Our Companies databases are more complicated than twitter and facebook

Just got an idea to find out what are the databases used by the big heads in IT these days

Had a small search and found out the following


Google uses BigTable database(created by google)

Twitter uses MYSQL as database ! [I think they moved to some NOSQL kind of DBMS now]

Facebook uses MYSQL as database ! [I think they moved to some NOSQL kind of DBMS now]

( at least these two were using MYSQL the days the article I just read about them were writtern)


Well ok we understand the case for google it for sure needs a really extraordinary DBMS that can handle its unique requirements, but what about twitter and facebook!

These two giants have that huge data , and really fast growing database, with huge audience accessing and updating these database rapidly.

It really shows how much power an opensource DBMS like MYSQL can provide and again raises the question why many companies in our part of the world insist their DBMS must be either Oracle or Microsofts’ SQLSERVER !!! while 99% of the companies around here will never require more than the amount of data, number of users, powerfull security that MYSQL provides to Facebook and twitter.


What is the problem with the decisions of these companies ?! if you know the answer please let me know in the comment


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Asus Transformer Review (First Days Experience)

The Asus Transformer TF101 is one of the most inticipated android tablets for this year with its Tegra2 processor … however the (more) special thing about the transformer is its form factor, its a normal 10.1 inches android tablet … but with a little twist, you could combine it with a keyboard dock, which will then transform your tablet into a netbook – hence the name “transformer” – the keyboard not only provides you with a full qwerty physical keyboar, it provides 2 USB ports, HDMI port, SD Card slot …. AND it (the dock) can charge your tablet and prolong your tablet’s battery life to up to juicy 16 hours (as Asus claim) … pretty neat eh?

Rest of the specs can be found here

Now you would probably say “so what? .. i have a small netbook with a keyboard” .. but let me tell you something, the experience of having a touch screen + keyboard at the same time is extraordinarily, …. especially in browsing, …. ever navigated to a website and then u saw a link and you got lazy to move your hands on the mouse and point at the link and click? .. well all those steps can be done by you “poking” the actual link on the screen, and then continue with the keyboard … the experience is much more rich than that, but thats what i could think of right now.

I have had the transformer for 2 days now, everything run smooth, the only things that i have problems with are I have ZERO problems with the transformer right now! … the solutions came pretty fast.

1 – Android Market: Good god android market for honeycomb devices seems a beta product to me! 90% of the apps in the android market fail to install on my device (free and paid alike) gives me an error “this item cannot be installed in your country“! what is interesting is, i have an HTC desire with stock android 2.2 and it runs the market perfectly and i can download free and paid apps without any problem, so whats with the transformer? i dont know you tell me … i have sent a ticket to Asus and Android and I am yet to get a useful reply for my query. Scratch that!!! I am able to download apps from the market now without any annoying error messages !
2 – The promised Android Honeycomb 3.1 still has not reached my transformer? even though that world wide it has been announced that the upate has been rolled. scratch that, i just received the Honeycomb 3.1 official OTA update from Asus, … the first problem still persist though


Asus transformer is a truly a “game transformer” … It has set a new standard, specially with its form factor. after using the transformer, its very hard for me to imagine using just a plain “tablet” .. Asus did very well with this product.

Over all,  …. excluding the Android Market issue (which i believe only people outside the US and Europe encounter this) the Transformer experience is really a nice one, and if you are going for a tablet nowadays, … you definitely can NOT go wrong with the Asus Transformer.

If you have any questions or comments about the Asus Transformer, let me know.


Updates: My two problems has been solved (within two days from reporting it!), i dunno wither its just my luck or i pushed Google or Asus to fix it, .. but I am a happy camper now :)

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Document Management & SharePoint

Document management is an essential need in most if not all organizations in this part of the world. Number operational & tracking information is increasing in a very insane way, and in the same time the requirement of historical evidence and documents by auditing is also increasing and getting complicated in the same time.


I remember not long ago we were asked for proof by documents or database records for something happened in the company in 2002 ! that’s almost 10 years ago!!!

Document Management System is a software, or collection of software tools that tracks electronic documents & images of paper documents. These softwares must be able to:

  • index documents’ content
  • keep track of versions of the documents
  • manage permissions on documents and even parts of the documents
  • Allow collaboration on documents
  • Manage and facilitate automated Workflows on documents



On another hand Microsoft SharePoint (even with all the doubts in performance, and big number of limitations it has) is available and in use in most of the companies in this region. May be the trick is in the kind of licensing that Microsoft provide the companies that they end up finding themselves having SharePoint, so if you have it for what you paid for other products why not to use it and get some benefit out of it.

With this concept organizations will try to use SharePoint as many different products such as

  • Internal site for organization
  • Way of exchanging information, notices, anouncements with employees
  • Team sites
  • Document Library
  • Knowledge base
  • Discustion board
  • Workflows managing platform


As a result many organizations including yours have the feeling we need document management, we have SharePoint (well we already paid for it to Microsoft without knowing that) why not to use it for our basic needs of document management!!.

Well this is good and bad

It is good because:

  • Basic features of document management system is available in SharePoint’s Document Library
  • Great integration between SharePoint and MS Office products (w eord, excel,powerpoint, etc)
  • Content types are maintained (need 3rdparty plugin to understand pdf files ) ( a plug in will needed for each type of file not related to MS office products)
  • Indexing of documents content is available as a result good search feature
  • document level permission settings and permission inheritance is available
  • version controlling and management is available
  • collaboration to certain level is available but it gets much better in SharePoint 2010
  • Workflow creation and management is available (need to buy a plugin for better control and management of workflows)

This is also bad because:

  • Document parts level controle is not available. That is you can’t change permissions on sections of the documents or on different sheets or pages of word document by document library will have to live with whatever MS Office offers in this matter
  • Documents are stored inside Database as a blob. Well that’s wrong most of document management system stores documents as files on a storage devices usually associated with backup product and link to the document is stored in the database. Storing the whole document in the database will cause performance issues with your DBMS and you will need huge amount of RAM, may be for this reason there is a best practice in SharePoint to make a single document library have at most 2000 documents (well nothing stops you from adding more, but they suggest to you not to add more)
  • Need of plugins : you will need plugins and many of them depend on your requirements. You better consider the price of plugins you will need while implementing SharePoint document library as your document management system


Well here I am not saying either way

I am not saying this is good go and use SharePoint as your document management solution

I am not saying this is bad don’t use SharePoint as your document management solution

It all depend on your requirements!!

You should know the pros and cons (which I tried to provide here as much as I know) and then its your decision

Depending on your requirements SharePoint document library could be the best solution you will ever get for your document management

Or it can be your worst nightmare

So decide well J

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Arab gets Smart…. Phones

phone vs smart phone

Nowadays, it is highly noticeable how people from our Arab world are shifting from normal mobile phones to the smart ones. People demands and needs have changed and this can be one possibility behind the change and the irresistible features of smart phones can be another one! There is unlimited number of specifications smart phones can provide, starting from calling services and ending with operating the car engine! This is only one example of what is available now and can be found in more advanced versions in the future! Moreover, there is the accessibility to connect with the World Wide Web that cannot be neglected as one of the graces that these phones brought to our lives to be something basic of every individual’s daily routine.

With the small number of people I’m connected with I have seen all kinds of people old, young, male and female have changed their cell phone from a normal ones to a smart one and more are coming, most of them got influenced by other people around them who are using phones like iphone, android and windows mobiles it is no more limited to hands with I.T background.

Some of the applications which help the growth of smart phones in our side of the world are facebook and twitter apps. The hunger to be always connected with the social networking sites forces the users to upgrade to smart phones. Besides all that, we should not forget to mention sharing the happy moments is becoming easier and reachable anytime and almost everywhere.

From a personal experience, the usage of android smart phone has reduced my usage of the personal computer, especially on surfing the net and checking emails. Receiving an email has become like receiving a text message which can be immediately replied to if needed.

I believe that the number of people who are changing to smart phones is growing and it won’t stop growing since the technology is growing with no limits.

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Workflow Engine & SharePoint

Talk from my experience
Workflow engine is what all people in big and middle organizations are talking about ! If you work in IT department of a non IT company you will know what i mean , there is a real need for a work-flow engine.
Have you heard the following kind of requirements ?
  • Leave application process system
  • Request form for new hiring
  • Request form for new Black Berry (for new manager, or old manager who spoiled his phone)
  • Request form for accommodation for  guests.
  • Request form for asking for change password.
  • request form for VPN
  • Request form for access to specific server
  • Request form for business travel arrangement.
and the list can go on and on and on..
And off-course each of these have their own complicated way of approval and extra information collection from chain of supervisors, managers and approvers .
Do you really think that each of these requirement should have a customized software created for it? Well the requirements are simple still it is a work of weeks after requirements collection, the weeks that will get lost in designing , DB development, application development, testing, deployment. All this time will be wasted and company will be paying for IT department or outsourcing each of these customized applications and still losing time and money.
If you notice these  applications are the basic things that any medium or even some small size organization will need!!
since it is a every day thing and faced by a lot of companies i would really wish that there would be something , some software where user can set the request form, and explain the approver process in easy language and the data that should be collected. And vollah !!! you will get one of these applications in ONE day instead of weeks (after collecting and confirming requirements) and it will be as good and as reliable as any customized software made specifically for the company.

Well that is simply called workflow engine and this is exactly what it do and how it work !!
To make it a little bit more complicated we will require each of the mentioned workflow to interact with our databases, our HR system (Oracle, .NET, Java, whatever..).
Now since in our company are having enterprise license for microsft and its application we get sharepoint server by default. Having Windows server , Windows Workflow foundation, and sharepoint server ; makes Sharepoint workflows the best available tool for us to be used.
The following is a comparission of different ways and plugins that could be used with sharepoint to get our workflow engine working.
SharePoint 2007 SharePoint 2010 Nintex
Developer interface wizard of different steps where each step has conditions and actions More flexible interface in wizard. In addition, can export to\import from Visio which is useful just to view a representation of the workflow or design the general structure (actual work is done in SharePoint designer). Design should have a carefully defined structure to work in SharePoint designer. Easy drag and drop interface.
User interface confusing approval process interface because user can see two different lists: items list and tasks list same as 2007 Generates ready forms which can include item information on the approval task. Therefore user will not be confused between two the two lists.
Conditions and Actions Some actions and condition are provided. Can create more actions using visual studio 2008. More actions and conditions are available. Can create more actions using visual studio 2010. Example of new actions: find manager of user. Various collections of conditions and actions are available. Examples: Loops , …
Privileges When an approval task is assigned to a user, any other user can approve the task if he gets the link. A custom action was programmed by Ali to avoid this problem. Only the user the task is assigned to can approve the task. Only the user the task is assigned to can approve the task.
Complicated workflows Had problems in Prepayment workflow but others simpler ones worked correctly Simple workflows work. Created 3 stage workflow and it works fine.
Programmability SP programming complicated and need special course to be able to use it SP programming complicated and need special course to be able to use it Can invoke web services that can be easily programmed
Database Connection Through programming only Through programming only Can connect to SQL server , ORACLE any DB through ODBC
Active Directory/or any LDAP directory connection Through programming only Through programming only Drag and drop action
String manuplation

Not possible Possible Possible
Ability read and use lookup values in all needed fields and locations No Yes Yes

logical and mathematical information
few few

Parallel actions
Not good control Well controlled Well controlled

Not supported Not supported Supported

Workflow forms

User see approval and data collection as an item in tasks that need to be edited User see well formed form but after submitting will be directed to task list ! User see well formed form

well using nintex we can easily add an infopath form (which could be taken from scanned paper form !!) and to explain the workflow (flow of the document for approval and data collection) we just have to draw it with Nintex tools !!

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Exchange 2010 DAG problem?


So I was working on Exchange 20210 and I thought of sharing this with you. As you all know Exchang 2010 comes with new database availability feature called “Database Availability Group” or DAG.This Clustering feature allow creating database copies across servers, data centers, or even across countries. DAG works as replication boundary for databases and it works per membership :) . if a server is member of a DAG it can create and get copies of databases in the DAG when needed (you can specify which database or databases).

If you are working with Exchange 2010 and try to create Database Availability Group (DAG), then u may have come across this weird error message that does not tell you anything when you try to join the first node in the DAG. Ok, let’s recap a lab scenario:

  • You installed 2 exchange servers.
  • You already successful on creating the DAG.
  • When u try to add the first node this error come up:

” A server-side database availability group administrator operation failed. Error: The operation failed with message: Error 0x6f7 (The stub received bad data) from cli_RpccCreateCluster

Error 0x6f7 (The stub received bad data) from cli_RpccCreateCluster


The operation wasn’t successful because an error was encountered. You may find more details in log file


The solution: it is a small thing you missed actually. Just adding the default gateway on NIC will solve it. The second server I added was smooth I didn’t have to add the gateway!

The reason is that it seems the DAG creation is not complete (specifically the cluster related resources and configuration) until the first node is created.

I hope that was informative for you.

More Resources:

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