Saturday, September 5, 2009

Can Mumbai, Bangalore emerge as the global capitals?

The Russian capital as well as Indian cities of Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad have every chance of becoming global capitals on par with cities such as New York, London and Tokyo, according to the latest issue of Forbes magazine.

The influential publication assessed the rapidly changing forces driving the global economy, such as the inflow of capital and labour resources, and the pace of infrastructure development, and looked into the future, ranking the Russian capital alongside Shanghai, Beijing, Sao Paolo, Dubai and the Indian cities of Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

"Fifteen years ago, Moscow was in the midst of a particularly grungy interlude, filled with stolid people waiting in lines for shoddy consumer goods. Today, its hotel accommodations - cheap if dinghy a quarter century ago - are among the world's most expensive.

Russia's huge energy industry, which dominates all of Europe, is the key factor driving the transformation," Forbes wrote.

The article, published Wednesday, notes that Moscow has had a radical makeover since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The city, where Moscow State University was the tallest building at 240 meters (787 feet), now has a host of skyscrapers including the three tallest buildings in Europe, the highest of which is still under construction.

"With a population of 10 million, Moscow is already Europe's most populous city and could get bigger yet, particularly if energy prices rise," the magazine said.

Although Forbes expects most global capitals of the future to be outside the Western Hemisphere, it includes Calgary in Canada, Perth in Western Australia and the Texan pair of Houston and Dallas in its list.

But the article does recognise that the current centers of financial and political influence - such as Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, Seoul, Singapore and Hong Kong - will not fade into the background for some time to come.


Mentors Murthy, Nilekani, Premji To Help IISc Students become entrepreneurs

Learning from mentors who change the way you live and think is the chance of a lifetime. Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan did it in the past. Azim Premji, N R Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani and C Ramadorai are doing it now. If you couldn’t spend time with greats of the past, how about taking lessons from legends of the present?

The IISc Alumni Association has come up with a cracker of an idea — it is setting up a ‘mentoring system’ in which great entrepreneurs (initially) will act as mentors or thinkers to students and research scholars, who wish to launch small firms or startups, or turn their research into technology and eventually take the entrepreneurial route in life.

The mentors will be from across the globe, including Bangalore, and will keep in touch with students identified and selected for mentoring.

The man behind the idea, Association president Dr K R Srinivasan, told TOI that “already a few top people” had agreed to be mentors. “They include people not associated with IISc but who can, and are, willing to make a contribution to IISc. They are people in the league of Narayana Murthy...”

Net connect

Srinivasan said a website will connect the mentor and student/ scholar in the first phase of interaction. “The website will have the mentor’s profile and expertise and the student’s request. A software will bring together the request and expertise to see if they match. If they do, then the mentor and student will get into live interaction. So interests of both have to match.”

The mentors will act as thinkers and shape the form and direction of a project that the student hopes to turn into a product or start-up company. “The mentors will take time out and be in personal touch with the student or mentee. They will make concrete suggestions, offer advice, show routes that could be taken. The system will be open to IISc and IIT students, initially. If it turns out positive and productive, it will be extended to engineering colleges too. We wish to leverage the strengths of alumni as well as non-alumni, who are genuinely interested in turning ideas into products of some sort,” Srinivasan said.

Infosys, Wipro and TCS are not just companies but stories of extraordinary entrepreneurship and creativity in an atmosphere of red tape, bureauracy, large-scale public lethargy and corruption. Some of the great space labs, like the ones at Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Mumbai and Sriharikota, were creative battles against dormant mindsets. IISc Alumni Association hopes to replicate some of these stories.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Can Yahoo take on Twitter with its new Meme?

After closing the social network platform SpotM, Yahoo has launched Meme, in English, to take on microblogging site Twitter. The company had launched this service in Spanish and Portuguese languages earlier this month.

Meme is currently in an invite-only mode, similar to few microblogging services like Tumblr, Twitter, Pownce and others. After creating the account, users get a blank blog for micro-sharing text, images, music, videos or mash up of all these things.

It also offers the facility to add new friends by searching the internet, which is quite similar to Tumblr and Twitter.

The company's previous efforts to capitalize on the social networking domain kept failing in spite of repeated attempts. The recently launched 'Know Your Mojo' also failed along with the Indian social network, SpotM, which was closed down less than a year after its launch.

Meme does not allow much in terms of customization. The users cannot customize the themes with background images and custom CSS to style the text, as this facility is available with Twitter and Tumblr. Both these services have a rich faux-cabulary, which defines how a person uses the service. Meme does not lend on a particular vocabulary. The setting panel has minimal options like Meme title, 100 character description, avatar/photo and notifications. It also shows the comments posted by the users recently.

Yahoo Meme can have a big advantage over Twitter in terms of reliability. Twitter's image has suffered for frequent service outages, with its "Fail Whale" graphic appearing whenever the site is overloaded, emerging as the company's unofficial logo.

Several technology sites like TechCrunch and paidContent are not pleased with Yahoo's move, they said, "Meme seems to lack in its features and in potential to surpass its competitors." They also pointed out that the company has a spotty record with Mash and SpotM.


Does TCS plan to hire 25,000 jobs globally?

In a move that could bring a smile to many faces, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has announced that it will hire 25,000 people globally in 2009, with 90 percent of them in India alone. Though the number is bigger when compared to the hiring these days, it is less than last year when TCS appointed around 35,000 people.

With this recruitment drive, TCS also plans to expand its presence into the tier-II cities in India. "We will be hiring 25,000 people this year, which means roughly 25 lakh square feet of work space required and, therefore, we need to grow outside the metros. Tier-II cities are our only focus for expansion in the country as the top rung are clogged and saturated," said Tanmoy Chakrabarty, Vice-President and Head of Government Industry Solutions unit at TCS.

Following this hiring spree, the total global manpower of TCS would go up to more than 1.8 lakh. This will put the IT services provider among large private Indian employers like Tata Steel, which has the total employee strength of two lakh. Going forward, the company, which has an estimated 32 percent market share, plans to cash in on the Indian government's plan to invest Rs. 40,000 crore on IT services.

Currently, 70 percent of the IT segment's revenue is from India, while the rest comes from the U.S., Latin America, Africa and South East Asian countries. However, the revenue contribution from Indian government businesses to the total company revenue of $6 billion is less than five percent, which the company intends to increase to more than 10 percent in the next three years.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lavasa to be tranformed into e-City by Wipro

Lavasa and Wipro announced their partnership for planning, implementing and managing information and communication technology (ICT) services across Lavasa city.

Wipro will support the city in the areas of city management system & services, e-governance, ICT infrastructure and value-added services, including providing intelligent home solutions and digital lifestyle. The ICT services will include voice-video-data services to various businesses operating out of Lavasa city.

According to a company release, the strategic partnership will focus on providing integrated and effective solutions for enhancing IT operations within the hill city. It will identify governance services and operating models, and define processes for delivering good governance.

Wipro will also provide the necessary infrastructure support, including technology selection, supply, installation and management of platforms, networks, data center, etc.

The estimated revenues out of this partnership from Lavasa city's first town Dasve is about $100 million over the next 10 years.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajgopal Nogja, president, Lavasa Corporation, said, "For a completely new hill city like Lavasa, technology leadership is a key driver of city development and management. Wipro has proven expertise in innovative ICT solutions and this partnership will ensure a quantum leap in not only being technologically proactive, but also realizing our vision in becoming a completely e-governed city.

Through this partnership, Wipro will also design the detailed infrastructure for telecom services for governance, and also for the residents and visitors of Lavasa city. Wipro will provide telecom-based services that will facilitate smart homes, and buildings including integrated building management systems, physical security requirements and other on-demand services.


Oracle, Wipro join hands to offer w-SaaS

By looking at the potential in the cloud computing segment, Wipro, an IT services company has joined hands with Oracle, a global business software firm to offer a service that software firms can use to deliver products through the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. The service called w-SaaS will enable software firms to offer their existing applications as SaaS in a multi-tenant model.

The service runs on Oracle's grid computing technologies, which includes Oracle databases, middleware and virtualization software. According to Wipro, this model is expected to result in savings of up to 50 percent of effort for SaaS enablement of existing applications, resulting in up to 10-20 percent savings in the total cost of ownership. "Our relationship with Oracle enables us to provide independent software vendor's (ISV) and joint customers, a powerful platform that allows them to improve their revenues in a cost effective manner," said Srini Pallia, Senior Vice-President and Global Head, Business Technology Services at Wipro.

This announcement from Wipro comes at a time when cloud computing is eating into the profits of several outsourcing companies by offering many similar benefits like reduced IT costs, less internal development of software and reduced management of applications and hardware. According to analyst firm Gartner, the market for worldwide software as a service (SaaS) is forecast to reach $8 billion in 2009, a 21.9 percent increase from 2008 revenue of $6.6 billion.

Wipro expects opportunities for this offering in North America, with growth potentials in the emerging markets of Latin America, Asia Pacific and Western Europe. Energy and utilities, retail, transportation, healthcare and manufacturing sectors will be focus verticals.


Did Google's Gmail really goof-up?

It's too bad the National Transportation Safety Board can't investigate Google to find out just why Gmail crashed Tuesday as Google's explanations for its outages (via its dashboard) are short and kindergarten-like.

The NTSB would seek out the root cause of the outage, hold hearings and issue a report with recommendations for fixing the problem. But Google follows the standard operating practice of cloud and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) providers, and that is to tell customers as little as possible about an outage. They treat their customers like dumb bunnies.

A Gmail outage isn't on the scale of a contaminated food supply incident, the discovery of lead paint on children's toys, or a plane crash—all events that trigger a federal investigation and detailed reports that flesh out causes and remedies.

But what happens if Google wins contracts to provide applications and mail services for Los Angeles and other government entities?

Cloud and SaaS providers increasingly want to manage critical services for government. And in time, outages that are now annoyances may have critical implications to them. Los Angeles' IT department is recommending the city move to Google Apps and says the company's services "often exceed the current city level."

That's a plus for Google but if something goes wrong with LA's IT systems, at least there is still a clear line of accountability to the managers responsible and an opportunity to probe.

But along with telling customers as little as possible, hosting, cloud and SaaS providers indemnify themselves as much as possible from any business losses resulting from an outage.

In theory, the accountability is provided by the market: a customer can move to new service provider. But a migration to the cloud may be a path of no return. LA, in its assessment of cloud services, said that if it ditches its current infrastructure, "it may be cost-prohibitive to return to the city-owned and operated structure."

Today, the harm is mostly economic. When eBay Inc.'s PayPal service crashed last month, it was just something customers had to deal with it.

PayPal blamed the failure on a "back-end router" and some redundancy issues, and left it at that. That meant the companies like Sailrite Enterprises Inc., a sailing supply company, which relied exclusively on PayPal, were unlikely to learn what happened and had to suffer the loss.

But if cloud and SaaS providers manage government services then it's unlikely that an informed public will settle for incomplete explanations about outages.

If the service is critical, they will want to know what went wrong. Was the equipment upgraded, patched? Was staffing at proper levels? When was the last time someone tested the emergency generators? And so on.

Answers to fair and legitimate questions will be sought and little "dashboards" aren't going to cut it.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Major slice of Web ads goes to social networking sites

About one of every five Internet display ads in the United States is viewed on a social networking Web site like MySpace and Facebook, according to a new report.

The report by analytics firm comScore underscores the increasing prominence of social media sites in the Internet landscape and broadening acceptance of the sites by brand advertisers.

It also illustrates the increasing competition between social media sites and established Internet companies like Yahoo Inc and Time Warner Inc's AOL which have long billed themselves as the top online destinations for brand advertisers.

The study by comScore, released on Tuesday, said social media sites represented 21.1 per cent of US Internet display ads in July, with MySpace and Facebook accounting for more than 80 per cent of those ads.

"Because the top social media sites can deliver high reach and frequency against target segments at a low cost, it appears that some advertisers are eager to use social networking sites as a new advertising delivery vehicle," said Jeff Hackett, senior vice president of comScore.

According to comScore, AT&T Inc, Experian Interactive and IAC/Interactive Corp's Ask Network were the top three advertisers on social networking sites in July.

While social media sites have enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years -- Facebook is now the world's fourth-most visited Web site -- some observers have questioned whether the sites can be effectively monetized.

Because the content on social media sites is created by users, and could therefore prove racy or offensive, some have questioned the willingness of marketers to place their brands alongside that content.

"They are sensitive to some extent, but nowhere near to the extent you might think," Sanford Bernstein analyst Jeff Lindsay said of advertisers.

The price of placing ads on social networking sites is significantly less than on a Web portal like Yahoo or AOL, said Lindsay. The vast amount of Web pages available on social networks means that advertisers can purchase a massive volume of ad impressions at bargain prices.

The strategy may not be ideally suited to smaller marketers, or advertisers seeking a direct response from their ads, said Lindsay.

"For big, national brands it works just fine, just like TV," said Lindsay. "It's a huge, huge volume game."


New Internet browser from Opera

Norway's Opera Software released on Tuesday a new version of its browser, Opera 10, promising faster downloads, new design and new fea

Opera battles for the spot of third-largest browser maker with Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari, but is far behind Microsoft and Mozilla Foundation.

Opera said the new browser is significantly faster on resource-intensive pages such as Gmail and Facebook, and adds features like full thumbnails of all open tabs.

Opera said its Turbo feature for slow connections, which packages web pages, makes the browser up to eight times faster than rival browsers in low connection speeds.

"We have worked a lot on Opera Turbo technology and have also made major improvements on the overall product stability. This is the most stable Opera browser yet," the company said.

The companies usually release several successive test versions of their browsers so they can incorporate user feedback in a series of improvements before their final launch. Microsoft launched its latest IE8 browser in March after a year of public beta testing.

Opera unveiled a public test version of the browser on June 3. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is used for about 60 per cent of global Internet traffic, and Mozilla's Firefox has about 30 per cent, with usage of Opera, Google and Apple all around 3 per cent each, according to Web analytics firm StatCounter.

Opera has a small share of the global desktop browser market, but its browser is the most popular in countries like Russia or Ukraine, and its mobile browser is the most widely used browser on handsets.


Will EBay sell off 65% in Skype for $2b?

EBay Inc agreed to sell 65% of its Skype Internet-calling unit to an investor group led by Silver Lake for about $2 billion to focus on reviving sales at its main e-commerce site. The buyers will pay $1.9 billion in cash and will also give EBay a $125 million note, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Ebay, which had planned an initial public offering for Skype, will retain 35% of the business.

The sale lessens CEO John Donahoe’s dependence on a unit that he has said doesn’t fit with the rest of EBay’s operations. The company is improving its Internet-retail operations to stem customer defections to Inc. Donahoe’s predecessor bought Skype for about $2.6 billion in 2005 and wrote down its value the following year.

The buyers also include Andreessen Horowitz, a venture-capital firm headed by Internet pioneer Marc Andreessen, and Index Ventures, a firm that invested in Skype before EBay acquired it.

Skype, started in 2002, lets people make calls from their computers to land lines and mobile phones, as well as other computers. It makes money when users call regular phones, set up voice mail and use text-messaging services.

Donahoe said in May that Skype’s value in an IPO could be over $2 billion.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Forty glorious years of Internet history

Goofy videos weren’t on the minds of Len Kleinrock and his team at UCLA when they began tests 40 years ago on what would become the internet. Neither was social networking, for that matter, nor were most of the other easy-to-use applications that have drawn more than a billion people online.

Instead the researchers sought to create an open network for freely exchanging information, an openness that ultimately spurred the innovation that would later spawn the likes of YouTube, Facebook and the World Wide Web. There’s still plenty of room for innovation today, yet the openness fostering it may be eroding. While the internet is more widely available and faster than ever, artificial barriers threaten to constrict its growth.

Call it a mid-life crisis.
A variety of factors are to blame. Spam and hacking attacks force network operators to erect security firewalls. Authoritarian regimes block access to many sites and services within their borders. And commercial considerations spur policies that can thwart rivals, particularly on mobile devices like the iPhone.

“There is more freedom for the typical internet user to play, to communicate, to shop — more opportunities than ever before,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor and co-founder of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “On the worrisome side, there are some longerterm trends that are making it much more possible (for information) to be controlled.”

Few were paying attention on September 2, 1969, when 20 people gathered in Kleinrock’s lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, to watch as two computers passed meaningless test data through a 15-foot gray cable.

That was the beginning of the fledgling Arpanet network. The 1970s brought email and the TCP/IP communications protocols, which allowed multiple networks to connect — and formed the internet. The internet didn’t become a household word until the ’90s, though, after a British physicist, Tim Berners-Lee, invented the web, a subset of the internet that makes it easier to link resources across disparate locations. Meanwhile, service providers like America Online connected millions of people for the first time.

That early obscurity helped the Internet blossom, free from regulatory and commercial constraints that might discourage or even prohibit experimentation. The free flow of pornography led to innovations in Internet credit card payments, online video and other technologies used in the mainstream today.

Already, there is evidence of controls at workplaces and service providers slowing uptake of file-sharing and collaboration tools. If such barriers keep innovations from hands of consumers, we may never know what else we may be missing along the way.

The journey of the Internet

1969 | On September 2, two computers at University of California, Los Angeles, exchange meaningless data in first test of Arpanet, an experimental military network 1972 | Ray Tomlinson brings email to the network, choosing @ as a way to specify email addresses belonging to other systems 1973 | Arpanet gets first international nodes, in England and Norway 1974 | Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn develop communications technique called TCP, allowing multiple networks to understand one another, creating a true internet 1983 | Domain name system is proposed. Creation of suffixes such as ‘.com’, ‘.gov’ and ‘.edu’ comes a year later
1988 | One of the first internet worms, Morris, cripples thousands of computers
1990 | Tim Berners- Lee creates the World Wide Web while developing ways to control computers remotely
1993 | Marc Andreessen and colleagues at University of Illinois create Mosaic, the first web browser to combine graphics and text on a single page
1994 | Andreessen and others on the Mosaic team form a company to develop the first commercial web browser, Netscape. Two immigration lawyers introduce the world to spam, advertising their green card lottery services
1998 | Google forms out of a project that began in Stanford dorm rooms. US government delegates oversight of domain name policies to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN
1999 | Napster popularizes music file-sharing and spawns successors that have permanently changed the recording industry
2000 | The dot-com boom of the 1990s becomes a bust as technology companies slide
2004 | Mark Zuckerberg starts Facebook at Harvard University
2005 | Launch of YouTube video-sharing site 2007 | Apple releases iPhone, introducing millions more to wireless internet access

World internet population surpasses
250 million in 1999
500 million in 2002
1 billion in 2006
1.5 billion in 2008


Google continues to lead against Bing

Microsoft's Bing search market share in the US grew by just 0.23 percent in August to 9.64 percent, the slowest monthly growth rate since its launch, according to analysis conducted by web analytics firm StatCounter.

The firm's research arm StatCounter Global Stats also finds that Bing and Yahoo! combined declined slightly in August to 20.14 percent from 20.36 percent in July.

"Perhaps a little worrying for Microsoft is that when you analyse the weekly data, Bing peaked for the week 10th - 16th August at 10.98 percent and has declined since then," commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. Google increased its search market share slightly in the US in August from 77.54 percent to 77.83 percent.

Globally Microsoft and Yahoo! combined took 8.42 percent of the search market in August, a decline of 0.35 percent on July's figure (8.77 percent). Google remains the dominant force in the global search market with 89.57 percent in August (89.23 percent in July).

Data is based on an analysis of 1.073 billion search engine referring clicks (272 million from the US) which were collected in July and August from the StatCounter network of over three million websites.

StatCounter, which provides free website traffic analysis, is one of the largest web analytics companies in the world monitoring in excess of ten billion pageloads per month.


$17 bn software exports for India's IT state

Defying the global meltdown, Karnataka earned $17 billion (Rs.74,929 crore) from software exports last fiscal (2008-09) as against Rs.60,800 crore the previous year, registering a 23 per cent growth in rupee terms and 21.5 per cent in dollar terms.

"The export performance of the IT industry in the state, especially Bangalore, demonstrates the knowledge sector remains unaffected by the global meltdown and decline in IT spending overseas," state Information Minister Katta Subbramanya Naidu told reporters here.

As India's tech hub, Bangalore accounted for Rs.72,506 crore or 97 per cent of the state's total exports, while the remaining Rs.2,423 crore are from tier-two cities such as Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad, registering 45 percent year-on-year (YoY) growth.

India's combined software exports -- spanning services, products and business process outsourcing (BPO) -- grew 21 per cent to $50 billion (Rs.2.22 trillion) as against $41 billion (Rs.1.84 trillion) in 2007-08.

Karnataka accounted for 34 per cent of the country's total software exports last fiscal.

"The growth is substantial especially in the current economic scenario. The state retains its top position in the sector, including exports," Naidu said.

Naidu said the state had set a target of $20 billion (Rs.1,000 billion) this fiscal.

Incidentally, the industry's representative body, National Association of Software Services and Companies (Nasscom), has forecast India's software exports this fiscal to be around $48-50 billion.

According to R. Rajalakshmi, director of the Bangalore chapter of the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), Karnataka's software export revenues are from the 1,200 firms registered with the STPI and software-related special economic zones.

Eighty-four software units will be set up in the state this fiscal, including 35 with foreign equity, two Indian majors and 47 small and medium enterprises, with a combined investment of Rs.465 crore.

In spite of voluntary attrition and lay-offs in the BPO sector, employment in the software industry in the state increased by 34,000 to 554,000 in 2008-09.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Does Huawei eye for stake in Alcatel-Lucent?

China's Huawei Technologies said on Friday it had no plans to buy a stake in Alcatel-Lucent, two days after the French-American telecoms equipment maker's stock jumped on market talk a Chinese rival could acquire it.

"Our customer-centric innovation strategy is driving Huawei's growth and that remains our strategy," Ross Gan, global head of corporate communications at Huawei told Reuters. "Huawei has no plans to take a stake in Alcatel-Lucent," he said.

Alcatel-Lucent's shares rose 16 percent on Wednesday on the market chatter and a rating upgrade by Natixis. By 0820 GMT on Friday, the stock had gained 3.1 percent in a broader market .FCHI up 1.3 percent.

A public relations official at Huawei's domestic rival, ZTE Corp, also said she had no information on any upcoming deal. "I think it is just a rumour," she said.

Huawei and ZTE have been expanding their operations aggressively in overseas markets, but those efforts are being driven mostly by organic growth. Analysts said any acquisitions would face stern regulatory scrutiny.

That scrutiny derailed an attempt by Huawei and partner Bain Capital to buy U.S.-based 3Com in 2007.

"Huawei is keen to expand internationally, so I'm not surprised that this has come up, but I would be surprised if it went ahead," said Damien Bailey, a telecoms specialist at law firm Simmons & Simmons.

"There will undoubtedly be consolidation in the telecoms equipment manufacturing sector, and I think there will probably only be three or four left, with Huawei and ZTE being two of those," he said.

Besides the regulatory concerns, any deal for Alcatel-Lucent would mark a major acquisition as the 2006 merger between France's Alcatel and U.S.-based Lucent Technologies has a current market value of about $9 billion.

For a related analysis on rival Nokia Siemens Networks

Alcatel-Lucent has been struggling to turn a profit since its 2006 merger, which was supposed to help it cut costs and better compete with Chinese gear makers including Huawei and ZTE. ($ = 6.83 yuan)


Is Apple OS enterprise ready? Check out with Gartner

Apple Inc's soon to be on board operating system, Snow Leopard does not signal enterprise readiness, even though is noted for its native support of Microsoft Exchange 2007, stated analyst firm Gartner.

Snow Leopard, which runs exclusively on Intel-based Macs, includes full 64-bit support, Grand Central Dispatch (which allows programmers to more easily use multicore processors), OpenCL (to more fully utilise the power of graphics processors), and Exchange support for Apple mail, contacts and calendar.

From a business perspective, the most important feature is the ability for the Mac e-mail client to access Microsoft Exchange (2007 version only) in a native fashion.

The Mac client binds to Exchange Web Services (EWS) via its web services application programming interface (API), not the traditional messaging application programming interface (MAPI), which is difficult to write to and maintain.

Gartner analysts Mike Silver and Matt Cain said that they expect this ability combined with an improved version of Entourage, the e-mail client in Microsoft's Office: Mac would result in growing end-user demand for IT groups to grant support for the Mac.

According to Gartner, while native support for Exchange would allow users to run their Macs at work more easily, this does not mean that Macs can more easily replace Windows PCs in most organizations.

"Apple is not addressing business needs for service or support, and most organizations will continue to require Windows to run a majority of their applications. Furthermore, to the extent Mac users may still require Office, either natively onMac OS or running in a Windows virtual machine, native Exchange support, which does not support Outlook personal store files (PSTs), will address only part of the user need," added the analysts.

The analyst firm recommends businesses to understand the various ways Macs can support Exchange.

Mike Silver and Matt Cain noted, "Even if you don't officially support Macs, you will likely need to provide some assistance to users who are running them. Don't assume that because Apple is making Macs easier to integrate into the enterprise, the company is entering the corporate market. Also, understand that this development will not allow Macs to easily replace Windows PCs in most cases,"

For IT groups, Gartner recommends preparing to handle requests for Mac integration into corporate networks. Before granting widespread support for Macs, consider the full range of user needs and Apple's ability to offer corporate-grade support.

It advises to continue investing in web-oriented architecture and service-oriented architecture, which would help in becoming more OS-neutral and allow more choice in hardware and software.

"If you run web applications, move these forward to support the emerging set of Web standards, such as HTML5 and CSS2.1, and interoperability protocols such as OpenID and oAuth," said the analysts


Does Barack Obama plan to take over the internet?

The new version of a US Senate bill allows President Barack Obama to seize temporary control of private sector networks during a cybersecurity emergency. The bill allows the President to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" related to the "non-governmental" computer networks for dealing with cyber threat. The bill is introduced by senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, who has spent months preparing the draft.

"I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness. It is unclear what authority senator Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill." said Larry Clinton, President, Internet Security Alliance, which counts representatives of Verizon, Verisign, Nortel, and Carnegie Mellon University on its board.

Large internet and telecommunications company representatives have expressed concerns about the bill in a teleconference with Rockefeller's aides. As a source familiar to the bill informed that the primary concern was the electrical grid regarding the consequences of an attack from a broadband connection.

Rockefeller's proposal provides an ease to a broader concern in Washington about the government's role in cybersecurity. President Obama has already acknowledged that the government is "not as prepared" and announced that a new cybersecurity coordinator position would be created inside the White House staff.

After three months, the post remains empty, one top cybersecurity aide has quit, and people are wondering that a government which has failed on the point of cybersecurity, how can they be trusted when they instruct the private sector.

The revised legislation of Rockefeller's proposal seeks to reshuffle the way the federal government addresses the topic. It seeks a cybersecurity workforce plan from every federal agency, a dashboard pilot project, measurements of hiring effectiveness, and the implementation of a "comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy" in six months, even though its mandatory legal review will take one year to complete.

The issue lies in section 201, which permits the President to "direct the national response to the cyber threat" if necessary for "the national defense and security." The White House is supposed to do a "periodic mapping" of private networks deemed to be critical, and those companies "shall share" requested information with the federal government.

"The language has changed but it doesn't contain any real additional limits. It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous versions. The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process. There's no provision for any administrative process or review. That's where the problems seem to start. And then you have the amorphous powers that go along with it," said Lee Tien, Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

So if any company is stated under the term "critical," a new set of regulations start like involving who you can hire, what information you must disclose, and when the government would exercise control over your computers or network.


Dual-screen laptops to hit market by 2009-10

The world's first laptop with twin monitors is slated to hit the stores by the end of the year.

The dual-screen laptop, entitled Spacebook, was masterminded by Alaska-based technology firm gScreen.

The pioneering technology, that will let users to multi-task while on the move, will have two 15.4 in screens, reports the Telegraph.

The PC is estimated to cost enthusiasts around 3,000 dollars but not without concerns regarding the weight of the Spacebook and the pressure on the batteries to meet the energy demands of running two screens.

Gordon Stewart, the founder of gScreen, told US technology website Gizmodo, that the gadget could be expected to be up for grabs on Amazon by December this year, provided final modifications had been dealt with.

He said: "We designed this knowing that many may not need the extra screen at all times."

Spacebook is thought to be the first of its kind with twin screens of equal size.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Open Source technologies now sought by Wall Street companies

Economic slowdown had a huge impact on the financial institutions around the world. Recession has forced these financial institutions to take a look at their budget as well as the technology that they are using. In times like this open source technology is growing in the capital markets because of increased cost pressures. Many Wall Street companies are now adopting open source even though there are many who still believe that any software that they develop is proprietary and has a competitive edge.

"What the crisis has done is shattered the orthodoxy in what is accepted as the correct way to build out systems, and it has allowed people to think more creatively about how their software works," comments Graham Miller, Co-Founder and CEO of Marketcetera, an open source platform for building automated trading systems to Wall Street and Technology. Many banks and brokers have been running open source applications like Linux and the free Apache web servers in the back office. Now, open source is finding its way to the front office trading desk as well.

Many open source companies are booming in times like these. One such example is Esper, which provides an open-source event stream processing and complex event processing (CEP) solution. Esper is already built. Instead of being a standalone server product that runs as a separate product, it's a library that companies can link in with their own proprietary stuff.

Recently, many Wall Street IT developers have started participating in open source technology projects. Firms like Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Borse Systems participated in the open source (AMQP) Advanced Message Queing (popular open source project among the financial services industry) Working Group and collaborated on standards for messaging infrastructure. "AMQP is not just a financial service [project], but it's something that has been taken seriously in the financial services space. Tough economy has opened the growth of open source. You get your base products for free, and you're essentially getting innovation in that product for free, because people are contributing and improving the software all the time," said Kevin McPartland, Senior Analyst at TABB Group to Wall Street and Technology.

Cost still remains the most important reason especially when many major vendors have increased the licensing fees of their product. Buying a Trading system from a vendor will require lengthy and costly customization. "We've built out a platform product that provides out-of-the-box components for market data, signal analysis engines, market connectivity and user interface capabilities to exchanges, ECNs, brokers and lots of different destinations," says Miller. Marketcetera launched Version 1.0 of its Trading Platform, which can be downloaded free-of-charge from its Web site. They have tried to follow Red Hat way of providing fee-based service and support. The company integrates several open-source technologies including QuickFIX/J, a messaging engine for the FIX protocol, and QuantLib, a free library for quantitative finance and Esper.

However, despite open source company's claim many experts doubt that open source is cheaper than software vendors. Custom development of open source software can be more costly than proprietary software. "It might look cheaper on paper but if you look at what you want to do with it, and it requires a substantial engineering effort rather than a commercial product, then it's not necessarily the most effective solution," says Adam Honore, Senior Analyst at Aite Group. He further adds that there could be support, maintenance and accountability issues with some open source vendors.


Check out the latest update of SaaS studies

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is playing an important role in changing the fundamentals of business for user companies and for SaaS providers themselves. These changes are part of a multi-year 'loop' cycle that reciprocates between users and providers, with each side influencing the other in unforeseen ways.

Mismanaging this 'endless loop of innovation' will prevent user firms from being able to derive real competitive advantage from SaaS, prevent SaaS providers from competing on an increasingly global stage and trap ISVs (Independent software vendors) from growing along with the global user IT market.

Understanding how each side influences the others and how to manage it effectively through changing market scenarios, is the key theme of 'An Endless Cycle of Innovation: Saugatuck SaaS Scenarios Through 2014', the latest global research program developed and published by Saugatuck Technology.

On the launch of new study, Bruce Guptill, Managing Director of Research, Saugatuck Technology said, "The research shows us a combination of changing SaaS acquisition and adoption, both as a result of the global recession and as a result of the changing nature of SaaS itself. How users do business with SaaS is changing how providers develop and deliver SaaS and is changing how ISVs and other players will need to compete over the next several years. Failure to recognize and adapt to these changes will make it extremely difficult, and much more costly than it should be, for anyone to benefit from SaaS."

As the demand of SaaS is growing globally, the analysts expect that by year 2012, SaaS solutions is likely to become the de facto choice for the majority of user organizations that are replacing legacy applications or business systems as they reach the end of their useful lives or when driven by other important business considerations.

According to Guptill, by year 2014, SaaS and Cloud Computing will become an integral to infrastructure, business systems, operations and development within all aspects of user firms with variations in status and roles based on region and business culture. Prior to this time period, SaaS is likely to act as an important 'agent of change'.


Forecast of animation and gaming lowered by NASSCOM

Nasscom, the apex body of IT software and services has lowered its 2012 forecast for the animation industry by 27.7 percent and gaming industry by 16.3 percent. It now expects revenues from the animation industry to touch $830 million against the earlier estimate of $1060 million and revenues from the gaming industry to touch $830 million against $1163 million.

In its press statement, Nasscom stated that this downward revision is largely on account of slackened demand due to the global economic downturn and the domestic box office for animation movies has not picked up as estimated, end-to-end skill sets not being developed in the animation services industry and proof of concept or IP creation not up to the expectations.

Som Mittal, President of Nasscom said, "NASSCOM recognizes this industry as a significant user of technology and can further showcase India's well established credentials in the IT Industry space. However, being in a nascent stage of development, it is critical for all stakeholders to come together and create an environment that nurtures this industry for it to be able to compete at a global scale."

The economic crisis has hurt the earnings of Indian IT companies with NASSCOM forecasting four to seven percent rise in India's software services and exports for the year to March 2010, sharply slower than the past years' robust growth.


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