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Microsoft, IBM

Both International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE:IBM) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) are among the top IT companies. IBM was the largest IT company by revenue ($7.2 bln) from the 1970s until 2007 and was not even in the top 10 in 2021. In contrast, Microsoft, which was founded in 1975, continued to grow to become the second-largest IT company in 2021 by revenue ($168 bln) only behind Apple ($365 bln).

We analyzed Microsoft and IBM’s businesses and contrasted their strategies based on product innovation, diversification, acquisition, integration, and cloud strategies to determine which company has better executed their strategies and ranked the companies against each other.

Moreover, we compared the companies in terms of their financials. In terms of diversification, we broke down its segments and analyzed its revenue growth. Also, we compared their margins in terms of gross, net and FCF margins. Additionally, we looked at both companies based on efficiency and credit analysis.

Finally, we looked at their valuation ratios and compared them against each other and their 5-year averages, as well as our in-house DCF analysis and compared it against analyst consensus. Considering their historical investment returns and dividend yields, we formulated a long/short strategy for the two stocks.


microsoft vs ibm revenue

IBM, Microsoft, Khaveen Investments

Product Innovation Strategy

IBM was founded in 1911 but rose to the top of the tech sector in 1962 as the largest computer company with a 62% market share, as it created the first portable computer (IBM 5100). However, with the rise of IBM clones created by Compaq, competition for the company increased while its market share eroded to 32% in 1980. According to All About Circuits, IBM had tried to make clone computers redundant by developing the new Micro Channel Architecture computer architecture but, it was not even compatible with its software. Overall, the company was unable to develop a competitive advantage in software and hardware to remain competitive in the computer market due to increased competition from competitors’ compatible and cheaper products as prices of mainframe computers fell by 90% along with product innovations such as PCs and workstations from Compaq and Sun Microsystems. It held its market leadership in the PC market until 1994 before falling behind Compaq, Apple (AAPL) and Packard Bell.

In comparison, since Microsoft’s launch in 1975 and securing the contract to provide OS to IBM’s computers, Microsoft had dominated the OS market since the late 1980s with a market share of over 80%. In 2021, Microsoft continues to be the market leader with a market share of 74% in OS but is seeing increasing competition from Apple’s macOS with the strong sales of its PCs. Microsoft focused on OS with continuous innovation with subsequent product development and launches of new OS products including 15 Windows product launches (including Windows 11) while IBM only had 8 main PC product series. Also, it made deals with PC makers to supply OS to be preinstalled at discounted prices. Although it tried to run crack down on clone software and free alternatives such as Linux which continue to exist, it instead tolerated piracy of Windows OS as explained by the following quote of the potential opportunities to monetize it.

As long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade. - Bill Gates, Founder & Former CEO of Microsoft

Overall, we believe Microsoft edges out IBM in terms of its product innovation strategy as it maintained its market share in the OS market with its continuous product development and more product launches than IBM, which lost its market share leadership to stronger competitors. Microsoft also established various partnerships with PC makers, which IBM failed to do.

Diversification Strategy

In 1980, IBM’s revenue from its largest (Hardware) segment was 84%. In 1993, the company decided to focus on higher-margin software businesses such as middleware and consulting, targeting enterprises along with its mainframe business. This was successful for the company as its revenues grew again from 1983. However, with the rise and shift towards public clouds, the company’s growth started to decline in 2013 as IBM began losing server hardware market share rapidly to ODM competitors for public cloud customers. Though, its Hardware segment still represented 25% of its revenue in 2021, its third-largest segment behind IT consulting (31%) and Software (27%).

On the other hand, Microsoft diversified away from its largest segment, system software (53% of revenue in 1986) into application software such as productivity and HR software. In 2021, Windows only accounted for 13% of the company’s revenues and had a 5-year average growth of 5.8% below its total average of 13.1%.

  • Diversified within the software industry with productivity software in 1983 with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel in 1985
  • Diversified into the Media Industry with its advertising segment with Internet Explorer web browsers launched in 1995
  • Expanded within the software industry with HR software Microsoft Dynamics in 2006
  • Diversified into the entertainment industry with its Xbox business in 2001


Microsoft (1986 – Non-System Software)

IBM (1980 – Non-Hardware)

Revenue Breakdown (Past)



Revenue Breakdown (2021)



Revenue (Past) ($ mln)



Revenue (2021) ($ mln)



Annualized Growth %



Source: Microsoft, IBM. Khaveen Investments

Based on the table above, we calculated the annualized growth rate of the revenue contribution of the revenue streams of Microsoft’s non-System Software revenue in 1986 and IBM’s non-Hardware revenue from 1980 to 2021. Thus, we believe that Microsoft has a superior diversification strategy with its higher annualized growth of 23.4% compared to 5.8% for IBM.

Acquisition Strategy

IBM Acquisitions

Acquisition Cost ($ mln)

Revenue ($ mln)

Microsoft Acquisitions

Acquisition Cost ($ mln)

Revenue ($ mln)

Red Hat



Activision Blizzard









PwC Consulting Business



Nuance Communications



Lotus Development Corporation


1,150 (excluded)

Skype Technologies



Truven Health Analytics



ZeniMax Media



Rational Software Corp






SoftLayer Technologies



Nokia (Mobile Phones unit)









FileNet Corp






Sterling Commerce



Visio Corp









Revenue Contribution


Revenue Contribution


Source: Company Data, Khaveen Investments

The table above shows the top 10 acquisitions by IBM and Microsoft in terms of their acquisition costs and revenue. IBM made a series of acquisitions such as Lotus Development Corp for middleware software which was later divested off to HCL in 2018 for just $1.8 bln, translating to a loss of $1.7 bln. Also, it acquired PwC’s management consulting arm in 2002. Besides that, it also acquired software companies such as Cognos, Truven Health Analytics, Rational Software, SoftLayer, Netezza, FileNet and Sterling Commerce as well as hybrid cloud company Red Hat which was its largest acquisition ever at $34 bln.

On the other hand, Microsoft’s largest deal is the planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard (ATVI) for $68.7 bln to expand its footprint in the gaming market, followed by LinkedIn, Nuance Communications, Skype, ZeniMax Media, GitHub, Nokia (Mobile phones), aQuantive, Mojang, and Visio Corp.

The total revenue contribution of Microsoft’s top 10 acquisitions ($19.5 bln) is higher than IBM at $11.8 bln (excludes Lotus) but its revenue contribution is lower at 11.6% compared to 20.6%. However, Microsoft ($156.1 bln) spent more than IBM ($57.4 bln). This translates to a revenue per cost of $0.21 for IBM which is higher compared to Microsoft at only $0.13.

Therefore, while IBM divested Lotus, its revenue contribution from its largest acquisitions is still higher than Microsoft. Additionally, with a higher revenue per acquisition cost, we believe that IBM has a superior acquisition strategy to Microsoft.

Integration Strategy

IBM provides mainframe software such as containerized software, DevOps and operations management which are integrated with its server systems. Despite its expansion into software, consulting, and cloud, we believe this is its only product integration and it has not built up an ecosystem of integrated products and services. Moreover, its other segments such as software had stagnant growth of 1% and hardware’s revenue declined which we believe indicates its inability to successfully synergize the segments.

As covered in our previous analysis, Microsoft had established solid market leadership in office productivity with over 80% market share based on Gartner and we expect it to continue defending its lead with its comprehensive features and integrations with its other Microsoft products and competitive cost against competitors. Besides that, other examples of Microsoft’s integrations are:

  • Integration between Windows and Microsoft through Office Hub for easier access to documents
  • It developed the cloud-based Dynamics 365 in 2016 which is integrated with Power Platforms, Teams and SharePoint.
  • In Gaming, Microsoft focused on its gaming segment with its gaming subscription in 2017 integrated with Windows.
  • It also acquired companies such as LinkedIn in 2016 and integrated them with its Dynamics 365 and the Office suite.

Thus, we believe Microsoft, with its ecosystem with integrated productivity & HR software, gaming and LinkedIn is stronger compared to IBM (only hardware and software) and we believe it supports its growth outlook. In our previous analysis, we saw that Microsoft was the only company out of the top 3 software companies (IBM and Oracle) which had above industry 7-year average revenue growth (7.9%).

Cloud Strategy

Microsoft entered the cloud market with the launch of Azure in 2010, followed by IBM in 2011. Although both entered roughly similar periods, we compared both companies’ cloud strategies based on a comparison of their market share & revenue growth, number of availability zones, features and number of users.

cloud market share

Synergy Research, Company Data, Khaveen Investments

Cloud Service Providers

Average 5-year Revenue Growth

IBM Cloud






Google Cloud (GOOG)


Alibaba Cloud (BABA)


Source: Synergy Research, Company Data, Khaveen Investments

Based on the chart and table above, Microsoft had strengthened its cloud market share with the highest average revenue growth (57.2%) in the past 5 years to catch up with market leader AWS which had a lower growth (37.5%). In comparison, IBM had the lowest growth among its competitors at only 3.1%. As highlighted in our previous analysis, IBM had divested its public cloud business (Kyndryl) and focused on its hybrid cloud business following its RedHat acquisition in 2019. That said, based on the data, we believe Microsoft had strengthened its positioning in the cloud market and could provide it with an advantage over IBM.




Cloud Users

550 mln

0.0038 mln

Growth % YoY



Type of Users

Companies, Individuals


Source: IBM, Microsoft

To understand the rise of Microsoft’s cloud business vs IBM, we looked into the user bases of each company. Compared to Microsoft, IBM specifically targets companies while Microsoft targets both companies and individuals with its cloud. Microsoft had 500 mln active monthly users, on Azure Directory compared to 3,800 clients for IBM. However, IBM had a higher growth rate of 30% YoY than Microsoft at 10%.


Availability Zones

Number of Features


















Source: Source: IBM, AWS, Microsoft, Google, GetApp, Khaveen Investments

To compare the reach of their cloud services globally, we examined the number of availability zones by each company in the table above from our previous analysis of Oracle (ORCL). As seen in the table, Microsoft is third with 66 availability zones behind AWS and Google. However, Microsoft was still more than 3 times higher than IBM Cloud. Microsoft had announced its planned data center expansions across the US in Georgia and Texas and across the globe in Israel and Malaysia.

To determine the competitiveness of their cloud services, we examined the features and compared them with each company. Based on the table, IBM has the least number of features (43) according to GetApp while Microsoft Azure has 70 features, the second-highest behind Google Cloud Platform with the most features (90).

Furthermore, we also compared their cloud pricing to determine the competitiveness of their cloud services. As seen in the table, Azure has the second most expensive pricing behind AWS based on its online website cost estimator (2 virtual CPUs and 8GB of RAM running on Windows OS). In comparison, IBM’s pricing ($71.29) is the lowest among competitors and has pricing below the average of $123.62 which we believe indicates its pricing advantage.

To sum it up, we believe Microsoft’s cloud strategy had been superior to IBM's due to its superior market share, growth, availability zones and a wider user base despite IBM’s higher user growth and competitive pricing.


We believe Microsoft edges out IBM in the Strategy factor by being the superior company in Product Innovation, Diversification, Integration and Cloud strategies. However, we believe IBM is better in terms of the Acquisition strategy.



Product Innovation












Source: Khaveen Investments


To compare the differences between Microsoft and IBM based on their financials, we looked at their diversification, revenue growth, profitability, efficiency and credit position.



(Growth Rate)


Average Revenue Growth

Revenue Breakdown %


Average Revenue Growth

Revenue Breakdown %

IT Services (12.4% CAGR)

Server products



Internet Services

& Infrastructure



Enterprise Services



IT Consulting &

Other Services



Software (5.78% CAGR)

Office products












Entertainment (8.3% CAGR)




Interactive Media & Services (8.4% CAGR)




Media (15% CAGR)

Search advertising



Technology Hardware, Storage & Peripherals (8.76% CAGR)




Technology Hardware, Storage & Peripherals















*3-year average

**1-year average

Source: Microsoft, IBM, The Business Research Company, Statista, Khaveen Investments

Firstly, we compiled and compared their revenue streams based on GICs classification. Based on the table, Microsoft’s revenues are split across 6 industries namely IT Services, software, entertainment, interactive media & services, media, technology hardware, storage & peripherals. Whereas IBM’s revenue streams are more concentrated as it is only split across 3 industries (IT Services, software, technology hardware, storage & peripherals). Moreover, Microsoft has more segments (9) compared to IBM (4).

The largest segment for Microsoft is Server products (31.3% of revenue) followed by Office products (23.7%) and Windows (13.8%). In comparison, IBM’s largest segment revenue contribution is similar to IT consulting (31% of revenue) and followed by software (27%). In terms of revenue growth, IBM’s Internet Services & Infrastructure segment was its fastest-growing segment (26%) and was higher than Microsoft’s Server products (22.6%). Though, IBM’s Internet Services & Infrastructure segment only accounted for 15% of the company’s revenue compared to Microsoft’s Server products segment (31% of revenue).

Also, 3 of Microsoft’s segments (Server products, LinkedIn, Dynamics) totaling 40% of revenue have above-average revenue growth (13.1%) compared to IBM which only has 2 segments (Internet Services & Infrastructure and IT Consulting) totaling 46% of revenue which grew above its total company average (-5.7%).

Thus, we believe that Microsoft has better diversification compared to IBM with a wider revenue exposure across more GICS industries than IBM and more segments. Microsoft’s fastest-growing segment’s revenue contribution is also twice that of IBM’s.

microsoft revenue

Microsoft, Khaveen Investments

ibm revenue breakdown

IBM, Khaveen Investments

Revenue Growth



Furthermore, as seen in the tables above, Microsoft’s YoY revenue growth (20.37%) is higher than IBM's (14.9%). Both companies’ revenue growth had been higher than their 5-year averages, but Microsoft’s 5-year CAGR (16.02%) had been superior to that of IBM (-5.97%). Based on our previous analyses, we forecasted Microsoft to have a higher 5-year forward average revenue growth of 21.5% compared to just 5% for IBM. Also, the company has higher current and 3-year average EBITDA growth than IBM. Therefore, we believe all the factors above point to Microsoft’s superior growth compared to IBM.

Profitability Analysis

For the profitability comparison, we compared the companies in terms of their TTM gross, operating, EBITDA, net and FCF margins.


Seeking Alpha

Based on the table, IBM has remained profitable with positive average margins despite its revenue decline. Notwithstanding, Microsoft has superior profit margins than IBM with higher gross, operating, EBITDA, net margins and FCF margins based on both current and a 5-year average.

More importantly, Microsoft’s margins have been improving with higher current margins than its 5-year averages for its gross, operating, EBITDA, net margins and FCF margins. Whereas for IBM, except for its gross margins, the rest of its margins have declined compared to its 5-year average. Therefore, we believe Microsoft clearly beats IBM with superior profitability.

Efficiency Analysis

efficiency analysis


In terms of its efficiency, Microsoft has superior ROE, ROTC, and ROA to IBM. Though, Microsoft had higher capex/sales compared to IBM in both current and a 5-year average. Compared to IBM, Microsoft's ROE, ROTC and ROA ratios have improved in the past 5 years while IBM had deteriorated due to the decline of its profitability margins. Additionally, Microsoft had a higher asset turnover ratio as well as cash from operations which highlights its superior efficiency.

Thus, we believe Microsoft has an advantage over IBM based on efficiency analysis with superior ratios to IBM and improving ratios compared to its 5-year average.

Credit Analysis

For credit analysis of both companies, we compared their net debt, interest coverage ratios, EBITDA/Net debt and Debt to Equity ratios.

Credit Ratios



Net Debt ($ mln)



Net Debt as % of Market Cap



Debt/Equity (5-year Average)



EBITDA interest coverage (5-year Average)



FCF interest coverage (5-year Average)



EBITDA/Net Debt (5-year Average)



Source: Company Data, Khaveen Investments

From the table, Microsoft has a lower net debt than IBM and lower net debt as a % of the market cap (2.3%) compared to IBM (79.7%). Also, Microsoft has a much lower debt/equity ratio of 1.64x than IBM (5.94x). In the charts below of their cash to debt ratios, both companies saw their ratios declining over the past 10 years. Notwithstanding, Microsoft continues to maintain a higher cash-to-debt ratio than IBM.

Moreover, Microsoft has superior coverage ratios compared to IBM which indicates its superior ability to service its debt obligations.

msft net debt

Microsoft, Khaveen Investments

ibm net debt

IBM, Khaveen Investments

Source: IBM, Khaveen Investments

In the charts above of their cash to debt ratios, both companies saw their ratios declining over the past 10 years. Notwithstanding, Microsoft continues to maintain a higher cash-to-debt ratio than IBM. Therefore, we believe Microsoft has an advantage over IBM based on credit analysis, beating IBM on all 7 metrics we looked at.


We believe Microsoft has the overall advantage over IBM based on its financials as we determined it to have better diversification, revenue growth, profitability, efficiency and credit than IBM.





Revenue Growth


Profitability analysis


Efficiency analysis


Credit analysis




Source: Khaveen Investments




Microsoft Current

Microsoft 5-year Average


IBM Current

IBM 5-year Average


























Source: Seeking Alpha, Company Data, Khaveen Investments

Based on the table above of the valuation multiples, all of Microsoft’s ratios (current) including P/E, P/S and P/FCF are higher than IBM. Moreover, based on a 5-year average, all of Microsoft’s valuation ratios are also higher than IBM indicating IBM’s better value compared to Microsoft.

However, when comparing each company’s current and 5-year average ratio, Microsoft’s PE (26.5x) ratio is below its 5-year average (34.4x) while the other ratios are higher than its 5-year average. Whereas all of IBM’s ratios are above its 5-year average. Based on their ratios, we obtained an upside of 9.5% for Microsoft and -39.2% for IBM.

Therefore, we believe that despite IBM’s better value compared to Microsoft with its lower current and 5-year average ratios, Microsoft edges out IBM with its higher upside than IBM as its P/E and P/FCF ratios (current) are lower than its 5-year averages while IBM’s ratios are above its 5-year average





DCF Rating

Strong Buy


DCF Upside



DCF Price Target



Analyst Consensus Rating

Strong Buy


Analyst Consensus Upside



Analyst Consensus Price Target



Source: Seeking Alpha, Company Data, Khaveen Investments

Based on the table above, we derived a DCF upside of 114% for Microsoft and rated it as a Strong Buy whereas for IBM we obtained a 13.3% downside and rated it as a Sell. With reference to analyst consensus estimates, Microsoft was rated as a Strong Buy with a 39.3% upside compared to IBM at only a Hold with a 1.6% upside. Thus, we believe Microsoft is clearly superior to IBM with a higher rating from DCF and analyst consensus.

microsoft valuation

Khaveen Investments

ibm valuation

Khaveen Investments

Investment Returns


5-year Stock Return

Annualized Return

Dividend Yield

Total Annual Return











Source: Seeking Alpha, Company Data, Khaveen Investments

Finally, we compared the investment returns based on the past 5 years between Microsoft and IBM and computed its annualized return and calculated the total return with its dividend yield. Overall, Microsoft (31.16%) has a higher annualized total return than IBM (3.88%) which highlights its advantage


To sum it up, based on the multiples, ratings and investment returns, we believe Microsoft edges out IBM with its Strong Buy ratings based on DCF and analyst consensus and higher investment return compared to IBM.







Investment Returns




Source: Khaveen Investments

Risk: Dividend Growth


ibm dividend


We believe the risk for the long/short strategy between Microsoft and IBM is its high dividend yield. IBM had a dividend yield of 4.77%, which is one of the considerations for shorting the stock. IBM’s dividend growth was 0.77% as seen above. However, IBM’s dividend growth had continuously slowed in the past 10 years from a 10-year CAGR of 8.17% to 3.6% (5-year) and 2.42% (3-year), which reduces the probability of much higher dividend payments going forward.




Product Innovation










Strategy Factor




Revenue Growth


Profitability analysis


Efficiency analysis


Credit analysis


Financials Factor






Investment Returns


Valuation Factor




Source: Khaveen Investments

To summarize, we determined that Microsoft is superior to IBM for the Strategy factor based on their strategies as we believe its product innovation, diversification, integration and cloud strategy to be superior to IBM. Moreover, we also determined its superior financials based on diversification, revenue growth, profitability, efficiency and credit. Finally, we determined Microsoft comes up on top for the Valuation factor considering its upside based on multiples, DCF and higher investment returns. We determined our long/short strategy by taking into account its dividend yield, borrow fee (between 0.3% to 3%) and short sale proceeds interest of 0%.




Div Yield

Gross Return

Avg Borrow Fee


Net Return


Net Return

Our Case
















Base Case
















Bear Case
















Bull Case
















Source: SA, IBKR, Khaveen Investments

To determine the appropriate weights for the trade, we computed a sensitivity analysis based on the different scenarios and long-short weights. As seen in the chart below, long Microsoft (81% weight) and short IBM (19% weight) would generate the highest net return in all scenarios.

sensitivity analysis

Khaveen Investments

Overall, we believe both Microsoft and IBM have contrasting fundamentals which provides a clear opportunity for a Long-Short trade. While IBM was the old leader of the IT sector, Microsoft has emerged as the new dominant player with a clear-cut advantage owing to its superior product innovation, diversification, integration, cloud strategies as well as solid financials and attractive valuation. Thus, we believe a long/short strategy can be implemented on this pair of stocks, and carry a Strong Buy rating on Microsoft and a Sell rating on IBM.

Sun, 03 Jul 2022 20:27:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Oracle Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Oracle offers a multitude of hardware and software solutions designed to simplify and empower IT. Perhaps best known for its premier database software, the company also offers cloud solutions, servers, engineered systems, storage and more. Oracle has more than 430,000 customers in 175 countries, about 138,000 employees and exceeds $37.7 billion in revenue.

Over the years, Oracle has developed an extensive certification program. Today, it includes six certification levels that span nine different categories with more than 200 individual credentials. Considering the depth and breadth of this program, and the number of Oracle customers, it’s no surprise that Oracle certifications are highly sought after.

[For more information read our Oracle CRM review, and our review of Oracle’s accounting suite.]

Oracle certification program overview

Oracle’s certification program is divided into these nine primary categories:

  • Oracle Applications
  • Oracle Cloud
  • Oracle Database
  • Oracle Enterprise Management
  • Oracle Industries
  • Oracle Java and Middleware
  • Oracle Operating Systems
  • Oracle Systems
  • Oracle Virtualization

Additionally, Oracle’s credentials are offered at six certification levels:

  • Junior Associate
  • Associate
  • Professional
  • Master
  • Expert
  • Specialist

Most Oracle certification exams are proctored, cost $245, and contain a mix of scored and unscored multiple-choice questions. Candidates may take proctored exams at Pearson VUE, although some exams are offered at Oracle Testing Centers in certain locations. Some exams, such as Oracle Database 12c: SQL Fundamentals (1Z0-061) and Oracle Database 11g: SQL Fundamentals (1Z0-051), are also available non-proctored and may be taken online. Non-proctored exams cost $125. Check the Oracle University Certification website for details on specific exams.

Oracle Applications and Cloud certifications

The Oracle Applications certification category offers more than 60 individual credentials across 13 products or product groups, such as Siebel, E-Business Suite, Hyperion, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and PeopleSoft. The majority of these certifications confer Certified Implementation Specialist for some specific application, with various Certified Expert credentials also available. The Application certifications aim at individuals with expertise in selling and implementing specific Oracle solutions.

Oracle’s existing certification category is Oracle Cloud, which covers Java Cloud as well as a number of Oracle Cloud certifications, including Oracle Database Cloud. Cloud certs fall into seven sub-categories:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS), including Data Management, Application Development, Management Cloud and Mobile Cloud Service
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – Oracle Customer Experience Cloud, including Service, Sales, Marketing and CPQ Cloud
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – Oracle Customer Experience Cloud, including Service, Sales, Marketing, CPQ Cloud, and the rest of their CRM software offering

  • Software as a Services – Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud, including Financials, Project Portfolio Management, Procurement and Risk Management Cloud

  • Software as a Service – Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud, including Workforce Rewards, Payroll, Talent Management and Global Human Resources Cloud
  • Software as a Service – Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud, including Order Management, Product Master Data Management, Product Lifecycle Management, Manufacturing, Inventory Management, Supply Chain Planning and Logistics Cloud

These credentials recognize individuals who deploy applications, perform administration or deliver customer solutions in the cloud. Credentials mostly include Associate and Certification Implementation Specialists, with one Mobile Developer credential offered plus a professional-level Oracle Database Cloud Administrator.

Oracle Database certifications

Certifications in Oracle’s Database category are geared toward individuals who develop or work with Oracle databases. There are three main categories: Database Application Development, MySQL and Oracle Database.

Note: Oracle Database 12c was redesigned for cloud computing (and is included in both the Cloud and Database certification categories). The current version is Oracle Database 12c R2, which contains additional enhancements for in-memory databases and multitenant architectures. MySQL 5.6 has been optimized for performance and storage, so it can handle bigger data sets.

Whenever a significant version of either database is released, Oracle updates its certifications exams over time. If an test isn’t available for the latest release, candidates can take a previous version of the test and then an updated test when it becomes available. Though MySQL 5.6 certifications and exams are still available for candidates supporting that version, the new MySQL 5.7 certification track may be more appropriate for those just starting on their MySQL certification journeys.

Oracle currently offers the Oracle Database Foundations Certified Junior Associate, Oracle Certified Associate (OCA), Oracle Certified Professional (OCP), Oracle Certified Master (OCM), Oracle Certified Expert (OCE) and Specialist paths for Oracle Database 12c. In addition, Oracle offers the OCA credential for Oracle Database 12c R2 and an upgrade path for the OCP credential. Because many of these certifications are also popular within the Oracle Certification Program, we provide additional test details and links in the following sections.

Other database certifications

Oracle Enterprise Management Certifications

The Oracle Enterprise Manager Certification path offers candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in application, middleware, database and storage management. The Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Certified Implementation Specialist test (1Z0-457) certifies a candidate’s expertise in physical, virtual and cloud environments, as well as design, installation, implementation, reporting, and support of Oracle Enterprise Manager.

Oracle Database Foundations Certified Junior Associate

The Oracle Database Foundation Certified Junior Associate credential targets those who’ve participated in the Oracle Academy through a college or university program, computer science and database teachers, and individuals studying databases and computer science. As a novice-level credential, the Certified Junior Associate is intended for individuals with limited hands-on experience working on Oracle Database products. To earn this credential, candidates must pass the Oracle Database Foundations (novice-level exam) (1Z0-006).

Oracle Certified Associate (OCA) – Oracle Database 12c Administrator

The OCA certification measures the day-to-day operational management database skills of DBAs. Candidates must pass a SQL test and another on Oracle Database administration. Candidates can choose one of the following SQL exams:

  • Oracle Database 12c SQL (1Z0-071)
  • Oracle Database 12c: SQL Fundamentals (1Z0-061) NOTE: This test will be retired on November 30, 2019.

Candidates must also pass the Oracle Database 12c: Installation and Administration (1Z0-062) exam.

Oracle Certified Associate – Oracle Database 12cR2 Administrator

To earn the Oracle Database 12cR2 OCA credential, candidates must first earn either the Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate, Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Associate, or the Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Associate.  In addition, candidates are required to pass the Oracle Database 12cR2 Administration test (1Z0-072).

Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) – Oracle Database 12c Administrator

The OCP certification covers more advanced database skills. You must have the OCA Database 12c Administrator certification, complete the required training, submit a course submission form and pass the Oracle Database 12c: Advanced Administration (1Z0-063) exam.

Professionals who possess either the Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Professional or Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Professional credential may upgrade to the Oracle Database 12cR2 Administration Certified Professional credential by passing the Oracle DBA upgrade test (1Z0-074).

Oracle Certified Master (OCM) – Oracle Database 12c Administrator

To achieve OCM Database 12c Administrator certification, you must have the OCP Database 12c Administrator certification, complete two advanced courses, and pass the Oracle Database 12c Certified Master test (12cOCM), complete the course submission form, and submit the Fulfillment Kit request.

Oracle also offers the Oracle Database 12c Maximum Availability Certified Master certification, which requires three separate credentials, including the Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Master, Oracle Certified Expert, Oracle Database 12c-RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administration, and Oracle Certified Expert, Oracle Database 12c – Data Guard Administration.

Oracle Certified Expert (OCE) – Oracle Database 12c

The OCE Database 12c certifications include Maximum Availability, Data Guard Administrator, RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administrator, and Performance Management and Tuning credentials. All these certifications involve prerequisite certifications. Performance Management and Tuning takes the OSP Database 12c as a prerequisite and the Data Guard Administrator certification requires the OCP Database 12c credential. The RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administrator provides candidates the most flexibility, allowing candidates to choose from the OCP Database 11g, OCP Databases 12c, Oracle Certified Expert – Real Application Clusters 11g and Grid Infrastructure Administration.

Once the prerequisite credentials are earned, candidates can then achieve Data Guard Administrator, RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administrator or Performance Management and Tuning by passing one exam. Achieving OCP 12c plus the RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administration and Data Guard Administration certifications earns the Maximum Availability credential.

Oracle Database Certified Implementation Specialist

Oracle also offers three Certified Implementation Specialist credentials: the Oracle Real Application Clusters 12c, Oracle Database Performance and Tuning 2015, and Oracle Database 12c. Specialist credentials target individuals with a background in selling and implementing Oracle solutions. Each of these credentials requires candidates to pass a single test to earn the designation.

Oracle Industries certifications

Oracle Industries is another sizable category, with more than 25 individual certifications focused on Oracle software for the construction and engineering, communications, health sciences, insurance, tax and utilities industries. All these certifications recognize Certified Implementation specialists for the various Oracle industry products, which means they identify individuals proficient in implementing and selling industry-specific Oracle software.

Oracle Java and Middleware Certifications

The Java and Middleware certifications span several subcategories, such as Business Intelligence, Application Server, Cloud Application, Data Integration, Identity Management, Mobile, Java, Oracle Fusion Middleware Development Tools and more. Java and Middleware credentials represent all levels of the Oracle Certification Program – Associate, Professional and so on – and include Java Developer, Java Programmer, System Administrator, Architect and Implementation Specialist.

The highly popular Java category has certifications for Java SE (Standard Edition), and Java EE (Enterprise Edition) and Web Services. Several Java certifications that require a prior certification accept either the corresponding Sun or Oracle credential.

Oracle Operating Systems certifications

The Oracle Operating Systems certifications include Linux and Solaris. These certifications are geared toward administrators and implementation specialists.

The Linux 6 certifications include OCA and OCP Linux 6 System Administrator certifications, as well as an Oracle Linux Certified Implementation Specialist certification. The Linux 6 Specialist is geared to partners but is open to all candidates. Both the Linux OCA and Specialist credentials require a single exam. To achieve the OCP, candidates must first earn either the OCA Linux 5 or 6 System Administrator or OCA Linux Administrator (now retired) credential, plus pass an exam.

The Solaris 11 certifications include the OCA and OCP System Administrator certifications plus an Oracle Solaris 11 Installation and Configuration Certified Implementation Specialist certification. The OCA and OCP Solaris 11 System Administrator certifications identify Oracle Solaris 11 administrators who have a fundamental knowledge of and base-level skills with the UNIX operating system, commands, and utilities. As indicated by its name, the Implementation Specialist cert identifies intermediate-level implementation team members who install and configure Oracle Solaris 11.

Oracle Systems certifications

Oracle Systems certifications include Engineered Systems (Big Data Appliance, Exadata, Exalogic Elastic Cloud, Exalytics, and Private Cloud Appliance), Servers (Fujitsu and SPARC) and Storage (Oracle ZFS, Pillar Axiom, Tape Storage, Flash Storage System). Most of these certifications aim at individuals who sell and implement one of the specific solutions. The Exadata certification subcategory also includes Oracle Exadata X3, X4 and X5 Expert Administrator certifications for individuals who administer, configure, patch, and monitor the Oracle Exadata Database Machine platform.

Oracle Virtualization certifications

The Virtualization certifications cover Oracle Virtual Machine (VM) Server for X86. This credential is based on Oracle VM 3.0 for X86, and recognizes individuals who sell and implement Oracle VM solutions.

The Oracle VM 3.0 for x86 Certified Implementation Specialist Certification aim at intermediate-level team members proficient in installing OVM 3.0 Server and OVM 3.0 Manager components, discovering OVM Servers, configuring network and storage repositories and more.

The sheer breadth and depth of Oracle’s certification program creates ample opportunities for professionals who want to work with Oracle technologies, or who already do and want their skills recognized and validated. Although there are many specific Oracle products in which to specialize in varying capacities, the main job roles include administrators, architects, programmers/developers and implementation specialists.

Every company that runs Oracle Database, Oracle Cloud, or Oracle Linux or Solaris needs qualified administrators to deploy, maintain, monitor and troubleshoot these solutions. These same companies also need architects to plan and design solutions that meet business needs and are appropriate for the specific environments in which they’re deployed, indicating that the opportunities for career advancement in Oracle technologies are abundant.

Job listings and hiring data indicate that programmers and developers continue to be highly sought-after in the IT world. Programming and development skills are some of the most sought-after by hiring managers in 2019, and database administration isn’t far behind. A quick search on Indeed results in almost 12,000 hits for “Oracle developer,” which is a great indication of both need and opportunity. Not only do developers create and modify Oracle software, they often must know how to design software from the ground up, package products, import data, write scripts and develop reports.

And, of course, Oracle and its partners will always need implementation specialists to sell and deploy the company’s solutions. This role is typically responsible for tasks that must be successfully accomplished to get a solution up and running in a client’s environment, from creating a project plan and schedule, to configuring and customizing a system to match client specifications.

Oracle training and resources

It’s not surprising that Oracle has an extensive library of test preparation materials. Check the Oracle University website ( for hands-on instructor-led training, virtual courses, training on demand, test preparation seminars, practice exams and other training resources.

A candidate’s best bet, however, is to first choose a certification path and then follow the links on the Oracle website to the required exam(s). If training is recommended or additional resources are available for a particular exam, Oracle lists them on the test page.

Another great resource is the Oracle Learning Paths webpage, which provides a lengthy list of Oracle product-related job roles and their recommended courses.

Ed Tittel
Ed is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry. He has worked as a programmer, technical manager, classroom instructor, network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written for numerous publications, including Tom’s IT Pro, and is the author of more than 140 computing books on information security, web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.

Earl Follis
Earl is also a 30-year veteran of the computer industry, who worked in IT training, marketing, technical evangelism, and market analysis in the areas of networking and systems technology and management. Ed and Earl met in the late 1980s when Ed hired Earl as a trainer at an Austin-area networking company that’s now part of HP. The two of them have written numerous books together on NetWare, Windows Server and other topics. Earl is also a regular writer for the computer trade press with many e-books, white papers and articles to his credit.

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : File, block and object: Storage fundamentals in the cloud era

Despite the many changes in data storage over the decades, some fundamentals remain. One of these is that storage is accessed by one of three methods – block, file and object.

This article will define and expand on the characteristics of these three, while also looking at the on-prem and cloud products you will typically find that use file, block and object storage.

What we see is that while on-prem (usually) hardware form factor block, file and object storage products are available, these types of access to storage are also offered in the cloud to serve the workloads there that require them.

The rise of the cloud has also led to hybrid – datacentre and cloud – and distributed forms of file and object storage.

So, although file, object and block are long-running fundamentals of storage, the ways they are being deployed in the cloud era are changing.

File and block: whole and part

The file system has always been a mainstay of storage technology. Block and file access storage offer two ways to interact with the file system.

File access storage is when you access entire files via the file system. Usually that is via network-attached storage (NAS) or a linked grid of scale-out NAS nodes. Such products come with their own file system on board and storage is presented to applications and users in the drive letter format.

In block access, the storage product – usually deployed on-prem in storage-area network (SAN) systems, for example – only addresses blocks of storage within files, databases, etc. In other words, the file system that applications talk through resides higher in the stack.

File systems supply all sorts of advantages. Among the most prominent is that this is how most enterprise applications are written – and that won’t go away too soon.

A key characteristic of file system-based methods is that there are methods – such as those found within the Posix command set – to lock files to ensure they cannot be simultaneously over-written, at least not in ways that corrupt the file or the processes around it.

File storage accesses entire files, so it gets used for general file storage, as well as more specialised workloads that require file access, such as in media and entertainment. And, in its scale-out NAS form, it is a mainstay of large-scale repositories for analytics and high-performance computing (HPC) workloads.  

Block storage provides application access to the blocks that files comprise. This might be database access where many users work on the same file simultaneously and from possibly the same application – email, enterprise applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), for example – but with locking at the sub-file level.

Block storage has the great benefit of high performance, and not having to deal with metadata and file system information, etc.

File and block: cloud and distributed

File storage still exists in standalone NAS format, especially at the entry level, and scale-out NAS, intended for on-prem deployment, is commonplace.

But the advent of the cloud, and its tendency to globalise operations, has affected things has had a twofold effect.

On the one hand, there are a number of suppliers that offer global file systems that combine a file system distributed across public cloud and local network hardware, with all data in a single namespace. Providers here include Ctera, Nasuni, Panzura, Hammerspace and Peer Software.

On the other hand, all the key cloud providers – Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure – offer their own file access storage services, and also those of NetApp, in the case of AWS. IBM also offers file storage though its cloud offering.

Block in the cloud

Some storage suppliers, such as IBM and Pure, offer instances of their block storage in the cloud. And the big three all offer cloud block storage services, aimed at applications that require the lowest latency, such as databases and analytics caching, as well as virtual machine (VM) work.

Probably because of the nature of block storage and its performance requirements, no distributed block storage seems to have emerged in the way it has with file.

Object storage: a world apart

Object storage is based on a “flat” structure with access to objects via unique IDs, similar to the domain name system (DNS) method of accessing websites.

For that reason, object storage is quite unlike the hierarchical, tree-like file system structure, and that can be an advantage when datasets grow very large. Some NAS systems feel the strain when they get to billions of files.

Object storage accesses data at the equivalent of file level, but without file locking, and often more than one user can access the object at the same time. Object storage is not strongly consistent. In other words, it is eventually consistent between mirrored copies that exist.

Most legacy applications are not written for object storage. But far from that necessarily being a disadvantage, historically speaking, object storage is in fact the storage access method of choice for the cloud era. That is because the cloud is generally far more of a stateless proposition than the legacy enterprise environment, and also comprises probably the bulk of storage offered by the big cloud providers.  

Also, objects in object storage offer a richer set of metadata than in a traditional file system. That makes data in object storage well-suited to analytics, too.

Object in the cloud – and on-prem with file

The cloud has been object storage’s natural home. Most storage services offered by cloud providers are based on object storage, and it is here that new de facto standards, such as S3, have emerged.

With its easy access to data that that can happily exist as largely stateless and eventually consistent, object is the bulk storage of the cloud era.

You can get object storage for on-prem deployment, such as Dell EMC’s Elastic Cloud Storage, which is solely for datacentre deployment. Meanwhile, Hitachi Vantara’s Hitachi Content Platform, IBM’s Cloud Object Storage and NetApp’s StorageGrid can operate in hybrid- and multicloud scenarios.

Some specialist object storage suppliers, such as Cloudian and Scality, offer on-prem and hybrid deployments.

And in the case of Scality, along with Pure Storage (and NetApp, to an extent), converged file and object storage is possible, with the rationale here being that customers increasingly want to access large amounts of unstructured data that may be in file or object storage formats.

Fri, 01 Jul 2022 09:57:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Veritas InfoScale 7.4.2 Fundamentals for UNIX/Linux: Administration

The Veritas InfoScale 7.4.2 Fundamentals for UNIX/Linux Administration course is designed for the IT professional who desires an overview of the Veritas InfoScale Storage and Veritas InfoScale Availability products. This five-day class is a condensed version of the five-day Veritas InfoScale Storage 7.4.2 for UNIX/Linux: Administration course and the five-day Veritas InfoScale Availability 7.4.2 for UNIX/Linux: Administration course. This course is a subset of the two courses, and it covers the absolute basics of the two products - InfoScale Storage 7.4.2 and InfoScale Availability 7.4.2.

Mon, 17 Aug 2020 07:55:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : The Pros and Cons of Virtualization
  • While it comes with a high upfront cost, virtualization reduces IT costs and requires less management. 
  • Virtualization is highly scalable. However, because of how easy it is to create a new server, many companies end up managing more servers than necessary. 
  • Not all software and hardware are virtualization-friendly. 
  • This article is for small business owners who want to learn whether virtualization may be right for them.

Virtualization has several benefits. For businesses with limited funds, virtualization helps them stay on budget by eliminating the need to invest in tons of hardware. Virtual work environments also help businesses with limited IT staff automate and outsource routine tasks and centralize resource management. Plus, employees can access their data anytime, anywhere, with any device.

However, virtualized environments have drawbacks too. Here are the major pros and cons of virtualization.

Pros of virtualization

1. Reduced IT costs

Virtualization helps businesses reduce costs in several ways, according to Mike Adams, vice president of product and technical marketing at Ivanti.

  • Capital expenditure savings: Virtualization lets you reduce your IT costs by requiring fewer hardware servers and related resources to achieve the same level of computing performance, availability, and scalability. [Related: How to Cut Business Costs]
  • Operational expenditure savings: Once servers are virtualized, your IT staff can greatly reduce the ongoing administration and management of manual, time-consuming processes by automating operations, thus resulting in lower operational expenses.
  • Data center and energy savings: As you shrink your company’s hardware and server footprint, you lower your energy consumption by cooling power and data center square footage, which results in lower costs. Learn how to make sustainability part of your business model.

Did you know?Did you know? According to Spiceworks, enterprises with over 1,000 employees have been adopting application virtualization twice as much as small businesses.

2. Efficient resource utilization

Virtualization enables your business to get the most out of your investments in hardware and resources.

“As customer data center environments grow in size and complexity, managing it becomes a burden,” Adams said. “Virtualization can greatly help reduce this complexity by offering resource management capabilities to help increase efficiencies in these virtual environments.”

In contrast, traditional infrastructures that use multiple servers don’t make the most of their setups.

“Many of those servers would typically not utilize more than 2% to 10% of the server hardware resources,” said John Livesay, vice president of Infranet Technologies, a network infrastructure services provider. “With virtualization, we can now run multiple virtual servers on a single virtual host [and make] better use of the resources available.”

3. Scalability

Virtualization is highly scalable. It lets you easily create additional resources as required by many applications, such as by adding extra servers – all on an as-needed basis, without any significant investments in time or money.

IT admins can create new servers quickly because they do not need to purchase new hardware each time they need a new server, Livesay said. “If the resources are available, we can create a new server in a few clicks of a mouse.”

The ease of creating additional resources also helps businesses scale as they grow. “This scenario might be good for small businesses that are growing quickly, or businesses using their data center for testing and software development,” Livesay said.

“Workloads such as Hadoop, SQL databases, Spark, and containers often start off on bare-metal hardware but present new opportunities to be virtualized later on,” Adams said. “Virtualization can now support many new applications and workloads within the first 60 to 90 days on the market.”

Cons of virtualization

1. The upfront costs are hefty.

If you’re transitioning a legacy system to a virtualized one, upfront costs are likely to be high. Be prepared to spend upward of $10,000 for the servers and software licenses. However, as virtualization technology improves and becomes more commonplace, costs will go down.

2. Not all hardware or software can be virtualized.

Not all servers and applications are virtualization-friendly, Livesay said. “Typically, the main reason you may not virtualize a server or application is only because the application vendor may not support it yet, or recommend it.”

Although more software applications are adapting to virtualization situations, there may be licensing complications due to multiple hosts and migrations. Regarding performance and licensing issues, you should check if your business’s essential applications work well in a virtualized environment.

3. It’s easy to get carried away with adding servers.

Keep in mind that one of the main goals and advantages of virtualization is the efficient use of resources. You should be careful not to let the effortlessness of creating servers result in the carelessness of allocating resources. 

“Server sprawl is one of the unintended consequences of virtualization,” Livesay said. “Once administrators realize how easy it is to add new servers, they start adding a new server for everything. Soon you find that, instead of six to 10 servers, you are now managing 20 to 30 servers.” 

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: Virtualization can be extremely beneficial for a business owner looking to scale their company or save on resources. However, make sure your hardware and software are capable of virtualization before making any changes.

Virtualization solutions for small businesses


VMware offers a wide range of virtualization products and services that make IT less costly and easier to manage for all types of companies, including small businesses. Its end-to-end solutions include vSphere, a virtualization platform known for its high reliability and used by businesses around the world. It delivers powerful computing that can handle multiple workloads with maximum uptime and optimum performance. 


Citrix offers several virtualization solutions suitable for small businesses. One such solution is VDI-in-a-Box, a scalable desktop virtualization service that is easy to deploy and manage. Anyone with Windows expertise can centrally manage the service and grant user access, reducing desktop management costs like hiring IT specialists and purchasing extra equipment and multiple software. Another option is XenApp Fundamentals, a turnkey solution that lets a small business instantly and securely virtualize applications for the entire organization.


IBM offers many types of virtualization solutions that lower costs and maximize agility for small businesses. Using VMware’s virtualization platform, IBM’s virtualization services provide an enterprise-class IT infrastructure for a small business budget. You can choose from four plans based on your needs: the popular IBM System x, the easy-to-deploy IBM Power Systems, the multi-server IBM BladeCenter, and the advanced IBM PureFlex System Express.

Virtualization certifications

VMware certification

Because VMware certifications are based on its proprietary technology, most notably vSphere, the certifications change as the technology advances. Those who are interested in a VMware Associate certification must pass a single exam, while Professional and Advanced Professional certifications require training courses or a prerequisite certification and an exam. Design Expert certifications are even more extensive.

Citrix certification

For professionals interested in Citrix certification, it offers credentials for virtualization at the associate, professional and expert levels. Associate credentials are earned by passing a single exam, and training is not required. From there, you can work your way up to professional and expert certifications, which require more involved testing.

Cisco certification

The Cisco Career Certification program offers a wide range of certifications, from entry to architect level. Depending on the certification you’re looking to earn, there are various exams and prerequisites. Certifications are valid for two to five years, depending on the type. After that timeframe, you need to recertify by either passing a recertification test or advancing upward in Cisco’s certification program.

Azure certification

Like many other certifications, Microsoft Azure credentials are earned by passing an exam. Azure certification requires a strong understanding of virtual machines, Azure subscriptions, identity management, and six months of experience administering Azure. You can earn various certification levels, from associate to expert. For those looking to earn the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate credential, Microsoft offers various self-study materials to help you prepare for the exam. 

Sean Peek and Sara Angeles contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Applied AI with DeepLearning No result found, try new keyword!Once enrolled you can access the license in the Resources area <<< This course, Applied Artificial Intelligence with DeepLearning, is part of the IBM Advanced ... about the fundamentals of Linear ... Sat, 12 Jun 2021 11:47:00 -0500 text/html Killexams : Ransomware and backup: Overcoming the challenges

The first quarter of 2022 saw more ransomware attacks than in all of 2021, according to research by cyber security supplier WatchGuard. The firm expects 2022 to be a record year for ransomware attacks.

Ransomware has grown steadily in its prominence and impact since the WannaCry attack five years ago – and backup is no less important as a means of recovery, despite changes in attackers’ techniques.

Because, while criminal groups resort to ever more advanced techniques, including double and triple extortion attacks, the fundamentals of ransomware still matter. Attackers infiltrate a network, find and encrypt data, and demand a payment (usually in cryptocurrency), in return for a decryption key.

None of this is news, nor is it news that paying a ransom is no guarantee of being able to retrieve data.

There is plenty of research to suggest that ransomware groups often fail to hand over a decryption key or, if they do, the key does not work. Research by Venafi, another cyber security supplier, suggests this happens in 35% of cases.

Then there is the time, inconvenience and cost involved in recovering encrypted data. This can take days, or even weeks. Understandably, chief information officers (CIOs) and chief information security officers (CISOs) may feel it’s worth going it alone and attempting to recover data from their own backups.

Ultimately, this can be the most effective strategy. It has the advantage of not putting money into the hands of criminal gangs, and possibly falling foul of sanctions for doing so. Although it is not currently illegal to pay a ransom in the UK, the NCSC and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recently called on firms not to pay ransoms.  This is much easier for firms that have robust and reliable backups.

Restoring from backups: The basics

Firms can take a range of steps to reduce the risk of a ransomware attack, from technical security tools, regular patching and operating system updates to user education.

If an attacker does gain access to the network and is able to encrypt files, the only option – short of paying the ransom – is to restore data from backups. But backups need to be “hardened” against ransomware attacks.

Options include restoring from offsite media, including optical or tape drives, or from snapshots. Snapshots contain more information than just the data, but include metadata, parent copies and even deleted files. These snapshots are now often referred to as “immutable”, as once copied they cannot be changed.

And backup security tool suppliers have added measures to prevent snapshots being wiped, for example, by requiring multi-factor authentication to move or delete the data. This provides added protection against malware that attempts to delete or corrupt backup files.

If possible, backups should be air-gapped, either physically separated from production systems or logically separated by the backup and recovery tool. Ideally, firms should use both strategies.

Organisations should also consider backup to the cloud, to provide a logical and physical separation. More backup and recovery tools now support storing immutable backups in the cloud. CIOs need to be aware of storage and data egress costs, although cloud can still be more cost-effective than building extensive, on-premise backup hardware.

RPOs, RTOs, and ransomware

Any disaster recovery plan will set out the organisation’s recovery time objective (RTO), or how quickly data should be restored, and the recovery point objective (RPO), or how far back the restore needs to go to find a clean, workable copy of their data.

In conventional disaster recovery planning, RTO needs to be as short as possible to minimise revenue losses, and RPO as exact as possible to reduce the need to reconstruct lost data. Quicker recovery means more frequent backups and higher storage costs.

Ransomware, however, complicates matters because attackers often wait for weeks or months after they have penetrated networks before they deploy the malware. The challenge this presents is knowing how far back you will have to go to find a clean copy of data. In practical terms, ransomware protection means keeping more data copies for longer, and ensuring those copies are protected.

Recovery window

Firms also need to consider the recovery window: how long it will take to retrieve and check backups, especially off-site copies, and then begin the restore process.

Backup systems are not designed to recover large volumes of data quickly, which is why organisations have a broader suite of disaster recovery tools, including snapshots and mirrored systems. But these can be as vulnerable to ransomware attack as the production copies.

The option to recover data to cloud instances rather than on-premise helps, but CIOs will need to prioritise key operational systems for recovery. This needs to be part of the recovery plan, and tested in advance.

“The key point of failure in data protection usually isn’t the backup, it’s the recovery,” says Bryan Betts, at analyst firm Freeform Dynamics.

He cautions that increasing complexity of IT systems, including cloud, hybrid and containerised workloads, makes it harder to bring systems back online.

Again, snapshots will help, but disaster recovery planners need to think in terms of priority business systems and business processes rather than storage volumes. One single RPO and RTO might not be enough, and firms are likely to need different objectives for ransomware recovery than for a simple technical outage.

Backup and recovery risks

Recovering data after a ransomware attack is more complex and more risky than recovery from a system outage or natural disaster.

The greatest risk is that backups contain undetected ransomware, which then replicate into the production system or recovered systems.

This risk is reduced by using air-gapped copies and immutable copies and snapshots, and keeping more copies than would be required for conventional backup alone. This requires a more cautious approach to data recovery, and one that can be at odds with the commercial pressures for short RTOs and exact RPOs.

Matters are made more difficult because there are no viable, fool-proof systems that can scan data for ransomware before it is backed up, says Barnaby Mote, managing director at backup specialist Databarracks.

“Before ransomware was a thing, replicating data from production systems to DR as quickly as possible was a sound recovery strategy for conventional disasters,” he says. “Now, with ransomware, it has the opposite of the desired effect, rendering recovery systems unusable.”

There are some techniques IT teams can employ before recovering files, such as file monitoring, which looks at whether encrypted backup has the same characteristics, such as size, as the original files. However, detecting such anomalies is still largely a manual or custom process that relies on the skill of the recovery and IT security teams.

Recovering data initially to isolated environments and running further checks will provide some assurance. But all these measures take time, and add at least one more step to the recovery process.

And, as Christian Borst, field chief technology officer at threat detection and response company Vectra, points out, recovering from a ransomware attack is about more than recovering data. Firms need to reconstruct the operational state of their systems as well as ensure data is clean.

“Creating backups of system and application configuration in addition to operational data is essential,” he says. “The most important aspect in this regard is to ensure the integrity and availability of these backups.”

A good data protection strategy is neither easy nor cheap, but it will help firms reduce the downtime caused by a ransomware attack, and could, with good preparation and even a degree of luck, prevent the need to pay a ransom at all.

Tue, 12 Jul 2022 05:32:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Excel Skills for Data Analytics and Visualization No result found, try new keyword!According to an IBM report, the Excel tools for data analytics and visualization are among the top 10 competencies projected to show double-digit growth in their demand. This course will help you ... Tue, 11 Jan 2022 01:46:00 -0600 text/html Killexams : Startups News No result found, try new keyword!Showcase your company news with guaranteed exposure both in print and online Join the BBJ for our second annual Biotech in Boston program… Ready to embrace the fast-paced future we’re all ... Fri, 15 Jul 2022 20:00:00 -0500 text/html Killexams : The Rise Of Investable Public Benefit Corporations
World environment day with global community teamwork,Group of volunteer join hand together concept, Volunteer charity work. People joining for cooperation success.sustainable development goal

pcess609/iStock via Getty Images

A Growing Trend Outside of ESG

Public Benefit Corporations are a new range of corporate entities that are for-profit companies that can be publicly traded, but differ from other corporations in that shareholders are not the only recipients of “best interest” practices. Now, business goals can also include the health and wellness of the environment, workers, and the broader community. Often, shareholders revolt against the management of publicly listed companies when performance is poor and can cite poor shareholder returns as a reason to sue.

B-corps are shielded in a way from these impacts, as management can be invested in charity work or sustainability. Imagine current ESG standards, but to a much higher degree. This is useful in that management can now focus on building a healthy, future-focused company without having as much worry about short-term performance. As you will see later in this article, strong share price performance is not the norm in this current market, but hints at strong fundamentals remain.

The corporate entity has been instrumental in harnessing the profit motive to allow business enterprises to have a tremendous impact, both negative and positive, upon contemporary society. The proliferation of these entities also led to a tension in our society and our jurisprudence with respect to their purpose and impact on society. On the one hand, the corporate form’s success led to a greater availability of products and services that increased our standard of living and quality of life. On the other hand, many believe the corporate form owes even more to society. Throughout American history there has been a continuous call for businesses to wield their power and influence in such a way as to not only create economic value for shareholders, but also to create value in an ethical manner that benefits society as a whole.

However, benefit status should not be an excuse for poor performance, and in fact, could be a tool to drive growth for a B-corp. Since the establishment of this class of business entity across the US in the late 2000s, there are now thirteen publicly listed B-corps, and an additional 20+ companies with B-corp subsidiaries. There are certainly positives and negatives to the business structure as a result of a lack of transparent results and conflicting interests (although most negative opinions come from lawyers rather than economists). Also, as the format remains new, we still do not have enough data to suggest under or overperformance. I will use this article to introduce the current B-corp companies to begin tracking performance over time.

Although the underlying idea of the benefit corporation is well-meaning, Delaware's departure from the MBCL's language in key respects, in addition to the MBCL's creation of a lax enforcement system possibly to promote widespread adoption, detracts from the intentions of the drafters. Benefit corporation legislation, as it currently exists, is nothing more than the result of riding the wave of the corporate social responsibility movement.

Pure-play PBCs by Market Cap

Veeva Systems (VEEV)

One of the first tradable corporations to transition to B-corp status is this pioneering healthcare cloud-based SaaS provider. Veeva was one of the strongest performers of the last decade, although the valuation has fallen in-line with the market in the past year. However, look for growth to remain above 20% per year for the foreseeable future with the chance for upside as the R&amp;D side of the healthcare market recovers from a slow FDA.

United Therapeutics (UTHR)

This commercial-stage biotech company focuses on rare disease therapeutics and has multiple approvals. The current pipeline has multiple trials across all phases and some catalysts within the next few months may boost the current low valuation, even as the company recently earned an FDA approval. Certainly worth a deep dive for those who enjoy the biotech industry (they are even attempting to grow lungs!).

Coursera (COUR)

Coursera is one of the largest providers of online education in the world thanks to partnerships with entities such as Google (GOOGL) (GOOG), Stanford Uni, and IBM (IBM). Look for the company to thrive as students look for cheaper and more flexible alternatives to traditional higher education. As a exact IPO, continue to be wary of the downward share price trend and high valuation (a pattern you will see emerging for B-corps).

Warby Parker (WRBY)

Warby Parker is a relatively new eyeglass retailer attempting to use e-commerce marketing strategies, such as home try-on periods, virtual try-on, and even home prescription renewal. The company sells a wide range of proprietary frames and lenses, along with ACUVUE (JNJ), Alcon (ALC), and CooperVision (COO) contacts. Revenues are expected to grow in the mid-20% range, but the current valuation remains high.

Planet Labs (PL)

Planet Labs is a satellite image database provider. With a range of satellites in orbit and a variety of data insights, the company is leveraging a data subscription service for growth. Look to the company to provide slow, but profitable growth into the future thanks to their relatively niche platform. Although, main competitors Maxar (MAXR) and BlackSky (BKSY) are quite similar in offerings, and this limits the tremendous growth potential of the peer group. Dedicated investors should take the time to research each.

Lemonade (LMND)

Lemonade is a new entrant in consumer insurance coverage. The platform offers a range of insurance services from home, renters, car, pet, and life coverage. With a focus on younger, urban customers, the company certainly has suffered in front of investors. With time, however, I feel the company will find their niche thanks to a streamlined platform and higher quality customer relations. The added benefit of consumers seeking out a B-Corp insurance company may be another slight tailwind to consider.

Allbirds (BIRD)

Allbirds is by no means an innovative company. However, this sustainable clothing company is following in the successful footsteps of names such as Nike (NKE), Supreme (VFC), and Patagonia: limited edition products, a focus towards high-income activewear fans, and a sustainable-focused platform. While BIRD needs some more time on the market before we can determine the long-term outlook, I do believe positive reviews on the website indicate potential.

Amalgamated Financial Corp. (AMAL)

This union, PE, and shareholder owned financial institution focuses on providing financial services to unions and non-profit institutions. The company is a leading provider of accounts receivable solutions and this has led to stable, but slow, growth over the years. The company is certainly a welcome low-risk asset when compared to the many SPAC listing peers of the past year.

GreenLight Biosciences, Vital Farms, and AppHarvest

  • &lt;$500 million market cap each.

Enter the innovative agricultural stocks. GreenLight (GRNA) is a biotech company with applications in crop science, predominantly non-toxic pest control, thanks to their RNA-based technologies. Vital Farms (VITL) is a small family farm collective that sells pasture-raised chicken and dairy products. AppHarvest (APPH) is developing indoor farming techniques that reduce the risks associated with weather, along with reducing consumption and waste. While remaining small-scale, pre-commercial, and/or speculative, these companies address unique areas of research for our ever-necessary agricultural industry.

Performance Summary

While the companies are diverse in terms of business types, performance is quite similar due to the fact that most companies IPOed within the past few years. Further, due to the small sizes and growth orientation, most companies are not yet profitable. This has led the overall performance of the group to be negative so far this year, and only AMAL and UTHR are up YTD. However, this also means that the group may have the chance to outperform the market in the long run, as growth outpaces the market average.

  • Median Price to Sales (TTM): 5.83x
  • Median YoY Revenue Growth: 24.9%
  • Median YTD Return: -45%

Growth certainly is the name of the game with these assets. I find the most enticing asset as an individual holding would be Veeva, and no other name really comes close in terms of quality. As a leader in cloud software for the healthcare industry, no other company on this list comes close in terms of having a moat, rock solid balance sheet, and profitability. However, as I mentioned before, there are other major companies that have subsidiaries that are B-corps, and adding these names to the group increases the safety of this “portfolio”. These names include Procter &amp; Gamble (PG), Nestle (OTCPK:NSRGY), Coca-Cola (KO), Unilever (UL), and Anheuser-Busch (BUD). Notice how most are consumer goods companies as more consumers prefer “beneficial” brands (whether through sustainable products, charity work, etc.). See the full list of companies, here.


I find that when considering part B-corp investments, the entire group is an intriguing take on the market. The large consumer product conglomerates offer stability, while the pure-play B-corps offer speculative growth opportunities. Therefore, I wonder if ETF issuers will soon begin offering ETFs covering the growing B-corp market. Until then, I will be tracking the performance of the group and provide periodic updates. I will even look for the group to outperform traditional indexes such as the S&amp;P 500 (SPY) (VOO) or the Nasdaq 100 (QQQ). Every B-corp I discussed certainly looks worthy of further research, so I hope I sparked your interest in Public Benefit Corporations.

Thanks for reading.

Mon, 27 Jun 2022 10:56:00 -0500 en text/html
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