Monday, September 28, 2009

Indian IT Services Firms Were Right : It’s Services Stupid!

There was so much pressure on Indian IT Services firms for a long time to enter product space and they refused and insisted that Services is the key. After all, their strength and  innovation is in creating market driven and efficient service delivery models. 

They not only succeeded with flying colors in delivering services, they influenced the entire world to turn to services. So in more than one way, there were right on about services. 

Some key milestones that indicate the strong inclination towards services just the way Indian IT Services headed all along:

  • IBM once synonymous with PC sells its iconic PC Business and rebrand itself as IT services (or emphatically Smart Solutions for the planet)
  • HP buys EDS and says it is critical to enter Services business as profits drop in all other directions.
  • Dell buys Perot Systems, seen as following HP.
  • Xerox, the iconic innovator buys Affiliated Computer Services, citing exactly the same reason of survival due to dropping profits every where.

Now, will Indian IT Services companies get the true credit they deserve in the market place?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wipro : An Enterprise Older Than India Looks Afresh

 

“Reinvention and Wipro go hand-in-hand ..” – Wipro.com

The story of Wipro looks like a fairy tale in many aspects. Think about a vegetable oil refining company (started in 1945) that re-invents itself as one of the world’s best IT services firm.

It has been a long way and Wipro continue to amaze me in more than one aspect. Its integrity at first and its no drama, straight forward business acumen. (unlike other celebrities across the street that were never able to walk their talk).

Though I left Wipro a while back, I continue to follow it. Here are some new developments that kind of surprised me a bit.

New Front Page Online

If you look at the new Wipro.com website, one may mistake Wipro for a brand new startup that is trying to define its identity. Though the company is little older than the Independent India itself, in a way, Wipro appears to be doing the same. Home page with a full blown illustration that projects Wipro as the agent that changes the new world order.

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While I reserve my instincts on how much Wipro will really listen to its customers on their engagements, they are clearly doing so in picking up a theme or an identity for themselves. The website features a poll, asking its users to vote on a Theme.

Of the other two available themes, I love the co-evolution theme as it aligns quite well with the identity of Wipro.

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Presence on Social Networks

While Wipro failed to leverage Blogs, I see that there is some focus on social networks as well to help build a brand.

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Atlanta Development Center : Bringing Bangalore To Atlanta

Wipro also recently opened a Development center in Atlanta that promises to hire local talent and engage with local academic community like Georgia Tech to bring innovation right in the Americas.   Not sure the extent of collaboration educational institutions in India.

Hope, There are changes in HR Policies As Well

Hope this brand new look is deeper than the front page and hopefully Wiproites will be proud again to be Wiproites.  Though, there are quite a few issues, some of them associated with Growing So Big So Fast,  Wipro is way better than its counter parts like Infosys and TCS in treating its employees.

Hope and Wish Wipro does well.

No matter what, I was once a Wiproite and working at Wipro was one of the best things happened in my life. And who knows, our paths may meet again.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Google Chrome Now Renders Telugu Much Better

Google Chrome’s Telugu rendering was awful when it was first released and until a few days ago. The latest version of Google Chrome now renders Telugu fonts quite better (still inferior in crispness to Apple Safari).

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Try it out and see for yourself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vonage Offers Unlimited Calls to India : 2 Months Free Offer is Still Available

Vonage started offering Unlimited Calls to India under its $24.99/m existing plan. It includes both landlines and cell phones.

If you are already a Vonage subscriber, make sure you have Vonage World plan to get this great deal.

If you are not a Vonage subscriber already, think about it. For $24.99 you get unlimited calling to India (and about 60 countries) and have a landline number to make unlimited calls within US.

Two Months FREE

Get TWO MONTHS FREE if you signup by clicking on the image below. If you pay whole one year upfront, you may get an additional 20% off.

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Click here to get the TWO MONTHS FREE offer.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

4GB of RAM on Apple Mac Pro Book Could Cost $1000?

I thought Memory prices have gone down significantly in the recent years and adding up a 4GB RAM should cost you below $200. But on Apple Mac Book pro, adding a 4GB RAM costs an additional $1000.

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Is it just because of Apple? or prices are really that dear?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cloud For Enterprises : The Perfect Choice For Many

Some analysts argue that 'Cloud Computing' is only for small businesses, ISVs and web startups where there is a need to start low (and cheap) and scale later. The underlying assumption behind the argument is that, in enterprises (read as large businesses), demand is quite predictable and doesn't change so often.

Well, that is not quite true. While number of Employees in the organization may not change so often, their usage patterns are much like any web application startup.

For instance, take an enterprise with 10,000 employees. The enterprise IT department has developed an intranet web application for Performance Reviews. The web application will be accessed by Employees and Managers at the beginning of the year to set Goals. And will be accessed in December to appraise performance with respect to the set goals. The application will also be accessed sparingly by employees and managers through out the year to make necessary status updates, follow ups on action plans etc.

Typically, IT department will design the system such that it can handle the load during the worst peak hours.  In most Enterprises, the most productive day to get any thing done is the Last day. So, the system shall be designed to handle the load of all 10000 employees accessing the system in a single day.  Assume that need 5 servers to handle the load. So what happens to those 5 servers for the rest of the year?

If the enterprise uses a cloud service (could be an in-house, partner or a public cloud service), the firm can run the least possible configuration throughout the year and scale up to 5 servers during the last few days of the year or whenever they need (like a mid-year reviews in June/July).

There are many Enterprise applications that are normally run with a fixed infrastructure designed to take care of peak loads. For instance Expense reporting applications (normally accessed only at end of month), Payroll applications(normally accessed only at the beginning of the month or once in a fortnight) and even Email servers(normally accessed only during office hours). Most Enterprise applications are not accessed all-the-time. Cloud service is a perfect target for all those applications and could save an enterprise a huge chunk of their budgets.

So, Cloud Computing will benefit businesses large and small alike. In many cases, larger the enterprise, larger will be the savings if Cloud computing is used.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

H1B 2010 : H1B Cap is still around 45000

We are almost in the middle of September, yet H1B cap for year 2010 is still at 45000. That means, companies can still file for H1B petitions, if needed.
As of August 28, 2009, approximately 45,100 H-1B cap-subject petitions and approximately 20,000 petitions qualifying for the advanced degree cap exemption had been filed. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn. - USCIS Website

I mentioned (before the season started) that I would be surprised if the Quota limits are reached at all, while some are discussing the chances for a lottery again. This reflects the job market more or less and restrictions imposed on certain firms in hiring H1Bs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Day India Became Free : 15th August 1947

Front page of ‘The Times of India’ Bombay on the day India became free, the 15th August 1947.

India_1947_aug15

Sunday, September 6, 2009

IE8 Security advances : blocks cross scrpting attacks

"One surprise I discovered during the process was that IE8 includes a Cross Site Scripting filter which effectively blocked this attack. I'm very impressed with the effort that Microsoft's taken to mitigate one of the most common web application security issues. Every other browser vendor needs to add this functionality yesterday."
http://brian.mastenbrook.net/display/36

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lunch Bites : Ethics And Profits In A Business

Today’s discussion was on one of the most abstract concepts, ethics. It is rather difficult to take sides, as whatever you say could be right and wrong at the same time, as there is no clear definition as such that defines an ethical behavior and lots of space for subjective interpretation.

The discussion started some where but centered on Ethics and one question. Company A makes special heart valves that save lives of heart patients and are sold at say $100 a unit. The company is making 90% of profit on each sale. The key question was ‘knowing that if the company could reduce its profit margin to say 20%, it could save more lives, is it ethical for the business to make 90% profits?”

Most seem to think it is unethical to squeeze 90% profits and it would be ethical if company reduce its profits to some lesser value.

My understanding is that, it is ethical to keep whatever profit you want in your business. But it could be much more humanitarian to give away some of those profits to help people who can’t afford to buy those valves and save more lives (or reduce price so that more people can afford it).

What is unethical in my understanding is, say a company know that the product it is making could harm human lives seriously and probably kill, and company still wanted to make that product and earn profits. Company is fully aware of all consequences and yet resolve to make profits.

Take the entire Tobacco industry for instance. Recent statement from Barack Obama puts the number of people DIE due to tobacco PER YEAR, ALONE in USA at a staggering 400,000. Is it ethical to manufacture and distribute those tobacco products? Why Government sell these ‘licenses to kill’ to tobacco industry? Is it ethical? if not totally illegal?

But that whole discussion led me to think twice what I thought was ethical or unethical. If selling a poisonous product (say tobacco) that could kill people and make profits is unethical, isn’t it unethical if you have a cure for a disease that could save a life from death and you are not distributing that cure to all those in need just so in order to make a larger profit for some?

It is imperative in both cases, that if you don’t have a profit motive, you could save more lives.  Then can one instance be ethical while the other is not?

For instance, if you hit a car on the road and don’t stop. You will be arrested and prosecuted. And if you see a car hit and don’t stop to help, you could still be arrested (though less severe than the first one) for not helping.

Then how do we let Tobacco kill 400,000 people every year?

About Lunch Bites : For some time, some of my friends have been getting together for lunch every day. And we discuss a wide variety of topics everyday. Some make us all laugh at ourselves. Some just on current affairs. Some are really heated discussions. And there are some that leave the rest of the day thinking. Would like to share a few thoughts on the blog, as topics are getting more and more engaging as days pass by.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

EENADU Eulogy For YSR

It always intrigues me that traditionally in India (and in fact most of the world) we try to remember and talk only about the better half of a person once the person is gone, while we always spend talking about the other half when the person is in front of us. And often talk behind a person. Why can’t we treat a person as the person really is, no matter in front of that person or behind or once passed away. Can a really bad person becomes a lot better person just by death?

I believe, you show your true respects by treating a person by the true nature always, as you perceive. Its lot more important to express those feelings when the person is in front of us. Good or bad, is relative and fleeting.

Anyways, the EENADU news paper that has always (most times) criticized quite vehemently has an eulogy that is worth noting. Here it is.

ysrphoto030909

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Andhra CM YS Raja Sekhar Reddy Died in Helicopter Accident.

As per latest News reports, a helicopter carrying Andhra Pradesh CM YS Raja Sekhar Reddy went missing without any communication for about  9 hours now. Suspected mechanical failure with Helicopter.

Update: News reports now confirm that YSR along with 4 others died in the helicopter accident.

Gmail Overload Controls And Service Availability at 99.9

I work in a company where we develop software for Wireless carriers and all our software is expected to provide service availability at 99.999% (Five Nines). That means just about 5  minutes outage for an entire year. And its really a big deal if that target is missed (and result in hefty penalties). And as consumers of a telephone service or a cell phone we expect that cell phone works all the time. You never know when we need it.

On the web though its a different story. For many services we are quite fine with outages now and then. Unless you are a business consumer and your business depends on having an internet portal up and running all the time ( like Dell.com or Amazon.com), an outage normally doesn’t affect anything. We regularly see ‘Maintenance or Scheduled Outage’ Notifications on most web applications and we thank them for the notice.

As per Gmail’s official blog, Gmail service availability is at 99.9%, which means about one and half a minute per day outage or about 45 minutes outage in a month or about 9 hours outage for an entire year.

Gmail web interface was down yesterday for about 100 minutes due to overload issues. And I am pretty sure, most of us are not even aware of that. But Google appeared to make a big deal about it and  trying to make sure it won’t happen again.

Here is what happened:

This morning (Pacific Time) we took a small fraction of Gmail's servers offline to perform routine upgrades. This isn't in itself a problem — we do this all the time, and Gmail's web interface runs in many locations and just sends traffic to other locations when one is offline.

However, as we now know, we had slightly underestimated the load which some recent changes (ironically, some designed to improve service availability) placed on the request routers — servers which direct web queries to the appropriate Gmail server for response. At about 12:30 pm Pacific a few of the request routers became overloaded and in effect told the rest of the system "stop sending us traffic, we're too slow!". This transferred the load onto the remaining request routers, causing a few more of them to also become overloaded, and within minutes nearly all of the request routers were overloaded. As a result, people couldn't access Gmail via the web interface because their requests couldn't be routed to a Gmail server. IMAP/POP access and mail processing continued to work normally because these requests don't use the same routers.

While Google has fixed the issue by bringing in more servers up, one of their action plan to modify overload control intrigued me.

“if many request routers are overloaded simultaneously, they all should just get slower instead of refusing to accept traffic and shifting their load”

In most Telecom software applications the approach we take in times of overload is to continue all the calls that are already setup without any impact (like no degradation of voice quality) and refuse setting up any newer calls until overload is subdued. In most cases, you may hear an announcement like ‘network busy. try after some time’.

I am not sure during Gmail outage, each and every user on the web interface is affected or only a handful of users that trying to login during that time were affected. If each and every user is affected, I think Google must try to fix the problem in a way not to affect already logged in users and refuse all new logins. That way, only a handful will be affected.

It appears, Google want to affect everybody with delayed responses instead of refusing service to some. Isn’t it refusing some with a proper message is better than making everybody feel that Gmail is slower. For people like me, the perception of Slow response is much bigger deal than outage for a few minutes. I don’t want to spend 10 minutes to access and send an email. I am quite fine to do that after 10 minutes.

NDTV.com : Fact or Allegation ? Just another twisted title for sensationalism

This is yet another example of NDTV.com’s sensationalism twisted titles. The title says, as if this was a fact, woman made to urinate in pub...