The Future of Device Technology: Intangibility

The internet landscape is growing at an exponential rate. It’s not just about computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones anymore. There are now a multitude of devices that are internet connected.

The Garnter Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2017 focuses on three emerging technology mega-trends that will shape the future: Artificial intelligence (AI) everywhere, transparently immersive experiences and digital platforms. The buzzwords are becoming popular and it is certainly going to rule the future. However, I would like to introduce you to some other emerging technologies in device computing that you must watch out for in the future:

First one is Smart Dust devices. They are small wireless microelectromechanical sensors (MEMS) that can detect everything from light to vibrations. It is a tiny dust size device with extraordinary capabilities. Smart dust will be able to collect data that can be used to understand or monitor better. If Smart Dust becomes a reality, then it’s time for Internet of Things to say goodbye sooner.

Already, glued to your smartphones and computers? Get ready – Neural Lace is coming soon to link your brain with intelligent computers. A neural lace is an ultra-thin mesh that can be implanted in the skull, forming a collection of electrodes capable of monitoring brain function. It creates a link between your brain and a device. Elon Musk announced his new venture in 2017 called “Neuralink” that aims to connect computers to your brain through the use of neural lace. Brain-computer interface is certainly going to change the future of device computer.

Finally, we have Edge Computing. It brings the core building blocks of cloud – compute, storage and networking – closer to the consumers. By moving compute closer to the origin of the data, the latency involved in the roundtrip to the cloud gets reduced. Image a self-driving car – it’s effectively a data center on wheels. Thus, Edge Computing might make Cloud Computing take a back seat.

There are many exciting new device technologies that are emerging that will continue to transform the world.

Let us know your comments about any other new device technologies that will transform the future.

Google Pixel Event: Transition from “mobile first” to “AI first” strategy

On 4th October, Google announced a range of hardware at a special event conducted in San Francisco. Artificial intelligence is the most important development that takes place in the consumer technology space. Google’s equation for new products seems to reflect the same – software + hardware and then integrate it with AI. Here are some important highlights from the event:

Google Announced Pixel 2 smartphone – a 5 inch and a 6 inch display version. The phone is powered by a 12 Megapixel rear cam and an 8 megapixel front cam. There are a lot of exciting features in Pixel 2 like activating Google Assistant by squeezing your phone, Google Photos capabilities including Lens, as well as virtual- and augmented-reality capabilities and finally you have a male voice to Google Assistant. The Pixel 2 phone will be available in three colors – “Just Black,” “Clearly White” and “Kinda Blue”. The 5-inch Pixel 2 starts at $649, while the larger 6-inch Pixel 2 XL will cost at least $849.

The most interesting announcement that we felt interesting was the Google Pixel Buds – a wireless headphones that is going to rival Apple’s Bluetooth-powered AirPods. The most interesting feature is that it can do an instant translation for a variety of languages. When the user speaks her native language, an English translation is provided from the phone’s speakers. So, next time if you stuck in another country, just put up your Pixel Buds and start conversing. The Pixel Buds come in the same three colors as the Pixel phone and cost $159.

Google also debuted the Pixelbook – a brand new laptop powered by Chromebook. It has a 12.3 inch screen that’s meant to function both as a laptop and a tablet. Priced at $999, it’s also the first laptop to have Google Assistant. You can also purchase a stylus for $99 that lets you interact with your laptop.

Google also announced Home speakers – Google Home Mini, a smaller version of Google Home speaker and a high-end smart speaker called Google Home Max. Google claims that the Home Max offers deeper bass powered by dual 4.5-inch woofers, and it’s 20 times more powerful than the original Google Home. It shows that Google clearly intends to compete with Apple’s HomePod and Amazon’s new Echo. The Google Home Mini will cost $49 whereas Google Home Max will cost $399.

They also showed off called Google Clips – a new clip-on camera that can take photo and video remotely and synchronizes what it captures instantly with a connected phone through an app. Well, GoPro’s share did fall when the announcement was made.

Google also redesigned the virtual-reality headset Daydream view that works with the Pixel smartphone. It has better lenses that will increase the image clarity and field of vision.

If we look at brand new Pixel 2 phones, Google Home Mini, Google Home Max, Google Pixel Buds, and Google Clips camera, everything is powered by Google Assistant. It’s clear, the future is going to be AI driven and Google has already made its moves.

Another interesting point to observe is that there were more female presenters for the event. There were four when compared to last year’s two. Google was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when former company engineer James Damore wrote a manifesto arguing that women are underrepresented in tech because of “biological causes” rather than bias and discrimination. Looks like Google is just getting started.

Making Life Multi planetary: Elon Musk’s master plan in a nutshell

Last year, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled a masterplan to make humans a multi-planetary species by establishing a colony in Mars at the International Astronautically Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico. In his latest presentation at the IAC in Adelaide, Australia, he has provide an update to his 2016 presentation. Let’s have a look at the master plan in a nutsell:

In order to make humans multi-planetary, the first step is making a reusable rocket that can transport cargo and humans to anywhere in the solar system. The Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) is a huge spaceship that will make this possible. It will be powered by 42 of SpaceX Raptor Engine, which is still in development. It will be the most powerful rocket that will ever be build which can carry cargo to Mars of up to 450 tons. The booster system is referred to as the BFR. In his latest plan, he has scaled down the number of raptor engines to 31 in the ITS.

ITS rockets will launch spaceships into a parking orbit around Earth. The first stage will come back to the Launchpad to be refuelled. Then. It will launch a tanker version of the spacecraft. The propellant tanker goes up anywhere from three to five times to fill the tanks of the spaceship in orbit. Once the tanks are full, the ship would begin its long journey to Mars every 26 months.

Another key factor is making the trip affordable. It is estimated that the trip will cost $140,000 per ton. Hence, a trip per person will cost approximately $200,000 over time. But, it’s going to be a challenge to fund the whole endeavour. SpaceX will need to generate a lot of net cash flow from launching satellites and cargo to ISS.

According to the latest plan, he hopes to have the first launch by 2022 (that’s not a typo). At least two cargo ships are planned for 2022, in a move to confirm water resources and identify hazards as well as set up power mining and life-support infrastructure for future flights. The first crewed mission is planned by 2024. The craft will be able to hold 100 people in 40 cabins.

He also laid out a plan to establish a base on the moon. We will have to wait and see how this would emerge out in future. Another interesting fact is that BFR could also be used to transport people within the earth. The rocket would be able to travel across major cities in 30 mins and anywhere on Earth in less than an hour. A trip from Delhi to Sydney will take 36 mins. Although we don’t want a cost estimate, this could possibly work if it’s affordable.

At the end of the day, Space exploration is going to get even more exciting. Lockheed Martin Corp has also announced separate plans for a manned Mars journey – unveiling concept drawings of a “base camp” space station orbiting Mars and landing craft that would carry four astronauts to the planet’s surface. Many more players are expected to join the space race to colonize Mars. Only time will tell, who will be the real winner?

iPhone X: All your need to know about Apple’s best phone

On 12th September 2017, Apple announced the launch of three new iPhones – iPhone 8, 8 plus and iPhone X at its even held at the new Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California. The first iPhone was released 10 years ago and it changed the way people perceived a mobile phone and transformed the industry forever. It was truly a distribution in the technology industry and opened up new arenas in mobile application development. Let’s have a look at what is special about the latest iPhone.

Some of the new features of the iPhone X includes edge-to-edge display, no home button, facial recognition software, wireless charging and some cool Augmented Reality features. TouchID has been replaced by FaceID. FaceID uses a combination of seven new sensors on the front camera to recognise your face. It means you can unlock your phone with your face. The mechanical home button has also been removed.

Looking physically, the new iPhone will have glass back in order to facilitate wireless charging. That means that you will have an extra glass to break and think twice before purchasing a cover. The device will also have a TrueTone display that adapts to the colour temperature and hue depending on the surroundings in order to reduce eye strain. The speakers are also 25% louder stereo speakers than before. The iPhone 8 (4.7 inch) and the iPhone 8 Plus (5.5 inch) will be available in three colours: silver, space grey and gold.

The iPhone X is powered by the new Apple A11 Bionic chipset. According to Apple, the processor is 70% faster and is the smartest chip ever in a smartphone. It has two high performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. Apple also has designed a GPU – 30% faster than the one found on the older version.

The Camera is a 12 megapixel camera that has an optical image stabilization feature. Another feature on the Camera is Portrait Lighting which is essentially is a bunch of different modes that simulate different lighting conditions. But disappointingly, the selfie camera hasn’t improved.

The phone also supports LTE Advanced and Bluetooth 5.0. Animoji are new animated emojis that use facial recognition software to customise existing emoji designs to mimic the facial expressions of the user.

Apple’s iPhone X release date in India is November 3, with pre-orders set to begin on October 27. The iPhone X has usually won’t come cheap. The device will cost Rs 89,000 in India, making its the most expensive iPhone yet. The 256GB version will cost a whopping Rs 102,000.

But the question is “Is the iPhone X worth purchasing?”. You must understand some of the new features of the iPhone is already available in Android smartphones. Biometric authentication using you face is available in the latest Samsung Galaxy 8, but has some problems. We saw in the demo by the President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi that even he couldn’t get it to work on the first try which indicates that it doesn’t always let the right person in. Hence, the technology is yet to be pioneered by anyone.

Wireless charging is yet another feature available in most smartphones. But iPhone supports only Qi standard and not PMA. The camera is always the best reason to buy any new iPhone, but iPhone X’s dual camera setup is barely different than that of the iPhone 8 Plus.

So, what is the future for Apple and the iPhone? Feature addition is not going to help. You need innovation.

Probably the Google Pixel 2 will challenge the iPhone soon.

The Evolution of WhatsApp

WhatsApp – the instant messaging platform is one of the most popular apps with a user base of 1 billion in 180 countries. Starting as an alternative to SMS in 2009, today WhatsApp has revolutionised the messaging platforms. It now has the support to send and receive a variety of media: text, photos, videos, documents, and location, as well as voice calls. Let’s have a look at the business model of WhatsApp and how it became popular:

It all began in 2009, when two former employees of Yahoo – Brian Acton and Jan Koum decided to work on WhatsApp. The iOS App was launched first in order to target the US Market. Later, the Symbian version was launched in 2010. Android was growing at that time and hence they decided to quickly come up with a version for the OS. The Windows Phone and Blackberry 10 version was launched in 2013. The Windows Phone and Blackberry 10 version was launched in 2013. They initially charged WhatsApp users based on first time installation (for iPhone users) and every year (for Android).

One of the main reasons for the success of WhatsApp was due to its simplicity. It was simple, secure, and fast. It was also free to use. The developers from their previous experience knew that users didn’t like ads and hence decided not to have any ads in the app. The major milestone for WhatsApp was the acquisition by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion – the largest acquisition to date.

Initially, it was an instant messaging app and the ability to send photos was one of the first feature addition. The ability to send GIF images was released in 2016. Group chat feature was launched in 2010. Voice messaging feature & support for Android Wear Smartwatches were added in 2013.

After the acquisition by Facebook, WhatsApp underwent major changes to support voice calls, Read receipts feature & WhatsApp web. This created a havoc among telecom operators who were already unhappy with WhatsApp replacing SMS to a great extent. More features like End-to-end encryption, document sharing, video calling and two step verification were added in 2016. In 2017, a Snapchat like feature called “Status” was added to WhatsApp. Users can upload an image that allows users to upload photos and videos to a 24-hours-lifetime feed that is visible to their contacts.

However, there are many issues related to the security and privacy. On 25th August 2016, WhatsApp changed its privacy policy to allow sharing of data from WhatsApp to Facebook. This was a concern for users since data sharing affected privacy. WhatsApp also offers measures such as two-step verification and encryption. In January 2017, an article published in the Guardian claimed loopholes in WhatsApp’s end to end encryption. WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption protocol was developed by Open Whisper Systems, who make their own secure messaging app Signal. Finally, the introduction of ‘read’ and ‘seen’ features were perceived not very privacy friendly.

What’s the future for WhatsApp ?

WhatsApp will continue to add more features with the upcoming updates. Change is inevitable part of any app development and they have to stay ahead with the competition to survive.

WhatsApp is expected to launch payments soon in India. They have obtained permission from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to allow users to make in-app payments and money transfers using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). WhatsApp will also soon launch support for business verified accounts on its platform.

The Application to Person (A2P) messaging market is innovating rapidly and we may see big changes very soon. Currently, it’s difficult for WhatsApp to allow third-party app integration due to privacy and encryption concerns. However, this is expected to change by WhatsApp opening it for developers. This will help integrated apps to WhatsApp and it could have a Chatbot feature like Facebook Messenger. WhatsApp may also have a Natural Language Processing (NLP)/AI integration that will provide assistant to the user when he types in the chat. You never know, WhatsApp may even turn into an e-commerce portal and even allow you to purchase online by messaging.

WhatsApp is also expected to become more personalised. The app in future will learn about a consumer’s preferences and offer deals based on their geographical location. In the long term, we can expect WhatsApp will evolve into something greater than just a messaging platform.

Blockchain 101 – Understanding what blockchain is and how it works

If you are interested in finance or technology, you would probably have heard about the emergence of blockchain. Many companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM are developing the block chain technology and it is expected to significantly dominate the cloud computing arena. The most widely use of block chain technology in the space of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Let’s understand what Blockchain is all about and how it works.

So what is a Blockchain ?

It is a shared, distributed ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. In simple words, it’s a master document that records every single action related to it.

Imagine, you are a business owner who transacts daily with customers. You will record your transactions for the day in a ledger. However, your customer may record transaction differently in his ledger. This is a recipe for error, fraud and inefficiencies. There could also be a lot of intermediaries in transactions and can cause delays. It is also an expensive process. A blockchain basically makes it better by eliminating the complexity involved.

Traditional document sharing involves sending files to individuals and asking them to revert back. It involves delays and confusion on the versions and edits made especially in the case of a large document. But with Cloud document sharing, you could send a single file that would be edited by multiple users and will have the option to track the edits. A blockchain is something similar.

How is a blockchain created ?

The word “Blockchain” gets its name from the way it stores transaction data – blocks are linked together to form a chain. As each transaction occurs in a business, it’s put into a block. A block contains the details of a particular transaction. Each block contains a hash – a digital fingerprint or unique identifier. Each block is connected to the one before and after it as it occurs. It is added to the next in an Irreversible chain. Finally, all transactions are blocked together.

A network of “nodes” make up the blockchain. A node is a computer connected to the blockchain network using a client. It performs the task of validating and relaying transactions. It also gets a copy of the blockchain, which gets downloaded automatically upon joining the blockchain network. Every node is an “administrator” in the network.

How does Blockchain technology help Businesses?

Bitcoins would be the best example to explain the blockchain technology. Bitcoin was a digital currency launched in 2009 by a mysterious person (or persons) known only by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin is actually built on the foundation of blockchain, which serves as bitcoin’s shared ledger. To know more about Bitcoin: A Bit of Coins

You must note that Bitcoin and blockchain are not the same. Blockchain provides the means to record and store bitcoin transactions, but blockchain has many uses beyond bitcoin. Bitcoin is only the first use case for blockchain.

For business, blockchain technology benefits them in multiple ways. It helps them reduce time and cost. Settlements happen faster because it doesn’t require verification by a central authority. There is no need of creating duplicate records. Since there are less intermediaries, both time and costs are reduced. The security features also give protection against tampering, fraud, and cybercrime. It enhances trust across a business network. A better name for the technology would be Blockchange – because it changes the way how businesses operate.

We believe that the future of any business transaction would be dominated by blockchain technology. The world has already witnessed Bitcoin and its applications. We expect more industries to adopt this technology. We also have to closely watch the Hyperledger project – an open source blockchain and related technologies project started in 2015 by the Linux Foundation to support and develop technologies based on blockchain distributed ledgers.

The Android Story: The Past, Present & Future

More than 85% of the phone is powered by Android making it the most popular mobile OS in the world. Let’s look back at the history of Android to know how the OS was developed and how it became successful.

It all began in 2003, when a young group of computer experts – Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White decided to create “Android Inc”. The early intention was to develop an advanced operating system for digital cameras and then pitch in the idea to investors. However, they figured out that the market was not large enough and then they decided to develop a handset operating system. At that time, Symbian was the most popular mobile OS. However, they were running out of cash in 2005, and Google decided to acquire Android Inc.

The introduction of iPhone – the first full touchscreen phone in 2007 certainly influenced the development of Android. All major mobile companies believed that consumers will not accept a phone that doesn’t have an external QWERTY keyword. However, Google had different plans in their minds and decided to develop an OS that supports full touchscreen phone. They had initially developed ‘Sooner,’ an unreleased prototype device (also made by HTC) which looks like a Blackberry device with a full QWERTY keyboard with a 320×240 display. They decided not to launch the phone and went back to the drawing board.

The first android phone was launched by HTC in October 2008. It was called the HTC Dream, also known as T-Mobile G1. The first apps in Android included Gmail, Google Maps, Search, Google Talk, You Tube etc. And of course, it consisted of other regular apps like calendar, contacts, alarm etc. Many other mobile manufactures like Samsung and LG were developing a full touchscreen phone. However, they need an OS to work on.

The reasons for Android’s success are many. The main reason was that it was Open Sourced – it made smart devices cheaper. Manufactures who were part of the Open Handset Alliance put their effort in Android because of the expertise that they possessed. They could customise the OS based on the requirement of the phone manufactures. The OS also offered great interface and lot of features. A larger market share led to more developers developing apps in the Android which bought in more users.

In 2009, CyanogenMod was launched which become the most widely used custom Android ROM. It is basically a tweaked and edited version of Android OS that you can install on a phone or a tablet in place of the official version from Google. However, it has been discontinued in 2016, due in part to internal conflicts within Cyanogen Inc.

In 2010, Google started developing the Nexus line of devices based on the Android platform by partnering with mobile hardware manufactures. These devices became “reference” devices for Google to enhance user experience in the Android OS and venture into hardware. Another reason could be that they don’t want to take down the big players who used Android OS. Google’s own device at that time would upset the manufacturer and they would start developing their own OS. Google also had less visibility in the mobile arena at that time. However, Google launched Pixel and Pixel XL smartphone in 2016 in order to compete in the mobile hardware market.

Since 2008, Android has seen numerous updates that have improved the OS by adding new features and fixing bugs. Each updated of Android versions is named after a dessert or sugary treat in alphabetical order – Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread etc. So, what is going to be the future of Android OS ?

Android OS is not just going to power smartphones. Google has already developed Android Wear for wrist watches, Android TV for televisions, Android Auto for cars and Brillo (later renamed Android Things), for smart devices and Internet of things. Android might also make its way into laptop and even desktop OS.

Google is also developing Fuchsia – a real-time operating system (RTOS). Chrome OS and Android are based on Linux kernels (which are getting outdated) whereas Fuchsia is based on a new microkernel called “Magenta”, derived from “Little Kernel”. It could also be modular in nature allowing for it to be customized for different applications. There is no definite timeline when Fuchsia will enter the market. It may even be an Android update or replacement.

As of now, the Android OS will keep improving via updates that adds new features and fixes bugs. Most Android has some serious shortcomings that Google is well aware of – most devices run outdated OS & they are also involved in numerous patent lawsuits. This will be a big challenge for Google to overcome.

Sarahah: The Anonymous Feedback App

Spotted a friend in social media sharing screenshots of a teal speech bubbles that hold an anonymous message? Well, then it’s probably Sarahah – an anonymous feedback app that has gained momentum very quickly and is spreading like wild fire.

Sarahah is an app “helps you self-develop by receiving constructive anonymous feedback.” In simple words, it’s just an anonymous feedback form that has an open ended question. It was developed by 29 year old Saudi programmer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq and was initially launched in Egypt. The App named after the Arabic word for “honesty,” was apparently designed for employees to submit anonymous feedback to employers.

In February 2017, Sarahah was opened up to the general public. People who sign up in Sarahah receive a link they can share on other social media sites – inviting anyone with access to their profile to send messages anonymously.

Sarahah is not the first anonymous messaging app in the market. Ask.fm in 2012 was initially an anonymous social media platform. Secret was another anonymous messaging app and had to shut down following legal battles and claims that it encouraged bullying. Sayat.me was also a similar website. YikYak, was an anonymous messaging app once valued at $400 million. All the platforms have been criticised by several media articles regarding cyberbullying and have been linked to suicides. There were a huge number of reported cases of anonymous offensive messaging and suicides apparently resulting from such bullying.

So, how is Sarahah unique ? The app has the ability to block offensive users based on their IP address, even if they are not registered on the site. It can also filter out certain offensive words automatically. Sarahah also doesn’t have in-app advertising and doesn’t seem to have a revenue model in place.

Sarahah was branded itself as a “honest” and “constructive criticism” app. The developers knew the potential effects of cyberbullying. Honestly speaking, the real world has nothing to do with honest and people don’t seem to know how to send constructive messages. People are taking advantage of the anonymous nature of the app and bully or troll others. Most people who engage in these activities are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. They do it for entertainment or because they are bored or have too much time on their hands. Some people even post for mere fun.

Cyberbullying has grown as a major problem in recent years, afflicting children and young adults. There have been studies that have shown that cyber-victimization and cyberbullying on social networks involving adolescents are strongly associated with psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders. One must understand that children’s coping mechanisms may not be as strong as adults and they suffer grievously – resulting in tragic outcomes like self-injurious behaviour and suicides.

Read more about it at Common Sense Reasoning for Detection, Prevention, and Mitigation of Cyberbullying

The app is a reflection of how disgusting our society is getting every day. One must also understand the security risk associated. What if the app was hacked and your names were leaked along with your messages ? The app is still in its development stages and would have already attracted the hacker’s eye.

You must also understand it’s not difficult to track who has posted if you are an expert in online tracking. If you are sharing the link on WhatsApp status or Facebook Stories, it’s easy to know who has seen the link and then match it with the timestamp of the messages. Trust me!! Don’t attempt this – you will be in for a shock. With privacy settings in social media, you can also control the visibility of your post.

One must be aware that these apps are designed for fun. Sarahah diligently is a good idea. But be aware of the positive and negatives of any app.

Want to give a constructive and honest feedback of Pandas Wisdom? Click here pandaswisdom.sarahah.com

Amazon Web Services: Opportunities in India

Amazon.com is the world’s largest online retailer and offers various products and services like Kindle E-Book reader, Fire TV, Prime Video, Echo etc. However, you may not be aware of Amazon Web Services (AWS), the section that is responsible for a full tenth of Amazon’s revenues. We hope to give you a glimpse of AWS and the opportunities it has for Indian business.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) sells cloud computing solutions to the outside world and its own businesses. It sells various cloud-based solutions like database storage, bandwidth for websites, content delivery and other functionality that will help your business to scale and grow.

So what is Cloud all about ? It’s the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and more—over the Internet. One of the main advantage is that Cloud Computing offers you an opportunity to scale your business without the need to purchase any servers or IT infrastructure. It means that you have less capital expenditure and low variable costs. You should also understand the difference between Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) because they determine your development strategy.

Launched in 2006, AWS is today used by many top India companies including Hike, ZEDO, Freshdesk, Inmobi, Tata Motors, Hotstar, Getit, Ola, Practo, Redbus, NDTV. It is used by about 8,000 companies in India to reduce its internal IT staff and cut IT costs. In 2016, Amazon introduced its first data center infrastructure in India with the launch of two data center locations in Mumbai.

Amazon Web Services has categorised its services into compute, storage, databases, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security and enterprise applications. Storage and computing is the basis of almost everything you would want to do on the internet. Amazon offers two core services for compute and storage. They are Amazon EC2 and S3.

  • AWS Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) is a web service that provides re-sizable compute capacity in the cloud. It basically helps you to increase your computation power to process data faster by making use of power processors in the cloud.
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is used for storing data in the form of objects in the AWS Cloud. It helps you store images and other assets of business and even keep backups and share files between services. It also lets you host static websites.

Some of the other popular solutions include:

  • Amazon RDS – a managed relational database service that does routine database tasks in familiar databases like Amazon Aurora, MySQL, MariaDB, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL.
  • Amazon SQS – a fast, reliable and scalable message queuing service (it has nothing to do with SMS or Email). It is basically a place to put things and take things out and is perfect for jobs that should be processed asynchronously.
  • Amazon Lamba – used to execute backend code snippets of JS, Java or Python to do discrete tasks. It helps you run your own code irrespective of the background architecture.

They also offer Big Data service solution including machine learning and Kinesis (a real-time streaming data platform), Elastic MapReduce (a tool for big data processing and analysis) & Redshift (data warehouse service). The list of services goes on and on. For more details, visit: https://aws.amazon.com/products/

How to get started ? Head on to the “10-minute” tutorial section at AWS https://aws.amazon.com/getting-started/tutorials/.

The Pandas expect that growth in each of these categories and services will continue as long as organizations realize the benefits and ease of using these technologies in India. Amazon needs to market AWS services must better in India. There are lot of enterprise and SME’s who would benefit from the AWS services. India now close to 4,750 tech startups – the highest number in the world after the United States and Britain. This is a huge opportunity for Amazon to scale. However, they face stiff competition from Microsoft’s Azure Platform which also offers similar services. Microsoft Azure already has three data center locations in India.

And Personally, I feel that Amazon should consider renaming some of the services. It is really confusing! Try reaching out to young engineers & business professionals to encourage the use of AWS.

Do let us know if you have used AWS or thoughts in the comment section below

The Siliguri Corridor and the North-Eastern States

All you need to know about the strategic importance of North-East India

The Northeast India comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. It accounts for 7.9% of total geographical area of the country and 3.77% of total population of India. It is one of the most bio diverse regions in the world with a forest cover of over 65%. However, the region accounts a little over 2.5% of India’s GDP. The Brahmaputra River makes it one of the most fertile lands and gives the country access to resources like uranium, coal, hydro-power, forests, oil and gas.

Northeast India is important in terms of the nation’s defence architecture. It is the gateway for India to the Southeast Asia and beyond. However, over the past few decades, several issues have boiled up in the region and threatens the national security of the country.

Let’s have a look in detail about the issues in Northeast.

The North-east states are connected with the rest of India via the “Siliguri Corridor” also known as the “chicken’s neck” – a narrow strip of land that is less than 27 km (17 mi) wide at its narrowest point. The region is bordered by Nepal from the North-West and Bangladesh from South and South-East and extends from the Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Terai areas of West Bengal towards the North East. The region is heavily guarded by the Indian Army, BSF, Assam Rifles & West Bengal police due to its strategic importance – it is the hub of the rail and road network connecting the North East.

During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the Chinese made advanced into the Indian Territory and the unpreparedness of the Indian army was blamed on for the failure. But India learnt some major lessons after the war and it has enhanced the Indian army’s capabilities and preparedness in the region. The 1967 Nathu La conflict and the strategic outmaneuvering along the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh in 1987 are examples of Indian Army’s befitting reply to the Chinese.

In 1991, India initiated the “Look East policy”, an effort to cultivate extensive economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast Asia. This was to counterweight the strategic influence of the Chinese in the region. In 2014, PM Narendra Modi announced ‘Act East’ policy, an upgraded version of the ‘Look East’ policy. It will serve as a platform for deepening and strengthening the relationship with ASEAN and the East Asian economies.

Some analysts say that the reason behind the current Doklam plateau standoff between India and China is because of the strategic vulnerabilities of the Siliguri Corridor. By constructing a road in the Doklam region, the aim of the Chinese is to shift the tri-junction to Gamochen (currently at Doka La). If the Chinese extended their reach to Doklam Plateau, they would be easily able to cut of North East from the rest of India by attacking this region.

India will be in the same state of that of Pakistan in 1971. China has the ability to delink the North-East from the rest of India, just like how India help to create the sovereign independent nation-state of Bangladesh by delinking the former East Pakistan from West Pakistan.

The bigger question is whether the North East problem only a geographical issue ? Unfortunately, it’s not. There are historical reasons – most of the traditional tribes are largely of Tibeto-Burman/Mongoloid stock and closer to Southeast Asia than to South Asia. They are ethnically, linguistically and culturally very distinct from the other states of India.

The Naga insurgence known as the mother of the Northeast insurgencies, is one of the oldest unresolved armed conflicts in the world. It started in 1952, and the government sent in the Army to crush the insurgency and, in 1958, enacted the Armed Forces AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Power Act). It was the first time since independence that Indian Army was deployed to manage an internal conflict. However, the issues still remain unresolved.

In 1963, India granted statehood to the Naga people but the demand for independence has not vanished. Several conflicts and talks have taken place to resolve it. On 10th June 2015, India conducted surgical strikes against terrorist camps along the Indo-Myanmar international border in response to the attack on the Indian Army on 4th June 2015.

Arunachal Pradesh has been the hotbed of conflict between India and China. The Chinese claims the region and they had occupied the region in 1962 during the war. However, they withdrew from the region due to the lack of incentive and international pressure. In 2017, China had renamed six places in Arunachal Pradesh in an apparent retaliation against the Dalai Lama visit to the region.

Assam is another state that has witnessed conflicts. Illegal migrants from Bangladesh, drug smuggling and other criminal activities has led to many riots and conflicts in the region. Insurgency fuelled by demands of the Khasi, Synteng and Garo people for an independent state affects Meghalaya.

Another major issue is the “Gorkhaland issue” that has been brewing for few decades. The Gorkhaland Movement is focused in the Darjeeling Hills of West Bengal and demands the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland due to differences in ethnicity, culture and language. Gorkhaland is a strategic location due to the “Siliguri Corridor”. In 2017, the West Bengal government tried to crackdown protests conducted by pro-Gorkhaland supporters and it eventually lead to unrest in the region.

The unavailability of skilled labour and the lack of infrastructure in the NE region poses a further problem. In fact, there are also demands that a separate time zone be created for the North East. The Government has a huge work to be done in terms of resolving the complex issues. The present government is coming up with hydro-electricity and infrastructure project to improve development in the region. On 29th May 2017, the government inaugurated India’s longest 9.15-km river bridge connecting Assam and Arunachal Pradesh near the China border. The bridge can bear the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank and will provide a road-link to various strategic locations in the region and make civil and military movement easier.

India will have to continue to monitor the region for conflicts and try to resolve issues through dialogue and talks. India will have to protect the strategic Siliguri Corridor and monitor the Chinese influence and presence in the region. The Indian Air Force must be prepared for any attack or operation in the region (The IAF was not deployed in 1962 war). India must take steps to ensure Bhutan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutrality.

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