Thursday, February 24, 2011

RIP: IT Department

A number of the developments that have been happening over the past few years have made me realize how a company can literally run their IT department on the cloud. And if (or when) I were to start my own company, that is exactly what I would do. So here's how you would do it:

  • Google Apps: For $50 / user / year, you get email (w/ exchange), docs, chat, reader, sites (intranet) and true real time collaboration. No more licenses to pay for Exchange, MS Office, OCS & IIS etc.
  • Amazon Web Services: All the server services (to test & run your software). Comes in a variety of configurations and prices.
  • GitHub: For hosting your source code securely and track bugs in real time. Plans start at $25 a month.

So unlike, an IT department, you don't need to schedule a down time for services as Google Apps has 99.9999% uptime (so does AWS & GitHub). Other benefits include portability - you can work from anywhere in the world.

Granted, not all companies can do this - "old school" companies are run by "old" executives who have this aversion to these Web 2.0 technologies - but you can be sure that all the startups that are being founded right now are going this way and that means in the next 10 to 15 years, you are going to see IT departments disappearing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thoughts on Microkia

The tech world is abuzz with the recent announcement that the once proud Nokia would be abandoning their own Mobile OSes for Microsoft Windows Phone 7. Having spent a weekend thinking it over, here are my thoughts:

  • However irresponsible this deal might have been perceived by folks, it is bold and I think it was the only card Nokia had to play after they missed out on buying Palm (which they still probably regret after the way HP is swallowing it). Though boldness doesn't generate revenue. 
  • With this deal, Nokia has been (or will soon be) relegated to the statuses of the likes of HTC, Samsung, LG & Dell. Translation: Just another OEM Phone manufacturer. Although Nokia claims that they have complete freedom to retool the entire Windows Phone 7. I doubt they will (and they said they won't).
  • But if I were HTC, Samsung & LG, I would be pretty upset with what went down between Nokia & MS (as MS seems to have made several concessions that are specific & exclusive to Nokia) and I would go to MS and ask for a better deal as they would be holding the water (releasing Windows phones) until Nokia gets there. And I think they all would soon abandon ship and go over to the Android camp.
  • In the end, I bet that this deal is not going to work as it is way too late (first Nokia Windows Phones are not expected until next year).
Can you imagine someone leaving a company and joining a direct competitor as a CEO and 3 months later essentially selling his new company to his former employer? It's essentially what happened here... 

Friday, November 06, 2009

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The beginning of the end for Microsoft

There are two main reasons why Microsoft is still a profitable company, irrespective of how many mistakes they make: Windows & Office. Even though Mac & Linux have tried for years to unseat (or even unsettle) Windows from its dominant market share, they have hardly made a dent. There are several reasons why they haven't been able to:
  1. Apple made MacOS X a closed operating system without licensing it to anyone which means that it is tied to computers made by apple, which are pricey (and beautiful). The barriers for entry for anyone who want to switch are high. Apple refuses to acknowledge that most people grew up and own Windows PCs and does not accommodate them by making it easy. While BootCamp made it easier but still they weren't addressing their core concern: what can I do with my existing windows computers. With the iPhone, Apple has diverted its engineering resources on to that. Instead of addressing the core OS concerns, Apple is spending its time and resources trying to mimick Vista & Windows 7.
  2. Linux & various other linux-like variants. There have been several notable efforts in the Linux front. Most notable being Ubuntu and the most recent effort from Intel, Moblin. I've gotta say Ubuntu is years behind from becoming an usable, mainstream, home operating system. There are so many issues with keeping it open-source and not being able to provide "proprietary" device drivers. There are just too many variants and ways to do the same thing and none being easy.

I think Google is spot-on in its post about the needs of a computer user:
We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates.
Everyday, I wait for about 5 minutes for my PC to become usable. Every year or so, I have to re-install Windows on my computers as it has slowed down considerably from when it was a fresh install. I have to use a myriad of programs to backup my computer. And have a myriad of hard drives and storage to move around my media over and over.

If (and that's a big if) Google is able to address all these concerns and make an Operating System that's secure, simple & fast, then they would own the home market in a few years. Cracking the enterprise market is much harder as it requires change of thinking & operating model for a lot of enterprise IT departments (which means re-training or even hiring new people) and that aint gonna happen in years - maybe in a decade or so.

But sure enough, Google has both the money and the engineering prowess to pull this off. Go Google ChromeOS!

Collateral Damage

In the tech world, when a large company launches a product, it inadvertently kills off a lot of small companies which were offering features that were not available previously. Case in point: iPhone 3GS. Here are the list of several companies/products that Apple cannibalised when it introduced iPhone 3GS:
  1. Flip: With iPhone 3GS' video recording capabilities and it's ease of use to upload videos onto YouTube, who needs a Flip? Wonder if Cisco is regretting its acquisition of Flip?
  2. PSP/NintendoDS: Have you played a racing game on a iPhone 3GS? It's fast and and graphics is as good as a PSP or a DSi. Why would you need a PSP if you can play the same game on an iPhone 3GS?
  3. Garmin/TomTom/Navigon: With its GPS & compass, stand-alone GPS device manufacturers are forced to address this market by making available their apps to provide turn-by-turn navigational software on iPhone 3GS. By opening up accessory/dock access, Apple is letting them have their hardware touch on top of the software. If your phone can be your GPS device, why would you a Garmin, TomTom?
  4. Several small AppStore vendors: By offering Voice Memo, Voice Control & Compass a built-in apps in the Appstore, Apple basically killed off several apps that were trying to do the same thing (albeit ineffectively).
Oh, by the way, I bought an iPhone 3GS and if you don't follow me on twitter, please do so. Will try to update the blog more regularly.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Vidyo Update

The company I work for, Vidyo Inc, has been steadily making progress for those of you who keep asking me about it, here are the updates:
  1. Vidyo secured $15 million in funding. Always a good thing to have money in the bank particularly during a down economy.
  2. We have signed more customers, the notable being Teliris and Hitachi.
  3. And, we have released an video for our pitch, which you can see here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

India: Internet Bus Project

Kudos to Google for doing this:

Today, we launched the Internet Bus Project, an initiative designed to showcase the benefits of the Internet to the people across the cities of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Over the last few years, we've been witnessing a steady growth in Internet adoption, but we wanted to do more to directly engage the offline population of India. So we're hitting the road over the next month and a half to demonstrate how the Internet can make everyday tasks simple with tools like Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps and more.

To learn more about the project and get updates from the road, visit the Google India Blog or the Internet Bus Project website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Dawn of a New Era

Ever since I moved to the US (I landed right in the midst of the Hanging-Chad recount), all I've ever known was Bush Presidency which could be considered one of the worst, if not the worst Presidency in atleast a century. Everything that I have heard and read about America since then - that it is a land of freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to practice any and no religion, freedom to uphold not just what the law says but to do that even in the face of a crisis. But after Iraq War, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Illegal Wiretapping, Katrina & the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, I started to have my doubts.

Then came Obama. While he may not bring any sweeping changes to the US foreign policy, he's a welcome change from the years of Bush & Cheney Presidency. Here's to 8 years of a golden era in the land of Freedom. Go Barack!

For those of you who'd be stuck at work, like me, can watch the Inauguration live here:

Saturday, January 03, 2009

TN "buy"-election in Thirumangalam

I always envy the kinda local-blogging that Publia does and wanted to something even remotely close. So here goes.

There's a by-election going on in my home town, Thirumangalam, in Tamil Nadu. And as the blog title indicates, it has turned into a "buy"-election - it's actually a competition to see who has the most money to buy people's votes. Various reports indicate up to 1,000 rupees (~$20) are being paid for per vote by who else, the ruling party, the DMK. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

There are 26 candidates on the ballot but it's actually a three-way battle between Ms. Latha Adhiyaman from DMK, Mr. T. Dhanapandian from DMDK and Mr. M. Muthuramalingam from AIADMK. And it's not a coincidence that all of the major party candidates hail from the same caste which may not dominate the region in terms of numbers but do so in terms of vocal and "physical" strength. While I don't (and I'm sure most of the residents of the town don't either) know enough about the candidates themselves and since the parties are treating this by-election as some kinda state-wide referendum and an indicator of the upcoming General Election for the Central Government, the stakes have been raised several times and the small town is literally turned upside town with daily clashes between parties, violence and arrests. It's probably too much to ask the police to keep the law and order in a town of 50,000.

For those who are familiar with TN politics, it's not news that the politics there is dominated by corrupt and criminal elements from alternating rulers DMK and AIADMK. But I'm hoping the new-found enthusiasm of citizen involvement in the government and public affairs after the recent mumbai attacks brushes off on this remote sleepy town in southern TN. While I'm hopeful, am also realistic. When parties drop envelopes stuffed with a thousand rupees in your house at night even if you don't want it, you are kinda put into a tough spot. But I say - take the money and vote for the candidate of your choice anyway.

It'd be interesting to see if DMDK headed by actor Vijayakanth comes out ahead as he's quite popular around that region. All this attention on Thirumangalam hasn't really brought any improvements to the town - it's still the same town that I grew up in 15 years ago.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Watch New Year's Eve Live from Times Square

Happy New Year and Happy Holidays to the two people who read this blog!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pakistan's Five Step Program: Step 4

Remember the "Five Step Program" that I was talking about when Mumbai Attacks happened? All parties involved (India, Pakistan & the US) are following the steps to the dot until now. Now we seem to be in Step 4:

Pakistan Moves Troops Away From Afghan Border 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan began moving thousands of troops away from the Afghan border toward India on Friday amid tensions following the Mumbai attacks, intelligence officials said.
The move represents a sharp escalation in the stand off between the nuclear-armed neighbors and stands to weaken Pakistan's U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida and Taliban close to Afghanistan.

It's so easily predictable like a bad Bollywood movie. As I said then, the only step that's of any question is the reaction of the incoming Obama administration to the puppetry from Pakistan.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mumbai Attacks: No more live coverage of terrorist attacks

It was about time that the television networks realized they are neither helping those who are trying to help rescue the people from an ongoing violence/terrorist attack, nor helping those who are watching these live on TV. So it was heartwarming to see them come to this self-rule:
With visual media coming under attack for its coverage of Mumbai terror attacks, the News Broadcasters Association on Thursday came out with guidelines that insisted on no live coverage of armed and communal violence.

The guidelines also banned the broadcasters from providing information on security operations.

The NBA's self-regulatory guidelines also said that no information about hostage situations and rescue operations should be provided.

The guidelines further said media should avoid live contact with victims and security personnel during crises and stressed that no live reporting that provides publicity to the terrorists should be made.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Safar Saathi

SafarSaathi is a Web2.0 service that I think would be useful for desi folks. It's for people whose elderly parents are traveling alone and might need company en route. I'm sure you or someone you know has been in this situation. It's available for both domestic (india) & international travel.

It sounds like a simple idea but it could really come in handy for us folks living abroad. 

(thanks, Peter )

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mumbai Attacks: Five-Step Program

Step 1: Barack Obama, the incoming President, warns Pakistan that it cannot and will not be allowed to divert the US government aid to be used as means to beefing up military on Pakistan's eastern border. And if Pakistan failed to act on intelligence about terrorists inside Pakistan, US would launch attacks against those inside Pakistan.

Step 2: Fearing Step 1, elements inside Pakistan's military and ISI (note: I didn't say government) instructs its minions and militant elements to launch attacks inside India to ratchet up tension between the nuclear powers.

Step 3: India reacts just as advertised, by demanding action from Pakistan to quash those terrorist cells to which Pakistan government says 'Show us the proof'. Tensions are high inside India for action (read: attack terrorists wherever they may be).

Step 4: Stating Step 4 as a reason, Pakistan starts to move its troops from fighting Taliban from its western border to its eastern border to prevent "a non-existing" threat from India.

Step 5: Step 4 forces US government to tone down its allegations and demands for aid in return for pre-Step 1 "status-quo". Obama administration's hands are tied down even before it has taken reigns.

Collateral Damage: 200 or so innocent mumbaikars and numerous others who were either injured in Step 2.

I believe we are in Step 3 on this five-step process. The only question that remains is whether Obama administration goes through Step 5 as has the previous US governments or does it stand up and refuse to be cowed down again. We shall see.