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Trans Business Testimonial

If key sales systems at Trans Business are unavailable, the company could lose up to US$5 million in potential revenues per day. Dissatisfied with its existing Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform for SAP ERP, Trans Business opted to migrate to SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications with SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension. Since then, the company has enjoyed a perfect availability record, along with substantially improved performance and ease of management.

Overview

Trans Business for Trading and Distribution LLC is the distributor of Philip Morris International tobacco products in Egypt. The company distributes some of the country’s top-selling cigarette brands, including L&M Blue and Red, Marlboro Red and Gold, and Merit.

The Challenge

To keep vendors stocked, the Trans Business salesforce works in the field six days a week from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, generating approximately EGP100 million (US$5 million) in cash sales daily. To book sales and generate invoices, employees use handheld terminals connected directly to the company’s SAP ERP applications. With no manual sales systems to fall back on in the event of a technology outage, Trans Business sets a high premium on the reliability and availability of its core systems.

Ahmed Samy, Head of IT at Trans Business, said: “Although we run both a clustered high-availability environment and a separate disaster-recovery landscape for SAP ERP, on two occasions we nevertheless suffered a complete halt in production caused by an operating system outage—once for a couple of hours, and once for a whole day. This represented up to US$8 million in lost revenue.”

Aiming to protect against future unplanned downtime, Trans Business decided to migrate away from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system that supported its SAP ERP landscape.

“A key advantage of the SUSE operating system is that, unlike the Red Hat offering, it did not require us to buy any add-ons from SAP to create the high-availability environment.”

SUSE Solution

Following recommendations from SAP, Trans Business selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications and migrated from Sybase to SAP HANA for the database layer.

“As we are a very high-revenue company, we depend enormously on our IT resources,” said Ahmed Samy. “We make ongoing investments to ensure we stay up to date on the latest technologies that enhance availability, reliability and performance, including the adoption of best-of-breed solutions like SAP HANA and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.”

Trans Business worked with Master Linux, a regional leader in open source technology, to perform the migrations. Master Linux made use of the saptune utility that ships with the SUSE operating system to perform comprehensive tuning and configuration, ensuring that all deployed SAP systems perform well and work together without problems.

“Master Linux completed the work to a very high standard and helped make the migration process seamless and non-disruptive,” said Ahmed Samy.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications ships pre-tuned for the demands of SAP ERP, and includes bundled HA components that competing vendors sell separately.

“A key advantage of the SUSE operating system is that, unlike the Red Hat offering, it did not require us to buy any add-ons from SAP to create the high availability environment,” said Ahmed Samy. “SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications comes with all of the required HA components, so it’s simple to buy and deploy.”

Since the migration, Trans Business has extensively tested the SUSE system’s failover functionality, and found it to be completely reliable. “Moving to the HA instance is fully automated, and we have successfully tested going back and forth between production and HA on a number of occasions,” said Ahmed Samy. “In general, it’s much easier and more dependable than it was previously with the Red Hat distribution.”

The Results

Migrating from Red Hat Enterprise Linux to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications produced immediate improvements in system performance and availability for Trans Business. The IT team saw a significant reduction in the number of issues flagged in its weekly SAP EarlyWatch Alert reports, and there have been no incidents of unplanned downtime since the switch.

“By migrating to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, we have achieved our primary goal of avoiding costly downtime,” said Ahmed Samy. “We have had zero problems with availability, so our sales teams have been able to work uninterrupted.”

As Trans Business also migrated from a conventional relational database to the columnar, in-memory SAP HANA database, the company achieved substantial performance improvements. For example, a regular business report that previously took two hours to run now completes in a matter of seconds. In other cases, reports that once took six hours to run are now complete in less than one minute.

Ahmed Samy said: “Of course, HANA is a much faster database platform, but I believe the performance improvements we’ve seen are at least 20 percent due to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The environment is easier to manage, and my team is much less dependent on external help to keep the operating system running in optimal condition.”

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Duas Rodas Testimonial

Overview

In 1925, Duas Rodas opened Brazil’s first ever essential oils factory in Jaraguá do Sul. Today, Duas Rodas is one of the largest flavor’s producers in Latin America, operating seven production units and a further seven centers for research. The company serves more than 10,000 clients in the food and beverage industry with a portfolio of over 3,000 products.

The Challenge

After nearly a century of natural oil production, Duas Rodas is one of the most recognized names in the Latin American food industry. With an international network including seven production sites and another seven research centers, keeping track of resources can pose a real challenge.

Willian Rios, Database Administrator at Duas Rodas, explained: “We work primarily in the B2B space, using natural oils to create flavors for the food and beverage industry. Some of our best-selling products are flavors for ice cream and soft drinks, but we have a portfolio of around 3,000 tastes, which we sell to over 10,000 businesses. Keeping track of all that is a daunting task, so it’s crucial we maintain a robust IT infrastructure.”

Rafael Dall’Anese, IT Manager at Duas Rodas, elaborated: “Five years ago, we decided to invest in a new enterprise resource planning system, and selected SAP ERP. We have historically run our enterprise systems on AIX, but we decided that the move to SAP necessitated a change of operating system. We cannot afford any downtime as a company, but we also needed a platform scalable enough to support the business as we continue to grow.”

“SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is the best possible foundation for our SAP environment. We have seen 100% availability following implementation, and SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension has made IT management easier than ever before.” – WILLIAN RIOS | DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR | DUAS RODAS

SUSE Solution

After evaluating the market for enterprise systems, Duas Rodas decided to implement SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, which includes SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension, running on HPE hardware.

“The SUSE solution simply made sense to us,” said Rafael Dall’Anese. “Given the strong alliance between SUSE and SAP, SUSE Linux Enterprise felt like the natural foundation for our new SAP system, unlike our previous AIX solution, and we could benefit from the strength of that partnership.”

“On top of that, SUSE was able to guarantee stability,” added Willian Rios. “With SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension, we knew we could avoid system downtime. The SUSE solution integrated very well with our existing VMware environment, enabling us to seamlessly rotate between servers, and allowing automatic fail-over in the unlikely event of an outage.”

The company had previously been unfamiliar with SUSE technologies, but gained confidence after receiving training from S-SYS Sistemas e Soluções Tecnológicas, SUSE’s official partner for training in Brazil, and the first SUSE solution partner in Latin America.

“We completed S-SYS’s SUSE training course, covering the basics of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and the High Availability Extension,” said Rafael Dall’Anese. “We learned that SUSE’s solution was far more flexible than our legacy AIX system, and the transition was much smoother than we had imagined. The SUSE team also provided excellent support during the implementation process, alongside their hardware partner, Sercompe, and their workload partners, HPE, Integrity, LUME, and Pin Point.

“The 25-year strategic partnership between SUSE and HPE, with both of them collaborating across their product portfolios, gave us confidence in our joint investment in their technologies. They helped assure us that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications was the right choice for Duas Rodas.”

The Results

Since adopting SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, Duas Rodas has experienced consistent system uptime, enabling greater business agility for future commercial expansion.

“SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is the best possible foundation for our SAP environment,” said Willian Rios. “We have seen 100% availability following implementation, and SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension has made IT management easier than ever before.”

The company was also impressed with the clarity and user-friendliness of SUSE’s graphical user interface (GUI).

“SUSE’s GUI has improved system visibility across the board,” said Rafael Dall’Anese. “The stability and flexibility of the SUSE solution gives us room to scale up our IT infrastructure as business expands, making it a sound long-term investment.”

With SUSE technology a dependable part of its IT infrastructure, Duas Rodas is looking deploy further SUSE solutions going forward.

Willian Rios concludes: “We are currently preparing a proof of concept for SUSE Manager, which we expect to begin implementing next year. Overall, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP applications has proven a rock-solid foundation for business operations.”

Source: https://www.suse.com/c/success/duas-rodas/​

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Bosch Group Testimonial

Overview

Bosch Group (Robert Bosch GmbH) is a leading global supplier of technology and services headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. The company offers solutions in four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. Bosch employs more than 400,000 people in 60 countries and reports annual sales of EUR 78.1 billion.

To keep delivering innovative products for an increasingly connected world, Bosch focuses on the Internet of Things (IoT) and develops IoT solutions for smart homes, cities, connected mobility and Industry 4.0.

The Challenge

EMBRACING A CONNECTED FUTURE

Taking advantage of the digital transformation happening across all industries, Bosch wants to build on its high-quality solutions and expand its offerings with new, digital services. Dr. Elmar Pritsch, CIO at Bosch Group says: “The importance of IT solutions in the connected world continues to grow, because they are becoming an essential part of the products and their related services. This is why we have systematically realigned our in-house IT division over the past several months. We used to primarily ensure efficient in-house IT infrastructure, but today, we are focusing more on advancing digital business models created by Bosch.”

GETTING READY FOR CLOSER IT INTEGRATION

With IT playing an ever more important role in Bosch’s business strategy around new digital services, the IT division needed to adapt to new challenges and to gain the ability to offer cutting-edge technology solutions more flexibly. The new online services must be integrated with core business processes and master data stored in ERP systems. To enable this, the IT division had to create the foundations that would allow the company to offer connected solutions that can interact quickly and seamlessly with business applications.

Volker Fischer, Senior Manager Server Services AIX and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications at Bosch Group says: “To support all of our business sectors in developing innovative business models for the future, in integrating their new offerings into existing ERP systems easily and in leveraging advanced new data analytics tools, we needed to refresh our infrastructure with the latest technologies such as the SAP HANA in-memory database. And in preparation for our broader transformation initiative at Bosch, we also needed to improve the scalability of our infrastructure.”

“The SUSE support is second to none—thanks to the close collaboration between SUSE, SAP and IBM, we get quick and comprehensive responses from the support team and can keep our systems running reliably.” – VOLKER FISCHER | SENIOR MANAGER SERVER SERVICES | BOSCH GROUP

SUSE Solution

RUNNING SAP HANA ON IBM POWER SYSTEMS

To streamline IT operations around its core business systems, Bosch runs all SAP applications centrally. This also means that all subsidiaries around the world rely on the availability of the central SAP applications to do their business. Given the growing importance of IT, the company requires reliable processes to ensure business continuity for all systems, including its new SAP HANA databases.

Bosch had already gained practical experience with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications from running 100 such systems for the SAP Business Warehouse Accelerator. When business sectors started asking for SAP HANA, the team decided that it wanted to use IBM Power Systems as a reliable infrastructure platform, which would also align the SAP HANA instances with its main SAP ERP application servers on a common platform. The company looked at the available options and quickly selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on IBM Power Systems.

Volker Fischer explains: “With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications being the leading operating system for SAP HANA, especially on IBM Power Systems, it was not difficult to get all of our internal clients on board. And since we had been using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on x86 servers for many years, we were convinced that the outstanding stability and reliability of this operating system—specifically optimized for SAP software—would help us to expand our service portfolio while keeping the administration workload low.”

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF A TAILORED OPERATING SYSTEM

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications is an operating system created through joint development by SAP and SUSE; validated and certified by SAP across different platforms, including IBM Power Systems. A dedicated SUSE update channel ensures that all patches, fixes and updates have been thoroughly tested to work smoothly with SAP applications to deliver the best possible performance and reliability. In particular, the dedicated update channel helps to eliminate any potential disruptions in service, enabling enterprises to apply patches without concerns about impacting the stability of their most mission-critical systems.

In addition, SUSE has worked with SAP to include a range of optimizations specifically for SAP software. For example, SUSE has developed the Page Cache Management for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications to give users full control of page caching. The page cache limit kernel parameter helps Bosch to run a performance-optimized operating system and keep mission-critical SAP applications fast at all times.

During the simple installation routine, the operating system also applies best-practice performance configurations for SAP HANA systems automatically. SUSE also continuously works to further increase security, including in-memory system security hardening techniques. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications includes a comprehensive security package to protect SAP HANA systems from all kinds of security incidents.

DEPLOYING A COMPLETE SOLUTION

It highlights the capability of SUSE solutions, that although the majority of Bosch’s more than 1,000 SAP systems currently use other operating systems and databases, the company’s 80 SAP HANA databases run exclusively on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on IBM Power Systems. To meet the performance requirements of new services enabled by IoT solutions as well as the growing interest in real-time data processing, more and more divisions at Bosch are starting to look at the SAP HANA in-memory database. Volker Fischer confirms: “At the moment, we have 16 large IBM Power Systems E880 servers running SAP HANA. Using IBM PowerVM virtualization, we run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications and the IBM AIX operating system side by side on the same platform to leverage our management infrastructure and platform knowledge, and to use our resources efficiently.

Thanks to this flexible virtualization solution, Bosch has complete freedom of choice about where to run its SAP HANA databases and can maximize resource utilization. The company can also avoid downtime by moving systems from one physical server to another easily if necessary—for example, during planned server maintenance or hardware infrastructure component upgrades.

Another reason for Bosch’s selection of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications was its seamless integration with SUSE Manager—an IT infrastructure management solution that helps Bosch to keep its servers up to date by streamlining and automating system administration tasks.

To be able to offer its internal clients maximum business continuity when necessary and minimize unplanned downtime, the team also installed SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension, which is included with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications. Based on mature, industry-leading, open-source high-availability clustering technologies, SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension offers easy and fast setup of SAP HANA clusters. It simplifies cluster management and offers a graphical user interface for user-friendly monitoring of the clustered environment. Should a business sector request it, Bosch can now easily deploy a complete high-availability solution for SAP HANA.

The Results

BENEFITING FROM TOP PERFORMANCE AND SUPPORT

By choosing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications to run SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems, Bosch is taking advantage of a successful partnership between three major IT vendors. Volker Fischer remarks: “The SUSE support is second to none—thanks to the close collaboration between SUSE, SAP and IBM, we get quick and comprehensive responses from the support team and can keep our systems running reliably. Furthermore, the inclusion of SUSE Extended Support Pack Overlay Support gives us additional security against critical vulnerabilities and helps us facilitate long-term IT infrastructure planning to increase the stability of our deployments.”

To streamline its server operations, Bosch wanted to deploy SUSE Manager on IBM Power Systems too. Volker Fischer confirms: “It was important for us to run the management solution on the same platform as our SAP HANA databases. SUSE was very flexible and made SUSE Manager available on IBM Power Systems rapidly, helping us to leverage our existing infrastructure.”

 

SAVING TIME WITH INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT

Thanks to the simple user interface and comprehensive set of features, Bosch can automate many routine system administration tasks with SUSE Manager.

Volker Fischer elaborates: “SUSE Manager has had a significant impact on the workload of our administration team. When we started using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, we did not immediately use SUSE Manager. The manual workload to keep our 100 instances updated was immense: one member of our team was almost exclusively working on routine administration and patching tasks. With our move towards SAP HANA, we also implemented SUSE Manager with a single installation that integrates both our physical servers on x86 and our virtualized systems running in logical partitions on IBM Power Systems. Today with SUSE Manager, we have doubled the number of instances but substantially reduced the time needed for the management of the systems, freeing up resources we can use to create additional value for our internal clients and expand our services, instead of just keeping operations running.”

Automating systems management for SAP HANA allows Bosch to decide about the future of its 1,000 SAP systems without limitations, since the existing IT team can easily scale up the operational processes to include many more SAP HANA systems.

GAINING FLEXIBILITY TO OPTIMIZE OPERATIONS

Running SAP HANA with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on IBM Power Systems gives Bosch the flexibility to combine scale-up and scale-out configurations based on the individual business needs. The company runs scaleup environments with up to 8 TB and scale-out solutions with up to five nodes and 5 TB per node.

Bosch has also already evaluated SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching for IBM Power Systems and plans to put it into production soon. Volker Fischer notes: “SUSE were the first to bring Linux live patching to IBM Power Systems. We have tested it with the goal of maximizing availability further and improving business continuity, and we’re planning to start using this brand new, cutting-edge feature in production. It will allow us to apply patches to the Linux kernel without rebooting our systems and keep our applications running smoothly to get even closer to zero-downtime deployments.”

By deploying SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on IBM Power Systems, Bosch has created a stable platform for the future. Volker Fischer concludes: “SUSE has become a very valuable partner to us. Thanks to the close collaboration between SUSE, SAP and IBM, we can now respond quickly to new requirements from the business. Since our strategy is to add more and more digital services and integrate our products with IoT solutions, it is essential that with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on IBM Power Systems, we are ready for these real-time analytics and growth challenges.”

Looking at the broader picture, Dr. Elmar Pritsch states: “IT is an essential part of the products and services of tomorrow. Digital business models require an IT infrastructure that is powerful, scalable, open, and secure at the same time.”

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Making Manila’s ‘Crown Jewel’ a Safe City

Background

In 2003, plans were made to upgrade Bonifacio Global City (BGC), part of a former Philippine Army base near Manila, into a world-class business and residential center. The Bonifacio Global City Estate Association (BGCEA), which provides integrated property management services, began working to transform BGC into Manila’s ‘crown jewel’ and a model for other cities. Today, BGC is a thriving financial and residential district.

“With the rapid growth of BGC as a successful world-class commercial and residential development, we continuously look for ways to improve services for Bonifacio citizens,” said Rodney M. Medrano, Executive Director, BGCEA.

A major goal was to make BGC a safer city.

Challenges

Medrano said one of BGCEA’s first tasks was to ensure that the city had the right infrastructure to manage and maintain security.

Previously, city surveillance consisted primarily of low-definition analog cameras that did not meet safety requirements. Low-resolution surveillance footage lacked the kind of detail needed by law enforcement to carry out successful investigations. For example, car license plates were unreadable. In addition, manual conversion of all videos from analog to digital, coupled with serious storage constraints, meant that the videos could not be kept for very long after conversion.

What’s more, decentralized camera surveillance made it difficult to analyze footage. Poor legacy network infrastructure included limited, but expensive, fiber networks for transferring images.

All these issues severely hampered law enforcement and crime prevention efforts. Giving the city a larger view of public security meant that changes were needed: A new, high-definition surveillance solution had to be centrally connected and managed. Also monitoring points for installed networked cameras needed to be evenly distributed to ensure comprehensive coverage of the city. Finally, these images must be transmitted across varying distances, unblocked by high-rise buildings.

“We wanted to ensure that public safety remained a top priority, and that meant overcoming any issues with the underlying security and network infrastructure,” Medrano said.

Solution

BCG first contacted Huawei in 2014. While competing vendors were considered, none were able to offer Huawei’s comprehensive solution that addressed all the city’s public security concerns.

“We were thoroughly impressed, even at the proof-of-concept stage, “said Bernard Beltran, IT manager, Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation. “Huawei looked into every possible aspect of the issues we presented, and arrived at a set of solutions that left no stone unturned. “

Huawei’s Safe City solution consists of High-Definition (HD) Intelligent IP Cameras strategically located to ensure comprehensive coverage. Huawei’s network design ensured that images could be transmitted across varying distances to the command center without being blocked by high-rise buildings.

Cameras are connected to a central command center by means of a Wi-Fi backhaul network across the city’s major grids. This makes an expensive fiber network unnecessary. Personnel at the command center use video analytics to coordinate camera visuals. Although BCG now uses a microwave backhaul network, it plans to soon change to a more cost-efficient mesh network.

Benefits

  •  24/7 intelligent security surveillance with data analytics detect crime and help manage traffic.
  • Local law enforcement now has an effective platform to help them deter crime in BGC.
  • BGC is considered the safest business and residential township in the Philippines and has set the benchmark for other cities to emulate

BGC was the first Huawei Safe City project in the Philippines. The success of the project led the city to expand the scope (Phase 2) and increase coverage from 70 percent to 100 percent. Phase 3 is now underway, and includes closed parking areas, office space, major shopping areas, and traffic management with video analytics.

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Making realistic game characters: rigging and body deformation

Designing compelling 3D characters for your video game is one thing; making sure they look and behave realistically is another. From leveraging motion capture data and retargeting animation with Maya, to choosing an A-pose over a T-pose during development, Santa Monica Studio went the extra mile to ensure that their characters look, feel, and act real. Here are a few best practices from a GDC 2019 presentation by the studio’s Lead Character Technical Artist, Axel Grossman, for making realistic game characters.

Producing animation with mocap

Use motion capture

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

In getting your characters ready for battle, nothing beats motion capture instead of hand-keying movements. In the case of God of War, MotionBuilder was used for its speed and ability to use real-time camera work. A transfer-rig matching Maya’s coordinates was utilized, allowing for objects baked in MotionBuilder to be imported directly onto nodes in Maya, allowing for scenes to be built in MotionBuilder.

Make use of animation retargeting

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

Animating character cycles one by one? Ain’t nobody got time for that! One tool you can take advantage of to speed up this process is an animation retargeter, which allows you to swap out characters and maintain the same animation cycle.

Striking a realistic pose

Using Pose Space Deformation (PSD) and Radial Basis Functions (RBF)

For your character to feel real, they need to act out the part in each of their movements. Simply choosing an A-pose over a T-pose can have an impact on how realistic your character’s movements are, with A-poses making for a more natural appearance and proper shoulder height. Pose Space Deformation (PSD nodes) uses Radial Basis Functions (RBF) to ensure that poses are properly blended from movement to movement.

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

For the making of God of War at Santa Monica Studios, PSD was used primarily for muscle corrections for Kratos and Baldur, facial fixups and corrections. RBF, on the other hand, is about correcting poses, moving joints around. In the case of God of War, it was used for armor deformation on Kratos and other heavily armored characters, such as The Traveler, some props and environment rigging, and Freya’s hair.

Rigging and body deformation

Remember driver coverage

When it comes to making sure that props and objects in your environment act according to your character’s movements, you’ll want to keep driver coverage in mind. Drivers are basically our way of representing the field on which the poses play. Without proper driver coverage, you can fall out of your pose space and get pops and visual glitches. Using a ROM (range of movement), you can determine all the spaces where something can move.

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

Without proper driver coverage, you risk running into problem areas on your characters.

Build dependencies for body deformation

You’ll want a system or hierarchy in place for body deformation so that all your world space matrices allow for your character to easily call up their poses. This might involve deforming by clavicle first, then humerus, then clavicle and humerus together.

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

Traditional skeletal hierarchies combined with linear skinning lose volume. When it comes to body deformation, keeping your character in its pose space becomes an increasingly greater challenge. Linear skinning can cause things like a peck or deltoid popping out and becoming fat and round when it should be thinning out during a movement of the clavicle.

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

Focus on areas most visible to the camera

When rigging your character, you’ll want to pay extra attention to areas that undergo a high degree of rotation, for example, twisting along bone axes such as the shoulder (where you can get the candy-wrapper effect) and other areas most visible to the camera, like the neck.

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Small and Midsize Companies Find Their Edge with Advanced Analytics

Small and midsize companies are constantly under pressure to differentiate themselves in a highly disruptive environment. Every rival—from one-man startups to large conglomerates—can rewrite the competition playbook forever with one new business model, one breakthrough offering, or one creative process. It doesn’t matter if the industry is mature; the company must create and exploit value immediately to squeeze out every last drop of value from operational efficiency, data-driven insights, and revenue growth.

Small and midsize companies are well-known for pivoting and changing direction with a speed and tenacity that’s difficult for even a multi-million-dollar enterprise with unlimited resources to duplicate. However, this quality leads to significant advantages only when coupled with outcome-oriented, real-time insights made possible by the latest analytics technology.

In the IDC Analyst Connection whitepaper “Analytics for SMBs: Sharpen Operations, Capitalize on Business Opportunities,” sponsored by SAP, Ray Boggs, vice president of small and medium business research at IDC, acknowledged that “business analytics and business intelligence can inform almost every aspect of a growing company’s operations.”

Prime Future Success with Data and Advanced Analytics

Whether its classic performance measurement and financial scrutiny; regular sales, costs, and profit reporting; or HR and workforce measurement, analytics can help identify areas for greater efficiency, untapped revenue generation, process improvement, and employee training. Essentially, businesses have no choice but to add advanced analytics to their digital repertoire. If we take a moment to think about the big brands that have disappeared in recent years, it is clear that their demise was the result of limited or delayed insight on the evolution of customer behavior and market dynamics.

Everything that a small and midsize company does is centered on the customer. For this reason, advanced analytics is a great fit when it comes to dissecting and truly understanding customer needs and shopping patterns with a swift, in-the-moment experience. More important, as most successful companies have shown, the business model must also leverage that information to add value to the customer experience through, for instance, micro-personalized recommendations, content, and campaigns.

A prime example is Snow Peak, an outdoor gear retailer that has grown from a single store in the mountains of Japan to a multinational enterprise with over 100 stores. The company attributes its growth to its commitment to understanding customers and offering products that closely meet their needs. However, Snow Peak realized that its use of Microsoft Excel, an outdated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and handwritten notes were not effective ways to share customer tastes, preferences, and buying histories with other salespeople and event planners. For example, staff may identify the right product for a customer—only to later find that the item is out of stock and miss an opportunity to achieve a sale and make a customer happy.

By adopting predictive analytics in the cloud, Snow Peak centralized, unified, and controlled fragmented information about customers, inventories, and all other aspects of the business and made this data available to executives, salespeople, and other business users in real time. Furthermore, it optimized inventories by coupling supply and demand data and keeping it up to date.

Snow Peak’s decision to scale its customer experience with advanced analytics in the cloud is one of a variety of use cases that can greatly improve the performance of a small and midsize business.

Additional applications that are just as impactful—if not, more—include:

  • Real-time collaboration: Employees, suppliers, partners, and customers can collaborate together with access to in-the-moment, accurate data, which is a critical component of keeping everyone in the value chain engaged and informed
  • Operational optimization: Companies can balance profitability, quality, and cost control with on-the-fly what-if analysis and insight acceleration through machine learning
  • Extended supply chain: Predictive analytics and the Internet of Things provide supply chain operations with the information needed to respond to ever-evolving market expectations while maintaining profitable sales and operations, demand fulfillment, response and supply planning, and inventory optimization
  • Core business processes: Emerging analytics technology—including machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain—can help create a well-skilled, productive workforce; free employees from repetitive, low-value tasks; optimize supplier negotiations; and speed accurate decision making and planning

Even though small and midsize companies have fewer employees, less cash flow, smaller inventory, and less diverse product lines than their larger counterparts, the ability to know everything about themselves and their customers brings an opportunity to stay one step ahead of the competition. But the data is only as good as the business’ ability to capture, process, analyze, communicate, and act on it in a timely, efficient way. By using advanced analytics, small and midsize companies can acquire the skills and mindset needed to turn decision-making processes and strategies into transformational, leading-edge innovation.

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Summer Fun: Data-Driven Guide to Navigating Your Summer

Summer is here and in full summer mode. Whether you’re on vacation or covering for someone on vacation, sit back, relax, and take a moment to see what this summer’s trends are and how they might be impacting your business.

Hot, Hot, Hot Data

Have you found yourself sitting on your porch exclaiming that this is the hottest summer ever?! You would be correct. According to Climate Central the planet has been gradually increasing year after year. In fact, “16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred this century,” reports Climate Central.org.

Get up to speed on your investments in sun umbrellas, swim suits, and pool supplies— the heat is here to stay. It is having an impact on consumer and summer trends that have been changing over the past years.

I Scream for Ice Cream

This heat is warming up markets. We all know the best way to cool down on a hot day is ice cream. It’s not only store sales that are impacted but, the sales of packaged ice cream rose 6.5% in the last year according to dairyfoods.com .

Ice cream isn’t the only industry tied to the sun that is increasing; Sun Care products are also on the rise. According to The Global Industry Analysts, Inc. the Sun Care Products industry is projected to reach $11.1 billion by 2020. Currently the largest market worldwide is Europe. The biggest upcoming markets are Asia Pacific, United States, and Latin America. Latin America has a projected sales growth of 10.2% through 2020.

These are just two industry examples of growing markets. It’s not just about the right market at the right time though, it’s also about how consumers are finding and buying.

Website Traffic Summer Blues?

While road traffic is getting increasingly worse every year (in congested cities it is growing by 15 minutes on the daily commute every year) your website traffic may be slowing down these summer months. With recent retail trends like the Retail Meltdown of 2017, there are a lot of opportunities to act upon with online shopping. More importantly, companies need to make sure they are capitalizing on their approach to mobile shopping. It will have a large impact on purchasing trends moving forward.

Not only are consumers online and mobile driven but also they are more informed. Be ready for customers who do all their prep work before larger purchases online as well as competitive shopping. Gone are the days where poor customer service can be swept under the rug with online reviews. There is increasing importance on product experts to provide product comparisons laid out for consumers.

Summer Job Money

Not all industries have a summer rain cloud over them. Overall consumer product purchases may be down but restaurants and travel are booming.

Hotel occupancy is booming. Domestic airlines have flown more passengers each year since 2010, and last year U.S. airlines set a record, with 823 million passengers. The rise of restaurants is even more dramatic. Since 2005, sales at “food services and drinking places” have grown twice as fast as all other retail spending. In 2016, for the first time ever, Americans spent more money in restaurants and bars than at grocery stores. according to The Atlantic.

We’ll see dramatic shifts moving forward in all industries, for some companies it will be sink or swim.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

On the other side of traffic gridlock issues, there is currently a booming tourism industry, making it important to know this year travel trends. There are seven that TrekkSoft points out for a successful tourism business: Millennials, Active & Adventure Trips, Female Solo Travel, Food Tourism, Responsible Tourism, Mobile Photography, and Business and Leisure Travel (“bleisure”).

Millennials are “officially the largest generation in history, beating out Baby Boomers.” They also have disposable income and love to travel. Expect them to share their opinions on travel online, and to do their travel research online.

Also, expect travel to be driven by how ‘Instagram worthy’ it is. Whether a destination is notable for its natural beauty or hotel beauty, expect popularity to grow through mobile pictures.

Happy summer, safe travels, and stay cool!

3ds-Max-2020

3ds Max 2020.1 Feature Updates

Autodesk 3ds Max 2020.1 is focused on enhancing your workflow by delivering you modernized tools such as keyboard shortcut management and detachable viewports. Plus, building upon our 2020 release chamfer modifier feedback, we have polished and provided an additional update to bring you a more predictable tool.

Detachable Viewports

Enhance your workspace experience by extending your viewports across various monitors.

Watch as 3ds Max team member Ken Larue takes you through the details:

Highlights:

  • Leverage multi-monitor set-up and float up to three additional viewport panels across multiple monitors
  • Each viewport panel can be separately configured

Updated default keyboard shortcuts and improved hotkey management

Easily customize, merge, and visualize shortcuts keys with a new hotkey system and hotkey editor tool.

Watch as 3ds Max team member Brent Scannell takes you through the details:

Highlights:

  • New Hotkey Editor tool replaces the Keyboard tab in the Customize User Interface dialog
  • Search for action by keywords or by current hotkey assignments
  • Clear current assignments and conflicts with undo history
  • Filter actions by current customization status, and by groups
  • Migrate legacy keyboard shortcut files without missing out on updates to the defaults
  • User hotkey settings are saved separately from defaults in a dedicated and accessible User Settings folder
  • Configuration selector allows easy and quick switching between hotkey sets

Chamfer modifier improvement

Building upon our 2020 Update users’ feedback, receive even more efficient and predictable modeling options.

Watch as 3ds Max team member Martin Coven takes you through the details:

Highlights:

  • By Weight chamfer type provides absolute weight on an edge, altering the shape of the mitered corners
  • Scale spinner globally multiplies the Weight values in the scale amount
  • Crease Weight averages between connecting edges provide a varying width over a span of edges
  • Depth Weighting allows control on a per-edge basis
  • Depth Type combobox features Fixed and By Weight which hides the modifiers spinner and fetches per-edge depth values from the mesh channel.
  • Depth spinner has been added to Edit/able Poly in the Edit Edges Rollout under Crease and Ribbon in the Edge Panel.
  • Radius Bias will alter shape of the chamfer in areas where there are acute corners, making them more uniform.
  • Spinner blends the chamfer size to the radius amount to handle sharp corners.

Additional Improvements

New Double-click selection allows you to be efficient and faster while modeling.

– Support added for EditablePoly, EditPoly modifier, EditableSpline and EditSpline modifier.​​

– Works with Unwrap UVW in both UV Editor and 3d viewports.​

– Includes modifier hotkeys to add selection or subtract selection and works in Maya Interaction mode​

– Objects to select all contiguous faces, verts, segments, etc.

Command Panel Improvements allow you to switch between different Edit Poly modes 70% faster

– Autocomplete for MAXScript is on by default in the MAXScript editor and works out-of-the-box.

– The new generateAPIList <stringstream> MAXScript API makes it easier to enable
autocomplete for MAXScript in 3rd party editors.

analytic-trends-2019

Top 10 Analytics Trends for 2019

2019 is the year that analytics technology starts delivering what users have been dreaming about for over forty years — easy, natural access to reliable business information.

1. Machine learning everywhere. We’ve reached the third great wave of analytics, after semantic-layer business intelligence platforms in the 90s and data discovery in the 2000s. Augmented analytics platforms based on cloud technology and machine learning are breaking down the longest-standing barriers to analytics success. They bring insights to users rather than forcing users to unearth elusive trends, and provide more intuitive interfaces that make it easier to get the data people need to do their jobs.

2. Embedded analytics accelerates. The historical line between operational applications and analytics continues to blur. Thanks to advances in machine learning, prescriptive “intelligent applications” have become a reality. These data-driven, self-learning business processes improve automatically over time and as people use them.

3. Cloud analytics adoption skyrockets. Cloud brings agility and faster innovation to analytics. As business applications move to the cloud, and external data becomes more important, cloud analytics becomes a natural part of enterprise architectures.

The advantages are particularly important for smaller organizations: the cloud offers affordable, on-demand access to analytical and data processing power that was previously reserved for much larger organizations with dedicated analytics teams.

However, some data will never move to the cloud — a nuanced approach is required, leveraging existing analytics investments while moving to hybrid on-premise / cloud analytics architectures.

4. Better user experience drives greater adoption. Advances in speech and text recognition mean users can finally ask business questions using everyday language. AI-assisted data discovery can automatically mine data for insights and propose appropriate views of what’s new, exceptional, or different.

Chat bots and personal assistants provide seamless access to the basic numbers used to run the business. And using real-time systems as a foundation, managers finally get dashboards with all the information they need to run every aspect of the business, in real time, at their fingertips.

5. Compliance drives true data platform adoption, supported by more flexible data management. As it has been for the last forty years, data collection, preparation, and standardization remain the most challenging aspects of analytics. The rise of compliance and privacy concerns are driving the adoption of more standardized approaches — for example, reducing the attractiveness of data discovery architectures that extract and manipulate data separately from core systems.

Real-time processing, data catalogues and new “data orchestration” systems allow organizations to retain a coherent view of data across the organization without having to physically store it in a single place.

6. Data literacy will continue to be a big problem. The biggest barrier to analytics success has never been technology. Giving somebody the best pencil in the world will not make them Picasso.

Analytics culture, skills, and organization continue to be the biggest barriers to turning information into lower costs or increased profits. Organizations must invest as much time and money in analytic skills and incentives as they do in technology.

7. There will be an increasing number of AI fails. Like any powerful technology, AI brings new dangers. Algorithms are sociopaths: they have no knowledge of what they are doing. AI brings amazing opportunities for improved productivity and augmented human intelligence. But it magnifies any existing problems with data quality and data bias and poses unprecedented challenges to privacy and ethics.

Comprehensive governance and data transparency policies are essential. Sadly, things will probably get worse before they get better — organizations must implement ethics processes, councils and external advisors before high-profile disasters hit the headlines.

8. End-to-end decision-making platforms emerge. Analytics has traditionally only paid attention to a small part of the end-to-end “data journey.” Information and insight is useless unless something actually changes in the business.

More holistic, end-to-end approaches to analytics are emerging, not only because of the combination of operations with analytics, but also with more proactive and seamless approaches to converting user analysis into concrete actions. This depends fundamentally on human judgement, consensus, and creativity, but it must be supported by better integration between analytics, traditional business planning activities, and social collaboration platforms.

9. AI and machine learning makes analytics more human. More powerful augmented analytics will eliminate a lot of the work around collecting and processing data, and identifying areas for further investigation. But ultimately people are the most important “technology” required to turn data into business improvement.

In an era where basic decisions can be increasingly automated, more strategic choices rely on uniquely human skills such as creativity, understanding of context, and leadership.

10. New experience analytics. Understanding and optimizing the customer experience is the bedrock of successful digital transformation. Traditional analytics focused on structured data flowing from operational systems. Newer analytic platforms have blended more unstructured data such as text, images, and raw sensor readings into analytic workflows.

The next step is to expand analytics to both operational data and “experience data” — the unique, subjective experiences of individuals as they interact with products, brands, and internal business processes.

Looking forward to 2020 and beyond. With ever-more devices capturing more nuanced data, with technology capabilities accelerating, and powerful machine learning still in its infancy, analytics is poised for a new golden age.

benefits-of-sms-2

TechTips: Benefits of Using SMS for Business Use!

  1. No need to install any apps to send and receive messages.
  2. It can reach all mobile users worldwide, independent of the Wi-Fi and telco provider.
  3. More reliable because no data connectivity is required for instant delivery.
  4. More secure due to spam filtering mechanism put in place by telco operators.
  5. Security passwords are sent via SMS OTP for e-commerce or online backing.
  6. Businesses still prefer SMS over consumer messaging apps.*

Why choose sendQuick?

  • Easy to deploy Plug & Play appliance.
  • Real-time Out-of-band delivery (SMS is sent via SIM card obtained from local Telco).
  • Automated Escalation with 2-way SMS.
  • API integration to any application.
  • User web interface for broadcast messaging.
  • Send messages instantly via SMS, Emails and Instant messenger apps such as Facebook, WeChat, Viber, LINE, Slack, and Telegram.