Monday, November 16, 2015

Microsoft Open Tech and Mifos X

There being just over a month for Christmas, it's time to write about one of most rewarding Mifos X related projects, not only for SanJose Solutions but also the entire Mifos community. The second quarter of 2015 has proved to be a landmark time in our involvement in making Mifos X far more widespread and easier to install and setup as well as helping programmers and contributors to Mifos X get kick-started quickly. I recall an email I received from Paul Lor of AFSC, who had been trying, in vain to setup an instance of Mifos X on MS Azure. Like our earlier Mifos X Packaging Project last year, we agreed to nosedive into another adventure to reliably package Mifos X on multiple platforms. Like Paul, many people have been wanting to deploy Mifos X quickly and effectively but found themselves confronted with a lack of support for cloud instances, except Amazon AWS. The AWS instances were being manually updated after each release by Sangamesh Nadagoudar from Conflux Tech (fellow Mifos partner from Bengaluru).

Of the cloud service providers, Amazon has been the most popular and practical to get started with, whereas Microsoft with it's Azure offering is the tech giant's foray into the cloud space. The guys at MS Open Tech have been working on the Azure shell and ARM and to their credit, have provided the source code of the former on Github, which personally made it easier to persuade us to partner with them. I need to especially thank Ed Cable co-founder of Mifos Initative for his role in mediating and co-ordinating. And of course  Ross Gardler, Head of Microsoft Open Technologies and President of the Apache Software Foundation, who coordinated Microsoft funding in an effort which has changed the way Mifos X is deployed and in the future should even change the way it is developed.

Though my personal preference for the Desktop / Laptop and Server is and has been linux, many of the partners in India and Africa are known for their preference and comfort using MS Windows and so are many of the Government departments. From a business perspective, we at SanJose Solutions do understand the importance of these people and cloud is the big leveller today with interoperability being the mantra. By simplifying the Mifos installation process and the ease of install and deployment, we have seen a manifold growth in new partners and demand for Mifos services and customizations around the world.


Monday, May 25, 2015

1st Anniversary of SanJose Solutions

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it - Psalm 118:24

Today, we celebrate the first anniversary of SanJose Solutions, a day to thank God and many well wishers who've been instrumental in realizing this dream. In the past year, we've had some amazing highlights and special memories. We started with optimism, strong faith and burning desire to make an impact. Add to that the determination and persistence to learn and grow and challenge our limits and I'd say those have been our biggest assets. I recall the early stages - the excitement and effort and initial projects. As time has passed and we complete a year, we've found ourselves with a lot to be happy about and lots of work remaining to be done. I've realized that, looking back I can truly say that though I'm challenged in living and working for a greater mission and facing the human challenges that come with it, this is what gives me great fulfilment and satisfaction.

This occasion marks a special milestone for me personally. Living in Bangalore all these years, with it's globally renowned IT industry, software giants and multi-national companies, in one such place I started my career 11 years back, yet realized what I was looking for was more. Building great software was always my desire and it was about growing in my competency to build each software better than the last one that has been a great motivating factor. I realized early in my career that learning is the key to unlock my future dreams. To top it all, I needed a higher purpose which synchronises with my own personal mission to make a difference in the world.

Our nosedive into Mifos X has been greatly satisfying because it brought us in touch with some amazing organizations and their work and the awesome Mifos community. The Mifos Initiative, especially Ed Cable, has been a great supporter in our mission. The Mifos X Messenger and the Debian package for quick installation of Mifos X were some highlights in our contribution in this area, contributions well appreciated by the community, especially based on the feedback at the global summit at Dubai this past March.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Special Day for SanJose Solutions

Today is a special day because on this day Lord Jesus set the perfect example of humility washing the feet of his disciples. Jesus also gave the mandate "Love one another as I have loved you". Here was a man, who at the consummation of a life which amazed his contemporaries, as reports the Gospel of Mark, gives perhaps his most important teaching and commandment. This is why today is called Maundy Thursday because of Jesus mandate to love one another. Born in a manger and having no place to lay his head, he showed the way of compassion,  mercy and love. Jesus said of his mission
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
and he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor,
proclaim freedom to the captives, 
and recovery of sight to the blind
Jesus clearly saw and identified himself with the poor both through his words and actions. It was last May end that I started SanJose Solutions with the aim of serving the Church and Society with quality technology solutions. It has been and continues to be an incredible journey with ups and downs, both of which have blessed and helped us. Through it all we have experienced the sure hand of Providence in a special way during these past months. Many of the things we have hoped and prayed for have become a reality and other things which we didn't plan or expect but have received in abundance more than we could imagine.

There is no doubt that we at SanJose Solutions draw great strength from Christ's life in our mission to serve the poor, working along with other Mifos partners, towards our dream of universal financial inclusion. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said "when I see the poor, I see in them the face of Christ". Jesus said whatsoever you do to the least of my people you do so to me. This is what makes our work for us more than any regular job. It becomes for a mission that is close to our hearts.

However, it is not enough to dream - we must also apply. I had attended a Social Entrepreneurship Course at Bala Vikasa in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh last year during which I also conducted a session on technology for Social Entrepreneurs. It was amazing discovering the power of Entrepreneurship. It is interesting how industry and social work can benefit from each other. The recent episode of NDTV Dialgues last Sunday featured an expert panel including Nobel Laureate Prof. Mohammad Yunus talking about Financial Inclusion for the Poor in India. It is heartening to see several positive thoughts about how we can enable the dreams of millions of people across the country through Microfinance and how business practices and knowledge can be utilized to carve a new economy where there is inclusive growth of all sections of society and the gap between the rich and poor can be reduced. Our vision is to build a sustainable Social Enterprise which can continue providing the services we have started out with to many more organizations and for a long time to come. Today we have seen organizations which have done this and we know we have the tools and the means to make this a reality.

Today is also a special day for me because it is my birthday. SanJose Solutions for me personally has been an amazing journey finding great satisfaction in fulfilling my dreams and my heart's desires. During last year's Social Entrepreneurship course I learned that the major source of India's GDP is Entrepreneurs. Prof. Yunus said during the programme that human beings are born to create, to invent. We have been looking at the corporate sector to provide jobs, but human beings can create their own jobs, we are born entrepreneurs. We at SanJose Solutions dream and don't stop at that. We build bridges between our present and our dreams, and we move forward towards realizing them and the dreams of others. For me especially the latter has been a strong motivator in my work and mission. My dream is to build wealth, but not really for myself but for many poor across the world. My dream is for many people of today to have sufficient to ease their suffering and provide for their old age. It is for children who have talent but lack education, facilities and opportunities can find a way to realize and enable the dreams of others too. My dream is to continue this virtuous cycle of making a difference through technology and transform my country, and the world.

I returned from the U.A.E last month after meeting members of the Mifos community from across the world. Over 80 people from more than 20 countries came together and it was my first summit in Sharjah, the confluence of East and West. We had a series of sessions on technical, financial, business and management topics and a lot of meetings and community interactions and not to mention fun as well. I was invited as a guest speaker to conduct a couple of technical sessions. The first was a session on Mifos X Messenger, an application to send automated SMS to a client even numbers on Indias notoriously hard to send Do-not-disturb lists. The second session was targeted at partners who need a quick was to demo Mifos X or setup a production instance of it on a linux server. The summit concluded with a hackathon which was the first time it was scheduled as part of a summit and I'd say it proved to be something a lot of technologists enjoyed and hope to see continue and increase in future summits.

It is with great faith and confidence that we look at the future seeing the promised land where the least fortunate have future and a hope. We believe that together we can shape a new world. In the midst of suffering and an unjust world, we believe in making the kingdom of God, a heaven on earth. Though this is not our final destination, we know we are here for a reason to do a work, a mission with the time that we have. We know that we are both human and also spiritual created by God Almighty and called to be holy. We offer to the Lord our gifts seeking his blessing, knowing that only through his grace and strength does everything good come. And we look forward to continuing to run this race and fight this good fight and leave no stone unturned in marching forward on our mission. And may the Lord Almighty bless us and see us to our journey's end.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mifos X Messenger Installation

Mifos X Messenger, the SMS Messaging System which sends SMS messages at different points in the Mifos X workflow can be installed by following these steps. I've tested out these steps for Debian / Ubuntu and it should be similar for Mac OSX, plus we've also been able to install on Windows, where step 1 is not applicable, but other steps are similar:

1. Install ruby version manager rvm see https://rvm.io/rvm/install:

    \curl -sSL https://get.rvm.io | bash -s stable --rails

2. Download messenger source code:

      git clone https://github.com/SanjoseSolutions/mifosx-messenger.git

3. Install dependencies

   bundle install

4. Configure mifosx-messenger

   setup config.yml

5.  Run messenger

   ruby app.rb

6. Setup Mifos X Webhooks to connect with MifosX Messenger

  In Mifos X go to Admin > System > Manage Hooks
  Click "Create Hook"
  Hook Template: Web

  Active: checked
  Content Type: json
  Payload URL: http://localhost:3000
  Events: transactions_loan : LOAN : REPAYMENT
                transactions_savings: SAVINGSACCOUNT: WITHDRAWAL 
                transactions_savings: SAVINGSACCOUNT: DEPOSIT

More details, video coming soon