Archive for April, 2009

Akshaya Patra Foundation touches the million mark

April 30, 2009

I learnt from Mr Sridhar of Ashaya Patra Foundation TODAY that they have crossed the million mark recently!

It is truly amazing. By feeding more than million children in government schools in poor economic conditions. Akshaya Patra has done wonders. By

  • keeping costs low (less than Rs 5 for a wholesome meal delivered at the School premise)
  • using super efficient high tech kitchems, GPS fitted and centrally tracked vehicles

Akshaya Patra represents a truly Indian idea (anna daan) benefiting from west-generated technology – a true East-West success story

President Kalam does India proud again

April 29, 2009

Today (April 29, 2009) former President APJ Abdul Kalam received Hoover Medal, the first Asian to get this Award in the 73 years of the award (given 59 times so far). The award ceremony was held in Columbia University in New York.

Administered by ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) on behalf of five societies (ASME, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE), American Society of Chemical Engineers (ASChE) and American Society of Mining, Metallurgical & Petroleum Engineers), Hoover Medal is given to engineers who serve the larger humanitarian cause.

The award was endowed by Conard McLauer who was inspired by the outstanding and super efficient relief services rendered during 1914-23 by Herbert Hoover (who became the 31st President of the United States).

By receiving Hoover Medal Dr Kalam does India proud once again; he has done so many things to the country.

Interestingly, both Hoover and Kalam represent the case of exemplary engineers becoming Presidents of their respective countries; both are “rank outsiders” and had tough time handling the “political class”! Dr Kalam is lucky though; the “current great depression” was after he laid down office; President Hoover saw the great depression of 1928 within months of his taking over and he lost the1932  Election!

Five levels of Industry Academia interaction

April 28, 2009

While everyone talked of the challenges, opportunities and learnings from the operation of “captive units” for major US corporations, I had to pitch in with the supply side, specifically the issue of industry-academia interaction.

Based on my years of industry interaction I had put together the 5-levels of interaction (that matures over the years) on the lines of five levels of SEI CMM Model

The first level is Supplier Buyer relationship where the primary focus is on recruitment

After a couple of years of successful recruitment drive, the corporates invests (though in small amounts) in the form of scholarships and sponsorship for student events (CulFest, TechFest); I call it Donor-donee relationship.

At the next level is Consultant – User relationship where the trust has gone up; corporations utilize faculty by way of consulting projects (short duration projects)

With some more trust building on the part of corporation and delivery capability on the faculty part the relationship matures to Sponsor – Receiver relationship where large projects (with multiple faculty members and multi-year projects) are endowed at the Institutes.

The final stage of relationship is what I call come on board – where faculty members are invited to sit on the boards of corporations and senior executives occupy board level position in the University Senate / Board

Ultimately such a mature relationship should lead to

  • Intellectual gains (Turing award winners, Academy winners, Fellows (IEEE / ACM)
  • Wealth creation for individuals and corporations 
  • Generation of amazing products & services (iPod or iPhone like products)
  • Creation of marquee companies that create jobs (next generation Infosys)
  • Research-led institutes (like Stanford University)

right in Bangalore

(Round table of “captive” unit heads of corporations in retail, high tech, financial services and consulting services in Bangalore held at Target India campus in EGL, Bangalore on April 27, 2009)

Soul of IT

April 27, 2009

What is the essence of IT? After all, computers and IT is all about information processing; as of now most computers are digital, and they process just a set of bytes – a set of bits (typically 8) – very large number of them (billions of them), real fast (at the speed of light), reliably (with failures of less than 1 on 10,000 billion typically) and affordably (100 million PCs are sold at sub $ 500 price range every year). IT folks know just one thing – processing bits.

Just this ability – computing ability – coupled with communications ability – to switch packets across the globe in microseconds, has fundamentally changed the course of EVERY OTHER industry.

Through “digitization” of  graphics (drawings, photographs and pictures) one can capture, store, transmit retrieve text and pictures. With 600 dpi (dots per second) scanning a sheet of A4 size paper (8.5″ x 11″) with about 1,000 characters (1,000 bytes) would translate to 1 million bytes (with 3-6 bytes per pixel to represent color and intensity at 256 or 65K levels (using 1 or 2 bytes). A picture is worth 1,000 words (there is a 1,000-fold increase in complexity as move from character-based computing to graphics-intensive computing. There is a further 1,000-fold increase in complexity (file sizes increasing 1,000 times) to store 1 hour of music; yet another 1,000 fold increase to process 1 hour of audio – leading to multimedia computing in 90’s. In the process

Office equipment – fax machines, typewriters, scanners are subsumed by “IT” industry (Printer manufacturer HP)

Camera and film / image processing (including medical images Xray, ultra sound, CT and MRI) is getting subsumed by “IT” industry. Nokia sold 7 times more camera fitted phones than all the cameras sold by all camera manufacturers (many of them selling cameras for decades while Nokia started camera fitted phones in 2005) in the year 2007

Cinematography is becoming animation industry; films are directly sent to digital theaters instead of “shipping” movie films!

IT on the one hand is becoming the dominant industry (with more than $ 2 trillion revenue in 2008), comparable to oil and auto industry, it is also “changing color” to subsume many other industries. The simple ability to process “bits” is at the core of computing; the essence of IT is this ability.

Through this lectures we aim to convince the children about the excitement of this area – Programming, operating systems, DBMS, networking, signal processing and embedded systems  – and visits to GE call center, campuses of Texas Instruments, Infosys, HP, HP Labs, Mindtree and Tessolve.

We do hope to get this excitement to the children of Bangalore along with the fact that many core technologies are getting developed right in the city of Bangalore!

(Short address by me On April 27, 2009 to the 40 students of “excITe children” program (for 9th/10th/11th/12th Grade children of Kumaran School at IIIT-B during April 27 – May 5, 2009)

Phone subscriber addition in March touch 15.87 million

April 26, 2009

Mobile phone subscribers continue to increase at a scorching pace in India even in the past 3 months when there is gloom everywhere.

India added 37.73 million mobile subscribers and 0.23 million fixed line subscribers in March 2009; taking the total mobile subscriber base to 391.76 by March 31, 2009 and 37.96 fixed line subscribers. Overall there are 429.72 million phone subscribers in India as of March 31, 2009

As of now (April 21, 2009) Indian mobile subscriber base would have crossed 400 million, but we have to wait till 20th May for the regulator TRAI to formally announce the exact numbers! The new government will have some cheerful news at least on one count, the day it is formed (around May 20, 2009)

Airtel continues to be No 1 at 93.9 million; Reliance follows at 72.7 million; Vodafone at 68.8 and BSNL at 52.1 follow; Idea at 38.9 and Tatas at 35.1 trail behind (interesting to see Tatas & Birlas NOT on the top in this segment)




(TRAI Press Release 38/2009 dated April 21, 2009)

US President has interesting CXO

April 25, 2009

In his weekly address to the Nation on April 18, 2009 President Obama talks of bringing accountability to the government spending. He talked of the appointment of Jeffrey Zeints a former CEO as his Chief Performance Officer (CPO). The President talks of Jeffrey bring the much needed process efficiency and the need for the government to prune spending – removing projects and programs that do not deliver and investing more on those projects that have maximum benefit for citizens; he expects Jeffrey to bring in the “process performance” dimension to government. He also announced that Aneesh Chopra formerly with Virginia Commonwealth government will take over as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to bring the most relevant technology to measure performance and for the government to bet on the right technologies to benefit America. He also mentioned that both of them will work closely with Vivek Kundra the President’s Chief Information Officer (CIO).

It is interesting to see President Obama choosing the right CXO’s for his government – a step in the right direction. One hope the new government in Delhi (that should be in place by mid May 2009) will take some clue!

Enterprise software over the decades

April 24, 2009

Enterprise software started as commercial applications in 60’s & 70’s. The rise of IBM, payroll and inventory applications dominated the market. Disk and tape storage, COBOL language, EDP departments were the offshoots in 60’s and filesystems, DBMS and relational systems got into mainstream.

In 80’s & 90’s the landscape changed completely – LAN, Internet, client server, n-tier, open systems & standards (plus open source), offshoring, outsourcing – made it possible to have enterprise-wide applications – ERP was the  result. Quickly it got extended to SCM, CRM, eMarket, portals and PLM. User expectations changed – browser became the “universal interface”; users expected instant gratifications – results at “mouse click” however complicated was the process behind. Microprocessors commoditized hardware (intel); shrink-wrap commoditized software (Microsoft)

As we move forward consolidation is happening at an unprecedented speed; servers got consolidated; HP, IBM & Sun (that is also gone on April 20, 2009 after Oracle acquisition of Sun); O/S consolidation was next; DBMS, middleware, applications too are getting consolidated. Cloud computing, SaaS / pay per use models are maturing. Web 2.0 tools are there everywhere. Mash-up seems to be the rage. Thanks to SAP, package implementation (not full blown development) has entered the mainstream. System Integrators decide many parts of the stack and not technology vendors alone. 

It will be interesting to watch the further growth of enterprise applications in the next decade (along with the growth of SAP)

Truly enterprise applications have been the force behind many developments in computing in the decades

  • Programing language – COBOL
  • O/S – Solaris, HP-UX
  • DBMS – Oracle, MS SQL Server
  • Architecture – 3-tier, n-tier
  • Middleware – Netwaever, Websphere
  • Environment – Eclipse, J2EE

It will be interesting to watch the impact of technology evolution, user expectation and the morphing of enterprise applications in the next decade

(Talk given at People Summit at SAP Labs, Bangalore on April 23, 2009)

India votes; I voted today

April 23, 2009

“General Election 2009”  to elect the next Indian Parliament is on. It is taking place on five days spread over five weeks (April 16, 23, 30, May 7, and May 13, 2009). Counting will take place on May 16, 2009

Interestingly, India is one country that uses EVM (Electronic Voting Machines) completely. BEL & ECIL – the two public sector companies – supply more than 600,000 machines that are used in the Elections. Economist carried a picture some years back on the cover page; some of the EVMs are carried on the back of elephants in some remote parts of the country!

Parts of Karnataka had Election today. In South Bangalore – one of the prestigious constituencies – had four excellent candidates. Mr Anatakumar the sitting MP of BJP (has won four times earlier from the same place) is pitted against Krishna Byregowda of Congress an young turk (3 time MLA) and Prof Radhakrishna of JD (S). Interestingly, Capt Gopinath (of Deccan Airlines fame) is an independent candidate!

My experience in votingwas very good. I had the “slip” delivered to me by BJP volunteers. That made the process simple. It had the details of the polling booth. I straight went to the booth; the volunteers were there. The poll officials told me to go Room 90; I could vote i the next 60 seconds. I proudly have the indelible ink mark on my finger. I feel proud that I could vote effortlessly

TCS is a $ 6 billion company today

April 22, 2009

On April 21, 2009 TCS announced the financial results for 2008-09. Their revenue has crossed $ 6 billion (Rs 27, 813 Crores) and profits has touched $ 1.42 billion (Rs 6,577 Crores).

The TCS head count has touched 1.43,761

It is indeed a proud day for India

Apple results bring some cheers for IT industry

April 22, 2009

With IBM talking of 11% reduction in top line, Intel and Nokia talking of 70+ reduction in quarterly profits there was general gloom in the industry. Indian IT services majors Infosys, Wipro, TCS have posted very modest growth and their guidance is very mooted. Against such background it is nice to see Apple talking of increase in top line from 7.51 billion to $ 8.16 billion and bottom line increasing from $1.05 to $ 1.21 billion for the JFM 2009 quarter.

Apple sold 2.22 million iMac computers, 11.01 million iPods and 3.79 million iPhones in the quarter. Interestingly, Apple is as much a phone company, entertainment electronics company and a computer company!