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,'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 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.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

And now, Carnalpedia -- wikipedia for porn!

Gosh, now they have a wikipedia for porn, called Carnalpedia! I wonder whether there is a need for such a website, with all the porn already floating around in the cyberspace. Wonder, what this will do to Playboy and other such adult magazines!

Here's a press release on the launch!

SAN DIEGO, USA: After several months of development Carnalpedia is opening its doors to the public. Built on MediaWiki, the same platform that powers Wikipedia, Carnalpedia is a free, peer-editable resource on all things sex and porn related.

Carnalpedia is a free, peer-editable adult graphic encyclopedia about sex. After only a few weeks it is already home to over 120,000 articles, making it the largest online sex encyclopedia. Everyone, including adult companies, webmasters, porn stars and sex enthusiasts are invited to share their wealth of knowledge on the site, including the creation of pages for any products or services they would like to increase awareness of.

"The fact that Wikipedia has a certain type of audience leaves a lot of information about sex and the adult industry either blocked or censored. Having a wiki geared exclusively for the topic of sex, as well as having all the articles using the Restricted to Adults website labels, allows us a lot of latitude in what we can provide," said site creator Jeremy Haddock.

The site allows images to be added only by authorized individuals from approved sources to ensure compliance with copyright law and the legal age of the models. All pages within Carnalpedia also carry the RTA label, which allows services like NetNanny to block access to those not of an appropriate age.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Despite recession, now is the time for IT leaders to prepare for return to business growth!

This release is from Gartner, reproduced here for readers! The advice given here applies across the world, including India.

STAMFORD, USA: While the recession is still under way, now is the time for IT leaders to prepare for business growth, and organizations should aim to complete these plans by July 1 of this year, according to Gartner Inc. This advice especially pertains to the nations that first entered the recession, such as the US and the UK

Gartner acknowledged that many countries are experiencing ever-increasing levels of unemployment, rising home mortgage payment delinquencies and business bankruptcies while also seeing reductions in consumer confidence, business earnings and overall economic performance.

However, in recent months, analysts have observed that many organizations are reporting that their staffs are working at near- or full-capacity levels. This demand level will almost certainly increase when businesses start detecting a resurgence in demand from customers, a more stabilized economic climate and a far-healthier lending environment from which to access credit.

“As these improvements translate into new IT project demands to help businesses identify new revenue and profit opportunities, companies will need a way to manage the already high project load with a new wave of projects,” said Ken McGee, vice president and Gartner fellow. “However, waiting until that new demand arrives will be far too late to appropriately meet it, and we are recommending that companies start preparing for business growth now with a view to having these plans completed by July 1, 2009.”

Gartner believes that the July 1 "deadline" will well serve those organizations believing that modest business growth could occur during 2010. Such a belief would require placement of new IT project and other related expenses in the 2010 budget, whose preparation period is between August and the end of 2009.

“We’re not trying to predict when the end of the recession will take place, nor are we trying to speculate when credit market stability will occur, or when we will see consistent investment appreciation return to the world’s equity markets,” said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner fellow. “What we are saying is that due to the lag in time between the point at which the economy begins to grow again, and when it’s officially declared to be growing again, companies simply can’t wait for an ‘official’ declaration before they begin planning for better times.”

While Gartner’s recommendations call for the resolution of key preliminary cost optimization and governance-related issues before the era of business growth returns, Gartner said that it is not necessarily advocating that organizations automatically revert to the same management techniques they were using in the years leading up to the recession.

Gartner said that it plans to present an array of new cost-optimization-related actions that its clients should take during future technology selection, vendor selection, procurement, contract negotiation, asset management, and other post-recession efforts as they enter the next chapter of supporting business growth.

“Since no one knows when business growth will resume, organizations may need to file away their completed return-to-business plans for up to a year or more. The plan in waiting should be reviewed on a monthly basis and revised according to changes in the business climate,” McGee said. “Having a completed plan will enable the near-immediate allocation of funding and staffing for IT projects, thus avoiding the need to take weeks to devise a plan after senior executives mandate the need to support business growth initiatives.”