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Monday, October 31, 2005

Enterprise Software & Core Product Architectures

I wrote a brief article for sandhill.com on the next generation architecture in the enterprise software industry. In this dynamic business world, enterprises look towards constantly improving, realigning & automating their operations to remain nimble and be ever-ready to meet market challenges. Customer demands, market dynamics, and technology advancements are pushing solution frameworks to be aligned towards an experience of end-to-end process fulfillment. Enterprise customers have begun to appreciate the significance of product architectures in determining the effectiveness and suitability of solutions in scaling up to meet such requirements. All other things being equal, the success of software vendors would be to a large extent dependant on these strengths. Such architectures need to assimilate emerging technologies and support evolving business requirements. The very high life cycle cost of enterprise applications imposes limits on the ability of configured software to meet varying business demands. The fast emerging next generation architecture can substantially help in overcoming such limitations..
Across the spectrum of industries, sectors, regions, enterprises – there are underlying unique nature of processes,( granted that there may be a significant degree of common denominator) calling for specific solution approaches and frameworks. The current approach of architecting solutions towards accommodating conflicting, overlapping & unique requirements invariably leads to complex solutions propping up bloatware in the process. Provisions made for minor constituents /stakeholders force the majority to tolerate unwanted set of functionalities. Focused, lean products addressing specific constituencies would allow customers to adapt software that meets their own, individual needs. The next generation of application architecture must gratuitously support business processes cutting across application boundaries. An ideal composite solution shall integrate business processes, applications and data, and extend incremental functionalities to "plug the gaps" to produce a cohesive, composite application that ensures semantic, transactional & contextual integrity across the business process. Wide and varied technologies, formats & protocols need to be managed for cross-applications and would obviously force specific solutions to be rolled out. The architecture will need to provide support for integration at various levels - business process level, application integration level, and application extension level to enable enterprises to maximize the benefits by facilitating the tying together of varied applications in a way that the resultant composite application is better than the sum of its parts. In the world of composites, application boundaries disappear and applications gradually imbibe such architectural capabilities . Futuristic enterprise products will provide in depth support to industry functionalities and offer tight integration capabilities with vertical solution that are of best-of-breed ‘bolt-on’ product types. The next generation of enterprise architecture must bestow the business with large scale consolidations happening within the industry. The basis of competition shifts from plain market muscle, promotions and fast moving abilities to providing future proof architectures and good support to business processes through repository centric integrated offering benefiting the business across the extended value chain. Read the full article here.

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BPEL 2.0 Delay

Standard mechanisms to orchestrate business processes in Web services applications known as BPEL 2.0 standard will have to wait until next year for final OASIS approval.Amendments to enable human interactions as part of this technology will wait even longer.This being delayed until the first half of 2006 while technologists at OASIS continue sorting through approximately three dozen issues, whittled down from a list that had totaled around 230. Considered critical for applications such as transactional and B2B systems, the XML-based BPEL technology has wide industry support.BPEL has functions such as language constructs to enable if-then-else statements for the 2.0 version. Dynamic, parallel invocation of services also is an important addition,for adapting the number of steps in a process based on the number of partners participating in a transaction, according to IBM. Version 2.0 is aimed at improving the way that Web services are used to call out to partner links to enable more flexibility. One of the noted weakness in BPEL2.0 is that it is orchestrated automation and perhaps provides limited flexibility for accommodating human workflow mechanisms. IBM’s BPEL4People is defined in a way that it is layered on top of the BPEL language so that its features can be composed with the BPEL core features whenever needed as this paper explains in detail.
BPEL identified as one of the hot technologies for 2005 is an important component in the development of In order to work effectively a BPMS often requires that the underlying software is constructed according to the principles of a service-oriented architecture. Business Process Execution Language for Web Services provides a means to formally specify business processes and interaction protocols. BPEL4WS provides a language for the formal specification of business processes and business interaction protocols. By doing so, it extends the Web Services interaction model and enables it to support business transactions. BPEL4WS defines an interoperable integration model that should facilitate the expansion of automated process integration in both the intra-corporate and the business-to-business spaces. It is often the case that to make a suite of existing legacy systems to fit with a BPMS is often difficult.
business process management solutions, a hot rage these days critically depend on this standard to be finalized fast. As this clarification shows BPEL is an interchange language allowing systems that otherwise don't talk to one another to understand some basic system-to-system issues. It's analogous to SQL in that way. It's not a standard language where a business analyst would to start to define a process.I agree with the view its not a lingua franca bit its evolution shows fair amount of legitimate cooperation among otherwise competitive vendors, & the fact that it has now been adopted and is being managed by OASIS - all that says this is a good thing and something to keep on top of.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Workaround Life’s Digital Interruptions

Jon Udell, one of my favourites writes that modern humans may not be able to get rid of the constant interruptions in our day, but can manage them better. He elaborates that people are the exception handlers in all automated workflows, and intelligence and judgment won’t be automated anytime soon. The challenge may be in finding how to connect people and services. Managing that scarcest of resources, our attention, is a huge challenge. Jon argues that all of us have preferences, so it’s vital that people choose which channel to be interrupted on.But stuffing the same messages down one channel or another doesn’t alter the nature of those messages, or reduce the total effort required to process them. He rightly points out that we’ll need to tap our latent visual, auditory, tactile, and maybe even olfactory abilities. Today’s notification systems make poor use of that rich sensorium. One of Microsoft researchers’ key findings was that use of multiple large monitors helps information workers avoid context switches, making them more productive. Expanding the field over which our visual pattern recognizer can range is a good idea, but it only scratches the surface of what’s possible. More importantly, we need to enrich those visual patterns. The visual cortex can absorb dense information displays as Edward Tufte points out, those displays are carefully designed.Living in a state of continous partial attention may not be the end state. As Linda stone says that that the next aphrodisiac is committed full-attention focus, where experiencing this engaged attention is to feel alive. Trusted filters, trusted protectors, trusted concierge, human or technical, removing distractions and managing boundaries, filtering signal from noise, enabling meaningful connections, that make us feel secure, are the opportunity for the next generation. Opportunity will be the tools and technologies to take our power back. This may need other convergent forces - sociological and economical to operate in alignment with this technological advance. Jon recommends that if continuous partial attention is the permanent new reality, let’s engineer our interruptions to be subtle, natural, and pleasing to the senses An important area of development that all bright minds need to focus on with IT & Pervasive technologies virtually domianting everyone aspect of life in this era of presence.

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Sun Microsystems : Tough Situation

Tired of Sun Microsystems' inability to reach the status enjoyed in its glorious of the Internet boom, its stockholders voted to repeal the poison pill provisions in place to make it hard for a hostile bidder to take over the Santa Clara company.The proposal to eliminate a poison pill gained 84 percent of the vote at Sun's annual shareholder meeting, despite the opposition of the Sun board. A poison pill is a weapon used by corporate boards to block a hostile takeover attempt, by flooding the market with new shares in order to prevent a bidder from acquiring a majority of the stock. The vote is not binding on the board, but one analyst said the result underscores the discontent among Sun shareholders and sends a signal that they are "in a selling mood." The executive compensation strategy also has strong opposition before being voted for. The stockholders all but begged a knight, black or white, to come in and take over the company, said one analyst. Sun is in serious trouble, the sooner it finds a suitor, its better for all. Besides Sun hardware LOB underperforming seen over a period of time, its software LOB is in dismal shape – recent announcements and acquisitions not withstanding. Even in emerging areas like RFID, Sun is beginning to be seen as talkative company as against a thought or market share leader – with almost no bright spark left within to fuel growth. Gateway which had strong financial results might be interested in Sun at the right price – while sad to see sun slipping, that’s the way life has got to be – consistent underperformers serve better interests by winding up or be allowed to be bought.

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The Booming Storage Market

Computer users all over the world are becoming digital pack rats on a colossal new scale, overflowing their files with data and saving them for a long time, writes the WSJ in a recent coverage of the storage market. It points out that in a digital age, the global appetite for archived information is growing: from high-tech body scans in hospitals to giant databases at retail chains, and even endless camera angles from a single ballgame. Something as mundane as digital camera makers increasing their pixel for recording creates a boom in the storage space needs. The stored information can be kept indefinitely in case it has future value. As we recently noted the technology for archiving for future usage may be technologically flawed. Analysts agree that the corporate data-storage capacity is expanding by 60% a year. Storage sales outgrew server sales by several times in the first half of this year. The boom is driving a wave of storage-company deals even as equipment prices fall fast. No wonder EMC is on a roll.
The new regulatory requirements, the proliferation of capacity-hogging video records, and high-speed Internet lines that let an emailer attach pictures- all directly contribute to the high growth of the storage industry. Scientific advances in genetics, meteorology, geology and other fields that like to send and store vast databases are also stoking demand. Many companies have begun storing data not merely as a matter of recordkeeping, but to exploit it for competitive advantage. Enterprises find organizing & digitizing content enhances value significantly. Storage faces many of the same woes as computer equipment does generally - especially falling prices as hardware becomes a commodity. The basic technology of most large-scale storage machines is the same - large numbers of disk drives banded together with software and circuitry. Price declines are in the range of about 35% a year. Storage vendors have stayed ahead of the curve by adding special features. A coming technology called perpendicular recording promises another leap in drive capacity - and likely another steep drop in price per gigabyte. A sudden slip in already-declining disk prices could crimp the storage makers' growth, since customers would need to buy fewer machines to store the same amount of information. In perpendicular recording, the magnetic bits of a digital file are arranged standing up on the disk surface, like soldiers in a marching formation. The storage technology boom is also aiding the growth of Enterprise content management industry besides facilitating the adoption of Information Lifecycle Management, a strategy for aligning IT infrastructure with the needs of the business—based on information’s changing value.ILM is an ever-growing and evolving process. In order to realize the benefits of the ILM process, IT must continuously review the usage patterns of its storage resources and ensure adherence to policies and procedures But like in any industry good leadership makes the difference. In the case of EMC, Joe Tucci recognized that a single trick pony - the high-technology, high-priced, high-margin business model - had become obsolete and was no longer differentiated after the bubble burst in 2001. He tenaciously iterated many times the three components of his business model and changed all four pieces of EMC’s internal activities. Results are impressive, for everyone to see.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Forbes Attack On Blogs

Forbes in its cover story writes, blogs started a few years ago as a simple way for people to keep online diaries. Suddenly they are the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns. It's not easy to fight back: Often a bashing victim can't even figure out who his attacker is. No target is too mighty, or too obscure, for this new and virulent strain of oratory. Microsoft has been hammered by bloggers; so have CBS, CNN and ABC News, two research boutiques that criticized IBM's Notes software, the maker of Kryptonite bike locks, a Virginia congressman outed as a homosexual and dozens of other victims-even a right-wing blogger who dared defend a blog-mob scapegoat. Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo. Dan Gillmor provides a good perspective in support of the blogosphere. As I see it,mainstream media has always been a little apprehensive about blogs, though no one has ever come so openly against blogs like Forbes has done this time. In developed countries, the concerns could be on losing traffic volume( attack on Yahoo and Google only show that) and the power to influence, in several developing countries, mainstream media mostly have alignment with political, business camps – they find it jittery that the lever of influence could be disturbed. The article at best looks hilarious. Seasoned bloggers will not be deterred form being their own self - at Forbes article is hilarious. I do not imagine for one moment it will deter serious committed bloggers from being anything other than their normal self. Mark Glaser recently called a failed initiative to gag the blogsopherea 'breakout moment' for the Indian blogosphere,a clear indication of the positive strength of blogs. Vinnie Mirchandani holds the belief that few bloggers are beginning to be counted as significantly influential in the tech world. I have long felt the Forbes.com can never be even counted as a candidate for the regular best of the web picks that Forbes regularly publishes – that does not mean that we do not visit forbes.com site. Similarly in occassions when someone finds blogs to be a bugbear, the best thing is find out ways and means to launch a counteroffensive available within the system to neutalise - this can not be acheived by painting red with a broad brush. Big business needs to be innovative abnd forward looking in embracing and leveraging new movements like blogs - case in hand Unilever listening to blogs. In this contribution economy powered by signifcant user involvement in corporate initiatives, undoubtedly blogs play a unique role. Every media of expression has its own purpose and objectives that it longs to fulfill – so why complain and moreover if the new media such as blogs are powered by technology, it is futile to raise a voice against.

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Offshoring : Supposed Danger Theory Built On Wrong Facts

Matt Marshall provides an update on a supposed off shoring disaster where it was thought that Ishoni Networks, a Santa Clara company once branded a rising star did not have a good experience with its office in India. IP’s were reportedly stolen and passed on to competitors – the investigation concludes NOT GUILTY. The set of people /entities who made these charges are said to be not even responding to this development.

Guys – Offshoring is safe – significant number of business entities are doing it – a majority of them are enjoying huge competitive advantages on account of this; a few can not even think of surviving with out offshoring. Do a proper due diligence before deciding to offshore – visit the facilities, talk to the people about to manage your engagement/relationship, talk to references, do a good background check up( facilities available in india now), look for service providers who are big and may not be compelled to cut corners. There may be teething issues – engage more- bring it collabarative governance structures – the benefits would flow in for everyone to see. It is indeed a safe and a very compelling proposition which today noglobal business can tend to ignore.

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The Coming Standards War

In the near future, movie goers can have the same interactive experience typically available Iin multiplex. Blu-Ray technology can enable viewers go from watching an action movie to participating in an interactive game based on the movie, or he could switch to a 3-D version of a particular scene. Massive storage capacities up to 200 gigabytes supported by Blu Ray- provide an almost endless capacity for add-ons by home audiences. Sony stated that in fact, part of the justification for acquiring MGM was the profits to be realized from reissuing the 4,100 films in MGM's library in the Blu-Ray format. Sony has a critical mass of movies that it can release on Blu-Ray. Aside from its own titles, Disney, 20th Century Fox, and Lions Gate have agreed to release their titles on Blu-Ray. Warner Bros. Entertainment, announced it would release films on the Blu-ray format as well. Among six major Hollywood Studios- all but Universal have announced support the BD format. Paramount, Universal and probably Warner will release HD-DVD titles. A studio wanting its high-definition DVDs to be playable on personal computers - or for that matter on PlayStation 3 – will have to issue them in the Blu-Ray format. Next, almost all of the leading computer manufacturers, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple, are committed to using Blu-Ray, though they may have show some support for HDTV as well. The situations of Sony and Toshiba are not symmetrical. For Sony, the Blu-Ray is an integral part of its overall strategy. For Toshiba, the HD-DVD is just another product they manufacture. A company reaching an accommodating deal on licensing fees could also end up making money by manufacturing the Blu-Ray DVDs.

The PC camp has not been a silent spectator - HP wants to make the transition to the next generation of DVD technology be as painless as possible. HP recently asked the Blu-ray Disc Assn. to add software that will make its Blu-ray DVD standard similar to that of a rival camp called HD DVD, empowering consumers wanting to legally rip movie DVDs to a PC hard drive - standards already included in HD DVD. By pushing for adoption of the same software used to add interactive features to HD DVDs, such as the ability to add the latest movie trailers, movie studios wouldn't have to throw extra money at supporting two approaches. As the Bweek article shows, Microsoft and Intel recently announced that they would break from their neutral stance to back HD DVD. Key Chinese manufacturers said they planned to have HD DVD products on the market in 2006. The next-gen DVD wars were reignited, making it increasingly clear that consumers would soon be faced with two kinds of DVD players when they go to the local retailer. Meenu Sarin provides a good perspective about the impending standards wars involving consumer electronics players, studios & the PC industry and she predicts that only one standard could win. I think that a unified standard would forestall the first full-blown standards war since VHS vs. Betamax. A single standard would certainly be good for consumers & Movie studios also stand to gain because they wouldn't be forced to make films available in both formats.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Jeff Nolan Exits VC Business

Jeff Nolan, the well known name in the VC fraternity leaves leaves the VC business. Apparently he would continue to be part of SAP albeit in a new role. Jeff says that his decision was owing to the desire to get more operations centric – he writes that – "I missed having direct operational control and I missed the sense of accomplishment that comes from successfully executing direct operational control, and quite honestly, all of the venture deals I was looking at started to look the same. I missed having a team. I was also concerned that my experience in operating roles in enterprise software was becoming dated and perhaps not as relevant to the state that the business is in today; it's one thing to spend 4 hours in a board meeting talking about a business, it's another thing altogether to actually do it". He adds, "I was presented with an opportunity to lead a team working with people I really admire and respect on a set of challenges that are of pre-eminent importance to SAP. In short, the more I looked at this the more I found myself thinking in the role, I was hooked big time".
Jeff, a regular in the blogging circuit is pretty direct in his writings. I am a regular reader of Jeff’s blog and hope he continues his regular postings. Matt Marshall points out that his caused him endless problems internally. Apparently, SAP even had their lawyers call him to shut the blog down. But Hats off to Jeff that he stood his ground for such a long time.
Here’s wishing Jeff best wishes in his new position

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Group Forming Networks & The Power Of Community Building

I am not particularly fond of various laws – Be it Moore’s Law, Gilder’s view or fore that matter even Metcalfe’s Law ,however profound they may sound to be. I do believe that these help in relating practical happenings to abstract higher order thinking – To this day am not sure what comes first the theory or the practice in the emerging technology/social phenomenon. Patricia Seybold in my view was amongst the pioneers to talk about the power of networking and community building, which we now see many web centric enterprises capitalize on). The guidelines she set out for how to succeed in eBusiness - build community, deliver personalized service, streamline your processes, and more - apply as much today as they did in the 1990s. Having said that I came across what is called as Reed’s law – an idea that proponents of social networks and the new generation web people are beginning to discuss often.

Reed's law is the assertion of David P. Reed that the utility of large networks, particularly social networks, can scale exponentially with the size of the network.(It was first cited in "The Law of the Pack," HBR years back). Even if the utility of groups being available to be joined is very small on a per-group basis, eventually the network effect of potential group membership can dominate the overall economics of the system. Reed’s idea is based on the assertion that business participates in many networks—perhaps the most important are supply networks that allows access to and bidding among suppliers and distribution networks that allows access to and competition among customers. The structure of these networks or market spaces, especially the value of the connectivity and relationships produced in these networks, can play a crucial role in defining the value of your business. If one can manage or influence the networks that connect to suppliers and customers to create more value for all concerned, that extra value can be used as a competitive weapon.Read here for a detailed overview.I particularly liked what Reed has written several years back -
Scale driven value shifts have already caused IBM subsidiary Lotus, the pioneer of enterprise groupware, to incorporate features into Notes/Domino to interconnect in a limited way with the faster-growing Internet. But Notes' enterprise focus makes it difficult to support ad hoc groups that live outside large enterprise boundaries or span multiple enterprises. Though the email capabilities of Notes can easily interconnect with other Internet email systems across boundaries to capture a fair share of Metcalfe's Law value as the Internet grows, Lotus has chosen an enterprise-oriented model for sales and an enterprise focused security model. That choice effectively limits GFN (Group Forming Networks) reach to a few islands scattered throughout a vast Internet. Thus scale driven value seems likely to shift dominance to new groupware products and business models that can capture exponential value growth by enabling all Internet users to affiliate flexibly. By facilitating easy ad hoc creation of "teamrooms", big shares of a scale driven value shift from email to ad hoc project team collaboration can happen better..

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The Gmail Creation Story

Warren Bennis recently wrote Google's engineers, founders and CEO have all the earmarks of a Great Group—a talent driven organization or enterprise, filled with people who set out to do something extraordinary and succeed in doing something that's never been done before. And like other Great Groups, Google has a few unique twists of its own.Google, whose revolutionary approach to search dominates the field, seems to have the ingredients that have produced greatness in the past. Whether commercially successful or not, all our Great Groups were daring innovators who were convinced not just of the importance of their work but that they were all but on a mission from God. All were carefully chosen collections of extraordinary talents who worked on their world-changing projects with an obsessive brio that often made them forget to eat or sleep—and occasionally doomed their marriages. However brilliant, they all believed, at least for the duration of the project, that "None of us is as smart as all of us."
Gmail is perhaps the biggest success among Google's recent launches.Paul Buchheit, Gmail Engineer writes about the creation of Gmail. – With ideas, many people were consulted about their email expecations. The idea was not to to simply bolt new features onto old interfaces but to rethink email. It was also realized that solving everyone's problems was too big of a challenge for the first release. It would be better to build a product that a lot of people love, than one that everyone tolerates, and so that was our goal.. Gmail got rolled out in April 2004 with 1000 MB of storage. Its Google’s philosophy to do as much as possible for users. Besides storage, Gmail included a quick and accurate search. It introduced powerful new concepts to organize email, such as the conversation view (so all those replies can be seen at once). It provided a fast and dynamic interface from web browsers everywhere, popularizing the techniques that have since become known as AJAX. This interface included many important features not commonly found on the web at that time, such as email address auto-completion, a slick spell-checker, keyboard shortcuts, and pages that update instantly. It included a smart spam filter to get rid of junk mail. Finally, Gmail made an important new promise: like cell phone users, one can keep all Gmail address & email, even if decided to move out of Gmail.or you. He notes that the free storage keeps increasing (2656 MB and counting), and there are interfaces in 38 languages, & has features such as auto-save drafts.

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Microsoft Getting Serious About Hosted Models

Just finished reading Bruce Richardson's view that Google is the best personal productivity tool since the introduction of word-processing software. I do not fully agree with his view that technical integration hurdles as well as enormous corporate resistance to switching to a new package could come in the way of Google office( I definitely understand the complexity - but not so convinced about the conclusion). But he is spot on when he says that there is a lot more margin to be had going after Craigslist or the even bigger fish eBay instead of taking on Microsoft directly. Informationweek reports that in an year Microsoft wants to get into hosting in big and small ways by offeing hosted implementations of SharePoint as well as CRM and ERP applications. A handful of service partners now host Microsoft applications for customers; the difference is future customers could choose Microsoft or a partner to run the infrastructure. Technologically, the server equals service thing year by year is making good progress. SharePoint Portal Server and Windows SharePoint Services act as the linchpin for most of Microsoft's current and planned collaboration products and services. To keep the allure of partners alive, Microsoft is making noises that where the software runs-on premises or "in the cloud"-partners with domain expertise and other knowledge will be needed for implementation help. The promised "revenue-neutrality" to partners may mean that they would sell and even customize applications for customers that could run on Microsoft servers. Microsoft’s hosting push is expected to target wide gamut of users & hosted SharePoint could become the basis for a variety of such services. The article concludes by saying that Microsoft is exploring myriad ways to deploy and charge for software, ranging from subscription models a la MSN to easier ways for companies to buy incremental products not in their current Enterprise Agreements. I had been writing
Microsoft appears to be losing customer centricity
and their cultural DNA seems to be moving away from incremental innovation –particularly with the windows platform and their inexplicable delay in rolling out Longhorn are clear indications of losing steam. Microsoft will take decades to be out of business as their product basket of offering is wide – and some niches may still save the company.I am still baffled why Microsoft (other than for being selfish about its interest)is not considering providing a hosted solution - when enterprise application software vendors are beginning to provide and stepping up aggression in pushing. Microsoft may end up to be a pale shadow of its present –that would be sad indeed – but the risk is indeed high for Microsoft. Microsoft is lucky that currently there is no one alternative that can dislodge it in key arena's - starting particularly in the desktop segment. While looking at future of microsoft, I wrote that the impending power of Broadband and hosted models are creating a new tapestry very different from what Microsoft is envisaging - one can note that microsoft has lagged behind in most of the new elements in this picture. Many think that hordes of cash, lock-ins and a lack of credible alternative to it would insure microsoft against any downturn in future - I doubt it - while microsoft may be creating froth in the consumer electronics sector- it is appallingly falling behind in its ability to be creative and seems to be losing touch in respect of making new roll outs win in the market - MSN portal, MSN search , declining attraction towards hotmail, the non starter called spaces.msn.com etc - all conclusively point to this. Glorious past is certainly no pointer to great success in future. It is nice to see that Microsoft is planning to take the right moves - Time for Google to pre-empt Microsoft in this move.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

WSJ 2005 Innovation Awards

The Wall Street Journal's 2005 Technology Innovation Awards have been announced. Besides the Gold, Silver, Bronze awards and winners in 12 different categories and 20 runnerups were announced. Amongst the notable winners in the tech sector:
Wireless - Freescale Semiconductor won for its efforts to bring to market the first consumer products using "ultrawideband" wireless technology, which promises to deliver audio, video and data at higher speeds, using less power than other wireless technologies. Freescale has demonstrated its chips in a prototype cellphone from Motorola which spun off Freescale in 2004. Chinese appliance maker Haier announced that it would use Freescale chips in a planned 37-inch LCD television that can receive signals wirelessly from a digital-media computer.
Software - Agitar Software won here for its Agitator tool, which helps software developers find and fix bugs when writing new programs. Software writers typically have to scour for buggy code by poring over thousands of lines of code - often after flaws show up while users are running the program. Agitator automatically puts software through a battery of stress tests; it also can examine partial programs by simulating the whole software system.The judges recognized Agitar as it brings is an important advance in making error-free code writing more productive
Network/Broadband/Internet - Riverbed Technology won for its Steelhead network appliances, which speed the transfer of data and use of applications between remote offices and central servers. As many corporate computer users know, when emails, documents or spreadsheets are stored on a distant central computer, the wait to call up or change files can sometimes seem endless. Riverbed's appliance reduces these delays by storing redundant commands and data on local servers, slashing the amount of traffic that goes back and forth over the network and increasing overall network speed
Congrats to all – those nominated included. Let lot more innovation and entrepreneurship happen – bringing with it advances & prosperity


Web 2.0 : Time For Some Reality Check

Every new internet movement popular enough to generate buzz also generates a backlash. While Web 2.0 may mean different things to different people, much of it involves public participation and contributions from the commons. Web 2.0 is very open, but all that openness has its downside: With mass participation problems overshadow genuine activities like the splogs over blogs. Joel writes, the term Web 2.0 particularly bugs him. It's not a real concept. It has no meaning. It's a big, vague, nebulous cloud of pure architectural nothingness. The very 2.0 in Web 2.0 seems carefully crafted as a way to denegrate the clueless "Web 1.0" idiots, poor children, in the same way the first round of teenagers starting dotcoms in 1999 dissed their elders with the decade's mantra, "They just don't get it. Wired points out that scams and scatterbrains - the same problems that plagued the old internet are cropping up again in a new wave of technologies known collectively as Web 2.0. This time around, proponents say Web 2.0 has been better engineered to withstand the troubles that wrecked Usenet, BBSes and free e-mail. The cycle is so predictable, it's almost a natural law. Nicholas Carr in an article titled
"The Amorality of Web 2.0,"
, Carr slammed overeager Web 2.0 proponents as hyper-hyped.The problems of Web 2.0 may have more to do with human nature, and less with the qualities of bottom-up, online media
. After all, the postal system has junk mail, the phone system has 419 scams and telemarketers, and stock markets constantly attract cons. Earlier in response to his criticisms about Web 2,0, I wrote that Nicholas carr has rightly picked up the holes in the Web 2.0 hype- but cut the rhetoric, I do believe in the idea of Web 2.0 and that its time has come – for the simple reason that the web has to see advancements and it has to begin to impact normal life in more ways & means that what it is today and I do not subscribe to the media vs blog battle and that the media is losing the battle – the media may be seen to be losing as like other industries it has not looked in terms of cutting costs through means like offshoring, globalization – theres no one single global newspaper, global TV channel – also it has faced maximum technology changes in its ecosystem. – But to say that the web has threatened it to the extent of killing is wrong – as this note shows, adaptation is the key to succeed – online Wall street journal earns more than print version. So in essence it is just good models always win – with or without Web 2.0. I strongly beleive in the potential of Web 2.0. As I see it with mashups transcending known frontiers, Web 2.0’s impact shall be felt more with the emergence of platforms for the development of rich Internet applications and services. Ajax is enabling the creation of plug-in free Web apps that rival the performance of client-based desktop applications. These developments represent the very tip of exciting innovation to come — innovation that will require a new approach to venture investing led by a new breed of angel and venture investors that are able to successfully balance irrational exuberance with prudent funding to fuel the creation of new platforms for growth.

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The Indian Domestic IT Market :

Continuing with the trend of global PC growth, the Indian PC market recently crossed yet another milestone recently with one million PC shipments in a single quarter. I had been tracking PC deployment measures in India for a long time - from shipping the millionth PC across several years, million PCs in an year, Million PCs in six months to Million shipments every quarter - Next could be Million PCs every month - possible with the entry of Low Cost PC's ( may be mobile handsets are already doing it)or if the prediction that the next PC revolution will be televised comes true, fast enough. During the AMJ quarter of 2005, the Indian PC market witnessed a 9% sequential and 31% year-on-year growth to reach 10.5 lakh units. With price points either falling or stabilizing across all form factors, it was reported that the momentum was expected to continue in the coming months.The Indian domestic IT market is seen to be showing a lot of Buoyancy and is headed towards a heady growth in the nest few years. No doubt, the opportunity within Indiahome to over one billion people - drives from its very hot economy: GDP growth will be around 7% this year and next, corporate profits are on the rise, the stock market is booming, and inflation is under control despite the rise in oil prices. There is a sense of excitement in the business community, and strong economic growth is anticipated over the next decade or more. While most growth will come from IT and BPO exports, the domestic IT market in India, which accounts for around one-third of the total IT industry revenues, will also grow at a CAGR of 19% over 2004-2009. There are some good sectoral assessments and forecasts – regionwise, verticalwise done – a good snapshot. I was curious to cross reference information about the chinese domestic market - while data could be available from multiple sources, wanted to stick to IDC and find that there china country site is in Chinese - two immediate things to note : One obviously a robust and buoyant market and the second one - choice of language signifies the difference between these two giants.

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Oracle - SOA Models Are Frankenstein

ZapThink's Jason Bloomberg recently compared Oracle's Fusion Architecture to Frankenstein. Oracle has been working on building out their SOA offering for a while by assembling various parts from various different companies and Bloomberg raises the question –“ will it all work when they’re done”. Criticisms like SOA is the architecture that supports such approaches and therefore need not be criticized have been voiced. The view that oracle's approach itself is a Frankenstein warrants definite attention. The view that Oracle may not have a single strategy with SOA definitely warrants a full fledged response from Oracle. The prevailing opinion seems to be that oracle is cobbling together many disparate and unrelated technologies and then give it to their customers pretending that it's a single product. Joe McKendrick points out that perfectly good products ahould not be allowed to die and its incumbent upon vendors with multiple separate product lines to keep all those pieces current and aligned with changes in the market.

Earlier I wrote that there are now four code designs and schema to be harmonized. Different classes of cutomers and multiple varieties of implementations to be supported and upgraded. Customers need to be convinced of the integrated roadmap.The transition challenges are indeed phenomenal in the design of the new platform and less said the better about the migrations that customers need to spend on. Would this be a good opportunity for external service providers and oracle consulting – some may think that this may cause nightmare to service providers. Writing about the potential for SOA, I pointed out that SOA as an architecture of services is based on the premise that software components operate as modular components (building blocks) of a larger, immediately executing transaction (unit of work). Services are designed to perform reusable partial processes on behalf of a bigger transaction. SOA is attractive because it enables reuse of logic and data in multiple contexts. At a fundamental level, the radical shift to SOA calls for a different mindset – a dramatically different one at that. The adoption of SOA shall signify itself to be an important development in the IT world. Software will be described as a portfolio of capabilities and possibilities instead of modularized applications. Data models will be standard-based and externalized to enable interworking between services, and data will be considered to be like any other form of "digital content" ever ready for exchange and transformation between systems. I also higlighted the view The actual goal of SOA - isn’t interoperability; if that is all you want then sprinkle a few Web Service interfaces on your existing design and you will have opened up your application to all platforms - but you will not necessarily have benefited from SOA.

John Hagel’s gave a new perspective about SOA. Commenting on this perspective I wrote that lasting value for business shall come out of enabling entirely new sets of business models- those that can be configured on the fly,( for example integrating all eBay related operators in multiple ways),enabling lean,mean & efficient best in class processes with well designed performance measures,and also by enhancing the ability of the business enterprise in leveraging emerging technologies like grid computing,applistructures,powerful convergence technologies- many of the solutions today are aligned to delivering solutions in the conventional way but these may change.In future, businesses may be measured by how quickly their models of operationand processes can be configured and reconfigured, SOA architecture need to provide for this dynamic builds and rebuilds.For now though, SOA is a recognizable and mostly virtual plumbing exercise. Most likely, vendors will draw their strategy from the experience of customers, and will adjust accordingly. Not to overlook the fact that though the vendor community is trying hard to improve their SOA maturity,evolving standards and entrenched infrastructure mean more pilots and lab environments and more & more scope for innovations as adoption tends to improve

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The Indian IT Industry : Exerting Career Choices

The IT industry in India employs more than million people with promises to improve many times. This creates lot of opportunities and scope for multiple options to work on a myriad types of jobs in a variety of companies.Sitting on the side of recruiting so many consultants, who are quite indecisive and tentative, a lot of counselling is certainly needed to help them make up their minds. Lot of people ask me guidance about which job to take up, what company to join, what to expect as salary and what technology to pursue.
Anurag Verma has some good insights in terms of exercising choices careerwise for IT professionals working with India headquartered IT Firms. Some snippets:
- A bigger salary does not always mean better job-satisfaction. Big companies (with good cash flows) can afford to give more salaries than other relatively mid-sized or small companies or start-ups. Work content in startups might be better than big companies.
- Be clear about goals and ambition - the best thing is to decide what you want to do quite early on in your career.
- Indicate to prospective employer the specific area desired for work (it is advisable to specialize in one domain/work area) and whether the company does that kind of work and you can be involved in that work.
- The opportunities to work on challenging and complex projects are increasing in India.
- The typical work content in product companies involves a mix of routine and challenging tasks.
- It requires a lot of effort to select the company of one’s liking. The requirement of your friend might be different from yours and you should seek companies that meet your requirement.
- Most of the recruiters/placement services send bulk mail to all and sundry. They do not scan resumes properly and just match keyword(S).
- The idea that working abroad is better than working in Indian companies might not be always true. Typically takes 4-5 years of overseas experience to get a good understanding of the overall execution of software products.
- Increasingly the nature of the jobs done in India is as good as that in the US or other countries. The only difference is that the products that are futuristic in nature are not so prevalent in the Indian IT industry. In addition, career growth in India is much better - and faster - than overseas.
I would like to add – Look for quality of management , do some research about their customer profiles, look at their service offerings , geographical reach and the rate at which the organization is growing, talk to some ex-employees, current employees etc – Look at the profile of the executives working in the enterprise - where did they come from, look at compensation and career maps available within the enterprise and then DECIDE. Always ak yourself at the end of every year how much your profile has improved – be dispassionate and objective about it –be quite focused on the job and be aware of the internal environment inside the enterprise you work for and be fully abreast of developments happening in the industry. Network, network - a lot. Always remember – Your career is to a large extent your own making. Want to say a lot more. Some other time in future shall write about it.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Software Industry :Slow Growth Pushing For Consolidation

(Via TechWeb) Slow growth has triggered consolidation in a highly diverse software industry, according to a new report titled –"Software: Global Industry Guide". The report notes that the global software market reached a value of $132.2 billion in 2004, demonstrating and compound annual growth rate of 4.1 percent from $112.7 billion in 2000. Western producers dominate the market because clients believe experience and investments make them better prepared than smaller competitors to deliver cutting-edge solutions. The report lists Microsoft as a prime example of market consolidation and ranks Oracle as the world's largest enterprise software company and the world's second largest independent software company. I totally agree with the views expressed here that this period of consolidation will see many of the market's large companies meet head to head as they attempt to diversity their operations into other software sectors and will pit companies with similar economies of scale and scope into direct competition, creating significant pricing pressures as companies attempt to garnish market share. This will pressure on margins, reduce prices, increase the volume of new computer sales and have a net positive effect on software sales, allowing companies to counter shortfalls through and drive revenue growth. I had been talking about the impending consolidation for sometime. I also wrote that The general trend toward consolidation is already felt. The only issue is outside of the top 5/6 players several other players addressing specific niche areas currently have ore than 50% of the marketcap - we have to see how the economics,integration, customer reaction all mix up - with software, more than the employees, customers get alarmed about any possible merger moves. What I do not see in the arguments centered on developments in the past and the potential in the future is : how would these companies survive the next 6-8 quarters and how on earth would any customer feel comfortable with the many walking dead companies - sad as it is -but reality is more important.Big time acquisitions are already happening. Consolidation fever ahead - not sure whether customers would benefit a lot because of this - till the haze cleares, it is clearly alarming. At the same time, I certainly see niche players operations as part of a larger ecosystem gaining strength - they may be a chosen few but still this may portend a new trend as well.

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Microsoft Finds Inspiration In Apple, Blackberry

Ray Ozzie points to Apple Computer's iconic music player as a "perfect example" of a product that marries hardware, software and services. He also points to RIM’s BlackBerry, which brings together an e-mail device, server-based software and wireless data service. The individual pieces of the package never get the attention as these are so tightly integrated. Microsoft fresh after announcing reorganization seems to be headed towards such models of offerings. Ozzie conceded that the rise of Google had been a "great wake-up call" and rallying point to get Microsoft thinking about services. The opportunities in front of the giant ranges from hosting software for small businesses that don't want the complexity of managing a server, to adding specialized products for large businesses that already have scores of servers.
As we covered earlier Bandwidth is Microsoft’s enemy and clearly is making Microosft re-evaluate strategies.Microsoft is lucky that currently there is no one alternative that can dislodge it in key arena's - starting particularly in the desktop segment. Microsoft's success has been due in large part to its realization two decades ago that control of the operating system on personal computers would give it a great amount of leverage over PCs. Most companies in the 1980s saw the operating system as a pure commodity product, but Microsoft understood that it held the keys to the kingdom. This dominance of the Windows operating system means that if you're a developer of a major software application, you need to deliver a product for Windows. This means software developers must use the programming capabilities provided by Windows - its API." Microsoft's chief nemesis Google is no pushover. While Microsoft has dominance over the desktop, Google has dominance over the Internet. But as Ozzie correctly highlights services-enabled software really is going to change the nature of how almost everyone uses technology, from consumers to small businesses to enterprises & that the changes will come "in different forms and at different paces." He believes that while cheap and plentiful bandwidth has made it possible for businesses to get their software over the Internet, enterprises will still have to pay for their software in some way, regardless of how it is delivered. Clearly the IT world shall never be the same again.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Business Intelligence : Stage Set For Consolidation

The last vestige of enterprise software untouched by consolidation is beginning to see some action – the Business Intelligence market. A recent acquisition made by Hyperion – it acquired Brio ( more of a reporting tool) made good sense. Now with Microsoft announcing plans to aggressively pursue this segment – the action hots up. Microsoft says it is throwing significant dollars for moving into a segment of the business-software market: business intelligence. In contrast to other pockets of software, sales of business-intelligence (BI), or analytics software, are rising. A beachhead in business intelligence will let Microsoft develop tools and programs that let corporate customers plumb the depths of multiple databases and applications to get answers swiftly. The next version of Excel, the spreadsheet application inside Office, will let users tie into data warehouses and enterprise applications, and cut and slice that data using Excel. Microsoft is said to be working on a raft of other products that will help it compete more broadly against the existing BI leaders. As Bweek article points out, Microsoft has vowed to take on Symantec in security, Intuit in small-business accounting, Adobe Systems in graphic design and document tools and, of course, Google in all things search. ( My Take : Not to say they would win – Microsoft launched SQL server promising more analytical capability than most others – oracle did not feel the heat as much as expected and Microsoft did not win in the database market to the extent expected.)

Next : Watch out for some consolidation in this space. Microsoft is hardly alone in eyeing this sector.Oracle recently described Siebel’s analytics as hidden jewel. Cognos, Business Objects may look attractive to enterprise majors.SAS may be the only major left untouched. Microsoft could also make some acquisitive moves besides SAP & Oracle. Oracle used its recent Oracle Open World conference to outline analytics as a key focus going forward. While there is a near consensus about the imminent consolidation in this space, the barriers could be self made – oracle looking at smaller acquisitions moving forward( they may be content with siebel analytics), SAP is conservative in playing the acquisition game and IBM as usual may not see acquisition a good fit – given its emphasis on services and consulting more than apps. As the BI industry is a mega segment and a fast growing one at that( repeated surveys show BI as a high priority spend area for enterprises), and a very important technology that could be used for competitive differentiation by business - the four majors may still make aggressive moves.

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Icerocket As Tracking Engine

Mark Cuban writes despite genuine attempts and disguises, splogs are difficult to be eliminated. His vision for icerocket.com is not to be a portal or about blogs. Clarifying its relevance Mark expands that it is not a gateway to the blogosphere nor trying to create context.Icerocket is meant for search for information about any keyword or topic and return the freshest information available,& then allow tracking that information on an ongoing basis. He describes Icerocket.com as a tracking engine. Tracking references made about a topic or keyword, allowing easy subscription to any website that supports RSS, and enabling RSS for any search result are some of the key features with icerocket.com besides:
- tracking info published by specific author maintaining multiple blogs
- timebased filtering, enabling all searches to be livebookmarks.
Icerocket.com isnt really a blog search engine and it is a tracking engine indexing any and every source of information that is updated on an ongoing basis and that includes blogs. Users wanting to know what is being said about anything, by anybody, for any given period of time will find icerocket.com the place to start. I like Mark Cuban , I like his candid thoughts and Simplicity and more than that I like Icerocket, a simple & clean tracking engine

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Global Internet Commerce :The 10% Threshold Reached

Continuing with the trend of online merchants showing stronger numbers, AC.Neilsen reports, more than 627 million people have shopped online, including over 325 million within the last month. Over 212 million online shoppers mention Books as among the last 3 items they purchased online. In addition:

- over 135 million people have purchased DVDs and/or video games;
- close to 135 million made plane reservations;
- over 128 million purchased articles of clothing/accessories/shoes;
- over 112 million paid for music downloads and/or CDs;
- over 106 million purchased electronic devices (including cameras,
- close to 98 million bought computer hardware; and
- over 86 million consumers made hotel and/or tour bookings

We earlier wrote that the web is clearly making a huge difference.In S.Korea, where broadband is widely used, 10% of retail sales happens through online media. It is beleived that in all developed world almost 50% of retail sales of big value items are influenced by web information.Clearly the tipping point in web usage for business purposes can be almost sensed. The IHT writing on this finding explainsthat the No.1 item purchased by shoppers country-by-country varied enormously, with more than half of South Koreans and Chinese placing books as their top purchase. Airline tickets were the most common purchase in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. More than one-third of online shoppers in South Korea purchased cosmetics and nutritional supplies online, compared with a global average of ten percent. Over all, credit card and bank transfer are the most popular payment methods, but cash-on-delivery is the second most popular method of payment in Europe. For China, cash-on-delivery is the most popular method of payment, followed by bank transfer. Clearly the internet is creating a big niche for itself in the commercial world. Borrowing David Kirkpatrick’s perspective, GEMEYA is poised to wreak havoc on large service industries across the world. As Internet companies rapidly expand their services, they may become the biggest rivals to retailers, banks, and telecoms worldwide.

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AJAX, Microsoft Office & Desktop Productivity Tools

Preston Gralla writes that sites leveraging Ajax Technology like Gmail, Google Maps, the Flickr photo-sharing site, or the Amazon A9 search site are all among the most popular sites that we are seeing getting used currently. The sites using AJAX(asynchronous JavaScript and XML) combining several existing technologies, including CSS, JavaScript, XHTML, XML, and XSLT, to build Web applications that look and work more like desktop software than they do Web sites. These provide a glimpse of the future, where broadband connections are everywhere available, probably bloated applications like Microsoft Office may not need to reside on the desktops. The future way could be just switch on the system, automatically connect to the Web, and you'll have productivity applications available just by heading to a Web site. While some may see AJAX a tad bit overstretched, the fact remains that the dominant desktop player Microsoft is behind the curve in adopting this new type of technology.As Preston sees it, in all its probability Google Office would be free, and have a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software obliviating the need for paying dollars to buy Microsoft Office. The future could very well be AJAX-built productivity suite.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Google : Amazing Numbers

While recently writing about Google and Microsoft, I wrote that Google is no pushover and cited its impressive results as an indication of how stronger Google is getting to be. John Battellebrings home the point that Google is pulling in more and more searches on its own site, which are the most profitable kind of searches there are. Some figures are quite insightful:
- Average revenue per search : 12 cents. It was around a dime in late 04.
- Avg. revenue per searcher: $7
- Avg. revenue per sponsored click: 62 cents.
- Estimated profits for Google in 06: Roughly $4 billion (Bear Stearns) (which is about the same as their forecasted annual revenues this year, FWIW)
- Revenue growth of Google year to year: 96%
- Revenue growth of Yahoo: 42%
- Estimated revenue growth for next year for Google (Bear): 61%
- For the average of eBay, Yahoo, and Amazon: 29%
- Amount spent on capex, 05 (estimate): $800 million

No doubt Google is on a roll, but its time that it outlines its vision for the future in specific terms - say for the next three years.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

The IT World & Alarming Power Requirements

(Via Rajesh) Bob Cringley points that combining themes of several recent columns, we can see that a lot of money is being bet on a future user computing experience based on web services.Ubiquitous broadband along with hefty processing capability in your desktop, notebook, and coat pocket will bring entertainment, information, and even classic office services to us wherever we are, finally making real Sun's old motto that the network is the computer.The problem comes when you start to think about power consumption. It's not that disk drives consume so much power or that they haven't come down in consumption over the years, but each of those cabinets will require using modern drives about 3,300 watts to run while the full 100 petabytes will require 2.148 Megawatts. And all that heat has to go somewhere, so the building will typically use three to four times as much power for air conditioning as it does to run the drives, taking our total power consumption up to just under 10 megawatts, which at typical U.S. industrial power rates will cost about $5 million per year. Phil Windley points out that lately, power and cooling have turned out to be the big drivers in data center design. He adds, Over the last seven years, the average power consumption in data centers has increased 7-fold, from 20W/sq. foot to over 140W/sq. foot due to huge leaps in the density of servers. About 44% of the power in a typical server is used by things other than CPUs, memory, disks, and other compute components. Where does it go? The AC to DC transition in the power supply turns some of it to heat. A little ironically, fans and other air handling components eat their share. And, in some designs there's even a DC to DC transitions (HP, for example, distributes 48V through the chassis and then drops it to 5V at the blade) that loses more the inefficiency. Google recently talkedabout increasing power requirements. Urs Hoelzle has talked about it on several occassions. Google once blamed power related problems as responsible for blogger’s poor performance. I agree that the future brings with it a number of expenses and vulnerabilities. For users, there's the dilemma of trusting our data to external users. For service providers, there's the alternate dilemma of having to hold that data, because the cost of keeping that data online all the time will be huge. It's an energy crisis in the making.

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India : New Economy & Old Order

A simmering controversy involving Infosys, Narayanamurthy & Devagowda is going on. While there may be multiple issues beneath, its time that this gets solved asap and within closed doors. Let pragmatism prevail and progress get the right focus and support.India has a long way to go towards balanced economic advances. I think that IT growth is inviting attention partly because of a limited focus on overall development - it is time that a movement bubbles up within India calling for giant leap improvements in all sectors and the country should embrace big thinking, mega projects and stretch on large investments as the way forward. BIG IS NOT BAD after all.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Digital Inclusion Through Mobile and Wireless Technologies

Kevin Schofield points to Microsoft research's recognition of Digital inclusion as a key area of focus. Digital Inclusion means that computing must be affordable, accessible, and relevant. Novel approaches in computing technology have the potential for great impact in a range of areas, including education, healthcare, and economic development. The relevance that research projects can have in this area is significant, given that estimates of populations that can be positively affected by computing technologies fall within 2–4 billion people worldwide.The group has invited proposals to pursue research in the areas:
- Creative new infrastructures, form factors, and applications of mobile devices (which include mobile phones or embedded devices).
- Improve connectivity, particularly in environments without existing network infrastructures or with intermittent availability to networking and power.
- Challenges in wireless networks would be a relevant theme in this category. Design appropriate user interfaces addressing challenges in literacy and for novice users of technology.
- Focus on relevant technology application advancements, taking into account the technology issues described in the three points above, which will provide benefits in such areas as health, education, and commerce.

I like the introduction which recognises that the power of computing and information technology must be, and can be, extended beyond its traditional user base to reach people who until now have not had access to such technology. Being digitally connected has become ever more critical to economic, educational, and social advancement. “Digital Inclusion” describes the goal of expanding the capabilities of computing technology worldwide to better serve social and economic challenges of underserved communities, both rural and urban.

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Google, Microsoft & Impending Turf Wars

Red Herring writes that Google should continue to play down any rivalry with Microsoft, especially if it has any ambitions to tread onto the Redmond giant’s office software turf, warned former executives from Netscape.It quotes former Novell executives,"By consistently saying that google is not competing with Microsoft, it has allowed them to remain under the radar". Google could incur Microsoft’s wrath if it tries to compete with Microsoft for cash cows like Microsoft Office or operating system software. While it is true that every company loses its invincibility at some point, companies need to concentrate on business fundamentals: sound forecasts, receivables management, and tighter control of pricing in its sales efforts. The two companies are competing for key personnel, with Microsoft recently suing Google for luring away a Microsoft exec in China. However, as Google becomes a behemoth in its own right, it’s likely the two will compete for more than executive star power.

My Take : I do not agree with this view – Google is no pushover – even for Microsoft. Microsoft’s strength has been typically weak or less focused competitors that it had to compete with. Microsoft was able to crush competition partly due to its dominance of desktop( give its due – worked hard than most others and execution was great), but Google has a stranglehold on the Internet. In every competition in the internet world space between Microsoft & Google - it has always been a victory for Google. Microsoft itself has suffered many setbacks,losing the API war and concern about its future has almost become a street talk, with the giant tough challenges ahead. With bandwidth creating pressures on Microsoft, pushing things towards a hosted model (here Google clearly has lot more expertise – look at the success of the Google Adsense program) – there had been even speculation about Microsoft looking at breakup as an option. Google is consistently performing so well, it has to just execute – angering microsoft or not. Microsoft itself has a tough future ahead – google needs to go beyond new announcement and statement of intents as shown by its vision - It is time that Google gets more forthcoming about its future plans(Microsft scores better here)and announce a clearer roadmap that it wants to pursue lets say in the next three –to-five years. It has achieved a stature in the ecosystem that demands that it is far more communicative about its future plans.

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Publishers Vs Google Print

Five major publishing firms filed suit against Google Inc to stop the company from creating a digital index of millions of copyrighted books. The Lawsuit, coming after a group of book authors also sued Google, sets up a legal showdown over the limits of intellectual property law in the age of global computer networks. The publishers are trying to halt the Google Print Library Project. The project aims to make digital copies of millions of books stored in the libraries of major universities, including Harvard. Google will then use its search technology to create an index of all of the text in each book, and make this index available on the Internet at no charge. The result would be the world's largest and most powerful index of books. A user could instantly search millions of volumes for information on a particular topic, and receive a list of relevant books. The index would also display small portions of the text, to help a researcher decide if he or she has found the right book.The publishers accuse Google of trying to profit by "massive, wholesale, and systematic copying of entire books still protected by copyright." They say that Google hopes the service will attract lots of new users to its website, thus allowing the company to increase its advertising revenue. In response to the lawsuit, Google argued that an online index of books amounts of "fair use," a legal concept that allows the reproduction of small portions of copyrighted works. Eric Schmidt makes a spirited defense of the move. The Google Print Library Project website said that publishers who don't want their work included in the index can contact Google and ask for the removal of individual titles. From a legal perspective, the case appears to be tossup, with good arguments on both sides. In their lawsuit against Google, the book publishers cite Yahoo's program as an acceptable alternative where they cite that Yahoo works directly with the owners of content to make that content available. Yahoo said that it would begin offering its index of books by year's end, and have about 18,000 books available by the end of 2006.I think that the technology movement fired up by Google is unstoppable - the book publishers may appear concerned - but this should only make book writing, publishing and perhaps digitizing published material more and more attractive.

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4G Web Strategy :Revolution & Not Evolution

The web technology is indeed undergoing major transformation. Around the world, I definitely see a major overdrive by enterprises to leverage web technology in multiple ways. David Coe writes about the revolutionary advances into the fourth generation websites. He characterizes the various generation websites as:

1G - welcome to first generation websites - it’s 1994 and big brother just bought a modem. Evolution is wonderful and soon we’re experimenting with more brand new tools - “Hey look dude - it’s like a word processor - but for the web!”.

It’s 1999…and this is the world of 2G websites - a new millennium - is there a new web model?… all of a sudden you, me, and everyone we know is spending many, many, many $$$$s online.

Most marketing departments are disenfranchised from the web experience by the tyranny of their IT departments - the online suffragettes of their generation. This lack of engagement allows an undercurrent of resentment - fragmented sales and marketing — fragmented web solutions. This is a 3G website world!

“Traditional” website structure just doesn’t work any more - have a look at some sitemaps and the chances are it’ll look like a “typical” organizational chart. Businesses are getting leaner — people are getting multi-skilled. Multi-tasking 24/7 is the norm. The work/life balance starts to erode in the name of flexibility and freedom. Websites don’t work with “old skool” navigational hierarchy any more. But let’s not just make them flatter. Tourists bring back souvenirs — explorers bring home ‘stories’. Content is king. Content is everything. Yet most sites still lack contentf the stuff that ensures that people will come back time and time again — to re-engage with your site. Websites are like ogres — they have layers Very Interesting indeed.Must read for all interested.
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Gates & Buffet On Technology,Investments & Venture Capital

Courtesy of Paul Kedrosky happened to read this joint interview of Warren Buffett & Bill Gates.
BUFFETT: In the late 1990s people were looking in their rearview mirror, and they thought that God had granted Americans the right to 15% a year. They built that into pension assumptions. They built it to some extent into what endowment funds spent. Now, six or seven years later, people look in the rearview mirror, and they see that conventional investments haven't produced remotely anything like that. And so they say to themselves, "Well, how do I get it? I'll turn to alternative investments." You can be sure that vacuum will be filled by Wall Street people who say, "You're right looking in that rearview mirror and seeing conventional investments don't work. Come with us, because we have the Holy Grail." And the thing about the Holy Grail is that you have to pay a lot more.
GATES: In venture capital there were very high returns with small amounts of money, and then very poor returns with large amounts of money. This desire to have high absolute returns—and seeing that places like Harvard University were cleverly in alternative assets—has led to this thought that "Okay, there must be something out there returning 10%. I just haven't found it yet." So the fact that expectations of returns exceed reality, that's still true today.
BUFFETT: The biggest problem we have is in terms of rogue states, terrorists, and nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Economically, I think the U.S. is going to be fine. If the rest of the world's GDP per capita grows faster than ours, that's the way it should be.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Standardization & Early Adopters

As I prepare to attend this event today - am back in singapore after a long time -I came across this article on early adoption of standards. Peter Seebach reasons that before a standard becomes widely adopted, some ambiguity always exists about whether it will succeed. Even a standard formally endorsed by a major organization might turn out to be simply ignored by the marketplace. Adopting a standard before it has become fully established has advantages and disadvantages. The primary advantages of early adoption include influence on the early standard and competitive advantage over latecomers. If a standard related to your development efforts is forming, you might benefit greatly from involvement in the standards process. For that matter, the standards process is quite likely to benefit from additional input from people with expertise in the field. Not all of the advantages of standard interfaces and designs apply to early adopters. One can't take advantage of economies of scale right away. Still, the essential points are still there - better interoperability and reduced design costs. One can easily overlook the cost of developing a specification solid enough to build products on, but you can hardly miss the comparatively huge cost of trying to debug a product update that is almost compatible when your specification isn't precise enough. If forced to adopt a standard which does not seem to be quite stable yet, look for anchoring on the crucial basic principles of standardization.
One of the potential benefits of being one of the first vendors to adopt a new standard is beating competitors to market. Unfortunately, this can result in an attitude of competitiveness that can wreck a potential standard for everybody. Remember that standardization is about interoperability first and foremost. If competitiveness between prospective partners in a standardization effort sinks the standard, everybody loses. The early phases of standardization offer a severe temptation to break with the standard to obtain. Even though early adoption has its pitfalls, it offers the chance to improve the standards process and get better standards adopted sooner. I fully agree with the view that even if a standard planned to be adopted isn't quite ready, it might give one a head start on working with the final standard when it becomes available. The work required to adapt to last-minute changes is likely to be easier than the work of overhauling an entire design. A positive attitude towards interoperability, testing, and cooperation with other vendors and developers can make a standard succeed, which is generally good for everybody. As we noted earier,an ecosystem beats a product because its collective of competitors can explore and invest in many more ideas than any single company can muster. In an ecosystem, all the players share some key components despite claims of standardisation forcing commoditization.

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EMC On A Roll

EMC now has acquired Captiva. The acquisition appears complementary to EMC's 2003 purchase of Documentum. Like Documentum, Captiva is part of an increasingly important niche called document management.The amount of digital data that companies generate and are required to keep grows exponentially. Input management software - which provides for the conversion of paper-based information to digital formats - has become increasingly strategic as companies electronically capture, digitize and categorize more of their information. This transforms costly and inaccessible paper records into instantly usable electronic business information, resulting in faster business processes and more accurate and timely response in regulatory compliance situations. Through this process, organizations gain a richer understanding of their information and become better equipped to classify it, create policy based workflow and automate information lifecycle management. This acquisition represents a natural extension to the EMC Documentum ECM platform and adds existing integrated technology to the EMC software portfolio. Captiva focuses on the early stages of information lifecycle management - information capture, digitization and categorization. I clearly see the syndegy here - as these together enable customers to either eliminate paper or automate its digital capture and integrate the information with electronic business processing for competitive advantage EMC will now offer customers the ability to move massive amounts of paper-based data into files manageable by Documentum's software and store and retrieve it using EMC hardware. Interestingly post acquisition of Documentum and Legato, EMC's dependence on its core hardware business has lessened considerably. (Disclosure : I work closely as part of my work with almost all the companies mentioned in this post.)Documentum is proving to be an asset to EMC in ways that aren't immediately apparent on the income statement. The two year old takeout has become something of a template for a wave of top line-driven acquisitions in the software industry that are presenting new opportunities for investors.SAP may see a fit and acquire i2, Manugistics, Aspen. Dave Dewalt, EMC software president, whom I recently met feels that the entry of players like EMC into the document management space and Oracle into logistics could well force the surviving smaller players to consolidate and predicts that the document management space may see only two/three players. DeWalt figures that IBM and Oracle will jump into the space, but are likely to build rather than buy a solution. I had been writing about the imminent consolidation in the enteprise software space. Predictions Galore- Interwoven may be seen as a good fit for Sun or Microsoft.

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