Enterprise

Think outside the computer

An ant weighing just 1 or 2 milligrams, will navigate around obstacles and hunt for signals with a level of skill and speed that puts our most sophisticated robots to shame… And yet, with all that apparent intelligence, a few isolated ants will meander aimlessly – until the number of ants increases beyond a couple…


An ant weighing just 1 or 2 milligrams, will navigate around obstacles and hunt for signals with a level of skill and speed that puts our most sophisticated robots to shame… And yet, with all that apparent intelligence, a few isolated ants will meander aimlessly – until the number of ants increases beyond a couple of dozen. 

With that, a higher level of intelligence starts to emerge. As the population rises, the transformation becomes staggering. Millions of ants can build “cities” with complex ventilation systems, sewers and recycling facilities. Ants are the only creatures, other than humans, to practice intensive farming. They cultivate living crops, they breed and herd aphids and other insects, “milking” them for food. Ant groups communicate, teach, form teams and go to war.

keynote presentation at NetEvents May 2019 EMEA IT Spotlight in Barcelona, I compared the behaviour of ants to the most advanced data centers, and the higher-level intelligence needed for effective digital transformation. Such dynamically responsive intelligence does not reside merely in a CPU, or in a server or storage box, or the network, or any individual application. Rather today’s problems that crunch massive native sets need to be optimized across all these elements to create a computer at the data center level. 

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Just as the ant colony acts as a highly functional organism without centralized control, similarly there is no single governing program in the latest machine-learning models. Instead the data itself drives the processes in a data center made of compute and storage elements connected by an intelligent network. This “deep learning” is also comparable to the human brain – a huge network of relatively small processing elements called synapses that actually process data as it moves across the network.

A data deluge

To set the scene I used an illustration of the transformation in the very nature of data acquisition. In 2007 Nokia, a $150 billion enterprise decided to invest in the nascent automobile SatNav market. They acquired Navitech, a company with about five million traffic cameras across Europe, realising that a navigation system that kept up to date with real time traffic conditions would offer a major competitive advantage. 

In the same year, an Israeli company called Waze was started, with a similar objective – except that Waze gathered the same data not via installing millions of traffic sensors but with an app in every users’ phone. This allowed Waze to quickly deploy tens of millions of traffic sensors at no cost, by leveraging the GPS location chips present in every smart phone, and harvest traffic movement data and upload it to the Waze system. The rest is history: in five or six years Nokia had shrunk to less than the buying price of Navitech, while Waze was snapped up by Google. 

Michael Kagan's chart from his presentation at  NetEvents May 2019 EMEA IT Spotlight in Barcelona (Image credit: Mellanox)

Michael Kagan’s chart from his presentation at  NetEvents May 2019 EMEA IT Spotlight in Barcelona (Image credit: Mellanox)

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Enterprise

WorldVPN

WorldVPN is a small provider who claims to offer an ‘enterprise VPN’ from as little as $1.12 a month over three years.’Enterprise’ is a serious exaggeration, but the company’s 200+ locations across 30+ countries isn’t bad. P2P is supported on some servers, too.ExpressVPN or NordVPN, then this really isn’t in the same league.Want to try…

WorldVPN is a small provider who claims to offer an ‘enterprise VPN’ from as little as $1.12 a month over three years.

‘Enterprise’ is a serious exaggeration, but the company’s 200+ locations across 30+ countries isn’t bad. P2P is supported on some servers, too.

ExpressVPN or NordVPN, then this really isn’t in the same league.

  • Want to try WorldVPN? Check out the website here

The company scores zero for transparency, with no details on who owns it or where it’s based, no terms and conditions page, and a ‘no logging’ promise with absolutely no details to back it up. (It’s even contradicted by WorldVPN’s site, where your account page displays the amount of data you’ve transferred.)

Support is unimpressive with only 22 articles in a tiny web knowledgebase, a ‘News’ page which hasn’t been updated in more than three years, and what looks like Live Chat, but turns out to be a ‘Leave a message’ system, essentially no different to sending an email.

Plans and pricing

WorldVPN’s appeal is mostly based on price. Okay, pretty much entirely, but when you look at the details, it’s hard not to be tempted.

The ‘One User’ plan supports only a single connection, for instance, but it’s yours for $1.99 billed monthly. Yes, that’s real ‘monthly billing’, not ‘the equivalent if you pay for three years up-front.’ Opt for the annual plan and this drops to $1.58.

The Budget plan gets you support for three connections from $3.45 billed monthly, or $1.70 over a year.

The Unlimited plan – which, despite the name, only supports five simultaneous connections – is a reasonable $6.95 billed monthly, $3.50 over a year.

Dedicated IPs get you a fresh IP address for your usage alone, which should make it easier to bypass VPN blocking and get into sites like Netflix. These are priced from $10 a month in some US cities, and you can choose multiple other regions for a little more: UK, Sweden, Russia, Japan, India and more cost $13 a month; Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong cost $18 a month, and so on.

WorldVPN also has a Reseller scheme which could work for regular users, too. 

For example, a one-off $100 gets you 100 months of use across as many plans as you need, each one supporting up to three simultaneous connections. You could use it for yourself in a single block, in which case you’re covered for more than eight years. You could share it with family or across a business, enabling everyone to get connected. And if someone only needs a VPN occasionally – three months a year to watch a particular show on Netflix, say – then you only need allocate them three months from your total, which may save you even more cash.

WorldVPN’s service looks extremely basic, then, but at least it’s priced to match, and there’s certainly a lot of flexibility here.

Website

WorldVPN’s website has some problems (Image credit: WorldVPN)

Signing up

WorldVPN has a lot of plans, as we’ve seen, but its pricing page highlights the key differences and makes it easy to find what you need.

The company does hide one detail on the purchase page, and it’s easy to see why. Although WorldVPN supports many payments methods, everything but Bitcoin has a processing fee: 3% for Perfect Money, 5% plus $0.95 for cards or PayPal, and 5% for WebMoney, QIWI, MOLPay, AdvCash and Yandex Money.

If you were hoping to pay monthly via PayPal, say, that makes a major difference. An initial $1.99 a month becomes $3.04, for instance – a 50% price hike on what you were hoping to pay.

If you’re paying annually, though, it’s not such a big deal, and overall WorldVPN remains significantly cheaper than most of the competition.

Whatever plan or subscription length you decide you need, the payment process is straightforward, and a few minutes after we’d made our choice, WorldVPN sent us an email with account credentials and links to various setup tutorials.

Windows App

This is the user interface of WorldVPN’s Windows app (Image credit: WorldVPN)

Windows app

Some VPN apps focus on ease of use, others on power, but WorldVPN manages to fail in both areas: it looks complicated and intimidating, yet has barely any features at all.

The text-heavy tabbed interface wastes screen real estate, for example by having a login area on the main dashboard. There’s no need to see your username and password once you’ve logged in.

The app doesn’t have an ‘Automatic’ option to choose the fastest server for you, forcing you to manually choose your preferred location each time. (There’s no Favorites system or Recent Servers list to speed this up.)

Protocol support is limited to OpenConnect, OpenVPN UDP and OpenVPN TCP. There’s no support for L2TP, IKEv2 or any native Windows protocols. And there’s no Settings panel, either, no interface or connection tweaks at all.

There’s no thought for usability. Whatever location and protocol you’d selected when you last used the app, disappears when you close and restart it, forcing you to choose them again.

The only significant feature is the kill switch. It’s application-based rather than system-wide, forcing you to create and maintain a list of applications that should be forcibly closed if the VPN drops. It’s better than nothing, but only just.

Locations

Server locations are presented in a list as opposed to on a map (Image credit: WorldVPN)

Windows testing

The app got off to a bad start with a number of clumsy mistakes. On launch the app prompted us to choose a server, but you’re able to ignore that, click Connect anyway, and watch as it hangs for minutes; our ‘Account Info’ page showed our ‘Expirity Date’ as 1970-01-01 for us, presumably because we were using a trial and it didn’t have one; there are four links to key WorldVPN system areas, but two of them are dead.

Protocols

You won’t find support for WireGuard and other VPN protocols here (Image credit: WorldVPN)

The Windows app only supports three protocols – OpenConnect, OpenVPN UDP and OpenVPN TCP – and the first not only didn’t connect, but it didn’t give us any explanation of why; it just hung on ‘Connecting…’ There’s no Cancel button, so when we got bored, we tapped Disconnect. 

The app hung again, and so we tried forcibly closing the process. But then it wouldn’t relaunch, complaining it was running already. 

Sometimes, when the app had hung for a few minutes on ‘Connecting…’, we clicked Disconnect and were prompted for our password, even though we’d already logged in. When we entered our password, despite just clicking Disconnect, the app finally connected us.

On other occasions, the app seemed to leave such a mess behind that we needed to reboot our system before it would connect again. 

We took a closer look at what was happening in the background and found the app was pinging remote IP addresses, but not by using its own code; it was repeatedly launching Windows’ own ping.exe, maybe once or twice a second. That was generating a vast amount of CPU usage on our test system, up to 15%, a significant waste of energy and resources that is totally unnecessary. 

Connection Error

This is not the kind of connection error you want to see when using a VPN (Image credit: WorldVPN)

When we did finally connect to one UK server, the app warned us: ‘You are connecting for the first time to this peer. You have no guarantee that the server is the computer you think it is’, and asked us to confirm that the certificate information was legitimate.

As the app only displayed the host IP address and a line beginning ‘sha256:e57a1d8b9248….’, most users will probably dismiss the dialog and pretend they never saw it. We browsed the data, though, and found what looked like a free Let’s Encrypt certificate which had exp

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Enterprise

Facebook floats ‘Jaadhu Holdings’ to do business with Jio

Jaadhu, in Hindi, means magic.Well, that is what Facebook probably hopes to create with its $5.7 billion (Rs 43,573 crore) investment in Reliance Jio Platforms for a 9.99% stake.Economic Times, “Jio Platforms, Facebook-owned instant messaging service WhatsApp Inc and Reliance Retail Ltd will also enter into a separate commercial agreement.”Over 1200 Kirana stores join hands…

Jaadhu, in Hindi, means magic.

Well, that is what Facebook probably hopes to create with its $5.7 billion (Rs 43,573 crore) investment in Reliance Jio Platforms for a 9.99% stake.

Economic Times, “Jio Platforms, Facebook-owned instant messaging service WhatsApp Inc and Reliance Retail Ltd will also enter into a separate commercial agreement.”

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Local is the goal 

Ineterestingly, the official filing echoes the larger political exhortation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being “vocal for local”.  

“The Proposed Transaction and the Proposed Commercial Arrangement are pro-competitive, benefits consumers, Kirana (corner) stores and other small and micro local Indian businesses, and take forward the vision of digital India,” the filing read.

The deal will help Reliance cut its spiraling debt pile while providing the social media giant with a strong foothold in India’s fast-growing market. Facebook’s decision to move ahead with the investment despite the looming risk of a global economic meltdown signals it

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Enterprise

Reliance Jio Investments

It all started on April 22, when India was at the height of its Covid-19 driven lockdown. A press release from Reliance Industries, the parent company of Reliance Jio dropped into the inbox of most journalists in India covering tech and telecom industries. The release was for announcing social media giant Facebook picking up a 9.9%…

It all started on April 22, when India was at the height of its Covid-19 driven lockdown. A press release from Reliance Industries, the parent company of Reliance Jio dropped into the inbox of most journalists in India covering tech and telecom industries. 

The release was for announcing social media giant Facebook picking up a 9.9% stake with Jio Platforms for a whopping investment of  $5.3 billion (Rs 43,574 crore). 

Indian-sounding name to do business with Jio Platforms. 

It was staggering, to say the least.

From then on, there has been a steady stream of big-ticket tech investors pouring in money into Jio Platforms. In all, Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista, General Atlantic, KKR , Mubadala, Silver Lake again and ADIA have announced aggregate investments of around $13 billion (Rs 97,885.65 crore) into Jio Platforms for combined stake of around 20%.

But the list does not end here. Microsoft is apparently interested in Jio. Also, the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign fund manager is  likely to put in $1 billion in  Jio. 

This begs the obvious question: Why is Jio Platforms so attractive to everyone even in these recession-filled times?

Jio’s growth and valuation 

Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned digital assets subsidiary of Reliance Industries, is a technology platform focused on providing high-quality and affordable digital services across India, with more than 388 million subscribers. 

Helmed by Asia’s richest person Mukesh Ambani, Jio Platforms has made significant investments across its digital ecosystem, powered by leading technologies spanning broadband connectivity, smart devices, cloud and edge computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, augmented and mixed reality and blockchain. 

Jio’s stated vision is to enable a ‘Digital India’ for 1.3 billion people and businesses across the country, including small merchants, micro-businesses and farmers.

Jio Platforms journey began as early as 2010 in the form of a company named Infotel Broadband Services Limited (ISBL), which splurged $2.7 billion to secure the all-India licence in the contentious broadband spectrum auction. But even then market rumours had it that ISBL was funded by Mukesh. In any case, Reliance Industries quickly moved in and picked a 95% stake in it.

In 2013, ISBL formally changed its name to Jio Platforms, which operates Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited as a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Jio, a game changer

Once Mukesh stepped in, the Indian telecom industry ceased to be the same again. His company’s aggressive ways has virtually revolutionized India’s digital consumption. Jio phone and data services launched in 2106 — simply referred to as Jio — has turned the market upside down with its disruptive ways. It is said that in the last ten years, half a billion Indians came online for the first time, and this in a major part credited to Jio’s arrival on the scene.

Jio offered free calls and data services at impossibly cheap rates, and this has more or less pushed the competition to the margins. Mukesh, of course, pumped in $33 billion to construct a nationwide 4G broadband service network.

Along with offering  its 4G LTE network at cut-throat prices, Jio also tied up with mobile handset companies like Lyf and offered a package of handset and call and data connection at rates that there were impossible to match by the competition. 

In less than four years, Jio has amassed a subscriber base of over 388 millions. This white-hot aggressio has made the competitors run for cover.  Mukesh’s own brother Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications had to exit the market altogether.  Vodafone and I

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Facebook, Saregama strike global deal

There are over 280 million Facebook users in India alone, making it the leading country in terms of Facebook audience size.No wonder then, Facebook views Indian market with a lot of seriousness and sincerity.Facebook recently committed $5.5 billion for a deal with Jio Platforms. And last year, Facebook had inked deals with three of India’s…

There are over 280 million Facebook users in India alone, making it the leading country in terms of Facebook audience size.

No wonder then, Facebook views Indian market with a lot of seriousness and sincerity.

Facebook recently committed $5.5 billion for a deal with Jio Platforms. And last year, Facebook had inked deals with three of India’s top music labels — T-Series, Zee Music Company, and Yash Raj Films. Facebook also rolled out new music products in India, with the aim to enabling users to express themselves through music on its platform and Instagram.

And today, the social media giant announced a global deal with Saregama, one of India’s oldest music labels, to licence its music for video and other social experiences across its platform and Instagram.

This partnership will allow users to choose from a wide variety of music to add to their social experiences such as videos, stories via music stickers and other creative content. People will also be able to add songs to their Facebook Pr

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