How thinksys helps customers at the time of crisis

How ThinkSys Is Ensuring It’s As Close As Possible To Business As Usual For Our Customers  

Dear ThinkSys Customer,

My heart goes to all affected by COVID – 19. I hope you are safe at home with your family.

These weeks have been challenging and inspiring for all of us at ThinkSys.

Challenging, as we had to completely change our way of working within a week.

Inspiring, because never in human history have we all collectively been asked to show so much resilience and tenacity in the common interest.

The COVID – 19 pandemic may have caused mayhem throughout the globe, but work carries on. We know that companies depend on the work we do so this cannot stop us from delivering on our promise of serving and supporting our customers.

In the 2nd week of March, as the news flow about the potential impact of the virus grew, we started to worry about our employees’ well-being. First, to ensure their safety, we sanitized our entire campus and premises. We provided sanitizers at all locations. We even provided masks to people who came from outside the campus for interviews. It soon became apparent that the situation called for even more drastic measures.

Although none of our employees were detected with COVID – 19, and even before any of the local authorities had mandated it, we started thinking that it would be prudent to maintain social isolation. It seemed apparent that our employees would be safer in their homes.

But that could have led to an interruption in our service.

That’s why we took a few strategic decisions to ensure business continuity throughout the lockdown.

How Are We Ensuring Business Continuity For Our Customers?

We created Workplaces at our Employees’ Homes in Just Two Days

A week before India went into a 21-day lockdown, we, more or less, had decided to let our employees work from home. Rajiv Jha, the CEO of ThinkSys and I, had a strategic operational call with our HR, Development, and Q&A team heads. We had a meeting with our team leads and reached a consensus that work from home was the best solution to keep our employees safe and our customer’s business going.

However, we had a challenge. Over 60% of our employees were using desktops in the office for their work. So, we had to get the infrastructure in place for smooth business functioning. We handed over an asset audit form to each of our employees to get a clear picture of the infrastructure like computing hardware, laptop, and internet connection available to them at home. It emerged that over 70% of our employees had the required infrastructure in place. Over the next few hours, we filled the infrastructural gaps. We had some available laptops that we provisioned for usage. We started shifting some desktops to other employees’ homes.

On 18th March, just a few days before the official lockdown began, we informed our employees to start working from home. Over the first couple of days, a very small number of employees came to the office to address backend issues, fix payroll, and some compliance tasks. Today, 100% of Thinksys is working from home.

We did a thorough Analysis of Business impact before taking the Decision

Before shifting the office into our employees’ homes, we wanted to get a complete idea of project complexity, client situations, and other unique challenges. Our CEO had a one-to-one discussion with each of our 25 team leads and managers. All potential problems were identified, and we worked to create solutions. Our team leads took the responsibility (as always) of continuing project deliveries.

We even did the Unthinkable – we set Testing Labs at Homes

Some of our projects need multiple OS’ and devices and require our employees to work within a testing lab. We carefully provisioned that infrastructure at our employees’ homes so they can continue working on those projects.

All Data is 100% Secure

We have ensured that all confidential data is 100% secure. Our remote access is securely provisioned using VPN, and our network and security teams are monitoring the situation constantly to ensure that there are no data or security breaches from any of our employees. Rajiv Jha and I have also constituted a task force to monitor potential threats and eliminate them before they escalate.

We Continue to Maintain Operational Excellence

Our support teams and IT teams are working in planned shifts to troubleshoot issues that the remote employees might face while working. Our teams are working tirelessly to provide continuous support to our customers. We are doing everything within our power to maintain our operational excellence consistently.

We are always there for our Customers

Our customer’s business is as valuable to us as it is for them. I am available for our customers 24/7. We are continually monitoring the situation to ensure that there is no impact on the customer’s business. In case of any complaints or issues with our new work model, I can be reached at jain.rajiv@thinksys.com. I will ensure that we solve the problem within the stipulated SLA duration.

We Care for our Employees as much as we do for our Customers

Our employees’ well-being is of paramount importance to me. Hence, we are constantly ensuring that our teams stay connected amidst isolation. It is heartening to see how our employees are managing their work and family with equal efficiency. We are grateful to them for their tireless contribution to keeping our customer’s business up and running.

We would also like to thank all our customers for trusting us and staying with us through these tough times.

I know it is a tough time for you as much as it is for us! But, The Show Must Go On!

We promise to stay with you in these trying times and continue to serve you always!

Stay Safe!

Regards,

Rajiv Jain

CEO of ThinkSys

microservices Application development in Devops age

Application Development with Microservices in the DevOps Age

Does anyone even remember when companies developed an entire product, tested it, fixed it, and then shipped it? The entire process would take months, even years, before a functioning product made it to the customer. Before the product hit the market, neither did the potential customers know what it held for them and neither did the product owners know if it would hit or miss the mark.

Today, product users expect to be a part of the development process. They want to contribute their insights to develop a product that matches their ongoing needs. The need is for continuous innovation and improvements. The need is for DevOps!

DevOps combines technology and cultural philosophies to deliver products and services quickly. It is a continuous process of developing, testing, deploying, failing, and fixing applications to achieve market-fit. Jez Humble, one of the leading voices of DevOps sums it up “DevOps is not a goal, but a never-ending process of continual improvement.”

Today, DevOps is not just for a handful of large enterprises. According to Statista, the number of companies adopting DevOps went up by 17% in 2018

A quick look at what has made DevOps popular?

Apart from the continuous innovations and improvements, DevOps also helps in:

  • Improving customer satisfaction: With a DevOps mindset, companies use advanced methods to identify issues and fix them real-time before the customer is impacted. There is also scope to improve the product on-the-go driven by frequent suggestions and feedback from customers. Continuous improvement in quality leads to customer delight. Take Rabobank of Netherlands, for example. This large financial institution has over 60,000 employees and hundreds of customer-facing applications. As the deployments were manual, the failure rate was over 20%, and they received many complaints about delays. When they moved to DevOps, they were able to deploy applications 30x more frequently with a lead time that was 8,000 times faster than their peers.
  • Change in organizational culture: DevOps has played a significant role in breaking silos and boosting the collaborative culture in companies. In an agile environment, working in silos can slow down the process of developing, testing, and releasing the product. A DevOps team will be able to collaborate better and ramp up the process of developing, testing, and troubleshooting the product. 
  • A decrease in failure rates: According to the State of DevOps report, high-performing DevOps organizations have seen a reduction of failure rates of 3x, thanks to their ability to find and fix errors early in the cycle.
  • Higher productivity: DevOps organizations can deploy products 200x more frequently than a non-DevOps organization, leading to happier and highly motivated teams. Take Microsoft’s Bing, for example. It has moved developers to a DevOps environment with the idea of continuous delivery and innovation deeply ingrained within their processes. The result? Bing deploys thousands of services 20 times a week and pushes out 4000 individual changes every week. The continuous effort by the team to deliver has made Bing the second largest search engine in the world.

While adopting a DevOps culture is essential for a company to thrive, it is also crucial that they have the right architecture and systems in place to complement their principle of continuous delivery and innovation. That’s where microservices is now playing a massive role.

Micro-services and Their Role in DevOps Organization:

For a long time, companies relied on a monolithic architecture to build their application. As monolithic applications are built as a single unit, even a small change in a single element made it necessary to build a completely new version of the application. 

With more and more companies moving towards DevOps, such a monolithic architecture makes it difficult to implement changes rapidly. The need for greater agility gave rise to a new type of architecture -enter microservices. 

With Microservices, an application is built on small, independent components that are independently deployable. Although independent, these components communicate with each other via RESTful APIs. So, even if a single piece of code has to be changed in a single element, the developer does not have to build a new version of the whole product. They can simply make the changes to the individual components without affecting the entire application, making the deployment efficient and faster. 

For companies that have adopted the DevOps culture, developing applications with microservices has several benefits that include:

  • Easy rectification of errors: When a component fails the test or requires changes, it is easy to isolate and fix. This makes it easier for companies to fix errors quickly without affecting the users of other services.
  • Better collaboration: Unlike a monolithic architecture where the different teams focus only on specific functions such as UX, UI, server, etc, a microservices architecture encourages a cross-functional way of working. 
  • Decentralized governance: Monolithic architecture uses a centralized database, while microservices use a decentralized method of governance, wherein each service manages its database. This makes it easier for developers to produce tools that also can be used by others to solve specific issues.

A key trend accelerating the adoption of Microservices in such scenarios is Containerization. Containerization allows code for specific elements to be carved out, packaged with all the relevant dependencies, and then run on any infrastructure. These applications can be deployed faster and can be made secure. The applications are extremely portable and adaptable to run on different environments. 

Companies like Amazon and Netflix have shifted to microservices to scale their business and improve customer satisfaction. 

Product companies aiming to become customer-centric and delight with continuous improvement in the product may find it essential to adopt a DevOps mindset married to a transition to the microservices architecture

Of course, it will take some time to transition product development. Teething problems are bound to arise, including duplication of efforts due to the distributed deployment system. However, given the larger picture and the potential benefits, it’s a wise move for product companies to make. 

5 reasons startups should care about Blockchain

5 Reasons Startups Should Care About Blockchain

Blockchain – the shiny new object in the technology toolkit has taken over the headlines. The market is buzzing over the long-term implications of Blockchain, decentralized systems, and cryptocurrencies. The promise is to disrupt industries such as banking and finance, retail, real estate, and healthcare. The global spending on Blockchain technology according to an IDC report, in 2018 alone, is expected to be cross $2.1 billion.

The report also says, “The year 2018 will be a crucial stage for enterprises as they make a huge leap from proof-of-concept projects to full Blockchain deployments. As a leader in Blockchain innovation and integration, the US will continue to invest in Blockchain throughout the forecast, spending heavily in financial services, manufacturing, and other industries.”

While all this is very exciting, is this only a “big enterprise” story? To my mind, NO. I feel startups should take a close look at evaluating this technology and the benefits that it brings to the table. Given that the world of Blockchain is yet to mature completely, startups have the opportunity to become early adopters and proponents of this technology. With a first-mover advantage, startups can create a strong Blockchain ecosystem and build a competitive advantage before this space becomes saturated. Here’s my take on why startups should care about Blockchain

  1. Security:Blockchain is, as most know, a Peer to Peer (P2P) network. The power to manage and manipulate the network rests with multiple stakeholders. This means that no one person can hack, close chains, manipulate or shut down the blocks, making the Blockchain network guaranteed free from any frauds or hacks.

    Blockchain systems are poised to become the defacto method of storing enterprise data owing to the incorruptible digital ledger of transactions (DLT). The DLT stores all data in an automatic ledger and is encrypted automatically using the latest cryptographic methods. Blockchain systems are also decentralized. This distributed nature of the systems reduces security risks greatly.

    Data is the most valuable currency today. And with that comes the concerns over data security. With the spending on information security standing at $86.4 billion in 2017 and expected to exceed $1 trillion cumulatively from 2017 to 2021, startups with innovative solutions in the space stand to gain.

  2. Transaction and Record Transparency:Transparency is ingrained in the DNA of Blockchain. It also provides a high level of privacy since the transaction details are only shared with the defined set of participants involved in the transaction. This technology eliminates third-party interventions. Irrespective of what is the use-case, be it personal details storage, storage of enterprise data, transactions, currency exchange etc., every transaction detail can be clearly tracked.
    How? Well, Blockchain systems employ completely audit-able, unforgeable, indelible, and trackable ledger of transactions. An entry can only be made in the ledger if it is validated by the system using an algorithm. In these GDPR days, startups could benefit from incorporating Blockchain into their products and solutions to assure security and privacy.
  3. Easier Global Partnerships and Low Transaction Costs:Blockchain is a technology built with collaboration in mind. Now using Blockchain, startups can propel their growth story by collaborating with offshore partners, and even employing foreign workers. As Blockchain utilizes a global network that is distributed across the world, organizations are no longer restricted by borders to fuel their growth story. Transactions using Blockchain technology also becomes much simpler. There is already the use of smart contracts using Blockchain.
    Here, a 3rd party, also interacting with the registry, validates the transactions. This means startups and SMEs can transact with contractors, employees, and even customers without turning to (or having to pay fees to) the PayPal types. This means that Blockchain transaction costs are negligible.
  4. Disrupting Storage:Decentralized storage also drives constant availability creating a new Cloud paradigm that may be cheaper and easier for startups to access and use. Since this type of decentralized cloud storage is supported by computers and require no manual interventions, there is 24X7 data access and almost zero downtime, without compromising on security.

    PR Newswire estimates the cloud storage market to $88.91 billion by 2022. As the decentralized storage industry is growing rapidly, Blockchain has the potential to completely disrupt both Storage Marketplaces and Storage Infrastructure. While cloud has become central to optimized data storage, 2017 was full of stories of data breaches bringing the issue of third-party dependencies into the light. Blockchain technology gives the cloud the extra edge by giving organizations the capability to centrally manage workloads while the data remains distributed. A number of new startups are utilizing the Blockchain storage marketplace where the “hosts sell their surplus storage capacity and renters purchase this surplus capacity and upload files.”

    Also, as the cost of computing increases incrementally, Blockchain emerges as the leveler for startups. As Blockchain employs pre-existing servers, the decentralized platforms do not need a large investment and thus take the ambiguity out of storage capacities and the associated costs. This cost saving can’t hurt!

  5. Reduce the Cost of Doing Business:Blockchain technology and DLT brings improved efficiencies, business flexibility, and the capability to respond to market changes with speed. Startups can implement automated Blockchain networks to address issues like antiquated infrastructures, manual processes, and pen-and-paper systems, and implement digital systems with ease. I mentioned smart contracts.

    These programmable smart contracts can eliminate bureaucracy and lawyers. Here codes are stored on the Blockchain network and can be executed automatically on meeting certain specific conditions. This eliminates the need for third-party interventions like those in banking transactions or legal agreements. By relying on these algorithms, startups can reduce their cost of doing business by streamlining their end-to-end funnel, the supply chain etc.

Clearly, Blockchain is more than Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technology is accelerating us to a future that is more secure, transparent and fair. It will be interesting to see how the startups leverage this.

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