SILICON VILLAGE

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why must enterprises move to Green technologies?

Going green is the mantra often heard among Indian IT enterprises. It is an important business initiative that is driving good corporates towards greener technologies.

Going green is not just about being environment-friendly but also translates into one of the best ways to save money. A recent IDC report indicates that energy and cooling expenses will grow eight times faster than purchasing costs of new servers through 2010. In IDC’s latest Green Poll in the APAC region, almost 81 percent of the participating organizations said that the Green-ness of an IT technology would become increasingly important when it comes to selecting suppliers. About 18 percent of the organizations said that they were already considering this factor while selecting suppliers, while 30 percent said they were putting systems into place to start doing so in the near future. So Green IT opens up an abundance of opportunities for enterprises in any country.

Why should your IT go Green?
Rising global warming, increased energy costs and greater awareness about its socio-economic implications has forced organizations to look for ways to reduce their carbon-emission footprint. However, what has escaped attention is the massive amount of energy your IT consumes. Enterprise IT, which accounts for up to 40 percent of an organization’s energy requirement, has a big role to play to reduce greenhouse gases. According to a Forrester survey, over 41 percent of people in the IT departments believe energy efficiency and equipment recycling are important factors that need to be considered. In the same survey, 65 percent believed reduction of energy related operating costs as the driving factor for implementing Green IT.

What drives Green in India?
Adoption of Green IT is not just about buying green data centers and setting up Green IT infrastructure. It needs a complete 360-degree approach - starting from the vision of the top management to the awareness among employees. “An environment-conscious organization should define what ‘green’ means to it as there is no global, industry-wide recognized standard today that defines a green data center or organization, and take steps to follow the corporate green guidelines. The long-term goal of the green data center operation is to achieve carbon neutrality.

Data centers – The Energy Guzzlers
Undoubtedly, data centers have the maximum energy requirements, given the massive number of powerful servers that are housed in today’s data centers, which are sometimes as big as the size of a football field. And these data centers may require as much cooling power as the electricity to run them. Some studies say that these data centers account for between 1.2 and 2.0 percent of electricity consumed in the United States. It is also a known fact that many of the servers in the data centers run at a low utilization level of 10% to 15%. This causes significant wastage through redundant hardware, memory, network devices and power supplies. In earlier times, enterprises would have put up with this excess capacity, given the IT department’s risk-aversion. However, with maturing IT coupled with need to rein-in energy use, organizations are now forced to adopt strategies to reduce their data center operational costs.

Strategies to implement Green technologies
What are the steps you should take to optimize the consumption of electricity as well as reduce the number of servers in your data center? Enterprise IT groups are looking at various options – such as PC Power management software and deployment of energy efficient servers and network devices. However, these piecemeal steps will not yield the desired results; you need a more holistic approach to solve this problem. The answer lies in the adoption of Cloud computing and Virtualization within your enterprise IT – two strategies that can a go a long way in reducing your energy-dependency and thus make your organization truly green.

Embrace Cloud Computing
Cloud computing lets you use computational power and storage space from a third-party service provider, thus lowering demand for addition of more servers in your data center. You can also reduce the number of applications deployed on your data centers by using similar applications hosted by SaaS providers. Now, cloud computing means different things to different people – depending upon which vendor you talk to. Therefore, it could be utility computing or grid or Software-as-a-Service or even Platform-as-a-Service. However, one thing is clear – all of them refer to some service provided by a third-party provider outside the corporate firewall. It is true there are concerns with respect to security, availability and customer’s data privacy in these services – as shown recently by the outage at Amazon’s S3 storage service. However, these issues will get addressed as the technology and industry matures.

There are primarily two types of cloud services, namely Infrastructure in the cloud and Applications in the cloud. Infrastructure in the cloud refers to raw CPU power and data storage space you can use on-demand over Internet.

You should also explore applications in the cloud type of services as a tool to minimize data center load. Look at business applications that are not critical to your business or those you can’t afford to maintain with a separate IT group in-house – such as CRM apps, HR/HCM, Backup and Restore, Security etc. Instead of running these applications on your data center, you should consider using applications provided by third-party service providers. This, in turn, reduces the number of servers in your data center – which means you have less energy consumption.

Virtualize your data center
As you look for ways to optimize your data center operation, consolidation of servers through virtualization technology provides considerable energy savings. Virtualization is a technology that allows you to partition a physical hardware into multiple logical boxes, with each having its own operating system and network connectivity running in a sandbox. This makes additional standby servers redundant since you can dynamically provision a new virtual machine and then run a new instance of your application on this VM. With advances in virtual machine technology, you can now move a running virtual machine from one server to another server. This further increases the utilization rate of your server stack in the data center; hence you can host more applications with reduced number of servers.

Chandrayaan-II launch in 2012

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) chairman G Madhavan Nair said on Thursday that India would launch its second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-II, in 2012 and a small robot would be dropped on the moon.

"Chandrayaan-II will be launched by 2012. We will have a lander that will drop a small robot on the moon, which will pick samples, analyze data and send the data back," Nair told media on the sidelines of a Space Technology seminar here.

Already the project has been formulated for Chandrayaan-II. Talking about Chandrayaan-I, Madhavan Nair said the Moon Impact Probe would land on the lunar surface on Friday evening.
He said already 95 per cent of the mission had been completed and the total success of the mission would be known only after the remaining work was completed.

Regarding the 'solar mission' called Aditya, Nair said a satellite was intended to study solar emissions and it would be launched within two years. ISRO would also go ahead with the study of sending a spacecraft to Mars.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Now video and voice chat on Gmail

Gmail and Google App subscribers can now speak with friends on a video screen and simultaneously instant message them in a Google Chat box. Google Inc added a voice and video chat feature to its Gmail email service on Tuesday, launching a free Web-based service that competes with the likes of eBay's Skype. Gmail and Google App subscribers can now choose to speak with friends on a video screen and simultaneously instant message them in a Google Chat box.

The video screen can be popped out of the chat box and moved around a user's computer screen. Users can also change the size of the screen and expand it to full-screen size.

"The idea was to make it quicker and easier to communicate with other people by whatever means is best convenient," said Google spokesman Jason Freidenfelds.

"It's a nice alternative for businesses looking for another way for people to connect," he added.
The feature is available for both PC and Apple computer users.

A webcam and small web browser plug-in are required to use the video chat. Users who do not have a webcam will still be able to chat with friends by voice.

Chandrayaan-1 reaches final orbit

Destination Moon
It is yet another historic day in India’s space odyssey. Chandrayaan-1 successfully reached its intended operational orbit at a height of about 100 km from the lunar surface. This followed a series of three orbit reduction manoeuvres during the past three days by repeatedly firing the spacecraft’s 440 Newton Liquid Engine.

As part of these manoeuvres, the engine was fired totally for about 16 minutes. As a result, the farthest point of Chandrayaan-1’s orbit (aposelene) from the moon’s surface was first reduced from 7,502 km to 255 km and finally to 100 km. The nearest point (periselene) was reduced from 200 km to 182 km and finally to 100 km.

With this, the carefully planned complex sequence of operations to carryChandrayaan-1 from Earth orbit to operational lunar orbit has been completed. During these operations, Chandrayaan-1’s liquid engine, built by Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Thiruvananthapuram, was fired ten times. In its current orbit, Chandrayaan-1 takes about 2 hours to go round the moon once.

From this orbit passing over the moon’s polar regions, it will conduct chemical, mineralogical and photogeological mapping with 11 instruments (payloads). Two of them — Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) and Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM) — have already been successfully switched on. TMC has taken pictures of the Earth and the moon.

The next major event of the mission is the release of the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) and its landing on the moon’s surface.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

After Moon, ISRO plans mission to Sun

After the Chandrayaan-I moon odyssey, it's 'Mission Sun' for the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Scientists at ISRO are in the advanced stage of designing a spacecraft, named 'Aditya', to study the outermost region of the Sun called corona.

"That's a mini satellite. In fact, the design is just getting completed," ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair told PTI.

Chandrayaan
"During solar maxim...which is happening...we would like to see the type of emissions which are taking place in the Sun and how it interacts with the ionosphere and atmosphere and so on," he said.

According to Dr Jayati Datta, deputy programme director, Space Science Office, ISRO, Aditya is the first space basedSolar Coronagraph intended to study corona.

'Aditya' would be the first attempt by the Indian scientific community to unravel the mysteries associated with coronal heating, coronal mass ejections and the associated space weather processes and study of these would provide important information on the solar activity conditions, she said.

We will have total map of the moon, says ISRO

"A basic understanding of the physical processes and continuous monitoring would help in taking necessary steps towards protecting ISRO's satellites either by switching them off or putting them on a stand-by mode as warranted by the background conditions," Datta aaid.

The temperature of the solar corona goes beyond a million degrees. From the Earth, corona can be seen only during total solar eclipses, mainly due to the bright solar disc and the scattering of the sunlight by the Earth's atmosphere. One has to go beyond the atmosphere to be able to mask the bright solar disc and study the corona.

Chandrayaan may reveal moon mysteries

The space borne coronagraph 'Aditya' in would study the Coronal Mass Ejection and consequently the crucial physical parameters for space weather such as the coronal magnetic field structures, evolution of the coronal magnetic field etc, Datta said.

"Completely new information on the velocity fields and their variability in the inner corona, having an important bearing on the unsolved problem of heating of the Corona, would be obtained," she explained.

Activities towards 'Aditya Mission' have been initiated with the involvement of scientists from ISRO centres and prime national research institutes in the country.

PM sees first pictures from Chandrayaan

ISRO is planning to launch 'Aditya Mission' during the next high solar activity period. However, the exact date/time is not yet confirmed. "Aditya' is an indigenous/Indian mission. So far, there is no plan of putting any foreign payload on board Aditya mission," Datta said, adding that the United States, the European Space Agency and Japan [Images] have flown missions to study Sun and solar corona/activities.

The sun, which is highly turbulent and dynamic, sends out large chunks of charged particles and emits highly energetic electromagnetic radiation in all directions.

These radiations, on reaching Earth, cause severe near-Earth-space disturbances called Geomagnetic storms, which affect communication links, disturb power lines in high altitudes, cause aurora in polar regions and affect satellite systems directly and also indirectly through changes brought about in the near Earth atmosphere.

Obama no threat to BPO business

The Indian outsourcing industry has no cause for concern from the landslide victory of Barack Obama in the Presidential polls as the Democrats are unlikely to come in the way of the global offshoring process, says Nasscom President Ganesh Natarajan.

In an interview, the Nasscom chief has said that “We should not worry about any ban on outsourcing; it is just not going to happen. If at all, he might give incentives to job creation in America which we support and I don’t think that is going to add any adverse impact on Indian outsourcing.”

Natarajan said he was a firm believer of the fact that Wall Street would have a crucial role to play in deciding on the merits of outsourcing. Barack Obama wants to put jobs back into the US, but that does not necessarily mean stopping the trend of outsourcing because the main thrust is to revive the economy.

"Most of us were doing work for IT and BPO companies for Fortune 500 and are very integral to the value chain. So, he will do nothing that will disturb the success of these companies. At the same time, all of us have to realize that job creation must happen in United States and there will be different measures to take that up. I do not think anybody sensible like Obama will come in the way of current outsourcing," he said in the interview.

He also expressed the view that with Obama coming to power, there would be more opportunities for being a part of the efforts to strengthen the American economy. He also pooh-poohed the idea that American companies would be hit hard if Obama ends the tax breaks on companies that export jobs.

There are no specific tax breaks that a company gets in the US for doing work abroad so, at best Obama might give incentives to companies to retain jobs onshore, he said adding that the companies would continue to get jobs done wherever it makes more sense to have them done.

IT industry in India safe, says Nasscom chief

We need not worry about the slowdown in the US economy. It is all a temporary phase and very soon, the US dollar will reach a stable position, said Ganesh Natarajan, chairman of Nasscom.

India's IT industry does not need to worry about the current economic downturn as 'we have a strong knowledge base' and the established market players here would not be affected, a top industry body official said. "We need not worry about the slowdown in the US economy. It is all a temporary phase and very soon, the US dollar will reach a stable position," said Ganesh Natarajan, chairman of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).

Addressing a chief executives' meeting here, he said despite the global meltdown, the Indian software business is growing at the rate of 21-24 percent every year. He, however, urged the IT industry leaders to look beyond the US market. "Plenty of opportunities are available in Latin America, Japan, China, Europe and also in some African nations," Natarajan said.

"By 2020, India can alone fulfil the need of technical talent of the whole world. By that time the whole world would need 43 billion technocrats while India will have 47 billion surplus technocrats," he said.

He added that huge investments have to be made to train the available talent. According to Natarajan, the estate and retail business would feel the heat of the economic downturn. "But our IT sector is safe and would continue to grow," he said.

Ten tips for resellers

Some top tips for resellers in managing their business, particularly in difficult macroeconomic conditions from Arrow ECS Arrow - Enterprise Computing Solutions, a business segment of Arrow Electronics Inc. recently offered the following tips to resellers in managing their business, particularly in difficult macroeconomic conditions.

Additional guidance for resellers in managing their business, and comprehensive resources to help them grow faster than the market and faster than the competition is available at www.ArrowECS.com!

1. Do not depend on product reselling as your only source of profit. Have other sources of profit generation that supports your businesses. Successful value–added resellers must add additional value to supplier offerings to ensure a predictable and profitable revenue flow. "If I create my own service offering outside of the products, then I'm in a situation that I'm having a solutions discussion with customers, focusing on a particular methodology or service offering that I've designed," said Mike Strohl, president of Concord, Calif.–based Entisys Solutions Inc. and Agile 360, a division of Entisys. "It's a lot easier to sell products and services that way."

2. Know your customers' total information technology spend and be aware of how the solution fits into the end–user's environment with a view to fully "clothing" the sale. For example, is there opportunity for additional software, accessories, printers or personal computers? Ask questions to ensure that you are maximizing your selling opportunity. "Knowing the total IT spend is important, but you should also know and understand your customer's budget cycle and get into that process," said Strohl. "There is extreme power in being a part of that process. You know all their projects, what they can spend and where their money comes from."

3. Focus on solving business problems for your customer, not just selling them product. Anyone can do that, and solutions automatically sell more product, and are less price sensitive. "Compliance regulations such as HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the Sarbanes–Oxley Act and others are driving purchases around security solutions," said Jim Steinlage, president of Kansas City–based Choice Solutions LLC. "I'm also seeing increased interest in solutions that offer opportunities to work remotely."

4. Leverage the resources of your value–added distributor. You are simply increasing your cost structure and making yourself less competitive if you don't take advantage of your distributor's resources and hire your own team. "Nettitude has worked with the DNS group of Arrow ECS for a number of years. We are able to tap into the specific product knowledge of Arrow ECS' technical team and partner with their sales and marketing resources to deliver targeted campaigns and drive sales," said Martin Watts, sales manager for Nettitude, a security reseller based in the United Kingdom. "This close relationship has contributed to a 25 percent revenue growth year–over–year in security products delivered by Nettitude."

5. "Focus on solutions that have a short-term return on investment," offered Steinlage. "IT decision-makers aren't into solutions with a two-year ROI right now. They are much more into the solutions with ROI of a year or less."

6. Add as much service as possible. If a project requires skills you don't have, partner with your distributor or even another value–added reseller if necessary, but don't just leave the customer looking for someone to address their needs. It invites competition into your accounts. "The smart VARs are the ones that know their own skill set, that can identify what they're experts in – and find other partners with other products and solution lines that complement their offerings," said Strohl. "There is more in that than what just seems obvious."

7. Identify new customers. VARs must engage in marketing activities to find new customers. Without new customers, VARs cannot grow, and without growth they will fail. "New customers are indeed the lifeblood of a business," said Dan Lowery, president of St. Louis-based Lowery Systems Inc. "Each year, we try to leverage the resources of Arrow ECS, such as its MPower program for the midmarket, or new service areas from IBM to identify new customers. The intent is to get new names, and grow with them. By using resources that are available to us through Arrow ECS and IBM, the cost to us is greatly reduced."

8. Leverage supplier programs that protect margins. Supplier deal registration programs are critical tools for VARs to demonstrate and protect their value. "I pay a dividend to train one person to track all certifications, rebates and sales promotion incentive fees," said Lowery. "By utilizing market development funds from various sources, we are often able to put on a first-class event at minimal cost."

9. FOCUS! You can't be all things to all people. Know your value proposition, be able to articulate it and make sure your business is organized around it. It's never been more critical for VARs to have a value proposition and be able to deliver it. Communicate your value to suppliers and ensure your distributors are supporting that effort.

10. "Know thy pipeline," said Andy Bryant, president of Arrow ECS. "You really have to get underneath the pipeline and ask, 'is this project going to go or not?'"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama talk steals the show

While the race to the US presidency has ended with Barack Obama winning by a landslide, the race for new Web threats related to his victory has now begun. Trend Micro Research Manager Ivan Macalintal reported of spam messages that started circulating to spread malware, within hours after Obama delivered his acceptance speech.

Says Amit Nath, Country Manager, India & SAARC, Trend Micro: "The spam which has so far affected computers in China, US and Japan, may come with a subject line like, 'Election Night Results' or 'Priorities for the New President' or 'Fear of a Black President'. The modus operandi of infecting is quite stealthy, which may lead several gullible users infected, the email invites readers to click on a link to watch Obama's speech, this link leads them to a make-believe website, 'America.gov'.

The video pane reads, 'Loading Player', and prompts to download Adobe Flash Player. To further make it look genuine, the site also provides the estimated time for downloading as 4-6 seconds! This tricks users into clicking the link that serves the malicious file adobe_flash9.exe."

Trend Micro detects the downloaded Trojan file as TROJ_DLOADER.ISZ of 3,261 bytes size. Trend Micro researcher Macalintal further points out that this spam run is from the same group that sends fake bank certificate spam (targeting Wachovia, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and a German bank's account holders). The properties of this attack still suggest cybercriminals using a fast-flux network of compromised computers. This spam run is currently still underway as of this writing, using different subjects and fast-changing domains.

Warns Nath: "Trend Micro analysis reveals that TROJ_DLOADER.ISZ downloads an infostealer, TSPY_PAPRAS.AM, which in turn drops a rootkit component which hides its routines. This infostealer dives into network packets to scour for passwords using Carnivore by searching strings like ftp, icq, imap, and pop3. It sends stolen information to a server in Ukraine. The Trojan is known to infect Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP and Server 2003."

The malicious URL where this Trojan is downloaded is already blocked by the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network.

Why is Obama the best man to lead USA?

What makes Barack Obama the best man for the post of US President? Apart from being first Black to adorn the White House, what are the other attributes that make him fit for the prestigious post?

A latest survey conducted by InspireOne, a people, organization and leadership development firm based in India points to some interesting aspects of the man called Obama.

According to the survey done by InspireOne in association with Centre for High Performance Development (www.chpd.com), it is the critical thinking skills in Obama that makes him different.

The analysis participated in the survey predicts that Obama will be able to perform to a higher level at times of high 'VUCAD' (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity and delayed feedback), said a press release.

The analysis conducted a week before the Presidential Elections, reveals the instinctive characteristics and decision making skills that Obama possessed as a leader in the making.
The three primary levels of thought and action assessed are related to the skills of Differentiation, Integration and Crisis, the survey points out.

White House network hacked

Chinese hackers have penetrated the White House computer network on multiple occasions, and obtained e-mails between government officials, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, quoting a senior US official.

The cyber attackers managed to penetrate the White House system for brief periods that allowed them to steal information before US government experts each time patched the system, the newspaper reported the official as saying.

The official told the newspaper that US was getting very targeted Chinese attacks so its stretches credulity that these are not directed by government-related organizations.

The US has increased efforts to tackle cyber security in the past year, especially since Chinese hackers penetrated the Pentagon last year, Financial Times said.

In that attack the hackers had obtained e-mails from the system serving Robert Gates, the defence secretary.

While the US has raised concerns about cyber attacks, many foreign governments believe the US is also engaged in electronic spying, the newspaper said. Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter had revealed that the US had been spying on the Iraqi government.

iPod inventor Fadell bids goodbye to Apple

Tony Fadell, the man who invented the hugely popular iPod and iTunes for Apple Inc, has stepped down after eight years.

Apple said it had appointed Mark Papermaster, an IBM chip expert, to replace him as head of hardware engineering for its iPod and iPhone devices division.

Fadell has now chosen to spend more time with his family. Apple has announced that the iPod division vice president Tony Fadell and his wife, Danielle Lambert, who is vice president of the company's human resources department, are leaving to spend more with their family.

Fadell, will however remain as an adviser to CEO Steve Jobs.

Fadell had been a senior consumer electronics executive at Philips before he came up with the idea for linking a digital player and an online store to create a simpler way to access and play music. His idea was eventually backed by Apple, where he went on to become a senior vice-president and one of the company's top executives.

Chandrayaan dips lower in moon orbit

India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 was pushed further towards the moon's surface in the first orbit-lowering manoeuvre late Sunday, a top space agency official said.

India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 was pushed further towards the moon's surface in the first orbit-lowering manoeuvre late Sunday, a top space agency official said.

'The first orbit lowering operation was carried out successfully at 20.03 hrs IST by firing the liquid engine onboard the spacecraft for 57 seconds. All systems are functioning satisfactorily,' Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Director S. Sathis told IANS here.

In this elliptical orbit, Chandrayaan will be circling the moon over its polar regions at 200 km periselene (nearest point from moon) and 7,500 km aposelene (farthest point from moon).
'Further orbital manoeuvres are planned over the coming days to lower the spacecraft gradually to its designated slot of 100x100 km from the lunar surface for conducting various experiments, including high resolution remote sensing of the moon,' Satish said.

The operation was carried from the spacecraft control centre of the space agency's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) here along with its deep space network (DSN) at Byalalu, about 40 km from this tech hub.

Chandrayaan was successfully put into the lunar orbit Saturday after an 18-day voyage, making it the first ever Indian-built spacecraft to break away from the earth's gravitational field and get captured by the moon's equally powerful gravity.

Chandrayaan carries 11 scientific instruments, including six foreign payloads - two from the US, three from the European Space Agency (ESA) and one from Bulgaria. The remaining five are indigenously designed and developed by various centres of the state-run ISRO.

The spacecraft was blasted off Oct 22 onboard the 316-tonne polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C11) from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota spaceport, about 80km north of Chennai.

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