US-based DigitalOcean launches contest to identify student developers

Nov 2, 2016 0

Bengaluru–The US-based cloud infrastructure provider DigitalOcean on Wednesday launched new contest “Campus Shark” to identify promising student developers across the country.

The competition will run in association with Incubatehub, a community engagement and mobilisation platform, and is open to all college students irrespective of their branch or specialisation.

Students can register on to participate in the contest starting Wednesday.

“At DigitalOcean, we love to nurture developers and startups and students are an integral component of these ecosystems,” said Prabhakar Jayakumar, Country Manager, DigitalOcean, in a statement.

The phase one of contest which will end on November 13, requires students to provide a brief write up on the product idea and its potential utility and impact on the community.

Shortlisted students from phase one will build a prototype of their idea in phase two. The prototypes will be evaluated based on the ingenuity and scalability of the proposed solution.

The winners of the contest will be recognised as a Campus Shark and will be rewarded with attractive cash prizes, the company said.(IANS)

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US cracks down on India-based multi-million dollar scam targeting Americans

Oct 29, 2016 0

New York– US authorities have arrested 20 people and charged 32 others in an India-based scam that allegedly extorted hundreds of millions of dollars from Americans and brought shame to India and Indians with persistent, threatening calls to millions of persons here.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell announced the crackdown Thursday, declaring: “The arrests we made today demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to identifying and prosecuting the individuals behind these impersonation and telefraud schemes, who seek to profit by exploiting some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

Twenty people were arrested and 61 were charged in connection with an India-based multi-million-dollar scam that targeted individuals in the United States. The crackdown was announced by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (Credit: US Dept. of Justice/IANS)

Twenty people were arrested and 61 were charged in connection with an India-based multi-million-dollar scam that targeted individuals in the United States. The crackdown was announced by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (Credit: US Dept. of Justice/IANS)

She said that the US would ask New Delhi to extradite those in India who were charged.

Five Indian call centres were also charged in connection with the alleged scam.

Several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies carried out the arrests across Alabama, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas.

According to media reports, $300 million was allegedly extorted from about 15,000 people.

Officials did not name the people arrested.

Authorities said in a chargesheet filed in a Texas federal court that “the sophisticated fraudulent scheme organised by conspirators in India, including a network of call centres in Ahmedabad” phoned individuals in America and pretending to be tax officials told them that they would be arrested if they did not immediately pay what they claimed were tax arrears or penalties.

Those who fell for the scam were asked to buy prepaid credit cards or gift vouchers and hand them over to their associates in the US.

The US-based associates then transferred the money to India through hawala, according to the chargesheet.

A New York-based IANS correspondent has received these threatening calls almost every week from people with heavy Indian accents or a flimsy attempt to imitate an American accent.

India was risking increasingly becoming identified in popular perception with call centre fraud.

These calls to millions of Americans have have been documented on websites tracking fraudulent calls and made people question the integrity of India-based back office and call centre operations, threatening the future of the multi-billion dollar Indian industry.

Officials gave two examples of vulnerable people who fell victims to the scam.

“One of the call centres extorted $12,300 from an 85-year-old victim from San Diego, California, after threatening her with arrest if she did not pay fictitious tax violations,” they said in the chargesheet.

In another case, the chargesheet said they “extorted $136,000 from a victim in Hayward, California, who they called multiple times over a period of 20 days, fraudulently purporting to be IRS agents and demanding payment for alleged tax violations”.

Another scam the alleged criminals operated was offering people small loans or grants and asking them to make an upfront payment. The money was pocketed and the victims did not receive the promised loans or grants, officials said.

The latest action in the US was not related to arrests of about 70 people by Indian authorities earlier this month for alleged involvement in similar tax-related scams targeting Americans.

That action involved three call centres in the Mumbai area and several hundred people working there were detained for investigation.

In May, US authorities arrested five people in Florida who allegedly extorted about $2 million from over 1,500 people in a similar scam. (IANS)

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IBM to acquire Bengaluru-based Sanovi Technologies

Oct 27, 2016 0

Martin Jetter (Photo: LinkedIn

Bengaluru– In a bid to expand “Disaster Recovery” services for Hybrid Cloud, software giant IBM on Thursday signed a definitive agreement to acquire Bengaluru-based Sanovi Technologies.

Sanovi Technologies provides Hybrid Cloud recovery, Cloud migration and business continuity software for enterprise data centres and Cloud infrastructure.

Adding these capabilities along with advanced analytics will better enable IBM to bolster its Software Defined Resiliency strategy and delivery of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services for clients undergoing digital and hybrid Cloud transformation, the company said in a statment.

IBM plans to integrate the Sanovi capabilities into the IBM Global Technology Services unit by the end of 2016.

“As a Cloud-native company, Sanovi will strengthen our resiliency portfolio to manage the broad range of applications, data, and IT systems of our clients balancing digital and hybrid Cloud transformation with increased regulatory compliance,” said Martin Jetter, Senior Vice President, Global Technology Services, IBM.

Hybrid Cloud solutions are turning out to be the preferred choice for enterprises in India for an enhanced efficiency, productivity and cyber security.

A Hybrid Cloud is an integrated Cloud service utilising both private and public Clouds to perform distinct functions within the same organisation.

With Sanovi’s software, IBM will further empower clients to redefine their disaster recovery strategy in the face of unprecedented industry change.

“Together, we will provide next-generation resiliency solutions for robust hybrid Cloud deployments across the globe,” added Chandra Sekhar Pulamarasetti, Co-Founder and CEO, Sanovi.

The financial details of the deal are yet to be disclosed.

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Sun Pharma to acquire US-based Ocular Technologies

Oct 27, 2016 0

Chennai– Indian drug major Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd has entered into definitive agreements by its wholly owned subsidiary to acquire Ocular Technologies, Sarl (OTS), the company said.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Sun Pharma said OTS was a portfolio company of Auven Therapeutics (Auven), an international private equity firm focused on accelerated development of breakthrough therapeutic drugs.

Sun Pharma will pay Auven $40 million upfront, plus contingent development milestones and sales milestones as well as tiered royalty on sales of Seciera as consideration for this acquisition.

Dilip Shanghvi

Dilip Shanghvi

OTS owns exclusive, worldwide rights to Seciera (cyclosporine A, 0.09 per cent ophthalmic solution).

Seciera is currently in a Phase-3 confirmatory clinical trial for the treatment of Dry Eye Disease, an inflammatory ocular disease affecting approximately 16 million people in the US alone.

Seciera is a patented, novel, proprietary formulation of cyclosporine A 0.09 per cent.

“This potential acquisition signifies continued momentum in enhancing our global branded specialty portfolio,” Dilip Shanghvi, Managing Director, Sun Pharma, was quoted as saying in the statement.

“Coupled with our existing pipeline consisting of BromSite, DexaSite and Xelpros, this initiative will enable Sun Pharma to significantly expand its ophthalmic presence and reach millions of patients globally,” he said.

The transaction is subject to approval of the US Federal Trade Commission as required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and other closing conditions and is expected to be completed by end of 2016. (IANS)

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Cloud firm VMware to soon have broader coverage in India

Oct 25, 2016 0

By Sourabh Kulesh

Mumbai– Armed with next-Gen products in Hybrid Cloud to give customers an optimum software-defined data centre (SDDC) experience, VMware will soon have a much broader coverage in India, a top executive of the company — a leader in cloud infrastructure and mobility — said here on Tuesday.

“VMware has been a very strong player in the enterprise space. We have covered the small and medium businesses (SMBs) market strategically and for us. It is not only tier I cities as we wish to cover tier II and tier III cities as well,” Arun Kumar Parameswaran, Managing Director of VMware India, told IANS on the sidelines of the annual “vFORUM 2016” event here.

Pat Gelsinger

Pat Gelsinger

When asked about the Dell-VMware alignment and leveraging Dell’s sound penetration into India’s SMB market, Parameswaran said: “As per a recent International Data Corporation (IDC) report, we have seen a lot of activity in terms of server and PC shipments in India. Dell has been a good partner for us. With our new products and technologies, you will soon see a much broader coverage in India.”

According to Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, the company has good collaboration with Dell-EMC and they have committed to accelerate VMware’s revenue to billions of dollars.

The California-based company registered $6.6 billion revenue last year and has more than 500,000 customers and 75,000 partners.

In the second quarter of 2016, VMware made announcements to further innovate its business mobility strategy and product offerings, including a new end-point security solution powered by Tanium — “VMware TrustPoint” — that delivers an integrated solution for unified endpoint management and security.

While talking about Cloud adoption in India, Gelsinger said that across the world, the virtualisation is over 80 per cent and in India, it is 30 per cent.

“India has been a backbone of cheap and good professional labour for IT globally and as a result, the country has not necessarily embraced the virtualisation as aggressively as others in the world have. The labour has been at the core of building SI infrastructure in India. That approach no longer remains as costs continue to rise with increase in customer expectation. So they cannot provide it anymore manually,” Gelsinger explained.

“Now, we have seen the IT sector moving forward in India. I think India is realising technologies which are helpful for their transformation,” he added.

Commenting on the “Digital India” initiative, Gelsinger said that VMware business has been growing steadily in India and the company is building fruitful relationships.

In April 2015, VMware inaugurated its campus in Bengaluru with a $120 million investment. The 438,000 square feet facility in South Bengaluru plays a strategic role in VMware’s global growth strategy for the mobile Cloud era.

“This is in line with the company’s commitment to invest $500 million in India by 2017,” the company said.

VMware India, which employs over 4,000 employees and serves about 4,000 customers in the country, is second in size in R&D and support operations to those at VMware’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

VMware’s presence in India has expanded to six locations, including R&D centres in Bengaluru and Pune.

VMware and Amazon Web Service (AWS) recently announced a new Hybrid Cloud service, “VMware Cloud on AWS” that makes it easier for customers to run applications in a consistent hybrid environment using a common set of familiar software and tools.

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Wipro buys US-based cloud services firm for $500 million

Oct 21, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Software major Wipro Ltd on Thursday announced that it had acquired Appirio, a US-based cloud services firm, for $500 million (Rs 3,340 crore).

“Appirio’s acquisition will create one of the world’s largest cloud transformation practices, a game changer in as-a-service and digital economy,” said the IT firm in a statement here ahead of its second quarter (July-September) results on Friday.

Abidali Z. Neemuchwala

Abidali Z. Neemuchwala

With 1,250 employees and offices at Dublin in Ireland, London in Britain, Jaipur in India and Tokyo in Japan, the Indianpolis headquartered Appirio is a partner to leading global brands, including Stryker, Robert Half, Johnson Controls, Cardinal Health, Coca-Cola, eBay, Facebook, Home Depot, and Sony PlayStation.

Appirio also brings to Wipro, Topcoder, a leading crowd-sourcing marketplace connecting over a million designers, developers and data scientists the world over with customers.

“In a digital world, as consumer behaviour and expectations are reshaped by experiences, companies are recognising the need to transform how they engage with customers and employees by leveraging the power of cloud,” said Wipro Chief Executive Abidali Z. Neemuchwala on the occasion.

The merger will also unlock transformation synergies in the applications space and help enterprises create new business models.

The buyout will also enable Wipro to consolidate its cloud applications practices of Salesforce and Workday under the Appirio brand and structure.

Appirio’s Chief Executive Chris Barbin will lead the expanded business.

“When you combine Wipro’s global scale and digital focus with our transformative worker and customer experience expertise, you create a formidable force in the industry,” said asserted Barbin in the statement.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the acquisition is expected to be closed in the current (third) quarter ending December 31.

William Blair & Company acted as financial advisor to Appirio for the deal.

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Microsoft opens Cybersecurity Engagement Center in India

Oct 21, 2016 0

New Delhi–At a time when governments the world over are struggling to tackle cyber attacks and data breach, technology giant Microsoft India on Friday launched a full-scale Cybersecurity Engagement Centre (CSEC) in India.

After a successful year-long pilot – – the centre is India’s first and Microsoft’s seventh Cybersecurity Centre globally — opened at a juncture when over three million debit cards of various banks are believed to be ‘tainted’ following a suspected security breach in the country.

“We believe security of critical information is imperative for our corporate customers, just as it is vital to ensure security and privacy of citizen data and transactions. Our first investment towards this was setting up our local data centres in India and the Cybersecurity Engagement Center is the second,” Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India, told reporters here.

Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India (right) with Anant Maheshwari, President Microsoft India at the launch of the Cyber Security Engagement Centre in New Delhi.

Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India (right) with Anant Maheshwari, President Microsoft India at the launch of the Cyber Security Engagement Centre in New Delhi.

While answering a question regarding the existing cyber laws in India, Pramanik told IANS: “The Indian cyberlaws are stringent and there is a need to educate corporates about Microsoft’s three-pronged approach of comprehensive platform, unique intelligence and partnerships”.

Microsoft’s strategy is to provide protection across all end-points — from sensors to the data centre, detection of attack using targeted signals, behavioural monitoring and machine learning – and eventually closing the gap between discovery and action taken to neutralise the attack.

According to the leading software security group Kaspersky Lab, India is among the top five countries in the world to be attacked by ransomware — malware that forces its victims to pay a ransom through certain online payment methods to regain their data.

In the last 12 months, Microsoft’s cybersecurity management team met with over 100 organisations in the country to understand what plagued them.

“The team observed three common IT issues plaguing them that include unmanaged and unregulated IT assets usage, procurement and maintenance, poor knowledge of cyber hygiene among users withing organisations and inability of companies to timely monitor, detect and remove cyber threats,” the company said.

The CSEC will bring together Microsoft and its partners to identify and respond to cyber threats in the country.

“As governments and enterprise embrace digital transformation and strive for resilience, a holistic and agile security platform is ever more critical. This is where Microsoft’s unique threat intelligence innovations and trusted cloud ecosystem offer them powerful protection against security threats,” added Madhu Khatri, Associate General Counsel of Microsoft India.

In addition to enabling and empowering enterprises to manage modern security threats effectively, the CSEC aims to expand Microsoft’s public-private partnerships in India.

The centre will also enable customers tap into a pool of resources such as security specialists and technologies at Microsoft.

As part of Microsoft Consultancy Services (MCS), a dedicated India-based response team will offer security consultancy services to enterprise customers.

Microsoft has also rolled out Microsoft Secure, a nationwide campaign to increase awareness on cybersecurity to help organisations understand their security requirements better.

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HCL buys US-based aerospace firm for $85 million

Oct 21, 2016 0

New Delhi–Indian software firm HCL Technologies Ltd on Friday announced acquiring US-based Butler America Aerospace for $85 million to strengthen its position in aerospace and defence engineering services space.

“The acquisition of Butler will bolster our capabilities in aerospace and give access to clients with large research and development spends,” said the IT services firm in a statement here.

C. Vijayakumar

C. Vijayakumar

The buy out, however, will exclude Butler’s staffing business.

With 900 engineers and seven design centres across the US, Butler has marquee clients in the aerospace and defence industries and works with manufacturers and their suppliers in America.

“Butler provides engineering and design services to aerospace and defence industries in the areas of mechanical and structural design, electrical design, tool design and aftermarket engineering services,” noted the statement.

Butler had posted $85.4 million revenue for the calendar year ending December 31, 2015 with 12.2 per cent operating margin.

The acquisition will be completed by December 31 after regulatory approvals.

In a related development, the Noida-based outsourcing firm appointed C. Vijayakumar as its Chief Executive Officer with effect from Friday in place of Anant Gupta.

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India again urges US to facilitate movement of Indian professionals

Oct 20, 2016 0

New Delhi–With the lack of a Totalisation Agreement continuing to hamper movement of Indian professionals and experts to the US, India on Thursday reiterated its call to the US to engage in negotiations for signing such a pact.

“We very clearly identified this as one of the non-tariff measures restricting the movement of IT professionals. We have strongly urged the US to engage in negotiations for signing of a Totalisation Agreement (Social Security agreement),” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.



She said this after a delegation-level meeting with US Trade Representative Michael Froman as part of the 10th India-US Trade Policy Forum.

“It is being heard and I hope there will be a positive response from their side,” she said.

“The two countries acknowledged the ongoing discussions on totalisation and resolved to continue their engagement on the elements required in both countries in order to pursue a bilateral Totalisation Agreement,” a joint statement after the meeting here said.

A Totalisation Agreement, which allows avoidance of double taxation, permits professionals of both the countries to be exempted from social security taxes when they go to work for a short period in the other country.

On the issue of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), which has been a major bone of contention between the two countries, Sitharaman said a lot of efforts were being made to dispel the misconceptions of the US delegation about the Indian patent regime.

“Both countries emphasised the role of robust and balanced IPR protection in fostering creativity, promoting innovation, and attracting investment, taking into account the interests of all stakeholders, including the public,” the statement said.

Regarding compulsory licencing (CL), which the US feels should only be used in the rarest of circumstances and not as a matter of course, Sitharaman said India reminded the American delegation that so far it has issued only one CL and after following a due process.

A CL is used in case of a public health emergency to make available an expensive patented drug.

Sithraman said the Indian side raised matters related to greater market access for agricultural goods like grapes and mangoes and pharmaceutical products.

“We find that in the US administration new laws are brought up and new rules are made and they have different impact on our trading, particularly I am referring to in the case of food and drugs,” the Union Minister said.

On the question on investments, the joint statement said: “Both sides agreed that creating a transparent, predictable and open business environment that reduces administrative burden and protects innovation is essential for attracting investment, promoting manufacturing activity.”

TPF is the bilateral forum for discussion and resolution of trade and investment issues between the two countries. It has five focus groups: agriculture, investment, innovation and creativity (intellectual property rights), services, and tariff and non-tariff barriers.

Delivering a talk here later on Thursday, Froman said that certain areas in the Indian economy like retail and financial services needed further opening up.

“There needs to be continued work on improving the business environment if India is going to attract the kind of investment – domestic and foreign – to meet its aspirations,” Froman said while delivering a talk on Indo-US trade relations at the University of Chicago Centre.

“Liberalising the retail, financial services and professional services sectors would help create an open, non-discriminatory and predictable regime that enhances the development of those markets,” he said.

India-US bilateral trade was worth $109 billion in 2015-16. (IANS)

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Telangana inks MoU with Illinois for cooperation in various fields

Oct 18, 2016 0

Hyderabad–Telangana and Illinois in the United States on Monday signed an MoU for cooperation in various fields, including smart state solutions, e-governance, entrepreneurship, innovation, business incubators, job creation and best practices.

Under the smart state solutions, Illinois will introduce “Array of Things” sensors for monitoring air pollution in Telangana.

Telangana’s Principal Secretary (Industries and Commerce) Arvind Kumar signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Chicago with Hardik Bhatt, Secretary of Innovation and Technology and State Chief Information Officer of Illinois.

State Minister for Industries and Commerce and Information Technology K.T. Rama Rao and Consulate General of India in Chicago Ausaf Sayeed were present on the occasion.

The two states will share best practices, tools and processes for disaster and emergency management, data management, data analytics, open data and Intelligent Transportation Systems, according to a statement from the minister’s office here.

Rama Rao is on the second leg of his business visit to the US to promote Telangana as an investments destination.

The MoU aims to promote entrepreneurship in both the states by facilitating interaction between entrepreneurs and holding hackathons for high citizen impact applications.

Under the agreement, the two states will also work to establish UI Labs, an innovation accelerator, in Telangana and to replicate innovation labs in Telangana back in Illinois.

It also aims to promote innovation in the industry of Illinois and Telangana. (IANS)

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