Archive for May, 2009

Google gives away HTC Ion phone to attendees of Google Developers Conference

May 31, 2009

On May 29, 2009 many attendees received a free phone (free to use on T Mobile network with a SIM card for a month) loaded with Android 1.5 O/S

Android is getting into mainstream with as many as 20 phones expected in the near future.

Interesting times indeed (even in times of recession!)

Google announces “wave”

May 30, 2009

In the Google developers conference they demonstrated a powerful communication and collaboration product (Google calls it a product, platform and a protocol) Wave

It is still a year away from release; yet it is compelling enough for a serious look from anyone. I spent almost 90 minutes watching the video (interestingly anchored by Vic Gundotra, VP Engineering and a 15-year Microsoft veteran)

I remember the early days of Lotus Notes and Groove Network products; collaborative products and workflow products are really interesting; some of them had great promise but fell by the wayside. The two Australian brothers (who did Google Maps earlier) are the people behinf Wave also; I do hope Wave is a real hit. It will change the way we use computers & Internet (in some way e-mail has remained the dominant tool and eMail is 40 years old!)

COBOL turns 50 (COBOL is dead; long live COBOL)

May 29, 2009

COBOL turned 50 on May 28, 2009

Interestingly FORTRAN, COBOL and LISP are the three languages that are of 50’s vintage; LISP has barely survived; FORTRAN is used in niche segments, but COBOL though considered old-fashioned still accounts for three-fourths of all ATM transactions and 70% of back-office (order processing, for example). As pointed out in an article in “Dr Dobbs”, the front ends have gone “pretty” with Java or VB but the back-ends are still dominated by COBOL, thanks to the unmatched speed of COBOL that is closest to business logic. According to Gartner there are close to 240 million lines of COBOL code still in use.

 Google searches are huge by any standard; 150 millions per day, but with 30 billion COBOL transaction a day COBOL beats Google 200 times!

It is interesting to note that many CS guys (including me) have talked of “COBOL is dead”; some guys who predicted the death of COBOL might have died; but NOT COBOL! Dr Grace Hopper whose idea very much influenced COBOL must be really happy in her grave!

Microsoft launches “Bing” search service today

May 28, 2009

On May 28, 2009 Microsoft took the wraps of the new search engine “Bing” (earlier code name of Kumo)

Over the next one week (by June 3, 2009) it will be available across the globe 

The first looks are stunningly impressive; even Steve Wozniak (Apple co-founder has a lot of positive reaction)

What can really make Bing succeed really is the fact that Microsoft added two more critical success factors over and above that of Google

  1. Speed
  2. Relevance

Google would not have succeeded if one were to wait even just 1 minute for every query (even if the result was perfect); similarly, if Google was real fast,  but the search results were to picked up by the user from a large file dumped on to one’s hard disk, no one would use Google. Speed AND relevance together made Google such a fantastic success.

Through “Bing” Microsoft adds two other significant success factors

  1. Preview, and,
  2. Multimedia

Limiting itself to four verticals

  1. Local
  2. Travel
  3. Health
  4. Shopping

Microsoft “Bing” does an amazing job of moving from a mere “search” to almost a “decision” that the user would ultimately want

For example,

  1. By giving health information fro authoritative sources (and identifying them) “Bing” ensures that the user gets “authentic” information, the key critical success factor in health information
  2. Through an ability to predict the validity of the best deals across many service providers and rank ordering them, “Bing” gets “value for money” and “time to decide”, the key critical success elements in “travel” search
  3. By bringing out the “best deal” and “avialability” along with reviews and previews, “Bing” addresses the critical needs of shopping
  4. By focusing on locations, driving instructions, classification and “nearness” the “local” search becomes phenomenally useful in “Bing”

Microsoft “Bing” is likely to make a huge impact on the way people will search in the future; just as Apple iPhone made everyone else use “touch” the search engine “Bing” will bring the “Preview” and “Multimedia” to every other search engine (including Google & Yahoo)

Indus Towers is the first company in the world to reach 100,000 mobile towers

May 27, 2009

Indus Towers is the joint venture of Airtel (India’s largest mobile service provider with 100 million subscribers), Vodafone the 3rd largest mobile service provider in the world and India’s 5th largest mobile service provider Idea (Birla company)

This company created history on May 26, 2009 when it crossed the tower count of 100,000

For years American Tower Corporation was the largest in the world. Indus managed to reach the No 1 position within 2 years of operation (due to spinning off tower business by mobile companies, M & A and consolidation); today it is adding 7,000+ towers every month!

Indian companies are surely and steadily reaching global scale; by focusing on “going green” Indus Towers would not only be the biggest, it will be the best too!

Nokia launches Ovi store

May 25, 2009

Nokia has been experimenting with its “content” offering Ovi for more than a year. Today (May 25, 2009) it launched the service in Australia; it is expected to be on the lines of Apple AppStore (and similar services of RIM BlackBerry.

Interestingly there were a number of glitches; Nokia had to post a “sorry” message on its web-site; one blogger even termed it a “disaster”

Hopefully Nokia will get over such problems (Apple had serious problems with its MobileMe when launched; I can personally vouch for it as I am using MobileMe from Day 1)

It wil be interesting to watch Ovi evolve in the next couple of years; Over-the-air synchronization will be the norm if the world’s largest handset manufacture can perfect Ovi 

Nokia plans to launch Ovi in India very soon; in fact, Nokia expects Ovi to be available across the globe in couple of weeks

Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) is one year old today

May 24, 2009

On May 24, 2008 at 00.05 hours the first flight from Bangalore took off (Indian Airlines flight to Singapore) marking a major turning point in the history of Indian Aviation. Planned months after Bangalore International Airport was conceived, Hyderabad stole the show by inaugurating Hyderabad International Airport on March 23, 2008 two months earlier to BIAL.

What many may forget are the following facts

  • Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) is the first greenfield airport in the recent history
  • BIAL is the first private sector built and operated airport
  • BIAL planning started 17 years prior to launching
  • Even after the foundation stone laying by the then Prime Minister, it took three years before the construction could begin
  • Another former Prime Minister ensured that there are several obstacles to this project
  • Mr. N R Narayana Murthy was the first Chairman; he got disgusted by the uncharitable (and thoroughly unjustified comments) of the political bosses and resigned
  • The Airport connectivity was not planned by the State government and  there was so much confusion about two airports (HAL Airport and BIAL) operating; in the process, such a fine project was never inaugurated!
  • It is indeed a beautiful airport, though small by any international standard
  • The managers did a perfect “marketing fiasco” by making all the wrong noises; announced User Development Charges (UDF) but never collected UDF for months creating resentment on Day 1; started collecting it one day and did not integrate the collection into ticketing causing untold misery; it continues till today! The aero-bridges are just 7 in number; curiously BIAL never uses those! Hyderabad has double the number and in most of my flights, aerobridges were used. I have never seen more than 1 or 2 of the aerobridges put to use by BIAL most of the time in my 30+ flights in the past one year! God only knows why

Hope BIAL will celebrate its 10th year soon with at least 25 aero-bridges (and BIAL just not building, but using them also) and with 2 runways

Karnataka to pilot Unique IDentifier (UID) project

May 23, 2009

Planning Commission in its interim budget (Vote on Account presented by the outgoing government in February 2009) had allotted Rs 100 Crore for setting up UID Authority of India to create and administer a unique identifier for every Indian.

Interestingly Karnataka has been chosen as the State to pilot this prestigious project.

Karnataka has many high quality large size databases (those Below Poverty Line (BPL), farmers, women etc)

It will be interesting to see this project evolve over the years

India matters to the world – Vodafone and Suzuki find it

May 22, 2009

Two independent reports talk of

  1. Vodafone ending the year (Apr 08- Mar 09) with 16.8% increase in profit on higher revenue from emerging markets mainly India
  2. Growth in India raises Suzuki profit to $ 106 million

Interesting times indeed!

Making the right IT investments in an Uncertain Economy in Catalyst 09 of IBM in Mumbai

May 21, 2009

I had an opportunity to moderate a Panel discussion on

“Making the right IT investments in an uncertain economy”

as part of Catalyst 09 – the global Smart SoA Seminar – that IBM organizes at many locations around the world.

I had a very distinguished set of Panelists

Romil Turakhia COO of Automated Workflow – Bangalore-based consulting firm that specializes in workflow, SoA for 13 years

Sandeep Phanasgaonkar, CTO of Reliance Capital

Sandy Carter, VP, SoA, IBM New York


Praveen Senger of IDC

We had a User (Reliance), Consultant (Automated Workflow), Supplier (IBM) and Analyst (IDC). My job was rather simple, be the “bell man” to ensure people get lunch on time!

Interestingly, the panel used smart SoA as a smart way to approach IT investment in an uncertain economy. I started out with two examples

  1. Netbooks showing that users are interested in “what feature that they can live without” and NOT “what new feature I want”; this could not have happened without the slowdown
  2. Users in USA happily driving their SUV though they were the only passenger in the vehicle until mid-2008; till crude oil shooting to $ 150  and Boston area users paying $ 4 per gallon. Now “go green” is the mantra!

IT applications also will need to be looked into critically; smart SoA fits in well. It willl need small investments but will increase return on investments hugely

  • Sandeep talked of how Reliance Capital could dramatically re-architect their application from “centralized” to “de-centralized”.
  • Sandy talked about the way IBM is re-positioning its products to adapt to the changing SoA needs.
  • Romil talked about his experiences across financial services as well as other industry segments.
  • Praveen talked of a recent automotive example going for complete smart SoA solution.

There were many questions; about cloud computing, IBM tools, further information, security,..

All in all it was an enjoyable experience

(Panel discussion at Hyatt Hotel, Mumbai 12 Noon to 1:15 PM on May 21, 2009)