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Drones and UAVs in Air Delivery & Freight Services

The fact that drones are linked with military operations and unlawful trespassing behavior often overshadows the peaceful and important role they play in civil airspace. Nowadays, drones play a significant role in almost all fields of life. Farmers use them to water plants, camera men use them to capture exquisite shots, astronauts use them to explore planets, and recently mega corporations started to invest heavily in unmanned air delivery & freight services.

The recent increase in the rates of drone use encouraged big companies in the air delivery and freight industries to invest in drone based delivery. It even prompted corporations who aren’t associated with air delivery and freight services at all to experiment with the idea.

On November 28th, Cyber Monday, Amazon announced their futuristic delivery system that’s expected to deliver packages to customers within only 30 minutes. They played a video that showed an aircraft delivering a pair of sneakers to a customer with consummate ease. They announced that they service will be named Amazon Air Prime. In April 2015, Amazon Air Prime began testing their first parcelcopter. The date at which their first parcelcopter is expected to begin operating is yet to be announced however with development reaching its peak and the beginning of the testing phase, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, announced recently that they’re expected to start operation late 2018.

According to forecasts, drones based air delivery and freight services are expected to reach the large sum of $36.9 billion by 2022, achieving an unprecedented rate in the history of delivery and freight services.

The birth of drone-based air delivery and freight services isn’t geographically restricted to US only but also Europe. Earlier in 2016, Swiss Post Ltd. announced that they’re going to launch their own line of drone manufacturing to be used in post and parcels delivery. Such a breakthrough will change the nature of air delivery and freight services. The company announced that its aim to provide affordable drone based delivery to Swiss residents. If the project as imagined was successfully implemented it will mark another unprecedented milestone by creating a drone service affordable to the common man, as opposed to Amazon’s services which is expected to be expensive in pricing and thus available exclusively to the elite and rich.

The world as we know it will definitely see an irreversible change once the drone based air delivery and freight services kick in. Automation has already taken over a large portion of our lives and with the introduction of drones as integral part of our daily routine, automation will be thorough and full to say the least. The prophecies of science-fiction novels will be fulfilled and our lives will become easier than ever. At the end this was meant to happen, our lives were meant to be automated. From the beginning of the industrial revolution, our thinkers realized that machines are the future and humans are nothing but obsolete.


8 Things to Cover in Your Managed Services Agreements

Outsourcing your IT processes to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a great idea. But to benefit the most from an MSP, it is essential that both the parties are on the same page regarding requirements and deliverables.

With an accurate Managed Services Agreement outlining the services provided by MSP, clients can build realistic expectations while covering the MSPs against liabilities.

While creating a Managed Services Agreement, there are certain things which you shouldn’t miss out; let’s go through them in detail.

1. Services

The first and foremost thing to be included in your agreement is the kind of services you are going to provide to the client. Whether it is just management, cloud, support services or a package of all of them; everything should be clearly outlined. It is also important to mention which services are excluded to avoid future complications.

2. Response time

The agreement should clearly define the duration of which you will be responding to an issue brought up by your client. Make sure to specify your business hours and if you will be providing services in addition to those business hours. If yes, then whether extra charges would be applicable for that or not.

3. Responsibilities

Your Managed Services Agreement should clearly account for all the things you will be responsible for during your association with the clients. It should state what responsibilities will be taken up by you in cases of system, hardware or network failures or glitches.

All such scenarios should be pointed out in detail so that the client doesn’t form any misconception about your services.

4. Availability

Your client can build unrealistic expectations regarding the services they will be getting from you. To avoid this, it is very important that you define the realistic services which you will be able to provide them. For example, how fast will you be fixing any system failure or disasters? How often will backups be carried out? It will provide them with a real assurance of your services.

5. Client demands

To avoid getting called for unreasonable client demands, it is important for you to define your system requirements. What that means is, there must be some standards defined in the agreement on the basis of which the client will be able to avail your services. If these set standards are not met, you are not liable to offer your services.

6. Guarantee

Don’t promise more than you can deliver. While confirming your alliance with any of your clients, be sure about your deliverables and abilities. It is best to avoid making false guarantees in order to acquire a prospective client.

7. Performance

Your agreement should document expectations concerning system performance with clarity. It is especially helpful if you are dealing with services related to hardware, workstations and third-party systems.

8. Priorities

It is possible that your clients might trouble you with petty issues and make them seem as urgent. To avoid this scenario, you must define your priorities without any confusion. It gives your client a clear idea of what problems can be stated as urgent and which of them can wait a little longer for solutions.

So the next time when you are getting that agreement ready, make sure to tick these points off your list for a smooth alliance.


Amazon Web Services – Can They Really Solve Your Problems?

I recently attended an interesting overview of Amazon Web Services and thought I would share the ‘best bits’… please enjoy…

Amazon’s AWS offering has now become a huge operation compared to its launch way back in 2006… when I say huge, I mean huge. To give you an idea of scale, the comparable infrastructure and computing power that supported the entire AWS offering back in 2006 is now added each and every day to satisfy ever growing demand.

AWS is spread across eight geographic areas, with local edge locations to provide proxy caching nearest to your location. This provides both redundancy, high availability and improved performance.

AWS provides a fairly complete set of services to run almost anything you like and practically on a scale that is only really limited by how much you’re willing to spend. This gives CIO’s and CTO’s options to play with but there is still some reticent about what should or should not ‘go into the cloud’…

So what can it offer you? Well, helpfully AWS provide ‘Reference Architectures’ to help you conceptualize particular architecture scenarios. You can find approaches to help you with Large Scale Processing, Batch Processing, Disaster Recovery, Online Gaming and of course their bread and butter eCommerce approach.

Is it Secure?

Debates still rage over ‘security in the cloud’ and while cloud services are maturing it would be wrong to simply assume that the security aspect will somehow simply go away.

AWS is probably as secure as it can be, at least on paper. AWS will reassure you with Multi-Factor Authentication, Encryption and various security accreditation’s up to military levels. You can even implement your own security models to your own standards. The question has to be answered, though, do you trust AWS to manage and protect your data and services? On the flip side given that AWS have ‘handed over the keys’ to the customer to build their own services security becomes a shared responsibility. For each customer the view, approach and even the decision will be different. Local laws may also effect your decision about what type of data you are allowed to host.

What Technology is Available?

The following are some of the key services and solutions on offer at AWS…

Compute Ec2 – This is the ‘elastic compute’ cloud virtual machine instances which can be ‘rented’ and configured by the characteristic of the workload from mobile phone to large scale cluster systems. Dedicated hardware is assigned for High Instance usage.

Cloud Watch monitoring – This service will auto-scale your environment based on performance monitoring and will add more instances as required based on demand. Transport for London use this service to scale their operations on demand.

Workspace – This is a fully managed desktop environment using the G2 graphics instance supporting desktop products like Windows on Nvidia GRID GK104 Kepler GPU’s

Simple Storage – S3 is a highly scalable storage platform used by the likes of DropBox, Shazam and of course Amazon’s retail business. Objects held within S3 are copied around the availability zones to reduce delays and improve caching.

Elastic Block Store – This provides persistent block level storage volumes for use with Amazon EC2 instances. Replicated across availability zones.

Glacier – Backup for long term archival. Pricing is based on number of requests (metered) Can take 3-5 hours to retrieve objects.

AWS Public Data Sets – These are free to use data sets hosted on a Hadoop platform they include data sets like: NASA NEX, Human Genome, Census Data and PubChem

Kinesis – Kinesis is a managed service that scales elastically for real-time processing of streaming big data and is used in conjunction with EC2 instances.

There’s More?

In addition to these ‘virtual’ services, AWS can even provide dedicated physical connections such as dual 10gig lines into their data centres from your offices should you require it.

If you work in research then AWS can be useful from a grant point-of-view. You can now use a pre-pay solution where you can call off costs/credits as you go.

If you’re a heavy user then AWS also allow you to ‘bid’ for services via their Spot Market. This is a pricing model targeted for batch processing and allows ad-hoc provisioning at a cheaper rate than normal provisioning costs.

The Conclusion

For the average business though, you are more likely to choose a hybrid approach, where you choose to run your tightly coupled development in house and simply use AWS for everything else. The point is you have a choice, and AWS will almost certainly solve at least some of your challenges.

And you shouldn’t forget that other cloud service providers are available, although probably not on the scale of AWS… Copyright © 2014 Gareth Baxendale


5 Essential Characteristics of Availing Cloud Services

In the recent years, we get to hear a lot about the cloud services. But do we actually know what the term means? It is found that most people are unaware of the details of the services. Even the users of the services do not have a clear idea. Explaining the services it can be said that these are any services that the users can avail on their demand from the internet. These services are made available from a cloud computing provider. The essential features of the services are described underneath.

On-Demand Self-Service

A user can take the advantage of computing capabilities like the storage networks, reduced server time, etc. These are very much necessary for human interaction with each of the service providers. This service gives the users the power to complete their works themselves without engaging with the service providers or any other providers.

Broad Network Access

These services make sure that the capabilities are available for access over the network. They are accessed through standard mechanisms which are promoted to use by both the thin and thick heterogeneous client platforms. The examples for these are wireless phones, tablets, workstations and laptops.

Rapid Elasticity

The capabilities of the servers are elastically released and provisioned. They scale rapid inward and outbound movement in accordance to demand. The capabilities accessible for provisioning to the consumers appear to be unlimited and can be qualified with any quantity at a given point of time.

Resource Pooling

The computing resources of the providers are shared so that it can serve several consumers by the use of the multi-tenant model. The physical and virtual services are dynamically assigned and reassigned according to the needs of the consumer. It has a location independence sense. This means that the user does not have knowledge or control over the exact location of the resources that are provided. They are able to specify location at a higher abstraction level in some cases. The examples of the resources are mainly memory, storage, network bandwidth and processing.

Measured Services

Cloud service automatically optimizes and controls the use of resources by leveraging the metering capacity at some level that is appropriate for similar types of services. The use of resources can be controlled, monitored. This helps to provide transparency to the consumers and also the providers.

To avail these services the companies or individuals should understand the services and their functionality. This will help them to take the advantage of the promised benefits like energy saving, cost saving, customer empowerment and rapid deployment.


An Overview of Auto Shipping Services

Getting a car from one state to another while relocating has never been easier as it is now. In the past, people used to sell their vehicles while moving to another location because there was no such thing like auto transportation. The advent of technology in transportation and logistics industry has made it easier to transport cars to any part of the world. Now people prefer to get their cars shipped while relocating because it is cost effective.

Vehicle shipping companies ship cars from one place to another with use of different auto carriers. Beside, auto movers offer various car delivery options that enable customers to ship car according to their preferences. Let us have a look at different aspects of car shipping:

Car shipping Options

Auto transportation companies offer both door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal car delivery options. Depending upon your availability, you can choose the one, which would best fit your requirements. For example, if you are not sure about your availability, you can opt for terminal-to-terminal shipping. In terminal-to-terminal car delivery, the car is kept in storage until you are available to receive it. However, you need to specify about approximate date or time of receiving it. if it lasts longer than the calculated time and date, the car shipper may charge you extra for taking extra care of car.

Car Shipping Carriers

Auto shipping modes are another great aspect of auto transportation. Some people chose open auto carriers while others avail enclosed auto carriers. It actually depends on type of car need to ship. People who need to transport classy or luxury cars consider enclosed auto transportation because such vehicles need extra protection during transportation. However, for normal ordinary vehicles, open transport carriers are best and cost effective.

Car Shipping Insurance

There is a group of people, which believes car transportation can be costly. To less the safety concerns of such people, auto transporters offer car shipping insurance. That means, if a vehicle is damaged during transportation, then auto shipping company will pay for the damages according to the terms and policies of policy.

GPS Tracking

Customers, who need to know how their car will be transported during vehicle shipping process, can chose vehicle tracking services. it will enable them to monitor their transportation process.

Beside, auto movers offer a number of other services such as minute-to-minute text updates, discounts on transporting car, etc. to ensure customers get most benefit of these services.


Automotive Locksmith Services – How They Can Help You

If asked what an automotive locksmith does, many people might quickly answer "Help open locked car doors when the keys are stuck inside." True, this is a valuable service provided by locksmiths.

But it is far from the varied and very helpful duties that can also be performed by these professionals. Many consumers are not aware that locksmiths do more than open locked car doors.

In today's modern world, many people have keyless entry systems. Does this mean that automotive locksmiths are obsolete? Far from it. In fact, they can save consumers a great deal of money by repairing a keyless system or even installing a brand new one.

Although auto manufacturers' guides may suggest calling the dealer and getting a new system from them, the price could end up being two to three times more than that charged by a locksmith. Why waste the extra money?

While it may be annoying to discover that that you've locked your keys in the car on a hot summer's day, there are times when this can be an emergency. On occasion, parents have exited a car only to have their children close the door and accidentally push the automatic locks, leaving the child stuck inside the car.

Very small children may not understand how to unlock the car. A locksmith can get inside the car quickly and also leave a special tool with parents that helps them break a window in a true emergency and get to their children. This kind of expertise can save lives.

It may not be readily apparent that when keys are locked in the trunk of a car, an automated locksmith can pop open the trunk of the car. But they can and they do, as a routine part of their everyday duties. They often can do so without hurting the lock itself and that is surely more desirable than amateur attempts to get through the lock, ones that leave permanent damage.

When choosing a locksmith, make sure that services are offered round the clock, 24 hours a day, and preferably even on weekends and holidays. After all, getting locked out of a car can happen anytime, holiday or not.

Some may wonder if an automotive locksmith is really needed, having been told that a coat hanger or "slim jim" tool can open the door. That may have worked in the past (but usually after many frustrating attempts) but today's cars simply are not made to allow coat hangers to get to the locks. Also, they do not work well with automatic locks.

Extra keys to cars can come in handy, as anyone who has been locked out of one knows all too well. A locksmith may be able to arrive on the job, make an extra key and get to the key locked inside the car. In very cold weather, some keys may break off inside the lock itself. Automobile owners should never attempt to extract a broken key from a lock. Only an experienced professional can do so without damaging the lock itself. They've practiced on many auto locks to learn how to do this.

Even if you discover a way to get into the car, do not be surprised if you discover damage to the car afterwards. Coat hangers can scratch paint and the interior of auto windows, potentially reducing a car's value. But by using an expert automotive locksmith, it is entirely possible to leave a car in great shape, with no sign of damage.


Online Backup Services 101

In today's highly interconnected world which revolves around our interactions, communications and transactions over the Internet, safety and security of data has become an imperative and hence the need and demand for online file backup services. With online data backup services offering remote backups and ease of access to the data stored, this is a perfect solution to the problems like physical and online data security, which are faced by both home and business users alike.With various service providers in the market offering exciting deals and innovative features, the time is ripe to make a move and secure your data before it's too late.

Need for Backup

The need for online data backup arises from the fact that the traditional methods of data storage are not the most reliable. There are a lot of external factors to be taken into account. Home users mostly store their photos, tax and financial information and collection of their movies and songs on their storage devices like hard disks, CD's or other external storage devices. Their need for data is personal, emotional and financial.

While for business users, need for data backup is purely financial and involves high amount of sensitive information which leads to a high degree of risks. Business users mostly store their financial and tax information, client information etc. on their onsite storage devices.

Factors which can lead both home and business users explore safer options are the possibility of theft, accidents like fire, flood, power surge, corruption of files and other similar hazards.

Key features

There are a lot of different features that makes these services extremely attractive. All the major online file backup services are extremely secure and offer features like SSL / TSL encryption, password protection, folder permissions and 24/7 file encryption at the server end.

Other features like sharing of files and folders and custom links, gives an added advantage to the consumer. Restoring deleted files and storing multiple file versions are some of the handy features which are offered by the best online file backup services. The drag and drop feature of data backup is very handy and makes it very easy for the user to share files

The most important aspect of the online data back services is the backup itself. The beauty of this feature lies in the fact that the backup is done automatically as per scheduled beforehand and is incremental in nature ie whenever there are changes made to the files in the backed up folders, an automatic backing up is initiated.

Advantages of backup services

The benefits derived from the advantages offered by various secure online file backup services far exceeded the value of money spent on them. In this information age, protection of data has become a priority for everyone.

Automatic backup provided by various providers may be ubiquitous but is a highly essential function when it comes to backing up the data. Prescheduled backups give an option to the users wherein data backup is done without any supervision and takes out the mechanical element involved. Moreover these backups are incremental and consequential revision to data is done automatically.

Accidentally deleted files could also be restored when using online backup services and gives a cushion to the user and thus ensuring an error free environment. Online storage also reduces or eliminates the physical aspect of data storing by storing all the data of the client at off-site locations which are more secure.

Mobility and security

We can not be near our computer all the time and hence there is the need for mobile access to your online data. Most of the online file backup services provide various features to accommodate the users while away from the main computer. By using mobile apps one can access the saved files from any place as long as internet connection is available. Mobile syncing of files is also allowed where you can sync, update or change a file. The desktop apps allow users to access files from any computer and it support multiple computers and various file types.

The security aspect of storing files online is extremely important and to aid that, the providers use various security features while storing or transferring files. SSL / TSL encryption prevents other people to access your account or files. Even when the files are not transferred, they remain encrypted and it is called at-rest encryption and uses an encryption method called advanced encryption standard, which encrypts data arriving in and decrypts data going out.

Analyzing your needs

Before you opt for an online data storage option you have to make sure that you analyze all your needs. It is an important part of the process as it gives you an option to review your requirements. These requirements vary for both home and business users.

Most of the providers have different plans for home and business users. But depending on the following, a particular company or plan can be short listed

· Cost : While some might not consider spending a lot on data storage a big deal, but most people are cost conscious and look for a good deal. Among the best and most reliable data storage companies, the lowest plan starts from $ 5 per month to an upward of $ 100 per year. Some providers also provide 15 day free trials to try their product.

· Storage space : While free storage of 1-2 GB's come with a few plans or providers, it's always a better option to buy a plan because it promises more storage space and better customer support. Some also offer free cloud storage like Dropbox etc.

· Reliability : The quality of service is paramount to selecting a provider. No disruption in service and 24/7 support should be guaranteed.

· Value for money : This is again an important factor when deciding upon a provider. Your money should provide the best possible value for it when considerations are given to factors like pricing, overall features, storage space and reputation of the provider.

Data backup never comes at a high price because when you will realize this only then you can begin to understand the true importance backing up your data.If you want your data to remain secure for a longer periods of time and want an added advantage of better security while storing and transferring the data you must opt ​​for online file backup services.


Should You Collaborate With Managed Services? Here's Why

Managed Service Provider, or MSP, includes services associated with daily tasks of managing IT departments. Depending on the nature and size of a business, an MSP acts as the IT department for a firm. Of late, MSP is widely used because it lowers operational costs, provides better security solutions, improves the operational performance of businesses, and maintains stability. But, how would you know whether your business needs MSP, of which it is the right time to call for it?

Read on to know when it is the right time to work with MSP:

# 1: Low Spirits and High Work Expectation

IT departments are demanding. As such, employees suffer due to lack of confidence since their hard work. If this is the scenario at your business place, it is a sign you need MSP. MSPs can help you to offload some busywork, so giving relief to your employees. Mundane tasks like system performance monitoring, user communication tracking, maintaining system backup with latest patches, and routine IT tasks can be outsourced. This step immediately releases pressure of overworked IT employees and helps you to provide a healthier and happier work environment, which already contributes to the ability to lure IT talent.

# 2: Not Having a Viable Long-Term IT Planning and Strategy

For a team, it is important to work synergistically and be prepared for more. If your team were not in synergy, they would fail to answer basic questions for the future. So, do not push future planning aside. You may survive now, but not in the future. MSPs step in to alleviate these issues so that the IT staffers refocus on planning and strategizing for the future.

# 3: Using Temp Staff from Time to time

If your business needs temporary workers from time to time, you are understaffed. This may be the result of higher turnover versus lower morale, or because your business is growing exponentially faster than you can hire. As a result, you must find top IT talent, especially in your areas of expertise like developers, security specialists, analysts, and mainframes. MSPs provide you easy access to necessary skills and experience your business needs, so releasing you from your dependence on temporary staff.

# 4: Extra Employees Required for New Projects

If your business has long-term projects, it can be tricky at times. Usually, long-term projects have varied workloads. There may be times when you would have to hire more IT people to deliver the job on time. Managed service providers can help you with timely delivery and ensure that you are able to meet your deadlines without failing your commitments.

# 5: Failing to Maintain Countless IT Vendors

Juggling multiple vendors, IT services, and contractors is a burden. It is high time to consolidate your vendors with MSPs. MSPs can provide different services on a monthly basis for a nominal charge. Instead of taking up new services, contracts, and vendors, you should cooperate with a dedicated MSP.

# 6: Frequent User Complains

If users are complaining about your service – delays, fussy, or poor, it's time to consider providing a top-notch service to your IT department. MSPs take over mundane tasks and service requests to deliver prompt services to customers.

If you are nodding in affirmation to even one of these issues, get a managed service provider today.