Archive for October, 2005

Vodafone takes 10% stake in Bharti Telecom

October 30, 2005

Bharti (Airtel brand phone services company) has been growing real fast. Today, they have 16 Million customers. Bharti became a Billion Dollar company in 2003.

Vodafone originally started in UK in 1982 as Voice (Vo) and Data services (Da) company, is the world’s largest mobile telecom services company with 165 Million customers across USA (Verizon brand), Europe and Far East.

With Vodafone taking 10% share for RS 6,700 Crores ($ 1.5 Billion), Indian mobile services market gets to be more interesting (already it is the fastest growing market in the world).

With BSNL planning to add 100 Million mobile phones in the next 18 months (thanks to the enthusiastic IT Minister), Indian telecom scene over the next 3 years will be the most exciting market to watch!

India is the most fertile ground for upcoming semiconductor technology startups – how true?

October 29, 2005

    India is ready today with the semiconductor ecosystem getting formed and the local markets reaching a critical size for a viable semiconductor industry.

    The industry-academia interface is weak but getting there; the venture funds are becoming to be available.

    Of course, there is a serious problem of “mindset”; the engineers are not willing to “take on the world” but wanting to know what they should do next

    The successful IT entrepreneurs are still not investing in start-ups.

As such there is a mixed picture, but the situation today is far ripe than what it was 20 years back, when companies like Infosys started!

(views expressed by the author, Ganapathy Subramaniam of Cosmic Circuits, Indira Iyer of Sinfora, Krishna Yarlagadda of HelloSoft and Sanjay Anandram of JumpStart, in the Panel discussion during ISA (Indian Semiconductor Associatio) Conference held in Bangalore on October 28, 2005 as part of event in Bangalore during Oct 26-29, 2005)

India is unique – technology perspective

October 28, 2005

The India opportunity has unusual challenges

The Indian customers want “best & cheap”

    Delivering products developed for the developed economies at reduced cost, after the expiry of the economic life may not work.

    Also, markets need to be segmented; there is nothing like “selling to the one billion Indian customers”; in addition, some of the Indian customers are more like the customers in the West in life style, they knowing US conditions better than Indian conditions.

    It is possible to develop a product in India for the Western market and THEN adapt it for India; it is equally possible for Indian companies to develop first for the Indian market and later sell it in the developed economy markets.

It is all one of contextualizing!

(views expressed by the author, Dr Anandan, MD of Microsoft Research India, Sandeep Shrivastva of Yahoo India and Rajesh Reddy of July Systems in the Panel discussion during TiE Conference held in Bangalore on October 28, 2005 as part of event in Bangalore during Oct 26-29, 2005)

ITSM Forum India is launched

October 27, 2005

October 27, 2005 saw the launch of ITSM (IT Services Management) Forum in India. India is the 37th country to have a country chapter of ITSM Forum.

Headquartered in UK from 1991, ITSM Forum brings together knowledge, skills and best practices in the area of managing IT infrastructure. With IT emerging as the key infrastructure (Telecom, Internet, and Corporate LAN/WAN) and IT infrastructure becoming the key support for other critical infrastructure such as Transportation (air, rail and road), Banking & Financial Services, Law Enforcement and even Education, it is time that IT Infrastructure management is carried out exceptionally well. This activity is likely to emerge as several hundreds of billions of dollars opportunity globally, With Internet permitting remote delivery of this critical service, India can hope to get a significant part of this business; in fact, much of it can be delivered even from secondary towns in India

(Keynote Address in ITSM Forum Conference held in Bangalore on October 27, 2005 as part of event in Bangalore during Oct 26-29, 2005)

Sun launches 64-bit x86 servers and workstations

October 22, 2005

Sun launched its 64-bit x86 servers in India this week (Mumbai and Bangalore).

None other than its CTO John Fowler, an IT veteran of fame was in India for the launch.

I had the fortune of not only listening to John, but the honor of John showing me the inner details of Sun Fire 4100 and 2100 servers; interestingly, the “hand” of Andy Bechtolshiem the “designer par excellence” was there to see – an absolute “clean” layout with redundant “hot swap” features for fan, power, disk etc., built into a box that is deceptively small. The 2100 box has a price point that would let many jaws drop – $ 745 for an entry level server!

Andy Bechtolshiem was the man behind the Sun Workstations of the 80’s; many of us fondly remember the neatly engineered Sun workstations (I had one (Sun 3/60) for six years on my table that was a delight to use). With Andy back in Sun, we expect a renewed energy and output from Sun; even the approach is similar; way back then Sun built its workstations around Motorola processors and BSD; they are now doing it with AMD Opteron processors (dual core and single core) and multiple O/S (Solaris, Linux and Windows). In the process, they have a server that runs faster, cheaper, and more importantly, cooler (less heat means less cost too, particularly in hot countries like India that imports most of its oil when prices are soaring like mad)

This announcement will be music to the ears of the enterprise computing users, particularly those in the SME sector.

With ERP running for years, the databases need 64-bit addressability; with analytics becoming a necessity for CRM applications, enterprise users too need high performance computing. These users need O/S that they are more familiar with (Windows & Linux); by not insisting on Solaris (that is perceived by enterprise users as good but “difficult”), Sun has taken an “inclusive” approach; by offering a server that betters even the world’s fastest selling servers from HP, the Sun offer will be attractive to the “cost conscious” enterprise computing users; the “legacy” protection that the shift from 32-bit to 64-bit offers (thanks to x86), is a big “comforter” for enterprise users; with the simplicity of management (that one is used to with Sun servers), it could be a “killer” server product; of course, only time will tell!

Information Security and Banks

October 21, 2005

There are three key points I will focus on

Technology will be pervasive in Banking in the next 3 to 5 years in India; it could be PC’s, LAN / WAN, ATM, Core Banking or RTGS, but one or other will always be under implementation. The challenges are special in India, where simultaneously both the sunset technology (branch automation) and sunrise technology (core banking and mobile banking) will peacefully co-exist. What is needed is a way to constantly evaluate technology and use it to the Bank’s advantage

• Banking is all about trust; trust is not built in a day and yet trust cannot be lost even for a second; technology is an enabler; people will appreciate “nice” features like “any time banking”, “any where banking” or tele-banking, but people will not compromise on trust for convenience. This point should not be lost sight of in our eagerness to deploy technology

• Last, but not the least, planning is important but execution is the key. In Indian public sector banks a lot of effort is taken and care is exercised during asset acquisition, but little care is taken to utilize of the assets. Technology acquisition alone will NOT help; technology utilization is a must. Training, skill up-gradation, payment of software maintenance fee etc., must be “factored in”; else, IT projects will remain “IT budget spending” projects and NOT business transformation projects.

(Keynote address given at McAfee Seminar on “Security concerns of the BFSI segment” at Bangalore on 21st October 2005)

Indian IT services companies continue to excel

October 16, 2005

It is heartening to note that InfoSys and TCS crossed $ 1 Billion mark in their first two quarters of 2005 (April Sep as per Indian financial year).

TCS created another history by crossing the 50,000 mark

Wipro’s results would be announced soon, along with that of Satyam.

iGate, MPhasis and Mastek results are great too.

Nobel Priz winners of the year 2005

October 14, 2005

Barry Marshal and Robin Warren of Australia get the Nobel Prize in Medicine “for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease”

Ray Glauber of Harvard University, USA shares his Nobel prize in Physics “for his contribution to the quantum theory of optical coherence” with John Hall of University of Colorado, USA and Theodor Hansch of Max Planck, Germany “for their contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the optical frequency comb technique”

Yves Chauvin of Institute of Petroleum of France shares his Nobel prize in Chemistry with Robert Grubbs of Cal Tech, USA and Richard Shrock of MIT, USA “for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis”

Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, Austria share the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way”

Robert Aumann of University of Jerusalem, Israel and Thomas Schelling of University of Maryland, USA share the Nobel Prize in Economics “for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis”

Harold Pinter of UK gets his Nobel Prize in Literature “who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms”

Europe continues to have a dominant share (5), followed by America (4), Africa (2) and Australia (2); Asia has none. We have a lot to catch up!

IIT’s ranked No 3 globally by Times Higher Education

October 11, 2005

Indian media (both print and electronic) are gaga about Times Higher Education Rankings of World Universities that rate IIT’s as No 3 (from 4th rank in year 2004).

It is a very satisfying feeling, but one must be very careful in not reading too much meaning into this report.

IIT’s of course attract the best talent, the students are well-trained and they do very well in the field (education, industry and government); but in terms of size (most public universities in USA or Europe are large with 10,000 to 75,000 students compared to 3,000 – 4,000 students in IIT’s); most Universities offer universal education across a whole range of disciplines (MIT offers Science, Technology, Economics, Business, Media, and Social Sciences while Stanford offers even Medicine and Law); the Universities in Singapore, China, Hong Kong or Australia have budgets of $ 1 Billion and more compared to just about $ 50 Million for any IIT’s; finally, many Universities around the world fiercely pursue research free from Government interference (we al remember the “clout” low-ranking officials and self-seeking politicians have on Indian Institutes).

We have miles to go, though we have come a long way

Very low PhD production in Computer Science in India must be of serious concern

October 8, 2005

Craig Mundie, CTO, Microsoft was in Bangalore on October 7, 2005 during the launch of MSR (Microsoft Research) India facility, when he expressed concern about the very low production of PhD’s in CS (less than 50, compared to several thousands in USA and China) by the Indian higher education system. Unless the powers that be in India address this issue seriously it might erode our chances of leadership in IT in the long run.

The reasons are many; most students (and their parents) still “influenced” by the “foreign attraction”; second, the lack of research culture in the Indian academic and the social environment; the serious disparity between academic and industry salaries; too much of Government control in the higher education system (MHED, UGC, AICTE); and, finally Science managers and not Scientists calling the shots in the administration of higher education.

Incidentally, I pointed out precisely this point during Academic Summit organized by Microsoft in Bangalore way back on April 14, 2004!