Thursday, November 21, 2013

Big Data India

Big Data India is an initiative taken by the technocrats of Advaiya solutions Pvt. Ltd., with an aim of providing a platform for all Indian technocrats to share and explore opportunities with Big Data. The ‘Big Data India’, currently in form of a Facebook page, provides information about latest news, activities, events and other happenings related to Big Data across the nation. This enables the members to be informed about the technology, providing them opportunities for further developing Big Data applications, implementation scenarios and research in India.

This fast growing community has already made good contributions in helping the members develop Big Data Technology awareness (including hadoop, hive, MapReduce etc.) and skill development. It already has more than five certified members, who developed and demonstrated their skills on the online learning platform provided by the Big Data University.

Members of Big Data India community (Ankit Matta, Badal Bordia and Vishal Soni) also conducted a training about Big Data in Advaiya premises, where more than 15 attendees were provided with an introduction to Big Data technology and concepts, followed by a Hands-On-Lab. In this lab, attendees learned concepts related to Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), MapReduce and Hive, and they also learnt ways to process huge amount of data using MapReduce technologies, saving it into Hive Tables, and then loading this data into Excel sheet for advanced analysis.

Big Data is a whole lot of new world and with a platform like Big Data India, all young technocrats can try to use this technology for betterment of the society.

For more details, visit our Google Plus Page  or join us on Twitter

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Steps to Redeem $100: Big Data on AWS cloud with "powerof60"

AWS is providing $100 AWS credit for trying out Big Data on cloud.

To take the benefits, here are the steps:
  1. Logon to the home page of event:
  2. Provide your details and register for this event.
  3. If you already have amazon account, same can be used. Amount will be added to your current account. First time users can create a new account by choosing the appropriate option.
  4. Check your (registrated) email from 'powerof60' team. This would have the CODE. (i got the email within few minutes of registration).
  5. Within the email, click on the 'AWS credits redemption page' link. 
  6. Enter the CODE. and BINGO.....$100 straight into your AWS account.
  7. Follow the steps metioned in the Getting Started with AWS : Analyzing Big Data: 

Additional Terms of Use (available on AWS Website ) (see the highlighted parts in particular)
  • This Offer is available until December 31, 2013 to new and existing AWS customers. You will not be eligible for the Offer if you or your organization create(s) more than one AWS account to receive additional benefits under the Offer. You will also not be eligible for the Offer if the AWS account holder is the federal government or other governmental entity and the Offer is inconsistent in any way with applicable laws. You will be charged standard rates for use of AWS services if we determine that you are not eligible for the Offer.
  • You must create and maintain an AWS account in good standing (including a valid credit card) to participate in the Offer. Your participation in the Offer and your use of the AWS services is subject to the AWS Customer Agreement.
  • AWS Credits will expire 60 days after the date of issue or on March 1, 2014 (whichever occurs first).
  • AWS Credits are not valid for the use of any AWS services other than Amazon EC2 and Amazon EMR.  You will be charged AWS’s standard rates for any use of AWS services that is not covered by this Offer. You will also be charged standard rates for use of Amazon EC2 and Amazon EMR after the AWS Credits expire or are consumed.
  • Your use of the AWS Credits will be in accordance with and subject to the terms and conditions currently available at, as such guidelines may be updated by AWS from time to time.
  • AWS may stop accepting new registrations for the Offer at any time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using Hindi Keyboard with Android Phones

I am using my Android based Samsung Galaxy S plus phone since more than a year now. And I must say, buying this phone has been really a nice decision so far. Although at present, we have many new devices with a higher configuration at much lesser cost, still I am happy. One reason being, I can do most of the things what any other high-end mobile device is capable of. One recent experience is about using 'Google Hindi Input'.

Google recently launched an official app 'Google Hindi Input' for enabling Hindi typing on the Android based mobile devices. This app requires a minimum of Android 2.2 or above, and occupies just around 6.0 MB of space. I tried that on my phone, and its (now) working nicely. The official blog from Google do describe the way to use it, but they didn’t mention how to start / launch this after installation. So after finally figuring out the way to use it, here is my experience with Google Hindi Input:

First you need to download the 'Google Hindi Input' application from Google Play store. In the Google 'Play Store', i searched for the phrase 'google hindi input' and the first search result was the desired 'Google Hindi Input' app. 

After that, this was a simple installation procedure:


I downloaded and installed the app. Then I thought of trying it. I tried to create a new message in Hindi. However, I was not able to find the Hindi keyboard or letters anywhere. The input message options were still all the same English font only. I tried exploring all option in the Samsung keypad settings, but there were no whereabouts of this new Hindi keypad.

Just to confirm about the proper installation, I went back to the Google play store again. This was now displaying that the application is already installed.

It’s even showing in list of Downloaded apps under Manage Applications. 

So where is it? The official blog from Google do describe the way to use it, but they didn’t mention how to start / launch this after installation. Therefore, I gave it a try by doing general search and browsing or internet. One good source for hints was found as the description provided under the Google play store itself. Although, this did not worked out as end – to – end steps for my phone model, but it helped a lot.

For my phone, I did the following steps to enable the Hindi Input keypad. 
1) Go to Settings >Locale and text.  

Here tick the check box for 'Google Hindi Input'. This would permit your phone to use Google Hindi Input. 

But this is not done yet, after permitting your phone, you'll also need to select the Hindi Keypad to enable Hindi typing. This can be done in the following manner:

1) Open the text box where you would want to type something in Hindi. When you long press in the typing area, you get option to select 'Input method'. (You can also long press the small 'wheel' icon in the last row of the keypad. I did this when composing a new text message, and got the following screen:                

Select the 'Google Hindi Input' from the list of input methods shown:

Now you should get the keypad, which is demonstrated in the videos on the Official blogs of Google. 

From here onward  it’s all your experience and exploration. Do let me know in case anyone is still facing any issues in using this, and we can explore better ways of doing this together.

Monday, April 1, 2013

X Blogs - The Series - Part 3

(Story continues from X Blogs - The Series - Part 2)
X-Blogs Series Part 3: Coffee with Mr. X | Basic Mobile security concepts

Mr. Joshi: Alright, so you wanted to know more about securing your mobile phone.

Mr. Sibbal: Yes, I wanted to learn about mobile security.

Mr. Joshi: There seems some confusing with the naming here. When we say mobile security, it’s not just about security for your mobile phones. Mobile Security also includes security for the all moveable client devices that might be accessing information remotely.  But since your requirement is personally about securing your smartphone, we should be talking about that only.
  1. Personal Identification Number (PIN): Always protect your phone with the inbuilt security using PIN numbers.
  2. Installing new apps: When you install new apps on your phone, make sure the apps are downloaded from some trusted and secure source. This increase phone safety, and makes sure that the apps are not sending your personal data stored in your phone to some external sites.
  3. Install updates regularly: The OS makers know the loopholes in your OS, and keep sending the security patches often.   So the updates recommended by your phone’s OS should be applied immediately.
  4. Protection against lost or stolen phone: Make sure your phone has some smart features capable of revealing themselves at your will. You can use those features, like tracking the location over internet, theft alarms etc. in case your device is lost or stolen.

Mr. Thakur: Regarding this, I have also written a good blog post, which tells you about the three best security applications for your smartphone.

Mr. Sibbal: Oh, I would love to read that blog.

Mr. Thakur: Oh sure, I’ll share it with you.

Mr. Mahalik: Besides that, talking about mobile security at enterprise level, there are few more considerations. For instance, if suppose an organization like Advaiya wants to define new mobile device policy to allow use of personal mobile phones, they need to have the following considerations for implementing Enterprise Level Mobile Device Security Policies in their organization:
  •  They need to decide about the users who would be allowed to connect to the network.
  •  They need to ensure adequate and updated antivirus protection
  •  They must adhere to new developments, updating the policy, software and hardware as necessary (e.g. when a member of staff leaves).
  • They should emphasis on providing specific services to those who need it on the basis of sound business requirements. 

Mr. Sibbal: I think this again went from above my head. Did not understood much what you said about “Enterprise Level Mobile Device Security Policies” (Really big words to speak)

Mr. Saxena: So, what else you wanted to know about IT security Mr. Sibbal?

Mr. Sibbal: Oh, I also wanted to explore more about Database security, System Security, and Firewalls…

Ms. Chaudhary: But Mr. Sibbal, I am afraid we won’t be able to spare so much time for all the topics. We are here to work for our Web based application “PhotoMash”, and I need to manage many other tasks as well.

Mr. Sibbal: PhotoMash? What is that?

Mr. Paliwal: That is another web based photo search application that we are developing for another event for Hackethon. More details are strictly confidential.

Mr. Sibbal: Hmm… I really love the kind of job you people do have. I would like to join this organization after a finish my graduation.

Ms. Chaudhary: For this, there is a very simple selection procedure, open for all students. You may try that.

Mr. X: And in case of any problems or guidance required, just let me know. I’ll be there to help you out.

Mr. Sibbal: Thanks a lot Mr. X. Your support was really helpful for me in understanding my assignment topic well. 
(Read the previous blog X Blogs - The Series - Part 2 or the first part X Blogs - The Series - Part 1

X Blogs - The Series - Part 2

(Story Continues from X Blogs - The Series - Part 1)
X-Blogs Series Part 2: Sibbal Inside Advaiya | Basic Network security concepts & what they mean to Advaiya.

Characters involved:

Mr. Sibbal: First year student, XYZ Private Engg. College, Udaipur, who known nothing about IT (but pretends as if he is the IT minister of India). But he is very curious guy, and likes to explore new places and know new technical things.

Mr. V. Soni: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. A. Matta: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. S. Koduri: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. H. Thakur: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. V. Gupta: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. A. Paliwal: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. A. Mahalik: Employee, Advaiya
Ms. R. Chaudhary: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. S. Joshi: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. V. Saxena: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. X: A suspicious character; people call him a living encyclopedia of all IT security knowledge.

After the quick round of introductions, Mr. X asks the members of Anonymous-X team to provide some basic idea about what the team is doing.

Mr. Soni: Well, here in Advaiya, we are having various activities and events related to Ethical Hacking. This includes series of workshops, knowledge sharing sessions and a grand Hackethon event. This covers a good amount of learning and sharing of web & system security and ethical hacking tools and techniques.  This brings out the hacker inside everyone here, and displays our creativity & knowledge to others. 

Mr. Sibbal: This sounds really interesting.

Mr. X: Yes, it is. And that’s why I knew this is the right place for you to know more about IT security.

Mr. Soni: Now as our friend Mr. X told us, you are here to know something about IT security. If you want, we can touch base some of the basic IT security concepts in very simple terms. So what would you like to know first?

Mr. Sibbal: Well, maybe we can start with something about the network security. (But Mr. Sibbal skips the fact that this is the assignment he has to submit for his academics).

Mr. Soni: For Network Security, Mr. Matta has done lot of research here. So he is the right guy to explain you about this topic.

Mr. Matta: Network security, in very layman terms, can be referred as strategy for sending and receiving messages across a jargon of computers or other devices in a safe, secure and integrated manner. When we say safe (or authentic), we mean that the message is delivered to the desired receiver only, and is not lost or misplaced. For this, we can use simple authentication techniques, where the receiver of the message must prove his identity. When we say secure (or secrecy), it means that even if the message goes into wrong hands, he or she should not be able to understand it. For this, the message can be sent in some encrypted form, which only the sender and receiver can decrypt. When we say integrity (or message integrity), we mean that the message should be not be altered by any means during the transmission. Mr. James F. Kurose and Keith W. Ross have explained the same thing in their famous book on computer network, titled “Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach Featuring the Internet”.

Mr. Sibbal: Oh Yes. My college seniors had once told me, that we have a complete subject on the topic “Computer Networks”, and we will be referring this book from Kurose-Ross only.

Mr. Gupta (who has very recently read the book in his on-going academics): Exactly! You will be reading the detailed concepts of Network Security, including principles of cryptography, Authentication methods, Integrity, Key Distribution and Certification, secure emails etc.

Mr. Sibbal: Frankly speaking, this sounds boring again.

Mr. Gupta: Then maybe I should tell you about some interesting part, about few fictitious characters Alice, Bob, and Trudy. Bob and Trudy are in love, and want to send secret messages to each other. But Trudy the-vamp does not like this. She always tries to obstruct their communication in all possible ways. Now Bob and Alice need to device secure ways to communicate with each other, without letting Trudy know what they are talking about.

Mr. Sibbal: Hmm…Now this sounds interesting.

Mr. Matta: In one of the recent events that were organized during Hackethon, various teams here had devised/used different encryption techniques to encrypt messages. The aim was to transmit a message to their team-mates without letting others know the actual message. And all the encryption algorithms were really very interesting, and every one enjoyed it a lot. To read and know more about the various encryption techniques devised by all the team, you can visit this link.

Mr. Sibbal: I got it now. But how exactly this thing relates to us here?

Mr. Soni: Alright. So let’s look at the practical applications of Network Security in Advaiya. Here, we work on various collaterals in different projects for different vendors. For these, clients often provide us with some confidential information, which they have not even released to the market yet. This includes new project prototypes/products (like Klab lab, Locus etc.), specifications of products that are not even launched (like Windows 8) or even the complete enterprise architecture models (IO Model), which they want us to work before they launch into market. And securing that information is one big concern of our organization. In order to ensure this, we are using some security techniques like firewalls, antivirus, user authentication, role based access, password protection.

Mr. Koduri:  And although we are not doing currently, but if required, we may also adopt the advanced level concepts, like encryption and password protection of all documents, so that even if the documents somehow leaks out of the premises, the information remains safe and secure.  We may also adopt some more secure network devices like crypto-capable routers or may be synchronize the existing bio-metric system with the Active Directory and use fingerprint mechanism for accessing internal portals and files. 

Mr. Saxena: We can also try PKI Architectures, SSL Certificates here. In fact, I have written interesting articles about the PKI architectures and SSL Certificates for this event itself. I think you should read that too.

Mr. Thakur: May be we should put these ideas in the suggestion box in the next monthly townhall sync.

Mr. X: This won’t be that easy Mr. Soni. For adopting any new security system, do need to consider a lot of factors, including economy. I have myself explained few of the members of your event about the concepts like Denial of Services and Single Sign-On . Please read the blogs for more details for the same.

Mr. Thakur: Putting suggestions is our responsibility, and we should be doing this. Taking appropriate actions based on those, I leave it up to the management. They know well what is best suitable for the company.

Mr. X: Alright, that is absolutely correct. So Mr. Sibbal, what is the next thing that you would want to know about.

Mr. Sibbal: Hmm. I am using a mobile phone for browsing internet, but I really don’t know much about securing it. I would like to know some more about mobile security.

Mr. Mahalik: But before that, I would like to have a small break. Let’s have some coffee in the cafeteria, and we will discuss more about mobile security there only.

Whole Team: Great Idea. We like that. Let’s move.
(Continue to X Blogs - The Series - Part 3 or Read the X Blogs - The Series - Part 1)

X Blogs - The Series - Part 1

Disclaimer - All the characters in this series of blogs are almost real, and resemblance to any known characters is purposefully drafted to add some elements of humor to the blog. No offenses otherwise !!!

Characters: Characters in this blog will be introduced at a later stage as appropriate.
X Blog Series presents a series of blog articles, covering various IT security topics in an interesting and innovative manner. It not just covers the basic topics, but also relates them with practical examples around us. Scope of information is not just a corporate level contest, but also educating people about the very basics of security concepts in a very easy to understand language.

X-Blogs Series P1: Sibbal meets X | Why is IT security important

One fine Saturday morning, Mr. Sibbal, a first year student doing B.E. from a private college in Udaipur (Rajasthan, India), was sitting on a bench in Gulab-Bagh Garden, browsing internet on his newly bought Nokia N8 Mobile phone. It appeared that he had just finished his morning jogging, and is relaxing on the bench. A closer look revealed, that he was checking his statistics about the number of steps he had ran this morning, using “Wellness Diary” application. Then he started browsing his emails. His friend had sent in a mail about the assignment given in class yesterday. “Network Security” he said, “that’s a silly topic”. “There could have been better topics, like Social Networks, or Mobile Internet or just facebook….nobody has interest in security!!” Suddenly, a heavy voice was heard “You should take interest in that”. Out of the fog, appeared a shadow.

“Who are you?” asked Mr. Sibbal.

“My name is X!” said that gentleman. “And I am here to tell you, that ‘Network security’ is an interesting and important subject. It is really the need of the hour, so you should take interest in it.”

Mr. Sibbal: Network security is a buzz word for US and other developed countries, where people are very much dependent on technology, and keep all a digital copy of all their personal information.  I have seen many Hollywood movies (like Swordfish) about using ultra-super gadgets to break into the toughest of defense networks, getting the desired files, and then running away, bombing whole of the place away. These are real fancy things, but I don’t think there is so much scope and level of the hackers here in this country. In developing countries like India, there is very little scope of theft and misuse of digital information, so I think I rather should take it easy.

Mr. X: This is not really correct. Recent studies show that cyber-crime is rising in India at alarming levels. According to the reports by Security and Defense Agenda (SDA) and McAfee, amongst all the nations worldwide, India holds fifth spot in all cyber-crime affected countries. Did you know, during the Commonwealth Games 2010, the government websites were attacked 200 times by cyber criminals!!

MR. Sibbal: Alright, but I don’t have any website of myself. I am just a normal internet user, accessing Gmail and Facebook occasionally. I really don’t think I need some special security for my information.

Mr. X: That is another misconception. India is adopting the internet technology, specially mobile internet technology at a rapid rate. According to some facts, India has just one percent of population using internet (i.e. just 100 million people), out of which 59% are using mobile devices to access internet, and almost negligible number of these devices have any security applications installed. And this number is growing at an annual rate of 34%. To ensure a healthy growth, India is definitely going to need serious security measures to keep the rapidly growing internet usage a safe and secure experience for people.

Mr. Sibbal: Alright, the numbers are quite impressive. But I am not a technology junkie, and I just know the regular steps of accessing internet. I even don’t know what kind of internet related crimes can occur when I am browsing internet. How can I make sure that I am using internet securely.

Mr. X: Alright. So first of all, you should know the various possible ways of in which you may get convicted of cyber-crimes. Dr. John A. Marshall, Department of Technology, University of Southern Maine has published a nice journal about various crimes that are usually encountered by the novice internet users like you.  This list includes:

Fraudulent Schemes on the Internet: Email messages stating that you have won a huge amount in lottery. They usually ask for personal details, your bank account number, and very often, some money in name of processing charges.
-  Viruses: Viruses or worms, usually spreading through spam, that can damage and destroy your hardware or software.
-  Programs stealing sensitive information:   Computer programs (referred as cookies) that automatically get downloaded on your hard drive while surfing, which can send sensitive information back to websites.
-  Hackers: Computer Hackers, who break into your system and database, stealing confidential information like passwords or credit card details.
-  Hardware Theft: Masked men armed with guns.

Mr. Sibbal: What? Masked man with guns stealing computers is a cyber-crime?

Mr. X: Well, may be Dr. John added the last factor just to add some humor to his report, but yes, the other factors are really the serious issues faced by the novice internet users.

Mr. Sibbal: Oh yes, I do agree. These things are really some good factors to worry. How can I make sure that I do not get convicted of any such incident?

Mr. X: Regarding this, I can take you to a place, which is currently becoming a hotspot for many activities related to information security, network security, internet security and cyber-security.

Mr. Sibbal: Where?

Mr. X: Advaiya!!!

Mr. Sibbal: Advaiya?

Mr. X: Yes, Advaiya Solutions, Udaipur. They have organized a Hack-a-month event, and Hackethon challenge, that includes various fun activities and events. Each of the events covers different security aspects, like Cryptography, Network Security, Browser Security, Authentication and Authorization and many other interesting topics. If you could be a part of it, it would be really educative for you.

Mr. Sibbal: But will they allow me to be a part of their private event.

Mr. X: Don’t worry; I know a team of this event, named as Anonymous-X team. They can help you gaining some useful information that you are looking for.

Mr. Sibbal: Alright. Can you please make the arrangements?

Mr. X: Ok. I will. Till then, you just prepare a list of specific questions that you would want to know.

Mr. Sibbal: Ok. I will. Thanks a lot Mr. X.

(Continue reading at X Blogs - The Series - Part 2 )

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Issues with "Add to Dictionary" option in Word 2013

I recently started using Office 2013 to explore more about its wonderful features. And i must say, its integration with the cloud, and the entire Microsoft platform for writing the cloud apps for Office 2013 products has really made application development much easy, and is really worth a try for every developer.

But then, i got stuck with a very small tiny thing with MS Word, which i am covering in this blog. In Word 2013, the option for "Add to Dictionary" was disabled since i installed office 2013. So each and every day, i have to recheck the spelling of the same words in the same documents again and again, which is not so very productive. (Screenshot below shows the disabled option 'Add to Dictionary')

I tried to find some solution on Microsoft's TechNet forums, and realized that there were few others like me, who were facing similar problem. i also posted my concerns in one of the threads.

But then after some time, i thought of giving it another try, and explored bit further. And then it turned out to be a real small issue, with a simple resolution. Actually when we got upgraded to office 2013, (i guess this was the reason), the default dictionary was updated, and i din't had permissions to write to that new dictionary (RoamingCustom.dic).

In my word document, i just went to File > Options > Proofing > Custom Dictionaries. Here i switched back to CUSTOM.DIC as my default dictionary.

And my option for 'Add to Dictionary' was back in operation :)
Simple and easy, isn't it !!

Do let me know if someone gets benefited from this solution, or if someone is still facing some issues with this option.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Creating Image Hyperlinks in excel

(Detailed version of this topic is posted on Microsoft TechNet Gallery here: )

Recently, a very good friend of mine came with a question about doing image-hyperlinking in excel.
In quick, i just created a small example to share with him.

Then thought of sharing with the community so that others may get benefited as well.
So here is how you can create hyper links to images in different sheets within an excel worksheet:

For reference, a sample excel sheet is attached with working example of image hyperlinking.

High level steps:

  • Create a label for the cell where image is pasted (we can create the labels for image too, but that is somehow not working)
  • Create the hyperlink pointing to that label.

Detailed Steps:
1) Paste image in the excel (sheet 2).
2) Click on the first cell (or the centermost cell is image is large) where the image starts from (our flowers are in cell I4).
3) In the menu bar (ribbon on the top of excel screen) go to FORMULA -> Define Names.
4) Provide Name to the cell. For rest values: 'scope'=workbook, 'refers to' should be the cell where we right clicked (=Sheet2!$I$3)

This way, we provided a label to the cell where image is located, now we will create hyperlink to this label.
5) Go to sheet 1, right click on cell where you need the hyperlinking (Cell C2 here)
6) Right click on C2, select Hyperlink
7) Under “Link to” select “Place in this document”. The label that we defined right now would be visible under ‘Defined Names’. Just click that and press OK.

Your link is now ready.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oracle 12c Database

If we go by the announcements made by Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Oracle’s latest version of database (expected name is Oracle 12c database) is about to be released within few days/weeks. By the time world is awaiting the official launch, we thought of gathering the bits and pieces of information available about Oracle 12c database, just to get started with what can be expected from this so called Cloud optimized database version of Oracle. Here are some quick talking points as available on different websites (reference links provided).

Faster and Efficient
  • "First multi-tenant database in the world." 12c is what Ellison (Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle) calls a "container database." It's function is to hold lots of other databases, keeping their data separate, but allowing them to share underlying hardware resources like memory or file storage.
  • With 12c, Ellison promises that Oracle databases will get faster, saying that compared to the current database, Oracle 11, 12c "uses one-sixth as much hardware and runs five times as many databases."
  • The new hardware version (Exadata x3) can run a mind-boggling amount of data in memory in real time.  With this new hardware you "can ask a question and get an answer at the speed of thought," Ellison said. Ellison claims that with x3, enterprises won't need to buy traditional storage from companies like EMC or Hitachi anymore.

Easy, Convinent and Resource Friendly
  •  Database 12c also makes much more efficient use of hardware resources, saving companies money, Mendelsohn (Andy Mendelsohn, Senior vice VP, Oracle) said. For example, it incorporates a "heat map" feature that tracks how frequently different chunks of data are used, allowing customers to archive rarely accessed information on lower-cost mediums.
  • Database upgrades and patches are made simpler than in the past thanks to the pluggable database concept, Mendelsohn said. "When you [patch] that one container database, you effectively patch all of them."
  • Backup and recovery efforts benefit as well, allowing administrators to back up the system as one unit but recover at the pluggable database level.

Appliance based 
  • A new Exadata Database Machine to be announced (now already announced) at Open World will undoubtedly exploit the database virtualization capabilities of the 12c database.

Besides these, there are also some information snippets about the new auto-optimizer feature, that would change the way databases work: 
Oracle Database Optimizer: An Insider’s View of How the Optimizer Works

Oracle database 12c is the first step on the way to making an adaptive, or self-learning optimiser.

Alternative subplans are precomputed and stored in the cursor, so no new hard parsing will be needed as part of the adaption of an already executing plan. Statistics collectors are included in the plan execution. If the collectors cross a threshold, the plan might switch during execution from a nested loops to a hash join.

Information gathered by the optimizer, may prompt automatic creation of column groups, so next time stats are gathered, the extended stats will be gathered.

But besides these direct factors about Oracle 12c, there are some more facts that could frame some more pieces about the estimated wire-frame. 
Oracle Cloud: Oracle had recently launched its own clouds, and the new database version should be in full sync with these clouds. And as name already suggests, Oracle 12c (here 'c' stands for cloud) would be a cloud optimized product, and might be readily available for the cloud users in form of pre-configured machines (as provided by AWS).

Acquisitions:  Recent acquisitions of Taleo, SelectMinds,  Collective Intellect, Eloqua, Virtue etc. suggests that Oracle is planning to develop its own stack of cloud-based applications. In future not so far, Oracle might be planning to provide cloud based CRM or ERP apps to compete against its current major threat SAP HANA. 

A proper validation/confirmation of this information can be made with the official release from Oracle, but from the information available so far, it seems that Oracle is planning to launch something big. Oracle, as a market leader in databases, is facing lots of expectations from its customers, and since Oracle has taken good time to launch its next release of database, it must be planning for a good surprise not only for its own customers, but also for its competitors.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

When I traveled through time using SAP HANA!!

(This blog first appeared on SCN website

When I traveled through time using SAP HANA!!

Yes! SAP HANA can make time travel happen. Literally!!

During our exploration of SAP HANA, we found that SAP has made time travel possible via SAP HANA. This is because SAP HANA runs on SAP In-Memory Computing Engine, which provides support for History Tables. These tables, known as 'HISTORY COLUMN' tables, have session type as ‘HISTORY’ and they support time travel queries.

‘Time travel’ queries are the queries against historical states of the database. In a way, it allows to fetch the historical values (say, some inventory statistics for date 1 Jan 2011 in the table CURRENT_INVENTORY), without actually having to load the data from backups taken on 1 Jan 2011.

This concept (and specially this emotional touch of TRAVELLING through time) caught us, and we ended up exploring this concept in the following manner. All the steps and information sources were duly documented, so that other interested enthusiasts can also enjoy this experience in their own labs.

Following is the basic procedure for using Time Travel Queries in SAP HANA:
  1. Create History Tables
  2. Turn Auto Commit Off
  3. Keep track of commit IDs (or connection IDs) dealing with the History tables
  4. Execute Time Travel Queries on the History Tables


For demonstration purposes, implementing time travel seems to be bit easy task. But in real life scenarios, implementation would be much more complex, and would demand entire new set of plans and designs for fully utilizing this new concept.
We would love to hear more about real life scenarios where this concept could make a real difference. So do provide your feedback and suggestions about this topic.


·         0204 - Modeling - Time Travel Example.pdf, available as a zipped content at

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

SQL Server Learning Tree

We are working towards developing a Center of Excellence around Application Platform and Database technologies. For the efforts, in continuation to my previous blog on SQL Server Learning framework, we are planning to work on preparing a complete SQL Server Learning Tree. This would be a generic learning framework, covering the most common topics irrespective of any version number, but assuming the latest version information in case of any conflicts. This tree has many branches (i.e. areas of SQL Server that we want to explore more, like deployment, operations, management etc.). Each branch will have several leaves (the topics to read, like for deployment branch, we can have installations, setup, configuration etc.). A rough sketch for such tree is already prepared as a startup.
Would like inputs on making this more versatile and adaptable to different categories of people having various expertise levels.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Smartsheet : An Innovative Online EPM Tool !!

One of my hobbies is exploring new technologies and comparing them with existing ones. It means you find yourself with a new technology every other couple of weeks or so. And I love this kind of work!! Here are some glimpse of something i recently explored: Smartsheet!!

‘Smartsheet’ is an innovative technology, an online project management, collaboration and file sharing tool, very easy to learn and handy to use. It can be used to track and manage projects, event schedules, task lists etc. It is available as 30 day free trail, but it has a great internal mechanism to make users understand and learn things so fast, that anyone can manage to work with it as a professional within three days. Already a user of excel and project, this time reduces to just one day. Simple to adopt templates, familiar (Excel looking) tools, good connectivity options with existing applications (Excel, MS Project, Google Spreadsheets, Box), and direct export/publish options makes it real easy-to-use tool.

Combining these with the additional options for Sharing and Collaborating with teams do provides it an additional advantages for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and allows them to overcome their own limitations of resources and infrastructure. Though large and established enterprises having whole setup for their own sharing and collaboration infrastructure might find little use of it (I din’t find any options to plug it in with IBM Lotus Notes / Microsoft SharePoint / Microsoft Outlook etc.). With such integration options, it might become an additional handy option for project management within teams/departments of large enterprises also. 

Quick options for publishing and online forms for information gathering also provides an additional edge over other similar tools in market. Even the enterprise level publishing and reporting tools needs complex configurations and deployment, which gives this tool extra points for its time-saving innovation. The ‘Smartsourcing’ concept, still need more exploration, so would be covering that later. But besides that too, there and many-many more options (like sending specific rows via email, working with multiple collaborators, Mobile access etc.) that users would want to explore on their own.

Few limitations observed/noted as provided in Smartsheet->Help section:
  • Size limit of the working (new) sheets: Max limits - 5000 Rows, 200 Columns, 200,000 Cells.
  • Size limit for imported sheets: Max limits - 5000 rows, 100 columns.
  • Max size of file that can be uploaded : 30 MB (Free collaborators), 250 MB (Licensed Users)
  • No Integration with any presentation tool: To give a presentation about the project schedule, you would have to externally use some third party tool.

Some useful links users can use in-handy:
If you give it a hands-on and want to share your feedback, i would love to hear that. So please post your feedback/comments about this tool.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

SAP HANA Certification Pathways

(Same content also cross posted here: )

While exploring SAP HANA technology related certifications, we identified that SAP HANA provides two possible streams for certification:
  1. For Technical consultants:
    1. Exam: C_HANATEC_1 (80 questions, 180 minute)
    2. Certificate awarded: SAP Certified Technology Associate - SAP HANA 1.0
    3. Topics: Data Provisioning, Installation, Security and Authorization, System Architecture Design, System Architecture Implementation
  2. For Application consultants:
    1. Exam: C_HANAIMP_1 (80 questions, 180 minute)
    2. Certificate awarded: SAP Certified Application Associate - SAP HANA 1.0
    3. Topics: Business content, Data Modeling, Data Provisioning, Optimization, Reporting, Security and Authorization

Certification pathways

Classroom teaching Pathway:
The following diagram shows a possible SAP HANA certification pathway via classroom teaching programs available from SAP. (Detailed information is available here: )
classroom training pathway.png
Figure 1. SAP HANA Certification Path via classroom training
E-Learning Pathway:
The following diagram shows the possible SAP HANA certification pathway via e-learning programs available from SAP.
e-learning pathway.png
Figure 2. SAP HANA Certification Path via e-learning
Exam-C_HANATEC_1 (this is the same exam as above classroom exam, just repeating link again):
Exam-C_HANAIMP_1 (this is the same exam as above classroom exam, just repeating link again):

Training details

A complete list of all SAP trainings is available at:
The following trainings are available and recommended (as shared by one user here):
  • OHA10 : It’s a self-paced training; all the material is provided online. Obviously some content overlaps with HA100 but extra and latest content is available. This is nice to have (and not a must have) training for passing the certification exam.
This is a self-paced e-learning option, costs $500.00
  • TZH300: A remote classroom training, the course contents includes: how to do transformations using SLT, advanced modeling with HANA Studio, importing-exporting objects, join types, advanced SQL Scripts and CE functions etc.
This is a remote classroom training option, costs $1300.00

Completely self-motivated learning

One person completed the certification without trainings, but just reading the content and doing Hands-On practice. The list of relevant material is available here:
Resources (some content taken from this link):
      1. A good repository of all SAP HANA relevant links is available at this link:
      2. A good collection of videos on practical demonstration of most common SAP HANA activities:
      3. Go to and play around. Go to the “Test Drives & Demos” section and spend some time playing with all the “test drives” available. Might not help for the exam but definitely gives an idea of how stuff works.
      4. Some really useful videos: Hana Modeler (29 mins, gives very good overview of data modeling in HANA), Demo of Business Objects 4.0 tools
        consuming data from HANA
        (13 mins, if you are not used to Information Design Tool (IDT), its a good watch).
      5. If you have access to an HANA system and some extra time, a lot of guides especially for reporting tools are available here:
      6. You can also request access to an HANA system from SAP. All FAQs related to this access are here

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Certification Paths

(Same blog posted first at: )
Few months after the release of SQL Server 2012, Microsoft provided the pathway to gain label of an expert in SQL Server 2012. This is again a three-level certification-based career path, where you can give the exams to demonstrate your skills in designing, building, and maintaining the next wave of cloud-ready database and information solutions via SQL Server 2012.
A pictorial view of the entire pathway is given below:

Figure 1. SQL Server 2012 Certification Pathways

As a foundation, the Microsoft Certified Solution Associate (MCSA) certification can be achieved by giving following three exams:
On the next level, there are two options for obtaining Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (MSCE) certification: Data Platform Solution Expert, and Business Intelligence Solution Expert.

The top level examinations for Microsoft Certified Solution Master (MCSM) has two exams, for which training courses and exams are not available yet.
88-986: MCSM: Data Platform Knowledge exam
88-987: MCSM: Data Platform Lab exam

Also, to upgrade from a Professional-level SQL Server 2008 certification to a Professional-level SQL Server 2012 certification, you must successfully pass three exams, rather than five. The details about the upgrade exams are also available at the respective exam links.

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