Join us for the Hour Of Code

Computers are everywhere, but fewer schools teach computer science than 10 years ago. Girls and minorities are severely underrepresented. Good news is, we’re on our way to change this.
The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 40 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104.

With the Hour of Code, computer science has been on homepages of Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Disney. Over 100 partners joined together to support this movement. Last year, every Apple Store in the world hosted an Hour of Code and even President Obama wrote his first line of code as part of the campaign.

This year CTR is excited to host the Hour of Code event at our head office in Irvine. Our theme this year is girl power! aimed at encouraging & introducing young girls in our local community to technology & computational thinking.
Why computer science?
Every 21st-century student should have the opportunity to take part in creating technology that’s changing our world. The basics help nurture creativity and problem-solving skills, and prepare students for any future career. But most schools still don’t teach computer science.

The Hour of Code, is organized by the nonprofit Code.org and over 100 others, Join us for the largest learning event in history.

Enabling Secure,Fast & Cost Effective Data Transfers To The Cloud.

As we work with our customers with their cloud adoption and expansion, getting on-premise data to the cloud in a fast, secure and a cost effective way has been one of our key focus areas.

Early this week our cloud partner AWS announced a couple of new services & enhancements that help customers move their data from on premise to the cloud in a fast and an efficient manner.We took these for a test drive and are excited to bring it you.

Starting with S3 Transfer acceleration – In addition to directly uploading your data to an S3 endpoint location, it is now possible to use an edge location as a bridge before uploading your data S3. Since the number of edge locations are significantly more and the possibility of a edge location being closer to you than the actual S3 location is higher, the data transfer acceleration is natural. The S3 transfer acceleration is a bucket specific feature.

Enabling S3 transfer acceleration is easy via the AWS console. You can find this new option under the bucket properties section in S3. Just click on the enable button to enable / suspend transfer acceleration.

It is important to note here that transfer acceleration is useful only in cases where you are closer to an edge location than the actual availability zone where your S3 bucket resides. You can check this by using a neat utility that will check your transfer speed to S3 using transfer acceleration (edge location) and without it, i.e. directly to S3. You can find a link to the tool also under the bucket properties section.

Once transfer acceleration is enabled you will get a new endpoint to use for s3 transfers using edge locations, similar to the one below

ctrworld-public.s3-accelerate.amazonaws.com

We can use this new endpoint for faster data transfers to S3, however there will be an additional charge for this.

You can also continue to use your previous endpoint of your bucket for regular S3 transfers.

http://ctrworld-public.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com

AWS Snowball – During the re:Invent last year AWS introduced it’s snowball appliance service, to help streamline the use of hard disk based disk transfers. It allowed customers to rent out a secure hard disk from AWS and use it for data transfer rather than purchasing a compatible hard disk. This year, snowball is available in even more regions and with larger configurations. We strongly encourage our customers to use snowball for large volume data transfers.

Architecting for Cloud Security: Bastion Hosts

When it comes to cloud security there are a number of concerns that come up. These can be broadly classified into two categories. The security threats faced by the customers who have their applications and data on the cloud and the threats faced by the cloud vendors. The later is beyond the control our control and most cloud providers today go through a rigorous compliance and certification process to address these. As such cloud security is almost always a shared responsibility between the cloud vendor and the customer.

This post is the the first part on our series focusing on cloud security from a customer perspective where we cover secure access. More specifically we will look at a effective way to tighten the access to your resources on the cloud.

Bastion Hosts – A bastion host is an instance that resides within a public subnet or DMZ within your cloud network. These are typically accessed using SSH or RDP. Once you connect to your bastion host, the bastion host then establishes secure connectivity to other other instances with your private network.

In order for the bastion hosts to provide an effective security layer we need to properly configure the security groups and Network ACLs. In a typical scenario a bastion host acts as a bridge to allow you a secure access path to other instances within your private subnet. The image above is a representation of a bastion host architecture.

Private Keys and SSH Forwarding – By default, Linux instances in EC2 use SSH key files for authentication instead of SSH usernames and passwords. We strongly recommend our customers to use key pairs as they can reduce the chance of hackers trying to guess the username and passwords. This however, presents a challenge with bastion hosts as the private keys are typically stored on the client laptops securely and are needed to access the instances over ssh. It would not be a prudent solution to transfer these keys to the bastion hosts either.

One solution would be to enable ssh forwarding. This will allow the ssh keys to be transfer to the bastion hosts and from there on be used to login to the remote machines.

Most ssh clients have the ssh forwarding enabled by default. Before you can use that, you will need to add your private keys to your ssh agent as below

Adding private keys to your SSH agent

myMBP:~ samx18$ ssh-add -k MyCTREC2Key.pem

You can list the keys that are add to your agent as below

myMBP:~ samx18$ ssh-add -l 2048 41:f7:54:7d:41:26:99:26:b0:3c:09:62:6a:3d:70:42 /Users/XXXXXXXXXX/MyOregonEC2Key.pem (RSA) 2048 e2:bb:2c:6a:69:0f:93:09:43:83:f7:f8:2a:36:89:52 /Users/XXXXXXXXXX/MyCTREC2Key.pem (RSA) 2048 cd:9e:1f:99:a2:c1:9a:e0:5d:80:11:c1:0e:65:9a:79 /Users/XXXXXXXXXX/SamOregonEC2.pem (RSA) 2048 e6:d6:78:13:2e:6b:e0:e5:3f:83:f6:f8:c7:54:c3:d7 /Users/XXXXXXXXXX/RealEBSKey.pem (RSA)

Now you can use the -A option to forward your keys to the bastion hosts

myMBP:~ samx18$ ssh –A ec2-user@<bastion-IP-address>

Once connectivity is established to the bastion host, you can ssh to the instances within your private network via a simple ssh as below

ssh ec2-user@<IP-private-subnet-instance>

The ssh-agent will automatically cycle through all the keys available in its key chain including the one that was forwarded to it from your laptop until it finds a match with with it can log on to the instance.

Lastly as with everything else in your architecture, make sure you build in redundancy for your bastion hosts to ensure that you do not lose access to your instances in case you lose the bastion host.

Reduce your AWS Costs by up to 30%

CTR AWS Scheduler

CTR’s AWS scheduling toolkit lets you manage, optimize and govern your AWS Cloud resources from a single place and reduce your AWS costs by up to 30%.

Why a scheduler ?

Optimize – Setup a schedule according to your business needs and the scheduler will manage your startup, shutdown and other maintenance tasks.
Govern – Quickly deploy a governance policy across your cloud deployments as you would do with your on premise infrastructure.
Simple – Easy to setup and scale according to your needs.
Secure – Uses standard AWS encryption and IAM roles. No credentials, access keys or tokens shared or stored.
Compatible – Out of box integration with all supported AWS resources and regions.

CTR AWS Specializations

Managed Cloud Services
Round the clock managed services let you focus on your business while we take care of the cloud operations.
Cloud Adoption
Deep dive into your business goal, design and build the right cloud solution for your organization.
Cloud DevOps
Continuous integration using tools like Chef, Puppet, AWS CloudFormation, Beanstalk, and OpWorks.
Compliance
Cloud based solutions that meet HIPAA, PCI and ITAR requirements on AWS.
High Availability
Build cost-effective, highly-available and durable cloud solutions on AWS Infrastructure.

Case Study: Operational Efficiency Gains from WMS

A large mid-western manufacturer of electrical products for commercial, industrial, hazardous and adverse environments has extended Oracle WMS to gain significant efficiencies in its warehouses. Stretching back as far as the early 1800s, this company has been an industry leader and their brands are known for their durability, safety, quality, easy installation and  global availability.  The company maintains its leadership by taking advantage of new technology as it becomes available.

Business need

With a continuous need for increasing efficiency as well as providing rapid response to internal and external customers, the client contacted Computer Technology Resources (CTR) to help them implement the right solution via Oracle Warehouse Management System (WMS). CTR consultants were a part of project scope definition as well as analyzing the warehouse in Memphis to understand existing pain-points and system constraints.

Scope of the project

CTR met with relevant stakeholders and prioritized requirements. Scope definition also involved extensive interaction with warehouse business and supply chain users in order to understand and document To-Be business processes.

Strategy, Execution and Implementation

This extensive Oracle WMS implementation strategy involved executing the following tasks:

  • Worked with the client on a Mobile Supply Chain Applications (MSCA) implementation strategy.
  • Determined MSCA Scanner Vendor evaluation strategy by identifying different test parameters that will allow workers to operate in any extreme weather conditions
  • Spearheaded Transportation Management System (TMS) software evaluation which assisted the client management team to decide on the best fit TMS vendor
  • Setup Warehouse Organization for receiving, picking, shipping, returns, label generation
  • Created Picking and Put-Away rules to address the client’s business requirements
  • Designed and finalized the Oracle WMS-TMS integration flows
  • Integrated Wave Management process with Precision for freight rating to minimize shipping cost
  • Designed custom picking by using Pick-by-Label process
  • Designed the complete pallet building process in Order Management by generating Container License Plate Number (LPN) and shipping goods in pallets by having unique LPN using Oracle Pick, Pack and Ship API’s.

Training

Part of implementation also involved training the ‘super users’ and documenting the complete process for quick references and learning. Some specific actions involved:

  • WMS boot camps for business and IT super users to help them leverage Oracle’s WMS capabilities and features.
  • Documentation of functional processes related to MSCA customizations, Task Splitting, Shipments, and Replenishment.

Time to Completion

The entire project was completed while under short lead times and strict deadlines. The End to End project took fifteen months and the handover was completed on the final day with a walkthrough.  As a final acceptance of the deliverables, the users validated common functionalities and processes.  Acceptance was received shortly thereafter.

Results

Oracle’s WMS system was successfully implemented. Customizations were developed and deployedby CTR based on the client’s requirements. It is critical that customizations and extensions arecarefully designed so as not to affect Oracle Support. This is always an important consideration when dealing with a supported system.

Benefits and Return on Investment

The client saw the results of implementing Oracle WMS and the subsequent return on investment (ROI) from day one. Some benefits included:

  • Significant Cost savings due to reduced time spent in searching for an item in the warehouse.
  • Associated labor efficiency due to automated and tracked systems.
  • Efficient warehouse management as the WMS system directs where the material is put away.
  • Efficient management of shipping and freight charges yielding considerable savings.
  • Ability to pick different types of orders by using specific wave templates.

Know More

To know more about customization and integration of Oracle WMS system, please contact Dick Kenny at 714-912-9719 or email dkenny@ctrworld.com

Case Study: Warehouse Improvement Project

Are you looking for new ways to engage customers? Or do you want to simplify, renew, or strengthen existing technology? At CTR, we provide the ideas and innovation necessary to thrive in a digital landscape. From assessing the pros and cons of Tableau to examining individual case studies, our blog contains plenty of idea and advice about how we can help you operate better and stronger.

A large manufacturer and distributor of clever, innovative products for babies and children

have seen a significant increase in its sales volume over the past few years. This has put
pressure on its warehousing operations, and to maintain its position as a leader in the
industry it has had to make significant improvements. Let’s see how the company did it.

Business Need
The company reconfigured its warehouse and installed a narrow lane layout for the efficient use
of available space. This gave them more room, but as a result, the company needed to:

Strategy, Execution, and Implementation
Our team at Computer Technology Resources (CTR) worked with the users to understand their
priorities and functional requirements. Based on these business process requirements,
customizations were deployed on their systems.

Time to Completion
The project was successfully completed under strict timelines. Regular Milestones were
tracked and achieved resulting in an end-to-end project timeline of only two and a half
months.

Results
The project was successfully completed under strict timelines. Regular Milestones were
tracked and achieved resulting in an end-to-end project timeline of only two and a half
months.

Benefits and Return on Investment
The customizations resulted in cost savings as well as supported the company’s vision to
generate operational efficiency wherever possible. As a result, they now serve not only 4 main
customers but all of their customers more efficiently and have recognized better margins. The
company felt that it was definitely a WIN-WIN!
Training
• Reduce Picking time for its 4 main customers by picking complete pallets from the Pallet
sub inventory instead of picking by individual Order Pick.
• Reduce replenishment into Loose Picking sub inventories.
• CTR implemented Bulk Picking which enables picking higher Units of Measure (UOM) and
fulfills multiple orders with a single pallet by combining the demand for multiple
shipments into a single pick.
• CTR introduced Bulk Pick functionality which reduces travel distance for Picking and the
number of replenishments to the Pick face which is the space on a racking system onto
which a pallet can be loaded. CTR customized WMS Picking rules to support a Full
License Plate Number (LPN) Pick which is not supported with Oracle Standard Bulk
Picking. This customization ensures no partial picking from the Pallet sub inventory.
• CTR implemented Min/Max replenishment and directed Put Away from Pallet
inventories.
• Super users were trained on the usage and processes related to Bulk Picking
• Extensive educational and process flow documents were created to support the users
post Go-Live