Customizing OOTB IT Network Security Software Products

Sundaramoorthy S

As global IT is rapidly being digitalized, the network security requirements of major businesses are offered as Out of The Box (OOTB) IT security products by IT OEMs (Information Technology Original Equipment Manufacturers).

The products offered by OEMs adhere to global standards like ISO/IEC 2700, NIST, GDPR, CCPA, and PDPB, which leads to businesses buying licenses for the end products with the intention of saving time and money. However, while integrating, deploying, and maintaining the product solution, the intention of owning the product is violated.  

This article focuses on the customizations of the OOTB products that should be avoided, and steps for tuning the customization of the requirements in the licensed products.

Customization is desirable when it lies within the OOTB product’s radar. Moving beyond the limits leads to multiple operational challenges.

Customizations that are narrower in scope end up being under-utilized. There are certain customizations that can very well be done without. It is ideal to conduct an analysis to validate whether the time and money invested for such customizations will give proportionate benefits/returns.

Product OEMs should be consulted on matters of future releases and implementations before taking such decisions. Choosing the right implementation partner is equally important. Failing to do so may result in issues in production systems, in terms of Audit, Governance, Security, and Operations. Realizing the flaw in later stages costs businesses heavily. Extensive testing must be conducted to ensure the end-to-end capabilities of the OOTB product are not violated.

Listed below are few observations based on my discussions with executives who have faced such issues in ongoing and completed implementations.

Customizations to Avoid

  • OOTB products are customized by overwriting thousands of lines of code. It makes the product tightly coupled to the network and makes the future upgrades and migration of the product complex.
  • Disregarding the recommendations of product architects & SMEs and making customizations to the existing capability of the products to meet the isolated requirements of a business leads to further hidden issues in the products. Finally, what the business demands is to customize, which violates the intent of the OOTB product.
  • Random customizations make the products compatible with the existing enterprise architecture which makes the network vulnerable.
    Below are some challenges:
    • OOTB designed products are unable to consume the business data as it is in some cases
    • Some business users are not willing to migrate to new systems, or unable to educate the users to utilize the new systems.
  • OOTB APIs are not utilized in places where it is required.

Cons of Customizing

  • OEMs provide support for OOTB features only and not for customized ones.
  • The impact of customizations on the product’s performance, optimization, and security is not always clear.
  • Audit and Governance are not manageable if the customizations are not end-to-end.
  • The above issues may lead to a lower return on investment for the customizations

Steps to Avoid Major Customization

For New implementations

  • The Road Map and strategy should be derived by doing a detailed analysis of the current and future state while selecting the product solution.
  • PoCs for requirements of the future state should be done with multiple products which offer similar services in the market to select the right one.
  • Future requirements vs product compliance matrix should be validated.
  • Gap analysis between the current state and future state should be executed through discussions with product owners and key stakeholders in the business.
  • Implementation partners could be engaged in such activities which could refine the analysis and offer their expertise on working with multiple similar products in the market so that the outcome (product selected) is best in terms of cost and techno-functional requirements.

For existing implementations where the product solution is already deployed

  • OOTB product features should be utilized efficiently by vendors, partners, and service providers.
  • To utilize the OOTB product, massaging the existing dataset or minimal restructuring post risk analysis is acceptable. This exercise should be done before onboarding the product solution.
  • For any new requirement which is not OOTB, rather than customizing the product solution independently as an end-user (business entity), a collaborative approach with implementation partners and OEMs’ professional services (minimal) should be taken. This can help address the complexity of requirements without any major roadblocks in the implementation in terms of security and performance of the product solution already deployed in the network. In this approach, support from the product team is available too, which is a great plus.

Role of OEMs

OEMs should take the necessary efforts to understand the needs of the customers and deliver relevant products. This will help in ensuring a positive client experience.

Below are few things the OEMs should consider:

  1. OEMs should have periodic discussions with clients, service providers, and partners, and collect inputs to upgrade their product and remain competitive.
  2. Client-specific local customizations which could be utilized by global clients should be encouraged and implemented.
  3. OEMs should implement the latest technologies and trends in OOTB products sooner than later.
  4. OEMs could use the same technical terminologies across the products which offer similar services, as of now individual products use their own which is not a client and user-friendly.

Since security is the top priority for all, above discussed improvisations, tips and pointers should be followed by all the IT OEMs in the market who produce IT network security products.

Customizations in IT security products are not avoidable. But it should be minimal and configurable based on the business-specific requirements and not major enhancements.

OOTB vs Customization Ratio

Enterprise IT Support Services USA

About the Author –

Sundar has more than 13 years of experience in IT, IT security, IDAM, PAM and MDM project and products. He is interested in developing innovative mobile applications which saves time and money. He is also a travel enthusiast.

Understanding Data Fabric

Srinivasan Sundararajan

In the recently announced Technology Trends in Data Management, Gartner has introduced the concept of “Data Fabric”. Here is the link to the document, Top Trends in Data and Analytics for 2021: Data Fabric Is the Foundation (gartner.com).

As per Gartner, the data fabric approach can enhance traditional data management patterns and replace them with a more responsive approach. As it is key for the enterprise data management strategy, let us understand more about the details of data fabric in this article.

What is Data Fabric?

Today’s enterprise data stores and data volumes are growing rapidly. Data fabric aims to simplify the management of enterprise data sources and the ability to extract insights from them. A data fabric has the following attributes:

  • Connects to multiple data sources
  • Provides data discovery of data sources
  • Stores meta data and data catalog information about the data sources
  • Data ingestion capabilities including data transformation
  • Data lake and data storage option
  • Ability to store multi-modal data, both structured and unstructured
  • Ability to integrate data across clouds
  • Inbuilt graph engine to link data for providing complex relationships
  • Data virtualization to integrate with data that need not be physically moved
  • Data governance and data quality management
  • Inbuilt AI/ML engine for providing machine learning capabilities
  • Ability to share the data both within enterprises and across enterprises
  • Easy to configure work-flows without much coding (Low Code environment)
  • Support for comprehensive use cases like Customer 360, Patient 360 and more

As evident, Data Fabric aims to provide a super subset of all the desired data management capabilities under a single unified platform, making it an obvious choice for future of data management in enterprises.

Data Virtualization

While most of the above capabilities are part of existing data management platforms for the enterprise, one important capability that is part of data fabric platform is the data virtualization.

Data virtualization creates a data abstraction layer by connecting, gathering, and transforming data silos to support real-time and near real-time insights. It gives you direct access to transactional and operational systems in real-time whether on-premise or cloud.

The following is one of the basic implementations of data virtualizations whereby an external data source is queried natively without actually moving the data.  In the below example, a Hadoop HDFS  data source is  queried from a data fabric platform such that the external data can be integrated  with other data.

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While this kind of external data source access it there for a while, data fabric also aims to solve the performance issues associated with the data virtualization. Some of the techniques used by data fabric platforms are:

  • Pushes some computations to the external source to optimize the overall query 
  • Scales out computer resources by providing parallelism

Multi Cloud   

As explained earlier, one another critical capability of data fabric platforms is its ability to integrate data from multi cloud providers. This is at the early stages as different cloud platforms have different architecture and no uniform way of connectivity between them. However, this feature will grow in the coming days.

Advanced Use Cases 

Data fabric should support advanced use cases like Customer 360, Product 360, etc. These are basically comprehensive view of all linkages between enterprise data typically implemented using graph technologies. Since data fabric supports graph databases and graph queries as an inherent feature, these advanced linkages are part of the data fabric platform.

Data Sharing  

Data fabric platforms should also focus on data sharing, not within the enterprise but also across enterprise. While focus on API management helps with data sharing, this functionality has to be enhanced further as data sharing also needs to take care of privacy and other data governance needs.

Data Lakes 

While the earlier platforms similar to data fabric have worked on the enterprise data warehouse as a backbone, data fabric utilizes a data lake as it is the backbone. A data lake is a centralized repository that allows you to store all your structured and unstructured data at any scale. You can store your data as-is, without having to first structure the data, and run different types of analytics – from dashboards and visualizations to big data processing, real-time analytics, and machine learning to guide better decisions.

Data Fabric Players

At the time of writing this article, there are no ratings from Gartner in the form of magic quadrant for Data Fabric Platforms. However, there is a report from Forrester which ranks data fabric platforms in the form of a Forrester Wave.

Some of the key platforms mentioned in that report are:

  • Talend
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • Denodo Technologies
  • Cambridge Semantics
  • Informatica
  • Cloudera
  • Infoworks

While the detailed explanation and architecture of these platforms can be covered in a subsequent article, a sample building blocks of Talend data fabric platform is illustrated in the below diagram.

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Enterprises can also think of building their data fabric platform by combining the best of features of various individual components. For example, from the Microsoft ecosystem perspective:

  • SQL Server Big Data Clusters has data virtualization capabilities
  • Azure Purview has data governance and metadata management capabilities
  • Azure Data Lake Storage provides data lake capabilities
  • Azure Cosmos DB has graph database engine
  • Azure Data Factory has data integration features
  • Azure Machine Learning and SQL Server have machine learning capabilities

However, as evident, we are yet to see strong products and platforms in the areas of multi cloud data management, especially data virtualization across cloud providers in a performance focused manner.

About the Author –

Srini is the Technology Advisor for GAVS. He is currently focused on Healthcare Data Management Solutions for the post-pandemic Healthcare era, using the combination of Multi-Modal databases, Blockchain, and Data Mining. The solutions aim at Patient data sharing within Hospitals as well as across Hospitals (Healthcare Interoperability) while bringing more trust and transparency into the healthcare process using patient consent management, credentialing, and zero-knowledge proofs.

Moving Ahead as Managers

Bindu

Bindu Vijayan

When I was recently asked to drive employee experience at GAVS, I thought, what an opportunity to support a group who are deliverers of high-value systems! I have personally seen the Leadership’s wisdom and the passion to drive GAVS forward as a meaningful and purposeful company. This is an opportunity to help deliver fine-tuned responses through earnest feedback.  And thus, started a somewhat ministerial role – listening truly, relating to what is being heard, because we believe there is a huge potential to strengthen bonds.

Operational execution takes place from the Managers, and here at GAVS, the value system is entrenched in the belief that seniors serve the needs of others; the inverse pyramid.  I have seen our CEO, Sumit Ganguli, treating everyone like a Leader, and everyone is given the responsibility to know and understand the company and the business. The earnest attempt is to have employees relate to GAVS, be the best brand ambassadors for the values and culture we stand for. 

Often times, we as Managers are going through the stress from genuinely caring to get everything right and move projects and teams forward along with the company, but it might be a totally different story with the teams we are managing – things aren’t going too well, and even before we realize what is going on, people leave us.

This points us to a need to recalibrate ourselves and our managerial style, and sometimes our self-calibration can have profound implications for the organization.

Was it a single event that had team members leave? It most times isn’t, it is a collection of problems…no quick fixes or silver bullets, but let’s take the medicine, the whole course, that would turn things around. We have all been on both sides and know what it is to open up and give honest feedback, the genuine hope and excitement about change, and as Managers today, we are happy to actually have individuals open up.   

Who am I as a Manager?

Ed Catmull, President, and co-founder of Pixar writes, “We acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable

As a Manager, let me take a real hard look at myself in the mirror to see what I might be doing wrong.  Why are my team members quitting? How do I lead? Is it through ‘Power’, as in our real inner power to lead with positivity and assertiveness, or is my leadership about ‘force’, where my authority, screaming, bullying, manipulating, sycophancy that drives my team along with me?

Making time for everyone

Let us make time to meet every single person in our team even when we are managing large teams. Scheduling that one crucial hour with each team member is giving them the opportunity to be a reviewer, exchange seats with them, and see it through their eyes.  Keep the agenda for the meeting to speak only about how we can improve managing them, all defenses down.

Demonstrate we see them as our peers, listen…

Listen to everything they have to say, without interrupting. Be a true listener, and promises are to be made and to be kept. The worst thing for us to do is to have that ‘excellent chat’ and go back to the ‘same old’.

Get straight forward feedback from the team and give them immunity for saying it the way it is

Sometimes we need to hear the little harsh truths about ourselves. And the team doesn’t want to see us defensive about our ways of impacting them wrong. We have to hear them out, and everything they want to say, and that’s the first step for them to choose to stay. People should feel safe to talk about things they want as improvements, and to be heard on what is working vs things that are not working.

Don’t wait on actions

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans” – Peter Drucker

I don’t mean there is a magic wand that we can use for everything to turn good overnight. But continuous improvements, by way of small consistent steps, should be visible, and getting everyone involved in it would be a great way to get it right. Everybody wants to see progress.

Here are some toxic traits that call for recalibration;

  • Highly irritable, short-tempered
  • Arrogant, unapproachable
  • Getting defensive about constructive criticism
  • Overtly dominant
  • Belittling other people’s feelings
  • Highly controlling
  • Manipulative

Today, it is interesting to see lots of new-age companies where there are zero hierarchies, employees and leaders are like family. The millennials and the Gen Z are comfortable being who they really are, and we Managers from different demographics must simply jump in and learn from their signature authenticity.

About the Author –

Bindu Vijayan takes care of Employee Experience at GAVS, she works towards creating an environment that’s conducive to passion and make employees feel valued as individuals. She is an avid reader, enjoys music and poetry, and is a devoted mother and a grand-mother. An ardent Kafka fan, she relates to his famous quote, “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

#EmpathyChallenge – 3 Simple Ways to Practice Empathy Consciously

Padma Ravichandran

A pertinent question for the post COVID workforce is, can empathy be learnt? Should it be practiced only by the leaders, or by everyone – can it be seamlessly woven into the fabric of the organization? We are seeing that dynamics at play for remote teams is little unpredictable, making each day uniquely challenging. Empathy is manifested through mindful behaviours, where one’s action is recognized as genuine, personal, and specific to the situation. A few people can be empathetic all the time, a few, practice it consciously, and a few are unaware of it.

Empathy is a natural human response that can be practiced by everyone at work for nurturing an environment of trust. We often confuse empathy for sympathy – while sympathy is feeling sorry for one’s situation, empathy is understanding one’s feelings and needs, and putting the effort to offer authentic support. It requires a shift in perspective, and building trust, respect, and compassion at a deeper level. As Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft says, “Empathy is a muscle that needs to be exercised.”

Here are three ways to consciously practice empathy at work –

  • Going beyond yourself

It takes a lot to forget how we feel that day, or what is priority for us. However, to be empathetic, one needs to be less judgemental. When one is consciously practicing empathy, one needs to be patient with yourself, your thoughts, and not compare yourself with the person you are empathizing with. If we get absorbed by our own needs, it gets difficult to be generous and compassionate. We need to remember empathy leads to influence and respect, and for that we should not get blind sighted by our perceptions.

  • Being a mindful and intentional listener

While practicing empathy, one has refrain from criticism, and be mindful of not talking about one’s problems. We may get sympathetic and give unsolicited advice. Sometimes it only takes to be an intentional listener, by avoiding distractions, and having a very positive body language, and demeanour. This will enable us to ask right questions and collaborate towards a solution.

  • Investing in the person

Very often, we support our colleagues and co-workers by responding to their email requests. However, by building positive workplace relationships, and knowing the person beyond his/her email id, makes it much easier to foster empathy. Compassion needs to be not just in words, but in action too, and that can happen only by knowing the person. Taking interest in a co-worker or a team member, beyond a professional capability, does not come out of thin air. It takes conscious continuous efforts to get to know the person, showing care and concern, which will help us to relate to the myriad challenges they go through – be it chronic illness, child care that correlates to his/her ability to engaged at work. It will enable us to personalize the experience, and see the person’s point of view, holistically.

When we take that genuine interest in how we make others feel and experience, we start mindfully practicing empathy. Empathy fosters respect. Empathy helps resolves conflicts better, empathy builds stronger teams, empathy inspires one another to work towards collective goals, and empathy breaks authority. Does it take that extra bit of time to consciously practice it? Yes, but it is all worth it.

References

About the Author –

Padma is intrigued by Organization Culture and Behavior at workplace that impact employee experience. She is also passionate about driving meaningful initiatives for enabling women to Lean In, along with her fellow Sheroes. She enjoys reading books, journaling, yoga and learning more about life through the eyes of her 8-year-old son.

Celebrating Inspirational Women

Rajeswari S

“Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily. If a person does not invent herself, she will be invented. So, to be bodacious enough to invent ourselves is wise.”  – Maya Angelou

Yet another International Women’s Day is around the corner! Every year, our strength, perseverance, and glory reach newer heights. I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate some inspirational women.

The Prestigious Firsts!

All-women crew

Captain Zoya Aggarwal, Captain Papagari Thanmai, Captain Akansha Sonaware and Captain Shivani Manhas of the all-female pilot crew of Air India made history by completing the longest non-stop commercial flight ever. They covered more than 8,600 miles and flew over the North Pole.

Kamala Harris

She is the United States’ first female vice president, the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history, the first African American vice president, and the first Asian American vice president. Kamala Harris became the Vice President upon inauguration in 2021 alongside President Joe Biden in the 2020 US election.

Women with Amazing Minds and Hearts

Shalini Saraswathi

  • A modern-day woman, balancing her corporate job, blogging, and fitness.
  • A blade marathon runner and an adventure enthusiast.
  • Lost both her arms and legs to a rare form of bacterial infection. Hard work, focus, and perseverance became a pole of strength. She soon completed a 10k marathon with an outstanding record of 1 hour and 35 minutes!
  • Awarded several times with the ‘Iconic Woman Award’. 

Vandana Shah

  • At 28, abused by in-laws and thrown out of her marital home at 2 am; had little money, nowhere to go, and no one to turn to.
  • Today, a leading divorce lawyer and the founder of India’s first non-judgemental divorce support group that provides a positive perspective and focuses on rebuilding life even while going through a divorce.
  • Author of 360 Degrees Back to Life – a Litigant’s Humorous Perspective on Divorce.
  • Launched the world’s and India’s first legal app, DivorceKart, which aims to answer all legal queries regarding divorce instantly.

Daniela Rus

  • Romanian-American roboticist, an MIT professor and the first female head of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), one of the largest and most prestigious AI research labs in the world.
  • Rus’ ground-breaking research has contributed immensely to networked collaborative robots (robots that can work together and communicate with one another), self-reconfigurable robots (robots that can autonomously change their structure to adapt to their environment), and soft robots (robots without rigid bodies).

Leila Jana

  • A social entrepreneur and a great young Indian origin humanitarian.
  • Pioneer in the field of impact sourcing.
  • Leila founded Samasource in 2008 with the mission of giving work, not aid, by hiring workers in impoverished areas, training them in AI data annotation, and providing the technology to plug their skills into the global digital economy where they could earn living wages. 

Pappammal

  • 105-year-old Pappamal, a centenarian from Tamil Nadu, India, was conferred the Padma Shri (fourth-highest civilian award in India) for her work in organic farming for the past 70 years!
  • Does organic farming in about 2.5 acres of her land; cultivates a variety of crops including millets, bananas, and okra.
  • A part of the TN Agricultural University’s advisory committee, and keeps abreast of the latest developments in organic farming by taking part in conferences.

Why Women make Great Leaders

While we see men and women leaders run several successful businesses, does the word “leadership” mean the same to them? A survey conducted by a US talent management solutions company says, 65% of women (versus 56% of men) said they view leaders as those who share their knowledge and connect with their colleagues to help the team and business. When women bring this attitude into managerial roles, it makes them more effective as leaders.

Emily He, Oracle’s Sr. VP of the Human Capital Management Cloud Business Group says “In contrast to men, who tend to be career-centric and want to maximize their financial return from work, women view work more holistically, as a component of their overall life plan. They’re more likely to approach their careers in a self-reflective way and value factors such as meaning, purpose, connection with co-workers and work-life integration.”

Hear it from other women leaders too.

On being nurturing

“One of the key aspects of leadership is the ability to help your team members develop their own skills and strengths. Women are naturally nurturing, which in the best scenarios can translate to helping those around you succeed.” – Marilyn Heywood Paige, VP Marketing, FiG Advertising

On valuing work-life balance“We are able to balance professional and personal leadership skills. It’s easier to approach a women leader with a personal request, or a sensitive question. I care about my team and their well-being. I also find women more proactive in becoming mentors, and sometimes it’s already such an open and communicative relationship that the transition to mentor is easy.” – Amy Killoran, Creative Manager, I Love Travel

On wearing many hats

“They often balance careers, households and even aging parents, among other things. Women pivot, adjust and focus on solutions. Resting in the doom and gloom can be time-consuming, so many shift to find positive solutions to life and work problems.” – Gretchen Halpin, Chief Strategy Officer, Hewins Financial Advisors

We’re Tough, We’re Ambitious, We’re Different!

References:

About the Author –

Rajeswari is part of the IP team at GAVS. She has been involved in technical and creative content development for the past 13 years. She is passionate about music and writing and spends her free time watching movies or going for a highway drive.

Tuning Agile Delivery for Customer and Employee Success

Ashish Joseph

What is Agile?

Agile has been very popular in the software development industry for empowering delivery to be more efficient and effective. It is a common misconception for Agile to be thought of as a framework or a process that follows a methodology for software development. But Agile is a set of values and principles. It is a collection of beliefs that teams can use for decision making and optimizing project deliveries. It is customer-centric and flexible, helping teams adapt accordingly. It doesn’t make the decision for the team. Instead, it gives a foundation for teams to make decisions that can result in a stellar execution of the project.

According to the Agile Manifesto, teams can deliver better by prioritizing the following over the other.

  • Individuals and Interactions over process and tools
  • Working Model over Comprehensive Documentation
  • Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
  • Responding to Changes over following a Plan

With respect to Software Development, Agile is an iterative approach to project management which help teams deliver results with measurable customer value. The approach is designed to be faster and ensures the quality of delivery that is aided with periodic customer feedbacks. Agile aims to break down the requirement into smaller portions, results of which can be continuously evaluated with a natural mechanism to respond to changes quickly.

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Why Agile?

The world is changing, and businesses must be ready to adapt to how the market demands change over time. When we look at the Fortune 500 companies from 1955, 88% of them perished. Nearly half of the S&P 500 companies is forecasted to be replaced every ten years. The only way for organizations to survive is to innovate continuously and understand the pulse of the market every step of the way. An innovative mindset helps organizations react to changes and discover new opportunities the market can offer them from time to time.

Agile helps organizations execute projects in an everchanging environment. The approach helps break down modules for continuous customer evaluation and implement changes swiftly.

The traditional approach to software project management uses the waterfall model, where we Plan, Build, Test, Review and Deploy. But this existing approach would result in iterations in the plan phase whenever there are deviations in the requirement with respect to the market. When teams choose agile, it helps them respond to changes in the marketplace and implement customer feedback without going off the plan. Agile plans are designed in such a manner to include continuous feedback and its corresponding changes. Organizations should imbibe the ability to adapt and respond fast to new and changing market demands. This foundation is imperative for modern software development and delivery.

Is Agile a right fit for my Customer? People who advocate Agile development claim that Agile projects succeed more often than waterfall delivery models. But this claim has not been validated by statistics. A paper titled “How Agile your Project should be?” by Dr. Kevin Thompson from Kevin Thompson Consulting, provides a perspective from a mathematical point of view for both Agile and Waterfall project management. Here both approaches were followed for the same requirements and were also affected by the same unanticipated variables. The paper focused on the statistical evidence to support the validity of both the options to evaluate the fit.

While assessing the right approach, the following questions need to be asked

  • Are the customer requirements for the project complete, clear and stable?
  • Can the project effort estimation be easily predicted?
  • Has a project with similar requirements been executed before?

If the answer to all the above questions are Yes, then Agile is not the approach to be followed.

The Agile approach provides a better return on investment and risk reduction when there is high uncertainty of different variables in the project. When the uncertainty is low, waterfall projects tend to be more cost effective than agile projects.

Optimizing Agile Customer Centricity

Customer centricity should be the foundation of all project deliveries. This help businesses align themselves to the customer’s mission and vision with respect to the project at hand. While we consider an Agile approach to a project in a dynamic and changing environment, the following are some principles that can help organizations align themselves better with their customer goals.

  • Prioritizing Customer Satisfaction through timely and continuous delivery of requirements.
  • Openness to changing requirements, regardless of the development phase, to enable customers to harness the change for their competitive advantage in the market.
  • Frequent delivery of modules with a preference towards shorter timelines.
  • Continuous collaboration between management and developers to understand the functional and non-functional requirements better.
  • Measuring progress through the number of working modules delivered.
  • Improving velocity and agility in delivery by concentrating on technical excellence and good design.
  • Periodic retrospection at the end of each sprint to improve delivery effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Trusting and supporting motivated individuals to lead projects on their own and allowing them to experiment.

Since Agile is a collection of principles and values, its real utility lies in giving teams a common foundation to make good decisions with actionable intelligence to deliver measurable value to their customers.

Agile Empowered Employee Success

A truly Agile team makes their decisions based on Agile values and principles. The values and principles have enough flexibility to allow teams to develop software in the ways that work best for their market situation while providing enough direction to help them to continually move towards their full potential. The team and employee empowerment through these values and principles aid in the overall performance.

Agile not only improves the team but also the environment around which it is established by helping employees to be compliant with respect to audit and governance.  It reduces the overall project cost for dynamic requirements and focuses on technical excellence along with an optimized process for its delivery. The 14th Annual State of Agile Report 2020 published by StateofAgile.com surveyed 40,000 Agile executives to get insights into the application of Agile across different areas of enterprises. The report surveyed different Agile techniques that contributed most towards the employee success of the organization. The following are some of the most preferred Agile techniques that helped enhance the employee and team performances.

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All the above Agile techniques help teams and individuals to introspect their actions and understand areas of improvement in real time with periodic qualitative and quantitative feedback. Each deliverable from multiple cross functional teams can be monitored, tracked and assessed under a single roof. All these techniques collectively bring together an enhanced form of delivery and empower each team to realize their full potential.
Above all, Agile techniques help teams to feel the pulse of the customer every step of the way. The openness to change regardless of the phase, helps them to map all the requirements leading to an overall customer satisfaction coupled with employee success.

Top 5 Agile Approaches

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A Truly Agile Organization

Majority of the Agile approach has been concentrated towards development, IT, and Operations. However, organizations should strive towards effective alignment and coordination across all departments. Organizations today are aiming for greater expansion of agility into areas beyond building, deploying, and maintaining software. At the end of the day, Agile is not about the framework. It is all about the Agile values and principles the organizations believe in for achieving their mission and vision in the long run.

About the Author –

Ashish Joseph is a Lead Consultant at GAVS working for a healthcare client in the Product Management space. His areas of expertise lie in branding and outbound product management. He runs a series called #BizPective on LinkedIn and Instagram focusing on contemporary business trends from a different perspective. Outside work, he is very passionate about basketball, music, and food.

Vision for 2021

Sumit Ganguli

CEO, GAVS Technologies

God, grant me the serenity to accept things, I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

The events of 2020 have reaffirmed in me the ethos conveyed by this stanza, from the Serenity Prayer.

For us, COVID has been up close and personal. One of our key clients, Bronx Care Hospital has been an epicenter of the pandemic in New York City. The doctors, staff and support staff, including GAVS’ IT support engineers have experienced the devastating effect of this pandemic, up close and personal. GAVS’ technical team supported the ICUs and patient care units at the hospitals during the peak of pandemic.

“Every day we witness these heroic acts: one example out of many this week was our own Kishore going into our ICU to move a computer without full PPE (we have a PPE shortage). The GAVS technicians who come into our hospital every day are, like our doctors and healthcare workers, the true heroes of our time.”

Ivan Durbak, CIO, BronxCare Health System

“GAVS Team was instrumental in assisting the deployment of digital contact less care solutions and remote patient monitoring solutions during the peak of COVID. Their ability to react in quick time really helped us save more lives than what we could have, with technology at the fore-front.”

Dr. Sridhar Chilimuri, Chairman, Dept. of Medicine, BronxCare Health System

The alacrity with which our colleagues in India addressed the remote working situation and the initiative that they have demonstrated in maintaining business continuity for the clients in the US have inspired us at GAVS and  have reaffirmed our belief that we are on the way to create a purposeful company.  

The biggest learning from 2020, is that we need to be mindful of the fragility of life and truly make every day count. At GAVS, we are committed to use technology and service for the betterment of our clients and our stakeholders; and anchor this with our values of Respect, Integrity, Trust and Empathy.

The year was not without some positives. Thanks to some new client acquisitions and renewed contracts we have been able to significantly expand the GAVS family and have registered a 40% growth in revenue. 

We have formed Long 80, A GAVS & Premier, Inc. JV and have started reaching out to Healthcare providers in the US. We are reaching out to some of the largest hospitals in North America offering our AI-based Infrastructure Managed Services, Cybersecurity solutions, Prescriptive and Predictive Healthcare Solutions based on Analytics.

“Moving from a vendor-only model with GAVS to a collaborative model through Long 80 expands Premier’s current technology portfolio, enabling us to offer GAVS’ technology, digital transformation and data security services and solutions to US healthcare organizations. We are extremely excited about this opportunity and look forward to our new relationship with GAVS.”

Leigh Anderson, President, Performance Services, Premier, Inc.

This year, we see the Premier team growing by an additional 120 persons to continue to support their initiative to reduce costs, improve efficiency, enhance productivity and faster time to market.

We aim to hit some milestones in our journey of enabling AI-driven Digital Transformation in the Healthcare space. We have constituted a team dedicated to achieving that.

We are contemplating on establishing the GAVS Healthcare Institute in partnership leading institutions in India and US to develop competency within GAVS in the latest technologies for the healthcare space.

GAVS is committed to being a company focused on AI, and newer technologies and promote GAVS’ AI led Technology Operations, Zero Incident Framework. In 2021, we will work on increasing our ZIF sites around the US and India.  

Based on inputs from our Customer Advisory Board, we at GAVS would like to build a competency around Client Relationship and empower our Client Success Managers to evolve as true partners of our Clients and support their aspirations and visions.  

GAVS is also making strong progress in the BFS sector and we would like to leverage our expertise in AI, Blockchain, Service Reliability and other digital technologies.

GAVS has the competency to support multiyear contracts and there will be a push to reach out to Sourcing Companies, Influencers and partners to garner these long-term predictable business.

We will continue to build competency and expertise around Innovation, and there are some initiatives that we will be putting in place to promote a Culture of Innovation and have measurable successes under Novelty of Innovation.

Our experience of 2020 has inspired us to once again remind ourselves that we should make GAVS an aspirational company, a firm that is purposeful and anchored with our values.

Center of Excellence – .Net

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“Maximizing the quality, efficiency, and reusability by providing innovative technical solutions, creating intellectual capital, inculcating best practices and processes to instill greater trust and provide incremental value to the Stakeholders.”

With the above mission,we have embarked on our journey to establish and strengthen the .NET Center of excellence (CoE).

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

Expertise in this CoE is drawn from top talent across all customer engagements within GAVS. Team engagement is maintained at a very high level with various connects such as regular technology sessions, advanced trainings for CoE members from MS, support and guidance for becoming a MS MVP. Members also socialize new trending articles, tools, whitepapers and blogs within the CoE team and MS Teams channels setup for collaboration. All communications from MS Premier Communications sent to Gold Partners is also shared within the group. The high-level roadmap as planned for this group is laid out below.

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The .NET CoEfocused on assistingourcustomers in every stage of theengagement right from on-boarding, planning, execution, technical implementation and finally all the way to launching and growing. Our prescriptive approach is to leverage industry-proven best practices, solutions, reusable components and include robust resources, training, and making a vibrant partner community.

With the above as the primary goal in mind the CoE group is currently engaged inor planning the following initiatives.

Technology Maturity Assessment

One of the main objectivesof this group is to provide constant feedback to all .NET stack project for improvement and improvisation. The goal for this initiative is to build the technology maturity index for all projects for the below parameters.

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Using those approaches within a short span of time we were able to make a significant impact for some of our engagements.

Client – Online Chain Store: Identified cheaper cloud hosting option for application UI.

Benefits: Huge cost and time savings.

Client – Health care sector: Provided alternate solution for DB migrations from DEV to various environments.

Benefits: Huge cost savings due to licensing annually.

Competency Building

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” – Henry Ford

Continuous learning and upskilling are the new norms in today’s fast changing technology landscape. This initiative is focused on providing learning and upskilling support to all technology teams in GAVS. Identifying code mentors, supporting team members to become full stack developers are some of the activities planned under this initiative.  Working along with the Learning & Development team,the .NET CoE isformulating different training tracks to upskill the team members and provide support for external assessments and MS certifications.

Solution Accelerators

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Till your good is better and your better is best.” – St. Jerome

The primary determinants of CoE effectiveness are involvement in solutions and accelerators and in maintaining standard practices of the relevant technologies across customer engagements across the organization.

As part of this initiative we are focusing on building project templates, DevOps pipelines and automated testing templates for different technology stacks for both Serverless and Server Hosted scenarios. We also are planning similar activities for the Desktop/Mobile Stack with the Multi-Platform App UI (MAUI) framework which is planned to be released for Preview in Q4 2020.

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Additionally, we are also adoptingless-code, no-code development platforms for accelerated development cycles for specific use-cases.

As we progress on our journey to strengthen the .NET CoE, we want to act as acatalyst in rapid and early adoption of new technology solutions and work as trusted partners with all our customer and stakeholders.

If you have any questions about the CoE, you may reach out to them at COE_DOTNET@gavstech.com

CoE Team Members

  • Bismillakhan Mohammed
  • Gokul Bose
  • Kirubakaran Girijanandan
  • Neeraj Kumar
  • Prasad D
  • Ramakrishnan S
  • SaphalMalol
  • Saravanan Swaminathan
  • SenthilkumarKamayaswami
  • Sethuraman Varadhan
  • Srinivasan Radhakrishnan
  • Thaufeeq Ahmed
  • Thomas T
  • Vijay Mahalingam

Center of Excellence – Server

Our Server CoE is a team of highly skilled individuals and experts in various server technologies who promote collaboration, standardization and best practices to drive business or customer-valued results.

The CoE is focused on providing expert level support in technologies like Windows / Linux Servers, Exchange / O365 Messaging solution, Virtualization with VMWare / Hyper-V / Citrix / Linux, Patch & Compliance Management, Application Availability & Performance Monitoring and Backup / Recovery solutions, etc.

The Server CoE also focuses on in-depth assessment of customer end server infrastructure components to study and analyze the existing design implementations, configurations, and operations to identify strengths and weaknesses to implement technical and economical improvements to businesses, wherever applicable, and perform upgrades, migrations and transformations as necessary.

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A wide range of server technologies comprise the Server CoE and not every business or customer can practically leverage all of them. And in the same way, not all the members can practically become an SME in all the server technologies.

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Current & Upcoming Engagements

A farm credit bank of US – Server Assessment – In Progress – July 2020

  • MS Active Directory Assessment
    • MS Exchange Assessment
    • VMWare Assessment
    • MS SCCM Assessment
    • MS SCOM Assessment
    • Storage
    • Backup Assessment

A global professional services firm – Hybrid Exchange 2016 Migration – July/August 2020

  • SOW Sign Off – Completed
    • Background verification process for 2 Technical Resources – Completed
    • Migration Environment Setup – In Progress
    • Assessment / Pre-requisites Review – Next Steps
    • Migration Test Phase – July 2020
    • Production Migration – July-August 2020

A Multinational Dairy Company – Active Directory & Exchange Server Migration / July – August 2020

  • Microsoft Active Directory Server Assessment
    • Microsoft Exchange Server Assessment
    • Migration of Active Directory from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2016.
    • Migration of Exchange from Exchange Server 2016 to Exchange Server 2019.

A Wellness Services Agency – Resolve Issues with Exchange Database / DDL – July – August 2020

  • Customer Call / Technical Solution / SOW – Completed
    • SOW Sign Off – In Progress by July 2020
    • Assessment / Migration – Next Steps

A Leading FMCG company of India – Digital Transformation to O365 – July – August 2020

  • Zimbra Mail to O365 Migration
    • Licensing Model Finalization – In Progress
    • Migration Plan & Execution – Next Steps

A Leading FMCG company of India – DNS Migration between Service Providers – July 2020

  • 30+ Domains are registered with Net4India
    • Availability & Support Issues with current provider
    • Assess current domain lists and Migrate to new Provider

A Diverse Hardware Group – Azure Cloud Integration & Support – July/August 2020

  • SOW – in Progress

Road Map

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Contribution to Organization’s Growth

The Server CoE’s contribution is not limited to one activity with one customer at a time, but involved with multiple simultaneous activities in different server technologies in different customer requirements. Server CoE contributions:

  • Participating in RFPs / Proposals by providing technical solutions to prospects’ requirements
  • Participating in full time Infrastructure Assessment projects for various customers
  • Participating in full time Implementations & Migration projects for different customers
  • Providing Standard Operating Procedures, templates & best practice recommendations in various server technologies
  • Provide internal training to individuals to upskill and strengthen the team
  • Responding to requests and providing solutions to issues faced in various customer engagements

The members of our CoE are dedicated to in carrying out all CoE related activities in addition to their day to day activities in their assigned projects without any impact. We aim to contribute to the organization in terms of technological capability establishment and financial growth with new business opportunities.

If you have any questions about the CoE, you may reach out to them at COE_SERVER@gavstech.com

CoE Team Members

  • Balamurugan Rajamanickam
  • Dilipkumar Dhanasekaran
  • Dinesh Kumar
  • Karthick Mani
  • Karthickmanikandan G
  • Manoj Akula
  • Marimuthupandi Kalimuthu
  • Ramkumar Janakiraman
  • Sabari Nivas
  • Sathishkumar Jayaraman
  • Selvaganesh Kothandan
  • Sivakumar Duraisamy
  • Lakshmi Srikanth

Is the Future of White-Collared Workforce only Digital?

Hariharan Madhavan

COVID-19 taught all white-collared workers and their employers one thing for sure – “It is possible to work from home”. With the current advancements in technology – using a mobile app-based contact center solutions, using collaboration platforms to edit content together, hosting tech troubleshooting bridges where multiple engineers solve an issue, video conferencing meetings allowing people to see each other, from where work is delivered does not matter anymore.

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Wearing what feels comfortable, sitting comfortably, eating homemade food, personalizing your room, life was never better balanced between work and personal life better than now. With nobody to micromanage, the only way to measure a worker is through outcomes. Attendance swipes are a thing of the past. People managers who have no idea of the work done by their team members will become redundant starting2020.
New digital companies will take over like a storm to embrace this opportunity, just like AGILE took over like a religion to manage software development projects.

Existing digital workforce companies are already providing opportunities for companies to hire talent who can work remotely on a need basis from around the world and save potential hiring costs and free from commitments. Just like Uber and Lyft transformed the taxi business, we could see a wave of disruption transforming and killing the traditional brick and mortar IT behemoths to more agile and digital workforce capabilities hiring top talent on the click of a mobile app, and being able to get talent requirements fulfilled in minutes instead of having to wait for weeks or months to get somebody to join. This will be like the DevOps of Hiring for managers who have new projects and budgets looking for people to get things done.

Every other aspect of the business has changed, reducing time to market, and hiring talent is the only area still very traditional and inefficient. It’s not too late for somebody to realize and use this uncertain economic environment as a cradle of opportunity to offer enterprises as a solution.

The next question that comes up is if the borders are removed, how do you secure and still be compliant with your compliance norms. This is completely dependent on the level of sensitivity of data to which an employee/contractor has access. From using privacy screens in the laptops to using technology like VDI, SaaS-based EDR, NGAV, unified agents, CASB’s, you have literally every control that you can think of on-premise that you can enforce in a laptop used by an employee.

When companies hire you in the future, they will ship you an asset to your home location and expect you to use that asset for work. When you have moved out, you will be sent return shipping on which you can put the asset and send it back.

Another main setback that prevented a revolution is that IT companies had to pay for bench talent to provide for the demand. This will also be disrupted by new entrants. New disruptors will be willing to share up to 70% of the revenue earned by somebody back to them, but if there is a loss of billable revenue, the same will be immediately passed on to the concerned employee. These measures will weed out people who are just not meant for the IT workforce that demands constant skill up-gradation, essentially leaving IT to only the high potential workers who are dynamic.

About the Author –

Hariharan is the global head of Cybersecurity at GAVS. He is responsible for strategic and tactical leadership around emerging technologies such as cloud transformation, cloud-native microservices development, software-defined networking, cloud security, DevOps Security, Security and Automation, Security & AI.