3. We do not have any open incoming ports, so it’s not possible for us to “takedown” any broadcasting content.
4. At the moment we only accept Paypal and Bitcoin. We have plans to accept alternative credit card processing in the near future.In kenya,hopefully soon,we would line our payment acceptance via mpesa(safaricom),airtel money(airtel) and ikopesa(orange).

Private Internet Access

1. We absolutely do not maintain any VPN logs of any kind. We utilize shared IP addresses rather than dynamic or static IPs, so it is not possible to match a user to an external IP. These are some of the many solutions we have implemented to enable the strongest levels of anonymity amongst VPN services.
2. We are in compliance with DMCA as all companies, world-wide, must be. We have proprietary technology and an experienced legal team which allows us to comply without any risk to our users.

Proxy.sh

1. No information whatsoever is being recorded or held in our facilities. Our services are run from RAM and all our system services come with state-of-the-art configuration that ensures nothing is left after usage. The only information we have about our customers is an e-mail address and the name of the payment method.

Torguard

1. TorGuard doesn’t store IP’s or time stamps on our VPN/proxy servers, not even for a second. It’s impossible to match what is not there. Since some people tend to misbehave when using a VPN , this raises the obvious question: how do we maintain a fast, abuse-free network? If even our network engineer can’t back track the abuser by IP, then how do we stop it?
Through packet level filtering at the firewall it’s possible to apply rules to an entire shared server, blocking the abuse immediately. For example, let’s say someone decides to use TorGuard to unlawfully promote their Ugg boots business (spam). In order for us to block this one individual, we simply implement new firewall rules, effectively blocking the abused protocol for everyone on that VPN server. Since there are no user logs to go by, we handle abuse per server, not per user.
2. TorGuard recently went through some corporate restructuring and has now moved its parent company to Nevis, West Indies. Our company abides by all International laws and data regulations imposed within our legal jurisdiction. We don’t share any information with anyone regarding our network or its users and won’t even consider communicating with a 3rd party unless they’ve first obtained adequate representation within our legal jurisdiction. Only in the event of an official court ordered ruling would we be forced to hand over blank hard drives. There’s nothing to hand over but an operating system.
3. TorGuard complies immediately (24 hours or less) with all DMCA takedown notices. Since it’s impossible for us to locate which user on the server is actually responsible for the violation, we block the infringing protocol in its entirety, whatever it may be – Kazaa, HTTP, Jabber, Citrix, Bittorrent, FTP, Gnucleus, eDonkey2000, etc. This ensures the content in violation is immediately removed from that server and no longer active on our network.
4. We accept all forms of credit card, Visa, Amex, Mastercard, Discover, PayPal , Google Checkout and Bitcoins. We also accept anonymous payments through our pre-paid PIN system. These pre-paid service PIN numbers can be purchased from one of our participating online resellers and redeemed during checkout on our website.
Our client billing area and VPN/Proxy user auth servers are two completely separate systems. This is to ensure the privacy and securities of our customer’s accounts are upheld at all times. While the customer’s chosen payment method will be linked to the client billing area login, this information is kept completely separate from their VPN/Proxy network. In this way, it’s virtually impossible to “connect the dots” of a paying customer with that of someone who is using the servers. This can become a pain for clients as they are required to remember two sets of logins/passwords, but trust us – it’s in the best interest of security.

TorrentPrivacy

1. We don’t store any logs, it’s impossible to track users’ activity through our VPN.
2. Our company is based on Seychelles. We do not disclose any information to 3rd parties and this can be done only in case of a certain lawsuit filed against our company.
3. If we receive a notice about DMCA infringement, our team of lawyers solves it immediately without any blocking of servers or protocols. We don’t store any content on our servers, users are anonymous, so, there are no problems with it. We promise our customers that they will not have problems with the DMCA.
4. PayPal and CommerceGate.

Anonine

1. We store a users E-mail and username, that´s it. This means that we do not store, or have access to, any traffic logs of any kind. By traffic logs we mean, any kind of data that has the potential to, directly or indirectly, match a users original ip or identity with one of our IPs.
2. It is important to remember that we do not store any traffic logs, and therefore it would be physically impossible for us to hand something like that over to a 3rd party. This, next to the encryption, is the core of the entire anonymity aspect of the service.
3. Our no logging policy has never really caused us any trouble since we never have received any official requests to hand over any traffic logs.
4. We accept credit card payments through Paypal and Payson.Our services will soon be unveiled in kenya and modes of payment will be communicated further.

IVPN

1. No. As a privacy service and EFF member, IVPN’s main priority is the anonymity of its users. We use non-persistent logs (stored in memory) on our gateway servers. The logs are only stored for 10 minutes. That time window gives us the ability to troubleshoot any connection problems that may appear, but after 10 minutes no trace of activity is stored.

2. We ensure that our network providers understand the nature of our business and that we do not host any content. As a condition of the safe harbor provisions they are required to inform us of each infringement which includes the date, title of the content and the IP address of the gateway through which it was downloaded. We simply respond to each notice confirming that we do not host the content in question.

AirVPN
1. We don’t keep any log that can allow a 3rd party to do that.


PrivatVPN

1. We don’t keep ANY logs that allow us or a 3rd party to match an IP address and a time stamp to a user our service. The only thing we log are e-mails and user names but it’s not possible to bind a activity on the Internet to a user. This applies to all our servers except U.S. servers.


PRQ

1. No logs are held or kept.
2. We operate in Swedish jurisdiction. We do not give out any information, since we do not have any information to give out.
3. We do not care or get scared about the DMCA.
4. We accept Wiretransfer, Bitcoin and Bankgiro. We only require a working e-mail address to be a customer.

Faceless.me

1. We keep connection logs in our system, but they contain only depersonalized data, that allows us to optimize traffic routes and make connection more fast. These logs are stored for 7 days, but they are not interesting for anyone. In the event we are sued we can deliver only this information.
2. We don’t have any mechanics to block users, we also have no information about which user the complaint is against but we are developing a system to alert our users in case there is a complaint about their activities.
4. We use Plimus Payment System for all user accounts. iPhone / iPad / iPod users can purchase a subscription from an application that can be installed from Apple AppStore. Payment is made through the AppStore billing system. Users of devices based on Android can purchase a subscription from an application that can be installed from Google Play. Payment is made through Google Checkout.

IPVanish

1. IPVanish users are given dynamic and shared IP addresses. Essentially, that mixes customer A’s traffic with customer B’s and C’s and so on, making it impossible to single out anyone for anything.
The only information that we do collect from a VPN session is: Timestamp (date and server time) of the connection to IPVanish, duration of the connection, IP address used for the connection and bytes transferred. This helps us troubleshoot any connectivity issues a customer may have. And of the small amount of support info we do keep, we purge it regularly.


BlackVPN

1. On our Privacy servers we don’t log anything that can identify a single user, but on our US, Canada, UK, Germany & Singapore servers where we don’t allow file-sharing. We do log the internal RFC1918 IP that is assigned to the user at a specific time. We never log the real external IP address of the user.
We also hold a username and email address of our subscribers, the times of connection and disconnection to our services along with bandwidth consumption.
2. We now operate under the jurisdiction of Hong Kong because we worry what the lawmakers in USA and Europe may introduce to make things difficult for proxies and VPNs. We will fiercely protect the privacy and rights of our users and we will not disclose any information on our users to anyone, unless forced to by law enforcement personnel that have produced a court order.
3. On our Privacy servers DMCA does not apply (eg USA DMCA to our Swiss server). If we receive a DMCA on our other servers (US, UK, Canada, Germany & Singapore) we generally give the user one warning that they are violating our TOS and their account may be terminated.

Ipredator

1. We keep connection logs for debugging purposes, which happens encrypted and off-site. Connection logs contain information for debugging PPTP client issues. We try to store the least amount legally possible anywhere. IP-addresses are encrypted and can only be decrypted by non-support staff to ensure a proper process. For example, to work around issues where the police ruffles up the support staff a bit to get data for an abuse report. In the database we only store the details users give us on sign-up and a limited backlog of payments.
2. Usually we only receive email, therefore we drop anything that has DMCA in the subject. If they want something they need to send us a letter or a fax or send the police. Most of the time we get complaints for running the TPB proxy or the TOR servers.
3. PaySafe, BitCoins, PayPal, PaySon, AlertPay

BolehVPN

1. No we do not keep logs. However as per our policy, if we do notice any unusual activity on our servers (high bandwidth loading, high number of connections or cpu usage) we may turn on logs temporarily to identify abuse of our services (such as DoS or spamming through our servers).
Once the user is identified, we will terminate the offending user, issue him an e-mail for the reason of termination and wipe the logs from our system.
Turning on logs for troubleshooting is a very last resort and is necessary to ensure the integrity of our services. It has happened very rarely (only a handful of times in our 6 years of operation) and such information was not disclosed to third parties but merely used to terminate the offending user. In any case logs were usually enabled for not more than few hours and only for the particular server that was experiencing abuse.
2. Servers hosted in US or categorized as “surfing/streaming’ have P2P disabled on them. As for other servers, they are not subject to DMCA and we have a good working relationship with our server providers.
In the event DMCA notices or similar are given to us, we normally respond that we don’t have such content hosted on our networks and if the provider is adamant, we will terminate our relationship with the server provider and find a new one. We will not reveal the user that generated that DMCA notice (nor can we with no logs taken). Over the years, we have identified server providers that we can work with and understand the nature of our business.
4.. However to sign up to our service, all is needed is a working e-mail and you are free to use placeholder names etc etc. Only in the event of dispute or chargeback cases (especially with credit cards), additional info is requested which is to be expected when using a credit card (unless a prepaid visa is used).

Following these remarks,applesam ventures urges Kenyan ICT firms to embrace virtualization for easier ways to keep and store data as it is soon going to be the most effective way of trafficking the most essential data that we all need.



Source:www.samwelkariuki.blogspot.com
Credit:Applesam ventures