Monthly Archive December 2018

Avatar ByJayanthi

What makes me smile! :)

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What makes me smile and what makes me happy? This was the theme for this ‘Write Over weekend’ by Blogadda and I decided to write away even though I am in the midst of so many other writing assignments. Come join me as I discover the things that make me smile and happy… 🙂

smiley face

  1. My kids and my daughter’s quips (Read my  cooking incident quips) Those don’t just make me smile,  they make everybody roar with laughter! 🙂
  2. Definitely talking 🙂
  3. Shopping(every girl’s dream! :))  I am no means a shopaholic – but shopping is therapeutic..no doubt there… 🙂
  4. Family and friends
  5. Visiting new places and more particularly historic places like Belur Hampi and places that are more in tune with Mother nature like Yercaud in India and Mackinac Island in US
  6. Writing both personal and technical posts. Writing is definitely therapeutic like shopping and looking at the end result of a write up is totally gratifying!

Would you like to write about the things that make you smile and happy? Do check this link.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’ 

Avatar BySarah Rothrie

The Challenges of Cloud Computing and How Blockchain Can Help

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The challenges of cloud computing are easily overshadowed by the fact that the market is going through a huge boom right now. The cloud computing sector is dominated by a small number of big tech firms including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and IBM. AWS leads the pack in market share, but all of these companies are undergoing staggering growth. AWS reported 49 percent revenue growth in the first quarter of 2018, while Microsoft said its Azure revenue shot up 93 percent.

Sounds like good news? Perhaps, but even in a booming market, the challenges of cloud computing should not be underestimated. Here, we look at how the big tech firms are struggling to keep up with demand, and how decentralization could be one of the critical enablers for cloud computing of the future.

Why Is Cloud Computing in Such Vast Growth?

One reason is the development of artificial intelligence (AI). AI algorithms rely on massive quantities of data. Until a few years ago, there just wasn’t the available computing power needed to run AI programs. Now, better hardware means that AI development is eating up computing power as quickly as it becomes available. One analysis showed that AI computing power consumption has doubled every three and a half months since 2012. Compare that to Moore’s Law, which had an 18-month doubling period.

artificial intelligence

Greedy AI robots ate all the computer pies. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

In light of AI’s voracious appetite for data and therefore computing power, the biggest challenges for cloud computing today are supply and demand. So as the demand increases, cloud computing providers must find ways to either increase their supply or manage the pricing to try and stem demand. They are doing both.

Challenges of Cloud Computing #1: Managing Supply and Demand with Existing Server Capacity

Cloud providers like AWS operate with tiered pricing. This model allows their clients to choose the type of computing power they need for particular jobs. AWS sells premium priced on-demand services that are always on for clients who need a continuous service. It also sells spot instances of cloud computing at variable prices. These work for clients who can queue jobs until there is available server capacity, so they can spend less.

So imagine a software company that’s got one product up and running, and is in the process of developing another. For the live product, the company operates a web-based customer service chatbot for its clients. For the product under development, they need to run some tests but they are fairly flexible in when the tests can be run as they can just queue them to run overnight if needed.

This company buys an on-demand service for its chatbot, so the bot is always available for their clients. For the developing product, they bid on spot instances. They stipulate the maximum limit they will pay for the server capacity. Their cloud computing provider prices server availability according to real-time demand. Once the price of computing power falls below the threshold value our software company has set, their test jobs start to run. If demand goes up partway through a job, the price increases again and their provider diverts power elsewhere.

The client saves up to 90 percent over the premium on-demand price by using the spot instances for flexible jobs. However, not all clients are able to be so flexible with their computing power needs. Plus, this solution only manages existing demand, it doesn’t address the massive growth in demand.

Challenges of Cloud Computing #2: Growing Capacity with More Data Centers

Cloud computing providers run on data centers. So, to address the capacity challenges of cloud computing, a provider can just build more data centers, surely?

They can, but data centers demand huge supplies of energy. One report from 2016 estimated that the world’s data centers had used more energy than the entire UK in the preceding year. It also highlighted a Japanese study that estimated that data centers in the country would consume the entire national electricity supply by 2030 if growth continued uninterrupted.

So, just building more data centers can’t be the only solution.

Future Outlook: Decentralization

Decentralization could offer a solution. Distributed networks of computers could work together to provide idle capacity to those in the network who are prepared to pay for it. So, say you own a GPU for mining cryptocurrencies, but you aren’t using it right now. Perhaps Bitcoin mining has become unprofitable in the depths of a price slump. You could put that GPU to use on a distributed cloud computing network. Someone would pay you in digital tokens so that they can use your GPU power to help drive their AI development testing.

DeepBrain Chain is one of the blockchain projects that is aiming to achieve this and is targeted directly at the burgeoning market for AI computing power. In DeepBrain Chain, anyone can earn tokens by contributing their idle computing capacity, which is sold on to AI developers.

Tatau is a similar but newer blockchain project that uses this concept of decentralized computing power for AI.

Decentralization offers a real solution to the problem of data center overdevelopment, as it doesn’t require bringing in new hardware. It’s also more flexible at managing fluctuations in capacity, as there are many smaller operators in the network. Once a data center is built, it has to be used to be efficient, whereas a decentralized computing network has more resilience to idle capacity.

This is just one scenario. Although, there could be plenty of other opportunities for blockchain and cloud computing in the future.

Quantum Computing

Quantum computing offers a further opportunity to solve the challenges of cloud computing. These computers utilize the ability of subatomic particles to exist in multiple states at the same time. A standard bit of data can only exist in one state at a time, either 1 or 0. A quantum bit, or qubit, can exist in two states simultaneously. This dual state allows them to hold vastly more data than a traditional bit.

Quantum computer

Quantum computers could be the future of the cloud

Quantum computing is still in its early days. However, two of the cloud providers, IBM and Alibaba, have now launched their own quantum computers. One startup, Rigetti, is working towards launching its own Quantum Cloud Services. So, quantum cloud computing could be here sooner than we realize.

Conclusion

Cloud computing is definitely here to stay. However, the challenges of cloud computing will soon weigh upon the existing operators if they try to maintain the status quo. Of the scenarios listed here, the future will likely include a hybrid of different models including existing infrastructure, decentralized networks and quantum computers at least for a while. With AI placing ever-increasing demands on the cloud, we need these alternatives sooner rather than later.

This article originally appeared here.

Avatar ByJayanthi

After Xth grade, what’s next(India)?

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Having asked this question many times over from fellow moms, what better way to answer the questions rather than a blog post! 🙂 After doing extensive research and interviewing a lot of parents to see what would work, these are my findings 🙂 With rules and regulations changing quickly and new facilities appearing, it is good to keep researching continuously.

There are quite a few options to move forward if you are from one of the two popular boards ICSE or CBSE.

  1. ISC for 11th and 12th grade
  2. CBSE for 11th and 12th grade
  3. PU system if you are in a state that offers the same
  4. International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP)
  5. Integrated programs(Allen, FIITJEE, BASE, Akaash and more)

Let us see each of them in a bit of detail:

ISC for 11th and 12th grade 

This is probably the simplest to understand. It is just a continuation of the ICSE syllabus and if you are already in the ICSE board till Xth grade, you might know how ISC for 11th and 12th will be!

If you are opting for ISC for 11th and 12th grade, it will also be better to pair it with other coaching such as FIITJEE, Allen, BASE etc to get professional help for competitive exams.

CBSE board for 11th and 12th grade:

CBSE board for 11th and 12th is also probably the easiest to understand – it is just a continuation of CBSE system. Students might initially feel a jump in 11th grade if you are moving from 10th grade CBSE, but it will all even out eventually. 

If you are opting for CBSE too, for 11th and 12th grade, it will also be better to pair it with other coaching such as FIITJEE, Allen, BASE etc 
to get professional help for competitive exams.

PU college for 11th and 12th grade:

PU(Pre-university exam) college is followed in Karnataka and I am sure in many other states. I do not have much experience with PU colleges and have not done much homework either 🙂 so, I would suggest you to look up appropriate PU colleges in your area and see if they offer integrated PU programs or independant PU programs and what will be best for you.

future

International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP)

The IB program is offered in many schools in Bangalore and is much more expensive than other programs. The study method might also be vastly different from the Indian education system. The IB program is mostly for children who want to pursue their undergraduate education abroad. (Note: It is not that kids who have not studied in the IB program cannot do well in undergraduate program abroad – the IB program just gives a head start) On the other hand, kids who do join the IB program “might” find it difficult to get admission through the normal college streams for India.

So, in this regard, if the child is planning to go abroad for undergraduate admission and if you do not need to dig deep into your pockets for funding – go for the IB program – otherwise, if your child is planning to study in India – my idea is to stick with the Indian boards.

Integrated programs:

Engineering and medical entrance exams and coaching were a rage when we studied and it is rage even today. 

Integrated programs offer both 11th and 12th grade classes and coaching for IIT/NEET etc. This is done by institutions such as ALLEN, FIITJEE, various PU colleges. This is expected to lessen the time for kids to shuttle between regular school/PU college and IIT/NEET coaching classes. 

These are some of the options for students to consider after completing Xth grade in India. Most of us parents have to do a lot of homework to see what works for best for us. Sometimes, we are attached to the school and sometimes to our friends circle -so,  as parents I would suggest to:

  1. Ask the child what he/she would like to do(like Physics, Chemistry, Math, Bio or any other subject) and that they are happy doing it
  2. Choose the corresponding school/college liked by both parents and the child
  3. Check whether the child want to study in India/abroad
  4. See if it fits our budget! 🙂
  5. And lastly make sure it is legal

Hope these tips help you make the decision for you and your child!

Avatar ByJayanthi

Physical security

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‘Physical security’ is an often overlooked aspect of the security. It is often ‘taken for granted’ and most organizations do not take it seriously. Danny Thakkar from Bayometric.com defines physical security as “… a set of security measures taken to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to equipment, resources and other assets in a facility, these measures are laid out for” (Thakkar)

“Physical security” is ensuring the data centers, servers, printers, workstations and all other devices are secured from both man-made and natural disasters. How do we achieve this? By erecting defenses, in the path of thieves and hackers and anybody else who wants to get their way in. These physical defenses are “physical security”. While absolute security can never be achieved, we can plug in the holes in defenses and hope to keep the critical resources safe from external and internal factors. In this article, we will look at the broad steps that are needed to seal the vulnerabilities and ensure ‘physical security’.

How do we establish physical security?

Physical security can be established by enforcing appropriate access control, surveillance and testing . Physical security will have multiple layers to make sure that critical resources are never compromised. How do we implement physical security?  A few points are listed below:

security

  1. The simplest and most effective way of implementing physical security is secure the place by means of old-fashioned locks. In addition, the appropriate zones can be sealed by means of biometric systems.
  2. At the outermost layer, the organization should be fenced properly and all entry points should have good locking systems and appropriate entry authentication mechanisms
  3. The entire facility should also be well lit
  4. The organization should be well guarded by adequate security personnel at all entry points’
  5. ‘Surveillance’ can be implemented by installing CCTV cameras within various points in an organization
  6. All employees should have appropriate security badges and this must be authenticated at the entry door by swiping. Ex-employees should be removed from the company’s database to make sure that they do not have the authorization to enter the company.

These are some steps to thwart direct physical attacks. 

So, the next time you see CCTV cameras, security badges and fingerprint authentication – remember it is one of the simplest Information security concepts doing its hard work…. 🙂

We saw the concept of ‘physical security’ in this post. Join me as I uncover more Information security concepts in future posts….

Bibliography

Thakkar, D. (n.d.). Best Practices in Physical Security Management: Safeguard your Organization against Threats. Retrieved from Bayometric.com: https://www.bayometric.com/best-practices-physical-security-management/