Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Top 10 storage investment priorities for 2010

Here's a set of predictions sent by Hitachi Data Systems. Merry X'mas and a very Happy New Year to everyone.

BANGALORE, INDIA: Hitachi Data Systems Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE: HIT) and the only provider of Services Oriented Storage Solutions, today announced the top storage investment priorities for IT professionals in 2010.

“Data centre virtualization, cloud storage and data security continue to be top priorities in India as companies seek to drive competitive advantage. At Hitachi Data Systems, we believe that our role is to help our customers build cost-effective and sustainable storage solutions that help them build the business now, yet scale up and out to meet future challenges,” said Vivekanand Venugopal, Vice President and General Manager, India, Hitachi Data Systems.

Storage investment priorities in 2010

Data Center Virtualization: Virtualization is a critical enabler of the dynamic data center of tomorrow. In 2009, we saw a trend towards lower cost modular storage that scaled out, through switch technologies like Ethernet or RapidIO. The shortcoming of scale-out modular storage is the inability to scale up.

In 2010, we expect to see demand for storage systems that both have the ability to scale-up as well as scale-out depending on performance and capacity requirements. This will help companies meet the increasing demands of faster networks, processors, and virtual operating systems such as VMware and Hyper V.

Cloud Storage: Cloud computing is often used as a metaphor for the Internet. Cloud storage serves to mask the complexity of IT infrastructure and enables access to storage capacity as “a pay as you grow” service.

The cloud will continue to grow in awareness into 2010 with a continued focus by private cloud builders and public cloud service providers on elasticity, reliability, multi-tenancy and security. We expect an increasing adoption of cloud storage as advancements are made on key capabilities such as security, multi-tenancy, and payment models.

Security: IT managers must strike a balance between mitigating security risks and delivering the best infrastructures in terms of throughput, availability, scalability, cost and complexity.

Each organization must make its own trade-off decisions based on its unique situation and the importance of its data. In 2010, IT managers planning storage investments or use of third party services will need to take into account key priorities like data confidentiality, privacy, sanitization/eradication and security.

Automated Tiered Storage: Many IT organizations are moving towards tiered storage management automation that is policy-based to achieve economic efficiency while maintaining service level objectives for the business. Combining automated tiered storage management with storage virtualization and dynamic, thin provisioning will provide the greatest reduction in capital and operational costs.

Greater Adoption of Dynamic (thin) Provisioning: The single greatest tool for reducing operational costs is dynamic (thin) provisioning.

Thin provisioning can: eliminate the waste of allocated unused space; reduce the cost of moving and copying fat volumes by eliminating unused space; reclaim up to 40 percent or more capacity from existing fat volumes; reduce the provisioning of storage from hours to minutes; facilitate wide striping to increase performance by spreading the I/O across more disk spindles. Given all of these advantages, we expect dynamic (thin) provisioning technology to be a top investment priority for customers.

Sustainable IT: 2010 will see greater rationalization of green IT projects. IT managers face internal competition for limited investment available, and will find that green IT projects are gaining more support from corporate programs. There will also be a new role within IT organizations – the Sustainable IT manager – responsible for identifying and managing Green IT programs.

Continued Growth for Content Archive Platforms: IDC estimates that content data will be the fastest growth area of data with a compounded annual growth rate of 121 percent. Since this is the fastest growing type of data, a content platform must be able to scale to tens of Petabytes and be able to support multiple data formats, and we expect to see growing demand for Content Archive Platforms that meet these requirements.

Managed Services: In today’s IT organizations, provisioning for new apps or SAN performance reporting are now being managed through remote managed services. As this demand grows, expect new service offerings to be adopted as an efficient and cost effective alternative for fully managed, 24/7 real time storage expertise where resource skill sets gap or head count constraints exist. Utilizing services also eliminates the need to pull experienced staff away from revenue generating projects for critical, yet administrative tasks.

Improved Performance with Flash-based Drives or SSDs: While flash-based drives are considered cost-prohibitive compared to traditional hard disk drives, they do offer advantages in performance – specifically very low latency and very fast I/Os -- and have the added advantage of superior energy efficiency.

We expect to see more flash-based technologies integrated into solutions portfolios as customer awareness and potential demand grows, but adopters should look for the added security of data encryption capabilities at the SSD drive level before moving forward.

Ethernet Convergence in the Data Center (FCOE/DCIB): We expect to see adoption on the storage side of the switch pick up as additional industry standards are formed to enable multi-pathing and network decongestion. There is also a huge investment in Fibre Chanel (FC) infrastructure which will be transitioning to 8 Gbps FC. Since transition to 8 Gbps FC is less disruptive than the transition to 10 Gbps FCoE, we expect the adoption of FCoE for storage may take longer.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

One year on since winning the world title!

Today, it is exactly a year since my blog and I won Electronicsweekly.com’s World Title for the Best Blog in the Electronics Hardware category in Dec. 2008! Alun Williams from Electronicsweekly.com recently told me: “There is no EW blog awards this year, by the way. We’ll do it bi-annually, so you get to keep your crown for another year!” Thanks to Alun and Electronicsweekly.com.

Thanks for all of your kind support, dear readers, friends and well wishers, who have cared to stop by my blog now and then. Some of you also leave comments from time to time. I personally don’t know most of you who leave comments, but many thanks to all of you for doing so. Hope that you continue to find my blog and my work useful.

If there’s something missing in my blog, do understand that I have several constraints, and also do not have access to lot of companies, regions, shows, etc., as I’m merely a blogger. Nor am I part of any large media house! Nor am I any authority on semiconductors, solar or telecom, and so on and so forth!

If, at any stage, I am forced to stop writing, or otherwise, this blog belongs to all of you!

Have a merry X’mas and a very Happy New Year, lest I forget to wish everyone. Best wishes and good night!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bloggers are fashionable and popular? But, do you address their problems?

I was recently invited to conduct an interview with a large MNC! On receiving the invite, I told this company's PR team that I no longer represented any IT magazine, nor did I hold any job, and was merely a blogger. So, why was this company interested to speak with me?

Here's the reply I received -- "I know you don't work with any magazine anymore -- don't you know "bloggers' are very popular and fashionable these days?"

God bless those who believe that bloggers are fashionable and popular!

I’ve always maintained that I love writing (or blogging) about things that are close to my heart. Semicon and telecom are prime in that category -- two topics that I am really very fond of.

My blog had started off as a regular affair. There are a whole lot of great bloggers out there, who also write on similar topics. Nor have I ever looked for traffic, etc., as it is my contention that people will only stop by and read your blog post or article IF there’s something of interest to them. So, I'm really my only reader!

It has been an interesting year as far as I'm concerned. First, I gave up a job to turn full time freelancer. Then, my losing spree started! First, I lost my notebook, and later, my blogspot blog (Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog) was found infected with malware, and subsequently removed by Google. I also lost a dear friend! All this while, I've made attempts to stay afloat in the industry! What I found out was: yes, bloggers are somewhat popular, but then, several 'old' problems still remain!

The problems I've faced are: some folks ask me about blog traffic! Well, this isn't a portal! Or, who are you affiliated with? Why should I give you work? Who works with you? Why do you write about semicon? Who will read that stuff? How will you survive in India writing on semiconductors? Why are you trying to develop content around semiconductors? Why can't you blog about easier topics? How much do you expect to get paid for blogging? And so on and so forth!

Any one associated with me is bound to have serious nightmares -- if faced with such questions -- as to why he or she is associated with me in the first place!

Well, I think I've done okay so far. Those who have liked what I write about have indeed given me work for money! Some have invited me to far off places, even overseas. The best part has been the semicon and solar industries -- and the number of people who have got in touch with me over the years for various things!

However, can a blogger survive in India? Or, can someone make a career out of blogging? The answer to both questions -- NO! At least, not yet! However popular or fashionable blogging is today, people don't quite yet realize the value add! Not everyone will get lucky either. Nor will everyone always have compelling content to write!

There are basic questions that need to be answered, such as:
1. Why should anyone choose blogging as a career?
2. How can he or she make money by blogging?
3. What are the services he or she can offer via the blog?
4. What kinds of services are being made available by bloggers?
5. Should bloggers get advertising? What types? To what extent and duration?
6. What should be the advertising charges? Would it be different from print media or the Web portals?
7. How can PR firms work better with bloggers?
8. How can PR firms develop a win-win situation and help bloggers gain financially?
9. How can companies or enterprises work with bloggers?
10. Should bloggers charge a fee for queries received from elsewhere?
11. How good or popular are sponsored posts? Are PR firms doing anything to boost this and help bloggers?
12. There are so many blogs (including mine) on Blogger and WordPress. Is it still a blog or a web site — especially when PR firms look for online coverage?

Despite all of this, I continue to blog and thanks to God, get some work as well! I do believe and see a future for blogging! It is the specialty media we all love to talk about! It will bring in money -- it is just a matter of time.

Why are blogs influential -- as some say? For one, blogs are generally not affiliated to or linked to any large media house, and so, the comments are independent. Two, if you want facts about something, you better head to a relevant blog, rather than read some marketing material. Three, never believe that negative reporting or writing will be a sure shot way to get eyeballs. Just write stuff, as it is!

Do I influence people and companies, and the tech industry? Well, I've really no idea! A lot of people do stop by to read what I write, and I thank them for it. That's all I know!

You still think bloggers and fashionable and popular? Maybe, they are! But, do you care to address their problems?

P.S.: Let me post this on Facebook and LinkedIn, and see what other bloggers have to say as far as their problems are concerned!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tech industry revival on our doorsteps? Hope it helps the jobs market too!

Well, well, well! The revival in the tech industry seems to be at our doorsteps! So far, there's been quite a lot of positive news coming in from all over!

Mobile phones are seeing some sort of a turnaround. The semiconductor industry is also seeing the first signs of a recovery after what's been a horrible 2009! I hope that the solar photovoltaics industry takes off well in 2010, as this has been a difficult year as well.

However, there's a major event coming up next week on solar in Hyderabad -- the Solarcon India 2009, organized by SEMI India and supported by the ISA. Once the solar National Mission Plan is available on Nov. 14, expect this segment to take off! I do hope it does!

There's another very interesting conference next week -- the SystemVerilog Users Group -- which does promise much. Following that, the ISA has a session at the BangaloreIT.biz event, titled, E3 -- focusing on embedded systems and software in India.

So, the next week promises to be quite a busy one!

Let's hope that the global technology industry continues its recovery. More so, one wishes that all of those jobs lost in the turmoil that 2009 has been, are restored -- if not all, then a majority. That'll be the best gift to welcome the new year!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ADCOM-2009 conference on green computing

I really didn't know about this conference till I was told by a friend. Well, since we all, including me, deal with and in IT. and green computing is a hot topic, I would surely be interested to take part in this conference in some manner.

To be held at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bangalore, the ADCOM-2009 will run from Dec. 14-18.

For those who are unaware, the Advanced COMputing and Communications Conference (ADCOM) is a major international conference which is also supported by the IEEE Computer Society and the NASSCOM. A large number of delegates from all over the world take part in this conference every year to share and disseminate their innovative and pioneering views about recent trends and development.

This is the 17th year of ADCOM and is organized annually by the Advanced Computing and Communication Society (ACCS). ACCS is a registered scientific society founded to provide a forum to individuals, institutions and industry to promote advanced Computing and Communication technologies.

Hope I can get a seat at this conference.

Gartner's top 10 strategic technologies for 2010

Here's another release from Gartner.

Must admit, I am not in agreement with these findings! For instance, cloud computing was meant to be hot in 2009, but is again said to be strategic in 2010! In other words, give it another year to succeed!!

Same goes for IT for Green (or Green IT), reshaping the data center, have also been talked about a lot. What's new there? Nor do I think that technologies such as flash memory, virtualization (for availability), social computing (and media), and mobile applications are that earth shattering. Nevertheless, this is just my opinion, and I could well be proved wrong. I am definitely not an analyst, am merely a layman.

Enjoy the article!

ORLANDO, USA: Gartner Inc. analysts highlighted the top 10 technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2010. The analysts presented their findings during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, being held here through October 22.

Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.

These technologies impact the organization's long-term plans, programs and initiatives. They may be strategic because they have matured to broad market use or because they enable strategic advantage from early adoption.

“Companies should factor the top 10 technologies into their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years,” said David Cearley, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “However, this does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the technologies. They should determine which technologies will help and transform their individual business initiatives.”

The top 10 strategic technologies for 2010 include:

Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is a style of computing that characterizes a model in which providers deliver a variety of IT-enabled capabilities to consumers.

Cloud-based services can be exploited in a variety of ways to develop an application or a solution. Using cloud resources does not eliminate the costs of IT solutions, but does re-arrange some and reduce others. In addition, consuming cloud services enterprises will increasingly act as cloud providers and deliver application, information or business process services to customers and business partners.

Advanced Analytics. Optimization and simulation is using analytical tools and models to maximize business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios, before, during and after process implementation and execution. This can be viewed as a third step in supporting operational business decisions.

Fixed rules and prepared policies gave way to more informed decisions powered by the right information delivered at the right time, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other applications. The new step is to provide simulation, prediction, optimization and other analytics, not simply information, to empower even more decision flexibility at the time and place of every business process action. The new step looks into the future, predicting what can or will happen.

Client Computing. Virtualization is bringing new ways of packaging client computing applications and capabilities. As a result, the choice of a particular PC hardware platform, and eventually the OS platform, becomes less critical.

Enterprises should proactively build a five to eight year strategic client computing roadmap outlining an approach to device standards, ownership and support; operating system and application selection, deployment and update; and management and security plans to manage diversity.

IT for Green. IT can enable many green initiatives. The use of IT, particularly among the white collar staff, can greatly enhance an enterprise’s green credentials. Common green initiatives include the use of e-documents, reducing travel and teleworking. IT can also provide the analytic tools that others in the enterprise may use to reduce energy consumption in the transportation of goods or other carbon management activities.

Reshaping the Data Center. In the past, design principles for data centers were simple: Figure out what you have, estimate growth for 15 to 20 years, then build to suit. Newly-built data centers often opened with huge areas of white floor space, fully powered and backed by a uninterruptible power supply (UPS), water-and air-cooled and mostly empty. However, costs are actually lower if enterprises adopt a pod-based approach to data center construction and expansion.

If 9,000 square feet is expected to be needed during the life of a data center, then design the site to support it, but only build what’s needed for five to seven years. Cutting operating expenses, which are a nontrivial part of the overall IT spend for most clients, frees up money to apply to other projects or investments either in IT or in the business itself.

Social Computing. Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work – one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing “external” information.

Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities. Do not ignore the role of the social profile to bring communities together.

Security – Activity Monitoring. Traditionally, security has focused on putting up a perimeter fence to keep others out, but it has evolved to monitoring activities and identifying patterns that would have been missed before.

Information security professionals face the challenge of detecting malicious activity in a constant stream of discrete events that are usually associated with an authorized user and are generated from multiple network, system and application sources. At the same time, security departments are facing increasing demands for ever-greater log analysis and reporting to support audit requirements.

A variety of complimentary (and sometimes overlapping) monitoring and analysis tools help enterprises better detect and investigate suspicious activity – often with real-time alerting or transaction intervention. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these tools, enterprises can better understand how to use them to defend the enterprise and meet audit requirements.

Flash Memory. Flash memory is not new, but it is moving up to a new tier in the storage echelon. Flash memory is a semiconductor memory device, familiar from its use in USB memory sticks and digital camera cards. It is much faster than rotating disk, but considerably more expensive, however this differential is shrinking.

At the rate of price declines, the technology will enjoy more than a 100 percent compound annual growth rate during the new few years and become strategic in many IT areas including consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other embedded IT systems. In addition, it offers a new layer of the storage hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages including space, heat, performance and ruggedness.

Virtualization for Availability. Virtualization has been on the list of top strategic technologies in previous years. It is on the list this year because Gartner emphases new elements such as live migration for availability that have longer term implications. Live migration is the movement of a running virtual machine (VM), while its operating system and other software continue to execute as if they remained on the original physical server.

This takes place by replicating the state of physical memory between the source and destination VMs, then, at some instant in time, one instruction finishes execution on the source machine and the next instruction begins on the destination machine.

However, if replication of memory continues indefinitely, but execution of instructions remains on the source VM, and then the source VM fails the next instruction would now place on the destination machine. If the destination VM were to fail, just pick a new destination to start the indefinite migration, thus making very high availability possible.

The key value proposition is to displace a variety of separate mechanisms with a single “dial” that can be set to any level of availability from baseline to fault tolerance, all using a common mechanism and permitting the settings to be changed rapidly as needed.

Expensive high-reliability hardware, with fail-over cluster software and perhaps even fault-tolerant hardware could be dispensed with, but still meet availability needs. This is key to cutting costs, lowering complexity, as well as increasing agility as needs shift.

Mobile Applications. By year-end 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce providing a rich environment for the convergence of mobility and the Web. There are already many thousands of applications for platforms such as the Apple iPhone, in spite of the limited market and need for unique coding.

It may take a newer version that is designed to flexibly operate on both full PC and miniature systems, but if the operating system interface and processor architecture were identical, that enabling factor would create a huge turn upwards in mobile application availability.

“This list should be used as a starting point and companies should adjust their list based on their industry, unique business needs and technology adoption mode,” said Carl Claunch, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“When determining what may be right for each company, the decision may not have anything to do with a particular technology. In other cases, it will be to continue investing in the technology at the current rate. In still other cases, the decision may be to test/pilot or more aggressively adopt/deploy the technology.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IT spending to rebound in 2010 with 3.3pc growth after worst year ever in 2009

This is a Gartner release!

ORLANDO, USA: The IT industry is exiting its worst year ever, as worldwide IT spending is on pace to decline 5.2 percent, according to Gartner Inc. Worldwide enterprise IT spending will struggle more with IT spending dropping 6.9 percent. The IT industry will return to growth with 2010 IT spending forecast to total $3.3 trillion, a 3.3 percent increase from 2009.

Gartner provided the latest outlook for the IT industry during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, which is taking place here through October 22. While IT spending will increase next year, Gartner cautioned IT leaders to be overly optimistic.

“While the IT industry will return to growth in 2010, the market will not recover to 2008 revenue levels before 2012,” said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of Research. “2010 is about balancing the focus on cost, risk, and growth. For more than 50 percent of CIOs the IT budget will be 0 percent or less in growth terms. It will only slowly improve in 2011.”

The computing hardware market has struggled more than other segments with worldwide hardware spending forecast to total $317 billion in 2009, a 16.5 percent decline. In 2010, spending on hardware spending will be flat.

Worldwide telecom spending is on pace to decline 4 percent in 2009 with revenue of nearly $1.9 trillion. In 2010, telecom spending is forecast to grow 3.2 percent. Worldwide IT services spending is expected to total $781 billion in 2009, and it is forecast to grow 4.5 percent in 2010. Worldwide software spending is forecast to decline 2.1 percent in 2009, and the segment is projected to grow 4.8 percent in 2010.

On a regional basis, emerging regions will resume strong growth. “By 2012, the accelerated IT spending and culturally different approach to IT in these economies will directly influence product features, service structures, and the overall IT industry. Silicon Valley will not be in the driver’'s seat anymore,” Sondergaard said.

From a budget perspective, there are three important items that IT leaders must consider in 2010:

A Shift from Capital Expenditure to Operational Expenditure in the IT Budget — Concepts such as cloud services will accelerate this shift. IT costs become scaleable and elastic. CIOs need to model the economic impact of IT on the overall financial performance of an organization. For public companies, they must show how IT improves earnings per share (EPS).

Impact of the Increased Age of IT Hardware — With delayed purchases of servers, PCs and printers likely to continue into 2010, organizations must start to assess the impact of increased equipment failure rates, and if current financial write-off periods are still appropriate. Approximately 1 million servers have had their replacement delayed by a year. That is 3 percent of the global installed base. In 2010, it will be at least 2 million.

“If replacement cycles do not change, almost 10 percent of the server installed base will be beyond scheduled replacement be 2011,” Sondergaard said. “That will impact enterprise risk. CFOs need to understand this dynamic, and it’s the responsibility of the CIO to convey this in a way the CFO understands.”

IT Must Learn to Build Compelling Business Cases — 2010 marks the year in which IT needs to demonstrate true line of sight to business objectives for every investment decision. IT leaders can no longer look at IT as a percentage of revenue. CIOs must benchmark IT according to business impact.

Sondergaard said three additional topics that were important in 2009 will continue to dominate IT leaders’ agendas in 2010. These three topics include:

Business Intelligence — Users will continue to expand their investments in this area with the focus moving from “in here” to “out there”

Virtualization — IT leaders should not just invest in the server and data center environment, but in the entire infrastructure. In 2010, users will create the cornerstone for the cloud infrastructure. They will enable the infrastructure to move from owned to shared.

Social Media — Organizations are starting to scale their efforts in this space. The technologies are improving and organizations realize this is not only about digital natives. It’s about all client segments including the most significant: the population in the next 10 years, the above 60 year old generations.

While those topics are key to IT agendas today, Sondergaard highlighted three themes that will become important going forward. They include:

Context-Aware Computing — This is the concept of leveraging information about the end user to improve the quality of the interaction. Emerging context-enriched services will use location, presence, social attributes, and other environmental information to anticipate an end user’s immediate needs, offering more sophisticated, situation-aware and usable functions.

Operational Technology (OT) — OT is devices, sensors, and software used to control or monitor physical assets and processes in real-time to maintain system integrity. The rapid growth of OT is increasing the need for a unified view of information covering business process and control systems. OT will become a mainstream focus for all organizations.

Pattern-Based Strategy — This is a new model about implementing a framework to proactively seek, model, and adapt to leading indicators, often termed “weak” signals, that form patterns in the marketplace, and to exploit them for competitive advantage.

A Pattern-Based Strategy will allow an organization to not only better understand what’s happening now in terms of demand, but also to detect leading indicators of change, and to indentify and quantify risks emerging from new patterns rather than continuing to focus on lagging indicators of performance.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

When will the IT industry get over its "2.0" fetish?

The other day, some friends were discussing Web 2.0 and social media with me! Well, it left me with this thought -- what is exactly this 2.0 anyway? A new version? Or, a new generation, perhaps? Or maybe, a better way of doing things?

Wonder when we'd get to hear of things such as virtualization 2.0, storage 2.0, security 2.0, open source 2.0, green IT 2.0, DRM 2.0, and so on and so forth! Oh, by the way, there was an SMS 2.0 doing the rounds in the telecom industry! There's something called community and marketing 2.0 as well!

Well, as though Web 2.0 wasn't enough, we are getting to hear a lot about Enterprise 2.0! There we go again!! The moment enterprises start making use of social media platforms -- it is probably up for an 'Enterprise 2.0' title! Or well, those who are in the process of updating or adding new equipment to their network infrastructure can easily go with 'Infrastructure 2.0.'

Never mind! I've not really understood this '2.0' thing anyway, and am truly amazed at the fetish of the technology/IT industry with its fascination for this term!

Great! The word '2.0' really makes for great reading and brilliant copy! However, I am really grateful that there's never been any talk of telecom 2.0 and semiconductors 2.0, at least, not so far!

Ever wondered how GSM would appear, if GSM 900MHz was referred to as GSM 1.0 and GSM 1800MHz as GSM 2.0? Or, for that matter, Intel's brilliant chips as Intel 1.0 or Intel 2.0?

The IT industry has taken pride in coining new buzzwords. Perhaps, it has overdone that a bit! Let's not get carried away by this 2.0 and 3.0 waves. Every new version of any technology or application is next generation anyway.

Instead of selling the version -- in its various avataars such as 2.0, or next-gen -- the IT industry could try selling ONLY the benefits -- of that particular technology -- for the masses at large. Anything 2.0 does have a habit of fast disappearing from sight as well!

A friend once told me jokingly about 'Friend 2.0' -- 'Social media is meant for all of those anti social folks, who don't know what it means to chat and hang out with friends, or don't even bother to either call or email their friends, who, they either haven't met for long, or can't meet anyway, because of the location or other reasons, but are quite happy to stay connected on a social network for ages, without bothering to connect with them realistically!"

Hmmm, perhaps, he's right! I fall in that anti-social category -- who's all enamored with 'everything Web 2.0', so much that even I forget to either call or email friends I haven't met for ages. Maybe, this needs a correction on my part!

Otherwise, I surely belong to the Friend 2.0 category! Do you?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

India ranks 44th in Global Index of IT Competitiveness; moves up four places

Findings of a new study undertaken and issued by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

INDIA: India ranks 44th in the world in the 2008 IT industry competitiveness index, moving 4 notches up from its 2008 ranking of 48 in the index. India has an overall score of 34.1 on the IT competitiveness index*. These are among the findings of a new study undertaken and issued by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The study, now in its third year, assesses and compares the information technology (IT) industry environments of 66 economies, to determine the extent to which they enable IT sector competitiveness.

“We are pleased to see that in this year’s index, India has shown strong improvement in its overall IT competitiveness ranking which is a very positive indicator of progress for one of the country’s most dynamic industries.” said Keshav S Dhakad, Chair of the BSA India Committee.

“India has maintained its ability to develop strong talent and maintain a conducive business environment, which is reflective in the six drivers of competitiveness. This year’s ranking is indicative of the progressive initiatives taken by the government & the industry on human capital and support for IT development.”

“Although India continues to perform well in enabling an open, transparent business environment and providing support for IT industry, development of a sound IT infrastructure and enhancing the R&D environment in the country still remain areas, which need strong improvement.

“We are hopeful that with greater government and industry focus in these critical areas, India will not only continue to be an IT power but will become a global leader of IT innovation, products and services. India’s true potential in near future will rest on its ability to indigenously innovate on cutting edge technology, increase domestic investment in R&D activities, promote the value of intellectual property and drive down menace of counterfeiting and piracy”, he added.

“In today’s economic climate, it is critical that governments in the Asia Pacific continue to support the growth of a strong technology sector. The IT sector remains an important engine of economic growth, and economies in the region that are supporting innovation and taking steps to stimulate technology sector output are placing themselves in a strong position to accelerate economic recovery,” said Jeffrey Hardee, BSA Vice President and Regional Director, Asia Pacific.

“However, challenges for Asia Pacific governments remain. Economies like China and India must address issues such as balancing large pools of skilled IT personnel with progress in IT infrastructure. With broadband access becoming a prerequisite for many parts of the IT sector, economies with pervasive broadband penetration have a big competitive advantage over those where the infrastructure is lacking,” he said.

“Additionally, the study shows that economies that have strong legal frameworks for the protection of intellectual property (IP) are generally the IT leaders and score higher in the index. In contrast, economies where IP protection has not been well enforced are not traditionally seen as innovators. Some rely instead on their low-cost labour markets to remain competitive but this is hard to sustain over time. By improving on the factors that contribute to IT competitiveness, Asian economies will not only improve their ranking but also generate long term economic growth,” said Hardee.

Category wise, India has shown improvement in its R&D environment, moving from a score of 0.6, last year to 22.0 this year. It has also shown strong performance in the business environment and encouraging improvements in the legal environment. India still continues to have the advantage of human capital. However fluctuating performance in IT infrastructure needs improvement.

In fast growing markets like India, large pools of skilled IT employees remain a significant advantage but uneven progress in other areas, such as IT infrastructure remains a drag on sector competitiveness. As the Internet becomes all pervasive, slow uptake in broadband and PC penetration has had a significant impact on the IT infrastructure in India.

Robust IP protection remains essential to IT sector competitiveness. As innovation gradually becomes more important than low-cost labour to IT firms in India, improvements in IP enforcement and the overall legal environment would make the country more competitive in the IT landscape.

Within Asia Pacific, India ranks amongst the top ten countries, with the top three positions held by Australia, Singapore and Japan. Coordinated efforts among governments, universities and IT firms in the region are needed to improve the quality of technology training. As in India, robust IP protection and broadband penetration are some of the key concerns in the Asia Pacific region.

"While the outlines of good IT policy are the same in good times and bad, the deep global recession has made it all the more urgent to prioritize support for the technology sector," states Manoj Vohra, Director of Research with the Economist Intelligence Unit. "Governments and industry leaders must pay closer attention than ever to ensure they have the right policies in place to maximise the benefits of a globally competitive IT industry."

Six key competitiveness enablers
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, six factors work together to create a sound environment for the IT sector:

* An ample supply of skilled workers,
* An innovation-friendly culture,
* A world-class technology infrastructure,
* A robust legal regime that protects intellectual property,
* A stable, open, and competitive economy, and
* Government leadership that strikes the right balance between promoting technology and allowing market forces to work.

Those economies that perform well in these six “competitiveness enablers” generally are home to high-performance IT industries. The study is intended to provide a roadmap for governments in addressing their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to supporting a strong domestic IT sector.

Other findings from the Economist Intelligence Unit research and BSA recommendations include:

* Broadband networks are a vital factor for IT competitiveness, and the competitiveness gap could widen for economies with slower adoption. Technology firms demand fast, reliable, and secure Internet access, and the importance of broadband will grow as more IT services and applications are delivered over the Internet.

* Investment in skills development remains a long-term imperative. Those economies that deliver a combination of IT, business and language skills training will generate a stronger IT workforce.

* Protectionism and support for ‘“national champions” will hinder recovery efforts — and longer term sector competitiveness. Governments must strike a balance between support that encourages industry growth and investment, and that which introduces unfair market practices and protectionism that can harm competitiveness.

* IP regimes are improving in many emerging markets, but further progress is needed. Intellectual property protection remains critically important to IT competitiveness and is a relatively low-cost way of stimulating long-term economic development.

My blog’s been nominated again — by Computer Weekly, UK!

Wow! It has happened again! What a relief!! I am overwhelmed!!!

For those who are unaware, during the middle of August, my original blog — http://pradeepchakraborty.blogspot.com — was suddenly found to be containing malware, and then, without any information, Google removed my blog. That was really devastating!

Not knowing what to do, I quickly rolled out a fresh blog – http://pradeep-chakraborty.blogspot.com — only to find out two days later that it also had malware, and subsequently, Google blocked it too!

Despite mails and requests, nothing happened, and none of the two blogs were returned!

If this alone wasn’t enough, five of my other blogs — on telecom, semiconductors, components, solar and electronics — were marked as spam blogs! All of this, within a space of one week, as though someone, somewhere was out to get me! Rather, remove me from cyberspace, so it seemed!

It was only then, that I moved everything to WordPress — and hence, http://pradeepchakraborty.wordpress.com really came into being. It had been around since 2007, but I only re-activated it when I was literally forced to move my blogspot posts to wordpress.

Not only did I lose traffic, there were lots of emails and messages from folks who were followers of my earlier blog!

Today afternoon, after returning from meetings, I get a mail from Computer Weekly, UK, with this message:

Congratulations, you’ve been nominated for an Award! You are now entered for a Computer Weekly Blog Award, under the category of IT Consultant and Analyst.

I was also pointed to a link: http://epidm.edgesuite.net/RBI/computerweekly/CWAWA/nomin_notification20091006.html

And,

Download your badge here:
http://email.computerweekly.com/cgi-bin1/DM/y/eBz6e0bTQjI0BCI10F7FO0EP

This is just the first stage on your way to winning. The awards will be judged by readers of Computer Weekly and users of ComputerWeekly.com, so start building up support right now – brag about your nomination on your site by downloading a Blog Awards badge onto your homepage.

I tried adding the badge to WordPress, but for some reason it does not appear. So, I’ve added a jpeg image above.

Computerweekly.com also left this message for me: Check out Computer Weekly and ComputerWeekly.com on 27th October to see if you’ve been shortlisted. Voting for shortlisted entries will open on 27th October.

Save the date!

All shortlisted bloggers and tweeters will be invited to our Awards evening on 25th November 2009 at London’s exclusive Shoreditch House. More details to follow in your shortlisted announcement.


Irrespective of my blog getting shortlisted and whether I win this time or not, it is a relief to know that folks still like my blog.

Friends, August 2009 was a testing month with my blogs either getting knocked out or blocked. Three great friends, particularly, Usha Prasad, Sagar Desai and Jo Kuo, along with my family, stood right by me at all times during those testing times!

Scott Weitzman left a lovely message, Poornima Shenoy gave me good advice, Sandesh Advani kept his faith me, as did Intel. Rahuldev Rajguru decided to wait and maintained his faith, as did Meghna Bhutoria, and lately, LK Pathak. The semiconductor and the solar/PV industry stood by me, steadfastly, all this while!

There were good wishes from several others — the list is so long that they can’t be all accommodated here.

My other blog — http://pradeep-chakraborty.blogspot.com — was also eventually returned by Google, without the malware warning, this month.

All I can say is: thanks a lot, my dear friends and dear readers. Whether I get shortlisted or win — these things hardly matter! What matters to me is: I shall always have folks such as you to lean on during tough times. Thanks a lot, everyone.

Finally, thanks a lot for selecting my blog, Computer Weekly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Indian SMBs to spend $48.8 million on unified communications in 2009

Here's a report from AMI Partners on Indian SMBs.

BANGALORE, INDIA: Small and medium businesses (SMBs, or companies with up to 999 employees) in the Indian subcontinent are set to spend $48.8 million on unified communication (UC) in 2009, up over 2008, according to a new study by Access Markets International (AMI) Partners Inc.

Medium businesses (MBs, or companies with 100-999 employees) will account for over 40 percent of the country’s total SMB expenditure, while small businesses are increasing their adoption of basic UC solutions.

“India SMBs are looking at UC as a low-cost tool to communicate effectively with customers and suppliers as well as facilitate communication across multiple branch locations,” says Sumeeta Misra, AMI’s Bangalore-based Research Associate.

“These SMBs seem to be finding smarter ways to cut travel costs, maximize operational efficiency and improve business & customer strategies by streamlining their communication infrastructure. Conferencing and collaboration tools such as video, audio, web conferencing and instant messaging will account for a majority of the total UC spending.”

As India SMBs become more willing to invest in new technology, vendors are developing alternative modes and platforms in UC. The rise of hosted unified communication and offering UC in open and interoperable platforms are a few examples.

Communication-as-a-Service, which is an extension of the SaaS model, will provide UC over a service provider’s network. Knowing the current economic constraints, the India SMB market is attracted more to on-demand collaboration applications and network-based solutions for delivering a seamless business-to-business partnership. Hosted VoIP spending among India SMBs will be close to $18 million in 2009.

Many vendors feel that the open source UC suite will raise the interest of users that are looking for a solution with a minimal initial investment. System integrators are migrating to a solution-selling approach for UC from their conventional box-pushing strategies.

India SMBs are beginning to adopt UC solutions to enhance the customer experience and enhance business continuity. For unified communication to become the accepted best practice for India SMBs vendors and channel partners must overcome some significant challenges such as clarity in TCO, the need for higher bandwidth, maintenance of IP networks, and hardware expense to list a few.

Unified communication being a collaborative tool is no longer a point solution that businesses look at like a voice or a video conferencing solution. Today companies start off with IP telephony, and then add video application and finish off with an application to integrate both audio and video. India SMBs are progressing from using IM and click-to-call services solutions that will enhance business processes and line-of-business applications.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Google has returned Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog!

Thanks a lot, Google!

In the middle of August, my main blog (Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog) -- http://pradeepchakraborty.blogspot.com -- was infected by malware and suddenly removed.

Not even aware of the reasons, I was left with no choice but to replace it with a new blog -- http://pradeep-chakraborty.blogspot.com -- which later, also gave a message from Google that it was also infected by malware!

Subsequently, and very reluctantly, I was forced to move everything to Wordpress -- http://pradeepchakraborty.wordpress.com -- and that's doing very well!

Now, I find that Google finds my blog -- http://pradeep-chakraborty.blogspot.com -- good to run, and well, I've added all the relevant posts back there. What I've done is: I've also removed all links and comments. There were so many of them! How am I to know which ones of those will turn bad?

Anyhow, my blog's back and running! That's all that matters and that's what I want!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why do we hurt those we love the most?

When it hurts, people break down and cry! Maybe, the idea wasn't intentional, but it does happen. It is a flow of emotions, that overwhelms you for a minute and your mind refuses to think straight, and tears flow out!

Perhaps, the other person didn't realize what was said that he/she ended up hurting the person.

Yes, we all love, and we hurt the people we love the most! We all do it, don't we?

Maybe it is purely unintentional! The best thing to do is to apologize sincerely and try and not repeat this -- though it can be a very difficult task. So, why do we hurt those we love the most? It is a puzzle I've never ever managed to crack!

Maybe, you have someone very important in your life. Can you afford to see that person go away, for really no reason? I certainly can't! It is simply terrifying to suddenly lose a person you've grown to love and adore so much! It is as though you are suddenly walking without your best friend! Who will you discuss your life, your pains, your successes, your problems, everything?

I have a friend, who once did all the spadework for a particular technology project. An unintentional remark from his friend hit that person somewhere, who broke down.

When such things happen, we realize then that we probably crossed the line somewhere!

My advice to both these people: please maintain your friendship. Friendships are meant to be cherised. It is no one's intention to hurt people, am sure of that! Since I know both very well, I know that they love each other a lot. They can't stay without each other! This can't be happening to such good people, really!

I would be certainly devastated and distraught if I ever lost a best friend in this manner. What would I do? Go down on my knees with folded hands, and try and win him/her back!

You should do that too, if you really love your friend so much. After all, small or big, or for that matter, any differences, should never take precedence over good friendship.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What is the Twitter spam invasion? And how can you prevent it?

Here's a release sent to me recently! Reproduced here for readers.

UK: With the popularity of social networking platforms such as Twitter on the rise, cyber criminals have found an easy target among unsuspecting users. BitDefender offers advice on how Twitter users can avoid falling prey to some of the most common tricks regularly employed by hackers.

One of the biggest spam related security problems facing Twitter are the many link-shortening services utilized for hyperlink posting. Users are limited to 140 characters per tweet; these URL-shortening services allow tweeters to post a longer link under such tight character limitations.

Hackers use these link-shortening services to disguise malicious links. Some infections could be easily prevented by allowing users to see the real URL before clicking on it.

BitDefender’s senior antispam researcher Catalin Cosoi says, “Another big problem is the fact that search engines, such as Google, index Twitter profiles. This allows malicious pages that are built and marketed with good social engineering tactics to end up high in the rankings. Additionally, because Twitter messages are so short lived, users could unknowingly send spam messages without having the opportunity to notice that someone else is using their account.”

Some of the common types of Twitter spam include:
1. Tweet spam: Tweet spam comes from someone a user is currently following and everyone following that user will see the tweet.

2. Direct Message: A direct message comes from someone a user is currently following and only the user will see the message.

3. ReTweet Spam: ReTweet spam searches for legitimate tweets and reposts them in the system but with a different, malicious URL.

4. Trending Subjects Spam: Trending subjects spam searches for hot topics on Twitter (like Michael Jackson’s death) and posts similar tweets with different, malicious URLs.

5. Following Spam: Following spam happens when a user’s profile receives a lot of followers he/she doesn’t know. If the user does not start following them back within a week, they stop following the user.

Statistics show that one in two users will follow back. Usually, these profiles are bots which are programmed to acquire as many followers as possible before they can start broadcasting spam.

Fortunately, Twitter users can protect themselves from falling into spam traps by following five tips:

1. Install a comprehensive security solution on your computer - preferably a suite containing antivirus, firewall and a phishing filter.

2. Follow the spam profile on Twitter: http://twitter.com/spam. Users can find good advice here. For example, a recent post states: "If you gave your login and password info to TwitViewer, we strongly suggest you change your password now. Thanks!"

3. Don’t click on all the links you receive.

4. Disable the "auto followback" option. This will allow you to pick and chose who you want to follow.

5. Make sure you know who you are following.

Cosoi adds: “By following these simple tips, users of social networking sites like Twitter can protect themselves from spammers and other cyber criminals.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blogger turns 10! Many happy returns of the day!!

Last week, Google's well known Blogger platform turned 10! Many happy returns of the day!

How did I learn of this? From a follower on Twitter, named TechPupil. Apologies, I can't paste that particular story link here, lest that link turn into a malware host or some bad link later on! :) So, please search for this site, and the post on Blogger turning 10!

I may have been having some tough times in the recent weeks with Blogger -- first with it marking my blog -- Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog -- as having malware, and later, removing the site, and later, it also blocked five of my other blogs -- on electronic components, electronics, semiconductors, solar/PV and telecom -- as spam blogs, only to release it later, on request.

My troubles apart, I am the first to admit to being a massive fan of blogger, and find it a great, very user friendly platform with super features. Hey, those are the very reasons that I've so many blogs on Blogger in the first place!

Would definitely hate to leave Blogger, some day! I personally share an emotional history with it -- as this very blogging platform also won me a best blogger's world title in early December 2008, and another, in February 2009 -- for Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog.

Am quite sure that Blogger has made a mistake somewhere regarding my blog and sincerely hope that sooner or later, it will be returned to me. If, for some reason, it remains unreturned, let that famous and well known blog rest in peace!

And well, as I've told a couple of friends, if I can write that particular blog, I can very well write other such blogs quite easily, especially on semiconductors and telecom! Besides, my identity starts and ends with me, and not with that particular blog, or any other, for that matter.

Till this last week, I've never had any problems with the Blogger platform and in fact, have recommended it to several of my friends and colleagues. Keeping with its trend, it is quite certain that Blogger will be introducing great features in the future for bloggers such as you and me!

Keep up the good work, Blogger (and Google)!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Google blocked my blog! So, I moved to another URL!!

Wonder why Google has done so! A few days ago, I kept receiving messages that there was some malware within my blog -- Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog -- with the url http://pradeepchakraborty.blogspot.com

The next thing I know late evening is -- this blog is first blocked and then it disappears!

Since then, I've received lots of messages from friends and people from far away, who've been searching for my blog and blog posts. Thanks a lot for your support, guys!

I've sent requests to Google to return my blog, but till now, no reply has come from them!

Nevertheless, within one hour of this event, I changed to a new blog address, which is: http://pradeepchakraborty.wordpress.com! Yes, I've finally moved this blog out of Blogger, even though I didn't want to! I've been literally forced to do so!

I'd added a new site -- http://pradeep-chakraborty.blogspot.com, only for that too to be blocked for malware. I've no idea what's happened, and now, I have stopped bothering.

I have added a site with the same blog posts -- http://testlinksonblog.blogspot.com -- but I don't know how long it will be before this gets blocked for malware.

I wonder why Google said I had malware on my blog, when I only blog about technology related subjects, and especially, semiconductors and telecom. There's no post on sleaze or pornography or sex! Even then?

I didn't know that semicon and telecom were just some other bad words! Apologies!!

Well, most importantly, why on earth will I promote spam or malware? And, how am I to supposed to know what links will later go on to become malware or spam? And even if some links did become like those, isn't it Google's job to protect bloggers like us? They are the online experts, and not I!

How can blogging ever be safe, when the leading global company promoting a blogging platform can't protect itself, leave alone bloggers!

I've tried to do work as honestly as possible. Even then, if I am penalized for no fault of mine, there's nothing much I can do!

About a month ago, Google found my Electronics blog a spam blog! Why will I spam anyone, when I don't even have a newsletter? Nor have I told anyone to spam my posts. It is up to readers to visit that particular blog and read what they wish!

Today, I receive another mail from Google, saying my Solar PV blog is a spam blog!

Come on guys! This is just too much!!

Coming back to my main blog, I have a dedicated follower of readers -- who visit Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog to read that content. If I were, some day, to stop blogging -- because of Google's actions -- please don't blame me!

Or, perhaps, I should move over to Wordpress, or some other blogging platform, where I don't have to break my head over being a spam blog or an attack site, etc. etc.! Nor do I wish to make scores of backups for my blogs! Or, to change URLs. Where's the need? There's much more to life beyond all of this!

Really, this is extremely irritating and frustrating! So much for blogging!!

Maybe, next time this happens, I'll have to bid goodbye to Blogger.

Am also very sure that the semiconductor and telecom worlds can find much better bloggers...

P.S.: Well, after locking three other blogs -- solar, telecom and later, semiconductors, Google unlocked those. Thanks a lot, Google.

Update: August 24 -- Now, Google has blocked my Electronic Components blog! This, after removing my main blog, and then blocking (and later releasing) Solar, Telecom and Semiconductor blogs... and earlier, Electronics! Just don't know what to make of all these...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thanks to Maxitweet, 140 characters no longer Twitter limit!

A new service, called Maxitweet, seems to have found a way to extend the limit of your tweets to beyond 140 characters. Read on...

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND: Type "140 characters" into Twitter's search box and the resulting tweets come flooding in -- predictably the majority of them lamenting this constraint. A new Twitter service, has found a way around the restriction by clever use of letter-like symbols called Unicode characters.

"Maxitweets" are up to 200 characters long, an increase of nearly 50 percent, and have opened up new possibilities for the fast growing Twitter communications platform.

For example, tweeted recipes ("twecipes") are easier to read with the extra space available. A number of poets have also responded enthusiastically. A limerick aficionado, who had given up on trying to tweet the humorous five-liners because they tend to be around 180 characters long, now posts them several times a day as @limerik. And breaking news services -- among the more prominent users of Twitter -- are able to tweet the news item, rather than just a link to it.

How does it work?
Twitter caters for users in many countries and therefore transmits in a universal font language called "Unicode." It contains over 100,000 glyphs in hundreds of languages. Maxitweet was the first to realize that glyphs resembling two or more normal letters can help to transmit text more efficiently.

In the word "lions," for example, two characters are saved by replacing the vowels with a Cyrillic letter resembling "io," followed by the Unicode symbol for nanosecond "ns."

"We spent weeks combing through thousands of glyphs in many languages -- Cyrillic, Thai, Arabic, Hiragana," says Wytze Hoekstra, project manager at FrisianStyle Productions, which runs Maxitweet.com. "We then wrote a javascript engine that compresses text in the background and delivers a user-friendly experience."

Will the new limit improve the Twitter experience? Even though 140 was enough to produce many memorable tweets, like those collected by http://www.besttweets.com -- "Museum for the Art of Micro-Elegance" -- it remains to be seen whether the expanded limit will take Twitter to new heights. Some say 140 characters is too many. "I'd only call about 30 of them 'characters.' The other 110 are quite boring." -- Aimee Brock (@Aimee_B_Loved on Twitter).

Perhaps, the argument is best summed up by Jason Shellen (@shellen): "When people ask me about the brevity of Twitter I always tell them 'You can really say a lot in just 140 characters. More than you would th '."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Is Twitter hyped? Research indicates otherwise!

UK: Underneath all the hype about Twitter, evidence is emerging that it can bring genuine value when used in the business environment, particularly for the younger generation.

Business-to-business industry researcher AIIM found that 27 percent of 18-30 year-olds agree that Twitter is an important rapid-feedback tool for business use, compared to only 7 percent of those over 45.

Users feel it gives them unprecedented access to answers from experts, and they find it useful for running mini polls, sharing opinions during conferences and events, and making contacts whilst travelling. In total, 34 percent of the survey population has a Twitter account.

The survey also found that business users of Twitter are much more engaged than personal users, with half of the business users actively contributing and posting, rather than merely following.

As regards following, 55 percent of users feel it has given them a useful insight into other professional's lives and businesses. However, even among committed users, there is a concern that Twitter might steal too much of their time, with 74 percent using it during working hours.

“We’ve been tracking the rapid growth of Enterprise 2.0 -- the business use of social media - for a couple of years,” comments Atle Skjekkeland, VP of AIIM, “but Twitter has grown much faster than anything we’ve seen before. It seems to me that Twitter brings back such quick answers from any expert community that it cannot fail to have a lasting place within the general business toolbox.”

The AIIM survey, which polled 788 respondents, indicates that LinkedIn is twice as popular as Facebook for business networking, with over 50 percent of participants having an account.

Two thirds feel that professional networking on the web is vital to their career progression –- even more so in the current difficult times. Pressure is growing on IT departments to replicate social networking tools within the work environment, with a third expecting to use the same type of networking tools with their business colleagues as they do with friends and family, and 71 percent finding it easier to locate knowledge on the web than it is to find it on internal systems.

The AIIM research report is entitled “Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0: work meets play or the future of business?” Part of the AIIM Industry Watch series, the report is free to download from the AIIM website,
www.aiim.org.uk. It is underwritten by Allyis, Ektron, EMC Corporation and
Oracle.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Microsoft and Yahoo -– together at last! Oh well... should Google be scared?

Given below is a comment from Ovum on the Yahoo-Microsoft deal.

While a lot of noise has been made about Microsoft's Bing, I personally don't feel that it is such a great search engine. I've tried searching for various things several times, and haven't been really impressed. All those add-ons, etc. are of little help, if I as a user am not satisfied with the results. Am sure that this is a rule of thumb that applies equally to every other user.

So, I don't really know how Yahoo stands to gain from this deal, or whether Google should be scared!

What's interesting is that, earlier, it was Microsoft that everyone wanted to beat! Then Google happened, and well, left Yahoo behind in the search engine space. And, then, it has taken on Microsoft as well in certain areas!

Now, the wheel has turned a full circle -- the two erstwhile competitors -- Yahoo and Microsoft -- have joined hands to take on the might of Google. Remains to be seen whether two are better than one (Ek se bhaley do!) ;)

What I also don't quite really enjoy is the idea of having Yahoo! Mail, which I've been using since 1997, to be part of Hotmail or something else. Perhaps, time for me to give up those Yahoo! IDs forever! Oh well...

Nevertheless, it is up to the end users -- like you and me -- who search for stuff on the Internet to decide who would go on to lead! Enjoy this Ovum comment!!

Comment from Mike Davis, senior analyst at Ovum

It was a long time coming
UK: Microsoft’s original bid for Yahoo back in January 2008 made the most popular Internet destination in the world worth $47.5 billion. The offer was rejected by then CEO Jerry Yang, resulting in Microsoft walking away from the table.

Yang then attempted to tie up Yahoo with Google and use that company’s search technology. However, that deal fell at the regulatory hurdle. Yang’s subsequent departure and the drop in quarterly earnings resulted in the layoff of 5 percent of Yahoo’s workforce in April 2009 and showed that new CEO Carol Bartz had to do something.

When Microsoft’s new search engine Bing was released in June, with technologies gained from the FAST and Powerset acquisitions, outgunning Yahoo seach capabilities, Bartz knew that that something had to be dramatic.

Microsoft should be happy; Google should be a bit worried
Under the terms of the agreement (and still subject to regulatory approval on both sides of the Atlantic), Yahoo gets to use Microsoft’s Bing search engine rather than its own, and Microsoft gets to pay Yahoo 88 percent of search revenues arising from Yahoo sites for five years -– but of course Microsoft also gets to keep $47.5 billion in the bank.

Microsoft gains exclusive licence to Yahoo’s search technologies, which Microsoft will be free to integrate into its own. It also gains access to all of Yahoo’s long-standing and loyal customers –- this author has trusted and relied upon Yahoo! Mail for over ten years –- and Yahoo’s self-serve advertising will migrate to Microsoft AdCenter. Basically, both companies are playing to their core competencies: Microsoft to the technology and Yahoo to its domain knowledge in advertising and media.

As Ovum has previously stated, Bing is not a ‘Google killer’. However, with the addition of Yahoo’s customer base and its targeting of higher-yield advertising, the new so-called ‘decision engine’ should start to give Google a serious run for its money, and provide better competition on price for prospective advertisers.

Furthermore, as Ovum has previously described, the now bitter rivalry between Google and Microsoft should ensure that improvements to the functionality and usability of the respective search engines will continue apace.

Nothing will happen tomorrow -– certainly not in Asia
Even if it gains regulatory approval, Yahoo’s use of Bing will not start until 2010 –- and then on a geographical basis, with the priority being the US and then Europe.

This will give Baidu, the strong Chinese Internet search provider, and Naver, the most popular player in South Korea, plenty of opportunities to reinforce and expand their positions in that geography. Given the potential size of that market, this could be a missed opportunity.

Yahoo and its shareholders appear to be the losers
While the deal is cited as boosting Yahoo’s operating income by $500 million and reducing costs by $200 million, the company’s shares are currently trading at only half the value offered by Microsoft in January 2008, and fell a further 10 percent after this announcement.

This does give Yahoo’s CEO Carol Bartz a period of time and some money to develop the organisation into its vision of being the world’s “largest online media company”.

However, 10 years is a very long time in the true market that is the Internet, and the use of Bing will not start until early 2010. Microsoft, or others, might still take the opportunity to buy the former Internet search leader at a marked-down price in the near future if Bartz cannot deliver that vision.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is the PR industry challenged by social media?

I came across a very interesting discussion on LinkedIn, titled: A Tale Of PR And Social Media. Apparently, the message is: for many PR agencies, working or even grasping social media is a nightmare.

So, is the PR industry really challenged by social media? Perhaps, yes!

Can it overcome this challenge? Of course!

Business social media, or even social media, surely helps speaking in the language your target audience appreciates and understands.

However, it seems that PR folks haven't really come to terms with all of this. The PR industry should realize that bombarding press releases to bloggers don't help at all and neither do requests to write about specific companies and their initiatives.

In fact, I haven't even seen PR take help of bloggers and other social media platforms immensely.

What I did find some PR folks doing was to try and send media invitations over some social media networks, or even open some specific page for a particular company and then send requests to join that page or group!

Maybe, these will work in the short run, but definitely not in the long run. Friends in the PR, that's definitely not going to help you meet your needs!

On a personal note, I sometimes get tired of PR folks asking me for leads so they can make new clients. I have helped a few in the past, but that's when I used to be part of the media.

Well, would such PR folks pay me -- if I did provide solid leads? No, they would not! And well, would PR agencies share their client details with me? No, unless, I have a particular story to write, which would feature that company, and well, am part of a big publishing house.

A lot of PR folks and even companies get in touch with me daily with some request or the other. However, the moment I speak about some payment, I receive mixed responses. Perhaps, they all are not ready yet to pay bloggers since we are all used to content being available free. However, this free thing won't stay for long... :)

This is also a reason why bloggers like to avoid PR firms and probably, even some companies, for that matter! Why publicize someone when that person getting publicity won't even pay you? Fair enough!

If you also notice, some of the best content is available on blogs. That's the reason why companies are now having bloggers on their payrolls, or have independent blogs! Not only is it cheaper to host content, you are also assured of real quality content from top-notch bloggers.

I'd like to highlight a case here, and this one is not from me, but from a well known blogger covering DAC 2009.

ATRENTA BLOGFEST
Why are we doing this?
We want to reach out to the press/bloggers at DAC, but not with a traditional press conference. Rather than discuss new product announcements, etc., we’d rather discuss design trends and have a lively debate about what they mean!

A panelist discusses a point of view on the topic for three minutes (and no more). No slides, but strong opinions are solicited. We then open the floor to the bloggers for a spirited discussion.


Wow! I am really elated to even read this! Wonder when we can have such events or blogfests here in India!

Well, how many PR firms, or even companies, would be bold enough and like to do such a thing? Both of them should try to find a win-win situation where they can make full use of social media and bloggers, and also help bloggers make some money too!

I feel that a huge opportunity is out there for companies, PR, bloggers, etc.

So many well known bloggers have their own tweets...those can be made use of so successfully! Why, even placing a Twitter or Facebook link on a print magazine or newspaper would help immensely! :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Google finds my electronics blog a spam blog!

What an interesting thing to happen!

As usual, I was adding press releases to this particular blog, which only focuses on electronics. The moment I published a post and returned to the dashboard, I get this message -- This blog has been locked due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations. You may not publish new posts until your blog is reviewed and unlocked. This blog will be deleted within 20 days unless you request a review.

Well, immediately, I sent off a blog unlock review request. On clicking that page, I found this message -- Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

Brilliant! When and whom did I spam? I don't send out newsletters. And these releases are for my personal consumption, so that I may keep up with what's happening in the electronics industry.

So, how is it a spam blog? Can someone help?

I recently wrote a blog post about a bloggers' survey, where I had indicated that perhaps, it is time that I should close down all of my other blogs -- which I recently started to host all of those press releases that I get bombarded with.

Seriously, after this 'spam blog' thing, I am greatly tempted to do so! Maybe, I should also look at other blogging platforms in future.

P.S.: I must thank Google for taking very quick action and taking my electronics blog off my spam blog within hours of my request. Thanks again!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Can't wait to use Google Chrome OS!

Yesterday, or rather, the day before, there was an announcement on Google's Blog -- Introducing the Google Chrome OS!

This is such pleasant news, especially for folks like me who try out new things all the time! At least, we will have an option against Microsoft Windows, for starters! What I do know is: it is too early to even predict how the Google Chrome OS will overtake or beat the Microsoft OS. Nevertheless, we all will have a choice!

I've been a long-time user of the Google Chrome browser, and that's really light and fast. It is expected that the new Google Chrome OS will be equally light and fast!

According to the blog, the Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. That is really smart thinking! Going open source, perhaps, even better.

Just yesterday, I was visiting the Croma electronic store browsing the various netbooks on display. It won't be that long when netbooks with Google Chrome OS will be available -- by H2-2010, as per Google. Even better, the Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 and ARM chips. Some really very serious thought seems to have gone into this project!

I am also a user of Open Office, along with MS Office. Wonder when will we see a Google Chrome Office! Nevertheless, I just can't wait to get my hands on the Google Chrome OS!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Union Budget 2009: Reactions from Indian IT industry

Several friends in the PR community have very kindly shared some of the comments made by leading captains of the Indian IT industry. Thanks a lot to all those good friends in the Indian PR community. Some of the budget reactions are given below for readers:

Ajai Chowdhry, CEO and Chairman, HCL Infosystems
Overall, this budget is good for the IT sector with certain facets that are encouraging for the sector. However, the ICT industry was looking for more support from the government. We had recommended a 100 percent depreciation on financing of IT equipment, which was not included.

On taxation aspect, the excise/CVD exemption is unclear as it was not stated whether VAT is included in this or not. The government has also put a huge focus on R&D and it is good to see continuity of fiscal stimuli by the government. Various projects and schemes announced by Govt, will require increased role of IT, for example -- the UID project. It is critical now to implement these projects at the earliest.

Other encouraging measures include the ‘Mission in Education through ICT’ which has been substantially increased to Rs.900 crore and the provision for setting up and up-gradation of Polytechnics under the Skill Development Mission enhanced to Rs. 495 crore. More and More should be done to give an impetus to ICT in education and literacy. It was also discouraging to see that the extension of the sunset clause was only for one year, which ideally should have been extended for a longer period.

Naresh Wadhwa, President and Country Manager, Cisco - India and SAARC
On the face of it, the budget put forth by the government is positive and focuses on inclusive development. It is encouraging, especially the fact that there is a thrust on infrastructure development, rural development, education and social welfare. The impetus to infrastructure development –- both urban and rural -- is a highly visible and much welcome component of this budget.

Leveraging technology as a tool for accountability, better governance, in business and administration is a step in the right direction. The allocation of funds for e-governance investment schemes like the unique identity number for every Indian and the formation of a Centralized Processing Centre (CPC) in Bengaluru to process electronically filed tax returns will enable effective delivery of public services through public private partnerships.

The increased budgetary provision for the scheme ‘Mission in Education through ICT’ will help take the benefits of IT to the grass roots in a critical sector like education.

The ‘Aam Aadmi’, i.e., the individual tax payer, will definitely appreciate the abolition of Fringe Benefit Tax and raised exemption limit for income tax.

S. Gopalakrishnan, CEO and Managing Director, Infosys Technologies
The Finance Minister has talked about the creation of 12 million jobs, reaching a growth rate of 9 percent and investment in infrastructure at the rate 9 percent of GDP. From a taxation perspective, increasing the income tax slabs, removal of the surcharge on personal income taxes and FBT stands out.

For the IT industry, extension of 10A/10B exemptions by one more year is a move that is more emotional than of actual benefit since most STPs would have come out of the tax holidays. The government’s focus on IT investment for enhanced governance is encouraging. The move to increase investment in higher education, especially in the IITs and NITs, will greatly benefit the industry in the medium and long term.

On the whole, directionally it is a good budget given the current economic situation. However, I would have liked to see a clear road map on how the FM would bring down the deficit from 6.8 percent to perhaps 3 percent. The second thing I would have liked to hear about is how he intends to enhance foreign direct investment.

Pramod Bhasin, Chairman and Som Mittal, President, NASSCOM
NASSCOM welcomes the budget proposals 2009-10 aimed at achieving the dual objective of enhancing inclusive growth in India and boosting economic activity in the country. The budget recognizes the contribution of the IT-BPO industry to India’s economic progress and has provided the necessary measures to boost the sector.

Som Mittal, President, NASSCOM said, "The Finance Minister’s decision to extend fiscal benefits available to the industry under Section 10A/10B for one year will help the industry mitigate the impact of the current economic environment and help India retain its competitiveness."

Pramod Bhasin, Chairman, NASSCOM said, "Many of the initiatives in this year’s budget recognize the role the IT BPO industry can play in promoting inclusive growth and creating substantial employment opportunities in the country.

"The industry will be keen to partner with the Government in expanding e-governance initiatives, including modernization of employment exchanges, the UIAD project, and smart cards for healthcare services so as to achieve enhanced governance. Increased capital outlays on the education and infrastructure sector will also address growth challenges that the country has faced."

The budget proposals also address NASSCOM’s recommendations relating to multiplicity of taxes on packaged software, creating a dispute resolution mechanism on transfer pricing, abolishing FBT and issues on service tax refund.

The combined effect of these proposals will facilitate the industry and its 2 million workforce to compete effectively and sustain India’s advantage. NASSCOM will continue to examine the fine print and seek clarifications as needed.

NASSCOM would like to express its gratitude to the Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and IT Minister Thiru A. Raja for their unstinted support.

R.Chandrasekaran, President and Managing Director, Global Delivery, Cognizant
The extension of the sunset clause on STPI by a year is welcome. While this will benefit the entire industry, it will specifically benefit the small and medium sized companies in the industry that needed this critical impetus for growth.This is also important in this turbulent global economic environment, in the context of emerging locations such as China, Philippines or Vietnam continuing to offer attractive tax incentives.

A substantially higher outlay for institutions of higher learning such as IITs and NITs should increase the R&D throughput and innovation quotient in a material way. At a time when industries are undergoing structural changes globally, it is innovation that can catalyze the next phase of growth. The support provided by way of subsidy for poor students pursuing higher education should provide the required impetus for enhancing the overall employable talent pool. The modernization of employment exchange under the PPP (private-public partnership) mode will help align skills with available employment opportunities at the national level and on a real time basis.

The abolition of fringe benefit tax is also welcome since the administrative hassle involved in FBT compliance was very high.

The clarity on transfer pricing assessments and the setting up of an independent dispute settlement mechanism is something that the industry sought. That the Finance Minister has announced an industry-specific safe-harbour provision will be notified, will help in resolving assessment issues relating to transfer pricing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Remembering the times with Michael Jackson!

The sudden and untimely death of King of Pop -- Michael Jackson -- is something very hard to digest. I was working late last night when I happened to glance at the headline news! Since then, I've been literally glued to the TV till close to 5am Friday morning, when CNN finally confirmed this news, and most of the evening!

I remember, way back in the early 1980s, my mentor, Shankar Ghosh, showed me an audio cassette in Allahabad -- telling me -- this chap is really good! I looked down at the cassette cover, which simply said "THRILLER." And the name of a singer I'd never heard of till then!

Soon, Grammy Awards were telecast, and I caught my first glimpse of Michael Jackson's now very famous videos from the same album.

We kept hearing about the overwhelming success of this particular album for years and years thereafter. No party was a party without the MJ numbers in full blast. No party was a party till someone tried Michael Jackson's signature 'moonwalk!'

The magical "We Are The World" soon came in 1985, a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, produced and conducted by Quincy Jones, and recorded by a supergroup of popular musicians billed as USA for Africa, as per Wikipedia. Most of us have seen that video! For most of us, including yours truly, it remains one of the best songs of all times!

Came the Gulf War in 1990, which also brought satellite TV to India. That was the first time I saw MJ's "Black or White" video, as well as "Remember The Time." Then came "Heal The World," which, to my pleasant surprise and happiness, my two sweet nieces, especially, the younger one, had started humming!

Then, there was this famous tour to Mumbai, when on November 1, 1996, at the Andheri Sports Complex, he gave a fascinating performance. The Indian Internet sites are all buzzing with that particular visit. I was unlucky to have missed that one! All I remember today is seeing glimpses of that show on the local news channels.

What else can I say? Like many other fans, I mourn his death, but he shall always remain in our hearts, controversies notwithstanding, the one and only 'Smooth Criminal'!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Five attributes of cloud computing: Gartner

This release on cloud computing was sent to me by Gartner.

STAMFORD, USA: As cloud computing begins to move beyond the pure hype stage and into the beginning of mainstream adoption, Gartner, Inc. has identified the five attributes of cloud computing. By using these attributes, it is possible to see how strongly a cloud solution (or service) adheres to the cloud computing model.

Gartner defines cloud computing as a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to external customers using Internet technologies.

This is a slight revision of Gartner's original definition published in 2008. Gartner has removed "massively scalable" and replaced it with "scalable and elastic" as an indicator that the important characteristic of scale is the ability to scale up and down, not just to massive size.

"When approaching cloud computing, providers of cloud services and potential consumers of cloud services must examine the attributes of cloud computing to determine whether their services will deliver the expected outcomes," said Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and chief Gartner Fellow.

"If a service is not scalable and elastic, then it may not be shareable enough. If it is not metered by use, then it may not allow for flexible pricing. Support for more of the attributes opens the door to a great value proposition to the consumer, and greater flexibility and potential cost reduction for the provider."

"We recognize that services may adhere to some attributes more effectively than others," said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "The degree to which the service exhibits all these characteristics indicates how much it adheres to the cloud computing model. One must examine a combination of these attributes to evaluate cloud services. Focusing on one attribute in isolation is not recommended."

The five attributes of cloud computing are:

Service-Based: Consumer concerns are abstracted from provider concerns through service interfaces that are well-defined. The interfaces hide the implementation details and enable a completely automated response by the provider of the service to the consumer of the service.

The service could be considered "ready to use" or "off the shelf" because the service is designed to serve the specific needs of a set of consumers, and the technologies are tailored to that need rather than the service being tailored to how the technology works.

The articulation of the service feature is based on service levels and IT outcomes (availability, response time, performance versus price, and clear and predefined operational processes), rather than technology and its capabilities. In other words, what the service needs to do is more important than how the technologies are used to implement the solution.

Scalable and Elastic: The service can scale capacity up or down as the consumer demands at the speed of full automation (which may be seconds for some services and hours for others).

Elasticity is a trait of shared pools of resources. Scalability is a feature of the underlying infrastructure and software platforms. Elasticity is associated with not only scale but also an economic model that enables scaling in both directions in an automated fashion. This means that services scale on demand to add or remove resources as needed.

Shared: Services share a pool of resources to build economies of scale. IT resources are used with maximum efficiency. The underlying infrastructure, software or platforms are shared among the consumers of the service (usually unknown to the consumers). This enables unused resources to serve multiple needs for multiple consumers, all working at the same time.

Metered by Use: Services are tracked with usage metrics to enable multiple payment models. The service provider has a usage accounting model for measuring the use of the services, which could then be used to create different pricing plans and models. These may include pay-as-you go plans, subscriptions, fixed plans and even free plans.

The implied payment plans will be based on usage, not on the cost of the equipment. These plans are based on the amount of the service used by the consumers, which may be in terms of hours, data transfers or other use-based attributes delivered.

Uses Internet Technologies: The service is delivered using Internet identifiers, formats and protocols, such as URLs, HTTP, IP and representational state transfer Web-oriented architecture.

Many examples of Web technology exist as the foundation for Internet-based services. Google's Gmail, Amazon.com's book buying, eBay's auctions and Lolcats' picture sharing all exhibit the use of Internet and Web technologies and protocols.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TwitGeek? Follow geeks like yourself on Twitter!

TwitGeek! What will these folks (or web developers) think of next?

I was quite amused to come across this site, which clearly states: TwittGeek is a Twitter application that automatically follows 200 targeted people based on keywords you write!

I haven't tried it out though for a simple reason: I am quite selective as far as my choices and interests are concerned. In Twitter's case, I've basically decided only to follow those web sites/industry associations that are of interest -- or 'of a technical nature' -- to me!

As a friend mentioned jokingly over chat to me -- "I just added you on to my Twitter -- love that you said that you are a 'simple' guy when your interests are so technical!" God bless this friend of mine! :) I find that 'simple guy' and my 'interests being technical' bit quite open to interpretation! :D

I have another friend, who calls herself PR Chick! Funny names!! Recommended she change it to Ozbabe or something, since she hails from Australia.

Anyhow! I wonder, what will I encounter, if I do indeed sign up with TwitGeek? While it may automatically make me follow 200 people based on the keywords I type, I really don't want to be following people having fancy, and funny names! At least, their names should be clear enough for me to understand! How will I know who's say, BrokenMac, KillOpera, or even, I Hate Windows??

Well, in case you are a geek, and wish to follow fellow geeks like youself, TwitGeek is just meant for you! Best of luck Tweeple!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Seven practical ways to save costs in data center

This is a release sent to me by Gartner, which outlines seven practical ways to save costs in a data center. Indeed, this is something for CIOs and enterprises to pay attention to!

STAMFORD, USA:In the face of organizational budgetary cuts, there are seven effective ways enterprises can reduce costs in the data center during a 12- to 18-month period, according to Gartner Inc.

"While responding to contracting budgets, IT managers are expected to deliver an ever-increasing level of service to users, and many are charged with showing tangible financial savings as part of cost-cutting measures," said Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner. "Significant savings can be made in the data center. For example, removing a single x86 server will result in savings of more than $400 a year in energy costs alone."

Gartner has identified seven important ways to cut data center costs:

Rationalize the hardware
Hardware rationalization will result in savings in several areas. First, it will help with asset and inventory management and provide a clear picture of the boxes that are being used effectively and those that are not.

Second, server rationalization should lower maintenance and support charges. Third, server rationalization will lower energy costs, typically more than $400 per server, per year. Finally, hardware rationalization projects usually yield savings of 5 percent to 10 percent of the overall hardware costs, when measured post project.

Consolidate data center sites
Most organizations still have multiple data centers for their IT operations, ranging from large complex installations to small machine rooms. Consolidating these multiple sites into a smaller number of larger sites will often result in financial savings.

Such economies go beyond real estate savings and include getting rid of redundant IT assets, software, maintenance and support, and disaster recovery contracts. While these projects often result in reducing the number of data center operational staff needed, Gartner advises users not just to get rid of people but to retrain them to fill skill gaps in other parts of the data center or wider IT organization.

Site consolation can typically result in savings of between 5 percent and 15 percent of the overall data center budget.

Manage energy and facilities costs
Energy costs are rising for most data centers because the energy consumption of the underlying hardware continues to increase as new technologies, such as blade servers, are more widely used.

As the floor space runs out, more hardware is crammed into the space, thus requiring higher levels of cooling. Gartner recommends employing the following tools and techniques to manage the energy cost curve: raise the temperature of the data center to 24 degrees Celsius to reduce the level of cooling required; use outside/free air as an alternative to expensive air conditioning; use hot aisle/cold aisle configurations, blanking panels and economizers; and use server-based energy management software to run workloads in the most energy efficient way, such as taking advantage of lower energy tariffs.

Renegotiate contracts
Data center managers must work with finance and procurement teams to revisit all hardware, lease, software, maintenance and support contracts. In some cases, it may be appropriate to terminate a contract because it's too expensive, while in others, new terms and conditions may secure a lower payment schedule. Vendors are used to reviewing contracts during downturns.

Manage the people costs
People costs still form the largest single cost element for most data centers, sometimes running as high as 40 percent of the overall costs. Gartner advises users to review staffing levels and the types of skills needed for the next 24 months and to make maximum use of labor arbitrage benefits by using skills in regions with cheaper labor rates, such as India, Brazil, Poland and Romania.

Sweat the assets
Delaying the procurement of new assets should be considered a necessary step for all data center managers. Upgrading based purely on the book value could incur unnecessary costs earlier in the life cycle.

This may result in a performance disadvantage and possibly an energy use increase but will defer the capital expense of a new acquisition. Users should negotiate on maintenance and support costs in such instances, as well as ensuring that software is still supported on servers whose working life is being extended.

Virtualization
Virtualization of hardware should be encouraged to improve operational efficiency, as well as to support consolidation, decommissioning and cost management programs. For most users, the net benefits will include a smaller hardware estate, which, in turn, will mean lower operating depreciation costs and less-expensive maintenance and support.

Virtualization is also a good way to control energy costs. Although virtualization requires license and project costs, users can expect to see net savings within 24 months, and the effective use of virtualization can reduce server energy consumption by as much as 82 percent and floor space by as much as 86 percent.