Friday, September 24, 2010

Security Lessons Learned From The Diaspora Launch

Security Lessons Learned From The Diaspora Launch: MicroISV on a Shoestring
The team is manifestly out of their depth with regards to web application security, and it is almost certainly impossible for them to gather the required expertise and still hit their timetable for public release in a month. You might believe in the powers of OSS to gather experts (or at least folks who have shipped a Rails app, like myself) to Diaspora’s banner and ferret out all the issues. You might also believe in magic code-fixing fairies. Personally, I’d be praying for the fairies because if Diaspora is dependent on the OSS community their users are screwed. There are, almost certainly, exploits as severe as the above ones left in the app, and there almost certainly will be zero-day attacks by hackers who would like to make the headline news. “Facebook Competitor Diaspora Launches; All Users Data Compromised Immediately” makes for a smashing headline in the New York Times, wouldn’t you say?

Nice post. Although the programming language used in Diaspora is Ruby, the vulnerabilities can pop up in any web application targeted at a large end-user community.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Biz School Chronicles :: On Enonomies of Scale and Invention vs Innovation

Today, a friend shared an interesting article. Titled "The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart", its essence was the story how Jim Wier, CEO of the lawn-equipment company Simplicity stopped selling Snapper branded lawn mowers via Wal-Mart.

"In 2002, Jim Wier's company, Simplicity, was buying Snapper, a complementary company with a 50-year heritage of making high-quality residential and commercial lawn equipment. Wier had studied his new acquisition enough to conclude that continuing to sell Snapper mowers through Wal-Mart stores was, as he put it, "incompatible with our strategy. And I felt I owed them a visit to tell them why we weren't going to continue to sell to them."

Selling Snapper lawn mowers at Wal-Mart wasn't just incompatible with Snapper's future--Wier thought it was hazardous to Snapper's health. Snapper is known in the outdoor-equipment business not for huge volume but for quality, reliability, durability. A well-maintained Snapper lawn mower will last decades; many customers buy the mowers as adults because their fathers used them when they were kids. But Snapper lawn mowers are not cheap, any more than a Viking range is cheap. The value isn't in the price, it's in the performance and the longevity."


This looks like a case study for puritans, correct? Quality over quantity; "value isn't in the price, it's in the performance and longevity". Honestly, I think this is a bit naive in a business perspective. You see, the same article explains the prices of other lawn mowers as well. The ones who think value, in-fact, is in the price. When I read that part, I couldn't help but wonder whether Jim Wier (the apparent hero according to this article) was making a mistake.

"You can buy a lawn mower at Wal-Mart for $99.96, and depending on the size and location of the store, there are slightly better models for every additional $20 bill you're willing to put down--priced at $122, $138, $154, $163, and $188. That's six models of lawn mowers below $200. Mind you, in some Wal-Marts you literally cannot see what you are buying; there are no display models, just lawn mowers in huge cardboard boxes.

The least expensive Snapper lawn mower--a 19-inch push mower with a 5.5-horsepower engine--sells for $349.99 at full list price. Even finding it discounted to $299, you can buy two or three lawn mowers at Wal-Mart for the cost of a single Snapper.

If you know nothing about maintaining a mower, Wal-Mart has helped make that ignorance irrelevant: At even $138, the lawn mowers at Wal-Mart are cheap enough to be disposable. Use one for a season, and if you can't start it the next spring (Wal-Mart won't help you out with that), put it at the curb and buy another one. That kind of pricing changes not just the economics at the low end of the lawn-mower market, it changes expectations of customers throughout the market."

This is where economies of scale come into play. By manufacturing lawn mowers in large numbers, Jim Wier's competitors were able to bring prices significantly down. So cheap that a lawn mover is now a disposable item, with little perceived value in the eyes of customers. Where's "longevity" in this picture? The market will eventually move towards "Use one for a season, and if you can't start it the next spring, put it at the curb and buy another one". In this new market, how can Snapper lawn mowers survive? With diminishing revenues and shareholder value, they will eventually be vulnerable enough for a takeover. That was my initial thought while reading the article. Apparently that's exactly what has happened. When reading the comments section, I came across the following ...

"Not long after this article was written, Snapper was bought by Briggs and
Stratton Power Group. Briggs and Stratton also make Murray and Brute
lawn mowers, the two brands sold nationally in all wal-marts. hopes
this adds some perspective people. economoy's of scale, whether
walmarts or another companys like briggs and strattons will always win
out. thats capitalism for you...
Francis Manning01/31/2010 09:02 PM"

Another example that came to mind was Sun Microsystems vs Oracle. In addition to economies of scale, Sun's demise is a good example how innovation trumps invention always in the business world. So here's the story (I fondly recall this as I come closer to the final semester exams of b-school). One day a lecturer asked "What's the difference between Invention and Innovation?". Since no one else seemed to be volunteering, I gave an answer (I can't remember it today, which I consider as a good thing). The lecturer took a long hard look at me and replied "Now think like an MBA and try again". I couldn't at the time, and according to him, "Invention is the formulation of new ideas for products or processes, while Innovation is all about the practical application of new inventions into marketable products or services". That's exactly where Sun failed and Oracle keeps winning. Sun has(/had?) James Gosling the "inventor" of Java and a platoon of "Computer Scientists". But did they innovate? It seems not. Oracle doesn't seem to have superstar computer scientists (well.. other than Bob Miner of course). You know what they DO have? a leadership team with great business acumen and a sales force on steroids (If I remember correctly Larry Elison has a sales background). Apparently Oracle had generated more revenue by practically applying Java than Sun could ever dream of.

"The objective of a firm is to maximize its value to its shareholders. Value is represented by the market price of the company’s common stock, which, in turn, is a reflection of the firm’s investment, financing, and dividend decisions."

If you want to play the game, you better learn the rules. Otherwise you can always run a non-profit. But you won't be able to employ James Goslings of the world then. Because the pay cut, apparently, was one of the reasons he quit after the Oracle acquisition (read that story here). Oh the irony...



Saturday, September 18, 2010

Creating Shazam in Java

  

"Shazam is an application which you can use to analyse/match music. When you install it on your phone, and hold the microphone to some music for about 20 to 30 seconds, it will tell you which song it is.

When I first used it it gave me a magical feeling. “How did it do that!?”. And even today, after using it a lot, it still has a bit of magical feel to it.
Wouldn’t it be great if we can program something of our own that gives that same feeling? That was my goal for the past weekend." Read the complete post here


A nice experiment. The author got into trouble for patent infringement. But that's expected I guess :)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Re-targeting Technology - "The Pants That Stalked Me on the Web"

The Pants That Stalked Me on the Web - Advertising Age - DigitalNext
"I surfed over to my favorite apparel website, Zappos, now a part of Amazon.

After a few clicks, Zappos' recommendation engine went to work and started offering me the selections that people who looked at the same shorts I did ultimately bought -- a cool idea and a feature that has been useful to me in the past.

Then, I abandoned the search and did something else. That's when the weirdness started.

In the five days since, those recommendations have been appearing just about everywhere I've been on the web, including MSNBC, Salon, CNN.com and The Guardian. The ad scrolls through my Zappos recommendations: Hurley, Converse by John Varvatos, Quicksilver, Rip Curl, Volcom. Whatever. At this point I've started to actually think I never really have to go back to Zappos to buy the shorts -- no need, they're following me."

That story might sound creepy at first. But I find the technology both fascinating and a great tool for marketers. Have a look at Criteo, who are behind the technology. Here's how it works.



This is like AdWords on steroids... and marketers should definitely see better ROI. Because you already know the prospect has shown interest, as opposed to just randomly displaying ads based on the content he's currently browsing. And user stories such as the one above prove that the technology works in the real world ;)


Monday, September 06, 2010

What Big Brands Are Spending on Google



What Big Brands Are Spending on Google - Advertising Age - Digital
"The data obtained by Ad Age includes huge brands such as GM, Walt Disney, Eastman Kodak and BMW, which appear to have spent less than $500,000 in June. Tech rival Apple spent just under $1 million on search during the month, as did chip maker Intel.

Among Google's biggest spenders are businesses that depend on search traffic, including those that resell AdWords or simply buy Google traffic to resell to their own advertisers, including Hungry Machine, which does business under the name Living Social, which spent $2.4 million in June, and Yellowpages.com, which spent $1.2 million.

As a snapshot, it's also remarkable that Google's biggest advertisers, big monthly spenders like AT&T, Apollo Group and Amazon, individually accounted for less than 1% of Google's U.S. revenue in June. The top 10 advertisers in the document collectively accounted for just 5% of Google's U.S. revenue during the month."


According to AdAge, the data is from a leaked google document. The values in the graph are just for the month of June!


Sunday, September 05, 2010

An Oscar Winning Software?



Pixar's RenderMan® | Showcase
"The challenge of shading food for Ratatouille was to work with a stylized look that fits into our world, yet is still readable and recognizable as something appealing to eat. We, as humans, have a built-in sensory system to know what looks edible to our eyes and stomach. Finding that acceptable (and tasty) appearence was the main focus. To achieve this, we used subtle illumination techniques that became a general approach for a variety of objects. Here we will study a brief technical overview, followed by descriptions of different concepts, techniques and systems to achieve the look."

I've been reading iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business for a while now.  Well, with work, studies and other stuff, it's hard to finish reading a book in a single sitting these days, hence the "for-a-while". I'm almost at the end of Part Two of the book and kept coming across a software called RenderMan. RenderMan this, RenderMan that, then how Steve and his early team at Pixar negotiated with Disney to do the very first movie. It was getting too much and I googled it.

I'm glad I did. Read the case study above and you'll see how the software was used in the movie Ratatouille. Forgive me if you already knew about RenderMan. But this software has a historical value too. IMHO, there wouldn't have been a Second Act for Steve Jobs if it wasn't for RenderMan. Kudos to the creators who made it. Wow! an Oscar winning software.. who would've thought?




Empowered Employees, Self-service IT and the Future Enterprise



IT in the Age of the Empowered Employee - Ted Schadler - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review
"Incremental innovation and process improvements have always come from those closest to the problem. It's the basis of kaizen, a system where employees continually improve manufacturing processes. It's also a founding principle of Six Sigma tap employees' relentless, incremental quality improvements.

The same is true in the way employees are harnessing consumer technologies social, mobile, video, and cloud. They're improving how they do their jobs and solving your customer and business problems. And it's not just a few employees; it's a critical mass of employees. In a survey of more than 4,000 U.S. information workers, we found that 37% are using do-it-yourself technologies without IT's permission. LinkedIn, Google Docs, Smartsheet.com, Facebook, iPads, YouTube, Dropbox, Flipboard the list is long and growing. Many of these scenarios are do-it-yourself projects. For example, want to ask me business questions on Facebook? Piece of cake, I'll just friend you. Personal iPhones for email, apps, and Internet access outside my clients' door? Check. Google Sites and Docs to exchange documents with partners? Sure, I can spin up a free site or IT can spend the $50/user/year and make it secure. YouTube to post fix-it-yourself videos for tough service problems? My kid's good with a Flip camera. She can film me doing the fix myself."

The popularity of Social Media, Mashups and App Stores is a clear indication that business users of today are do-it-yourself types. Social communities such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter in addition to devices like the iPhone and iPad appeal to this new enterprise user. The way I see it, in the near future, enterprise IT will have to implement technologies that empower business users the same way these technologies do. Enterprise applications need to have social functionality build in, while allowing users to pick and choose exactly the apps they need, as and when needed.

Use SOA, think about exposing data as APIs. Secure them where needed. Most importantly, keep service re-use and composition in mind. Because that's where your ROI would be. Re-using existing stuff to create new apps with the minimum time and effort. Use a social App Store within the enterprise to govern these new apps. Ensure that business users get a say via rating and commenting. Have activity streams so that users are aware what's going on in their enterprise social circle.

The list goes on... but do take a user-centric approach and build from there. That's why Google can't succeed in the social media space, they are technically brilliant but clueless about how the social web works. Look at Wave, an engineering masterpiece, but a miserable failure as far as user adoption is concerned. Now look at Twitter. Always in trouble with technology, fails consistently when too many users start tweeting. But the users love it. If you ask me, the problems faced by twitter are good problems to have. "So many users like us, we can't handle the love!". I remember YouTube going through a similar phase a few years back. Not any more. Because technical problems can be solved. But if users don't like what you have, how on earth are you going to justify the pay checks of all those engineers?


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

How (and what) reddit gained from digg revolt #5


Here's that analysis we promised of what happened yesterday traffic-wise (tldr: everything went better than expected). via reddit.com

We had some interesting traffic yesterday. Usually that would mean it's time for a technobabbly post-mortem about which part of our infrastructure failed and caused the site to go down for three hours. However, something strange happened this time: the site didn't go down (knock on wood). So I guess we're going to have to set aside tradition and instead make a, um.. "postpartem" blog post about how things bent but did not break.

TL;DR: Money from reddit gold users went to defence against a massive attack of Digg users. And not only reddit managed to overcome the attack, it also converted them to the better religion! Plus, they have reandomly put games in their advertisement boxes, which makes users turn AdBlock off for reddit.

As those who follow me on Twitter know, I created an account at reddit too, joining the flood of digg refugees going there since digg revolt #5 started. As things stand at the moment, I might not return... ever.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Creating a loved brand by telling a story: Tether

From the YouTube description of this clip ...

Stanley Hainsworth has been creative director at Nike, Lego, and Starbucks—all brands that have become iconic through good design. He just finished designing the new Gatorade bottle, too. Hainsworth clearly has a remarkable eye for style, but he insists that the key to creating a brand that attracts fans, that people love, is telling the company's story.

Hainsworth says that companies like Apple have a persona. "You could describe what Apple is as a person, because of the personality they've created," he explains. "So when we work with tech startups, the first thing we have to figure out is their story—what sets them apart in the marketplace."

Now at the helm of Tether, his own design studio and retail space in Seattle, Hainsworth keeps looking for new challenges. "When I left Starbucks, people thought I'd want to work someplace really hip, like Diesel or Apple. I told them I wanted to work with Microsoft and Wal-Mart—two great American brands that have never told their story well. They both have incredible stories, if you think about the startups that they were at the time—it's unbelievable. Bill Gates, what he went through, and his story: it's never been told well. They've never used it to their advantage. They've become a product company with no soul."

"Great companies read your soul," says Hainsworth. "They give you something you didn't even know that you needed."


Monday, August 16, 2010

The Smoking Gun of Sales and Marketing Alignment

The Smoking Gun of Alignment » Crandell’s Corner
Boards and CEO, regardless of their domain expertise, are puzzled as to how to measure marketing. When asked what metrics they use the most frequent response is leads. Yet when probed, it’s not really leads, it’s inquiries. Both groups then lament on how marketing cannot produce quality “leads” and when asked how they fix the situation, the most frequent response is to replace the CMO. The response was the same for those CEOs that rose through sales as well as marketing ranks.

... a great post by @ChrisCrandell

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The 8 Success Criteria For Facebook Page Marketing

Executive Summary

Brands are jumping on the Facebook bandwagon to reach customers. The Society of Digital Agencies reports that more than 45% of senior marketers worldwide named social networks and applications their top priority for 2010. Yet despite the urgency, most brands lack a strategy. Altimeter Group conducted research, and gleaned input from 34 vendors, agencies, and experts, to determine success criteria and develop a roadmap for Facebook page best practices. We found Eight Success Criteria for Facebook page marketing, and then tested the maturity of 30 top brands across six industries.

Our heuristic evaluation revealed that brands fell short half of the brands we reviewed (14 out of 30) did not fully leverage social features to activate word of mouth, the hallmark behavior of social networks. Within this immature landscape, a few brands were on the right track to successfully harnessing Facebook page marketing. Brands like Pampers, Macy's, Kohl's, and AXE increased engagement and activated word of mouth through advocacy and peer-to-peer interactions, or solicited business call to actions that result in transactions. Brands need to stop experimenting in Facebook on their own customers. The criteria and findings in this report provide brands with a roadmap towards Facebook page marketing success.

Facebook: A Platform Marketers Cannot Ignore
Consumers are adopting Facebook at staggering levels. Facebook touts a staggering 500 million users worldwide. Engagement is ripe, with 50% of active users logging on in any given day, connecting to an average of 130 friends.3 Average internet users are spending more time on Facebook per day than on Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Microsoft, Wikipedia and Amazon combined. The attention of consumers has shifted marketers must take action. Consumers lean on each other to make decisions bypassing brands. Consumers trust their friends and family more than other sources of information about products and services, according to a Nielsen study. Another study reports that 60% of Facebook users are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan (Chadwick Martin Bailey). As consumers make decisions directly with each other on Facebook, brands are left out of the mix. Confused, brands need a roadmap or risk experimenting on their own customers. Seventy percent of brands indicate that they planned to increase spending on offsite social media investment, including Facebook in 2010, according to an eConsultancy study.

Yet despite the urgency, brands lack a pragmatic approach. Rather than spin their wheels and waste resources experimenting on customers, brands need guidelines for Facebook page marketing success.


The full report is embedded below and contains references to Nielsen and other relevant survey statistics.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The New World of B2B Marketing

The original author of this is Holger Schulze. I find his B2B marketing framework interesting as well.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Biz School Chronicles :: Fire Your Marketing Manager and Hire A Community Manager

Fire Your Marketing Manager and Hire A Community Manager - David Armano - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review
A community manager actively monitors, participates in and engages others within online communities. These communities can be on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, intranets, wherever groups of people come together to converse and interact with each other. A traditional marketing manager is likely to have little experience with this function. Historically, community management developed outside marketing, in areas such as community organizing (politics) or in niche verticals such as the video game or software industry, which are no strangers to digital outposts such as message boards.

Spending four semesters in b-school, makes one knowledgeable enough to sort out genuine marketing efforts from nonsense. The world has enough marketers who talk about social media and blogs without maintaining neither of their own, and throw around phrases like "unique proposition" and "brand image" because they sound and look good. It's about time organisations prioritise their marketing evaluation metrics correctly. From the data I gathered for my thesis, it's clear that generated revenue is THE metric to use. Click-through-rates and visitor counts are fine, but you really can't put them in a balance sheet, can you?



I came across the post from HBR above, on the same day I read the results from the "Old Spice Man" campaign. Why is this relevant? Well, the old spice campaign is a case study of how to mobilize social media to revive a brand. At the time I'm writing this, that particular video on youtube (one of many used in the campaign) had 16,243,818 views. Other videos included odes to Alyssa Milano and Demi Moore, as well as a marriage proposal. In one clip, Mustafa provides the audio a Reddit user requested to construct a do-it-yourself voicemail recording application.

Now that's as viral as it can get. BUT, did it work?

According to Nielsen data provided by Old Spice, overall sales for Old Spice body-wash products are up 11 percent in the last 12 months; up 27 percent in the last six months; up 55 percent in the last three months; and in the last month, with two new TV spots and the online response videos, up a whopping 107 percent. "Our business is on fire," Moorhead says. "We've seen strong results over all of our portfolio. That is the reward for the great work." (Source)

Yes! a 107% increase in sales. Now that's what most can rightly call measurable ROI. But the most important points to take away from this campaign are how they engaged the community and how they identified key influencers within social media circles.

The social media experts initially identified a crop of popular bloggers in key areas like entertainment (Perez Hilton), technology (4chan) and advertising (Adweek's own AdFreak), as well as regular YouTube and Facebook commenters. Some videos were pre-shot, but Tait said Wieden has done the vast majority over the past 48 hours from a studio in Portland, writing and producing them on the fly. (Source)

So that's how it was done. Oh, and quoting that last paragraph made me realise that none of the buzz-word-crazy, wannabe social media marketers I mentioned at the very beginning will know who the hell Perez Hilton is :) <-- That's your litmus test right there. Until next time ....

Silver fish hand catch!!!!






Thursday, July 22, 2010

Murder: Fast datacenter code deployment using BitTorrent

Twitter - Murder Bittorrent Deploy System from Larry Gadea on Vimeo.



The Twitter Engineering Blog: Murder: Fast datacenter code deploys using BitTorrent
It was time for something completely different, something decentralized, something more like.. BitTorrent..
running inside of our datacenter to quickly copy files around. Using
the file-sharing protocol, we launched a side-project called Murder and
after a few days (and especially nights) of nervous full-site
tinkering, it turned a 40 minute deploy process into one that lasted
just 12 seconds!

Murder (which by the way is the name for a flock of crows) is a combination of scripts written in Python and Ruby to easily deploy large binaries throughout your company’s datacenter(s). It takes advantage of the fact that the environment in a datacenter is somewhat different from regular internet connections: low-latency access to servers, high bandwidth, no NAT/Firewall issues, no ISP traffic shaping, only trusted peers, etc. This let us come up with a list of optimizations on top of BitTornado to make BitTorrent not only reasonable, but also effective on our internal network. Since at the time we used Capistrano for signaling our servers to perform tasks, Murder also includes a Capistrano deploy strategy to make it easy for existing users of Capistrano to convert their file distribution to be decentralized. The final component is the work Matt Freels (@mf) did in bundling everything into an easy to install ruby gem. This further helped get Murder to be usable for more deploy tasks at Twitter.

Now that's a cool idea. The code is open source and can be found at http://github.com/lg/murder.

Confessions of-a-gadget-holic (Slides from the webinar)

You can listen to the recorded webinar and download these slides from the WSO2 Oxygen Tank as well.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Confident, But Not Really Sure

A Great Boss is Confident, But Not Really Sure - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review
My favorite track on Tom Petty's 2006 album Highway Companion is a song called "Saving Grace." About halfway through, he closes off a verse by singing: "You're confident but not really sure." That's a state of mind that sounds paradoxical, but at times it really is true. In fact, it's the essence of what developmental psychologist John Meacham called the "attitude of wisdom." And it's a good description of some bosses I know, who strike a healthy balance between knowing and doubting.
A good companion read for this is "Confident But Not Really Sure: A JetBlue Boss and Other Examples of Wisdom". It's a follow up post with examples.


Apple Study: 8 easy steps to beat Microsoft (and Google)

An interesting presentation. Nice flow and some good data in there.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Upcoming Webinar :: Confessions of a “Gadget-holic”

On Wednsday, 14th July 2010 I will be conducting a one hour webinar explaining Enterprise App Stores as described in a previous post here. We will run this during two time slots. 9 AM - 10 AM (GMT) and 10 AM - 11 AM (PDT). Here's a sneak peak at the topics I plan to cover;
  • App stores - Components of an App Store echo system and how they interact together
  • App Stores in the Enterprise - Self Service IT
  • Mashups - How they can provide APIs to App developers and facilitate code re-use
  • Google gadgets - The Apps that will power your Enterprise App Store
  • The Enterprise Gadget Repository - The App Directory that powers your Enterprise App Store
  • Tips and tricks that may come in handy ....
So if you haven't already, register and drop in at a convenient time slot depending on your time zone :)

UPDATE: The recorded webinar and slides are here.

Monday, July 05, 2010

HBR :: China's Exchange Rate Policy: What's Really Going On



China's Exchange Rate Policy: What's Really Going On - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review
"You don't need complex models to predict that the renminbi will remain undervalued for a long time. Whereas an equilibrium exchange rate must eventually lead to a balance in international payments, the data show that between 2000 and 2007, China's share of global manufacturing output soared from 5.7% to 11.4%, and it accumulated foreign exchange reserve of nearly 2.4 trillion dollars. Those are the world's largest reserves in absolute terms; in relative terms, they're astonishing. They account for 50% of China's GDP, 12% of US GDP, and 30% of the world's reserves today. China knows it must do something radical to rectify the imbalance and a tightly managed float against a basket of foreign currencies isn't the solution."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Building an Enterprise App Store with WSO2 Gadget Server

In my previous post, Portals and Mashups in the Cloud, I described an ecosystem that can be deployed either in your data centre or in the cloud.



An ecosystem such as above will allow enterprises to do two important things;
  1. Expose APIs for third party mashup/gadget developers to utilise in their apps
  2. Maintain a repository where business users can visit, browse and select apps from. These apps run in their personal portal pages.
Within that post lies the fundamentals of an Enterprise App Store. What is an enterprise app store? Well, in the mobile device world of iPhones, Androids and Symbians, we all use an app store at one point or the other. Whether it's iTunes, The Android Market Place or Nokia's OVI Store, we all visit them and they provide one significant benefit in general. We get to personalise our device with the applications we need. We get to build, at a software level, a phone that is optimised for our day-to-day use, without being programmers. We also get to influence the programmers who write these apps, by requesting new features for existing apps or, at times, encouraging them to develop new ones. The role of the device vendor here is to provide the best API possible for the app programmers. The vendor benefits by increased user base and the programmers get intrinsic and more often financial rewards for their creations.

An Enterprise App Store brings this to your organisation's IT department.


"The premise of an app store model for enterprises is simple: By removing the middleman, the famous bottleneck between the business and IT demand can be reduced in many cases. Application backlogs can shrink, consumption of internal and external IT resources will increase, and fierce competition to provide the best solutions to niches can greatly improve overall quality (the long tail of IT argument), all while reducing costs. At least, that’s what is possible if we look at what’s happening to the non-enterprise software market today." - Source, Dion Hinchcliffe.
This is why we had an Enterprise Gadget Repository in the WSO2 Gadget Server from day one. If you already run it within your enterprise (either in your data centre or in the cloud), you already have the infrastructure for an Enterprise App Store.

Adding gadgets to the repository.
An administrator can add gadgets to the repository in a few easy steps (we have documented how).




How users interact with the App Store.
Users sign in to the portal and see a default set of gadgets configured by the administrator. Of course they can change the layout of these gadgets and save their personal preferences for each. They can add new tabs, clone existing tabs to build new tabs.. but I digress. Let's see how they interact with the App Store. When they decide to add gadgets, they are re-directed to the gadget repository.



Apart from browsing the directory and adding gadgets to their portal pages, the users get to rate and comment on them.



This builds a community where users see what others think about the app, feature requests and even bug reports. They also see how many are already running this app.
"That is, the app store supports an ecosystem of developers and creators, but acts as a governance mechanism to make sure the crappy and malicious stuff doesn't degrade and contaminate the ecosystem." - Source, Joe McKendrick.
A nice software delivery mechanism for an SOA isn't it? :)

Additional Resources:



Thursday, June 10, 2010

Portals and Mashups in the Cloud



A few days ago Azeez, the senior architect behind WSO2 Stratos wrote a detailed post about its deployment architecture. He tells the story of how we migrated our carbon product stack to the cloud-native platform that we named WSO2 Stratos.

So what does the future hold for portal and mashup developers? How will Stratos change our lives?

As you can see the WSO2 Mashup Server and WSO2 Gadget Server are also deployed in Stratos as cloud-native services. This means that organisations will be able to deploy highly scalable, highly available, distributed applications with ease. And they will be far less expensive than today with a granular, pay-as-you-go model.

This is good news for mashup developers because now we can re-use code and services in a massive scale without an exponential increase in infrastructure costs as our mashups become popular. For instance, imagine that you have a mashup and plan to sell it as a service. The old model would demand that you invest heavily on servers and bandwidth, and then worry about scaling once the demand catches up. With Stratos, you can forget about this initial cost and adopt a pay-as-you-go approach. Scaling takes care of itself, leaving you time and money to invest in making your mashup awesome.

The same story applies for portals both at the portal user level and, a much more granular gadget level. Since users would want to use those super-cool gadgets from your portal in their blogs, web pages and various other places, because Stratos takes care of scalability, you will have more time to promote your portal and its gadgets . Your gadgets are using mashups? No problem.

Actually, if you carefully look at the deployment architecture, you can migrate, mashup and gadgetise any service using the set of products available there.



An example deployment of an ecosystem based on WSO2 Gadget and Mashup servers will be similar to that shown below. The portal plays a prominent role helping human users collaborate. But what's noteworthy is the amount of collaboration points for non-human consumers such as third party apps via APIs and Feeds. This type of consumption is usually recursive in nature and the demand is usually unpredictable as your community grows (think Facebook, its users and the amount of Apps).



Soon, with the introduction of WSO2 ESB along with the auto scalability of Stratos, a company would be able to set up an eco-system such as the one above with minimum infrastructure costs.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Introducing WSO2 Stratos and Friends



What's Stratos? It's the cloud-native version of WSO2's award winning Carbon Platform. I emphasised cloud-native because there's a difference between that and just deploying a web application to a service like Amazon EC2. Cloud-native implies five things ...
  1. Elasticity: Stratos manages your underlying cloud infrastructure to seamlessly handle the scalability demands of your application.
  2. Multi-tenancy: Departments, developer groups, or projects run fully independently, but share the same middleware platform for maximum resource utilization.
  3. Billing and Metering: Each tenant can meter their actual resource use for internal billing purposes.
  4. Self Provisioning: Authorized users can provision new tenants from a web portal in moments.
  5. Dynamic Discovery: Linking up services that reside in a dynamic and elastic environment can be tricky but Stratos simplifies and automates this process with standards-based service
    discovery and automatic configuration capabilities.
  6. Incremental Testing: Cloud fundamentally changes the way you test and deploy applications, but doesn't reduce your quality requirements! Stratos allows you to deploy service versions side by side and carefully dial up the traffic sent to each version.
With this initial release of Stratos, we have WSO2 Mashup Server, WSO2 Gadget Server, WSO2 Application Server, WSO2 Governance Registry, WSO2 Identity and WSO2 BAM as cloud-native instances running together seamlessly integrated. An organisation can create a tenant, activate the applications of choice and be immediately on their way.

We will be adding WSO2 ESB and other products to Stratos in the coming days. So stay tuned :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

LOST: The Best Explanation I Found So Far

LOST aired its final episode a few days ago after six seasons of great, intellectually stimulating story telling by its writers. As is the case with great works of fiction, the internet is filled with debates among fans trying to explain everything that happened in summary. The most satisfying explanation I came across so far was from a Digg user. Although he doesn't link to the source, he claims it's from one of the producers. Following is his explanation verbatim (images and emphasis mine).

First ...
The Island:


It was real. Everything that happened on the island that we saw throughout the 6 seasons was real. Forget the final image of the plane crash, it was put in purposely to f*&k with people's heads and show how far the show had come. They really crashed. They really survived. They really discovered Dharma and the Others. The Island keeps the balance of good and evil in the world. It always has and always will perform that role. And the Island will always need a "Protector". Jacob wasn't the first, Hurley won't be the last. However, Jacob had to deal with a malevolent force (MIB) that his mother, nor Hurley had to deal with. He created the devil and had to find a way to kill him -- even though the rules prevented him from actually doing so.

Thus began Jacob's plan to bring candidates to the Island to do the one thing he couldn't do. Kill the MIB. He had a huge list of candidates that spanned generations. Yet everytime he brought people there, the MIB corrupted them and caused them to kill one another. That was until Richard came along and helped Jacob understand that if he didn't take a more active role, then his plan would never work.

Enter Dharma -- which I'm not sure why John is having such a hard time grasping. Dharma, like the countless scores of people that were brought to the island before, were brought there by Jacob as part of his plan to kill the MIB. However, the MIB was aware of this plan and interferred by "corrupting" Ben. Making Ben believe he was doing the work of Jacob when in reality he was doing the work of the MIB. This carried over into all of Ben's "off-island" activities. He was the leader. He spoke for Jacob as far as they were concerned. So the "Others" killed Dharma and later were actively trying to kill Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and all the candidates because that's what the MIB wanted. And what he couldn't do for himself.

Dharma was originally brought in to be good. But was turned bad by MIB's corruption and eventually destroyed by his pawn Ben. Now, was Dharma only brought there to help Jack and the other Canditates on their overall quest to kill Smokey? Or did Jacob have another list of Canidates from the Dharma group that we were never aware of? That's a question that is purposley not answered because whatever answer the writers came up with would be worse than the one you come up with for yourself. Still ... Dharma's purpose is not "pointless" or even vague. Hell, it's pretty blantent.

Still, despite his grand plan, Jacob wanted to give his "candidates" (our Lostaways) the one thing he, nor his brother, were ever afforded: free will. Hence him bringing a host of "candidates" through the decades and letting them "choose" which one would actually do the job in the end.
Maybe he knew Jack would be the one to kill Flocke and that Hurley would be the protector in the end. Maybe he didn't. But that was always the key question of the show: Fate vs Free-will. Science vs Faith. Personally I think Jacob knew from the beginning what was going to
happen and that everyone played a part over 6 seasons in helping Jack get to the point where he needed to be to kill Smokey and make Hurley the protector -- I know that's how a lot of the writers viewed it. But again, they won't answer that (nor should they) because that ruins the
fun.

In the end, Jack got to do what he always wanted to do from the very first episode of the show: Save his fellow Lostaways. He got Kate and Sawyer off the island and he gave Hurley the purpose in life he'd always been missing. And, in Sideways world (which we'll get to next) he in fact saved everyone by helping them all move on ...

Now...
Sideways World:


Sideways world is where it gets really cool in terms of theology and metaphysical discussion (for me at least -- because I love history/religion theories and loved all the talks in the writer's room about it). Basically what the show is proposing is that we're all linked to certain people during our lives. Call them soulmates (though it's not exactly the best word). But these people we're linked to are with us duing "the most important moments of our lives" as Christian said. These are the people we move through the universe with from lifetime to lifetime. It's loosely based in Hinduisim with large doses of western religion thrown into the mix.

The conceit that the writers created, basing it off these religious philosophies, was that as a group, the Lostaways subconsciously created this "sideways" world where they exist in purgatory until they are "awakened" and find one another. Once they all find one another, they can then move on and move forward. In essence, this is the show's concept of the afterlife. According to the show, everyone creates their own "Sideways" purgatory with their "soulmates" throughout their lives and exist there until they all move on together. That's a beautiful notion. Even if you
aren't religious or even spirtual, the idea that we live AND die together is deeply profound and moving.

It's a really cool and spirtual concept that fits the whole tone and subtext the show has had from the beginning. These people were SUPPOSED to be together on that plane. They were supposed to live through these events -- not JUST because of Jacob. But because that's what the universe or God (depending on how religious you wish to get) wanted to happen. The show was always about science vs faith -- and it ultimately came down on the side of faith. It answered THE core question of the series. The one question that has been at the root of every island mystery, every
character backstory, every plot twist. That, by itself, is quite an accomplishment.

How much you want to extrapolate from that is up to you as the viewer. Think about season 1 when we first found the Hatch. Everyone thought that's THE answer! Whatever is down there is the answer! Then, as we discovered it was just one station of many. One link in a very long chain that kept revealing more, and more of a larger mosiac.

But the writer's took it even further this season by contrasting this Sideways "purgatory" with the Island itself. Remember when Michael appeared to Hurley, he said he was not allowed to leave the Island. Just like the MIB. He wasn't allowed into this sideways world and thus, was not afforded the opportunity to move on. Why? Because he had proven himself to be unworthy with his actions on the Island. He failed the test. The others, passed. They made it into Sideways world when they died -- some before Jack, some years later. In Hurley's case, maybe centuries later. They exist in this sideways world until they are "awakened" and they can only move on TOGETHER because they are linked. They are destined to be together for eternity. That was their destiny.

They were NOT linked to Anna Lucia, Daniel, Roussou, Alex, Miles, Lupidis, (and all the rest who weren't in the chuch -- basically everyone who wasn't in season 1). Yet those people exist in Sideways world. Why? Well again, here's where they leave it up to you to decide. The way I like to think about it, is that those people who were left behind in Sideways world have to find their own soul mates before they can wake up. It's possible that those links aren't people from the island but from their other life (Anna's parnter, the guy she shot --- Roussou's husband, etc etc).

A lot of people have been talking about Ben and why he didn't go into the Church. And if you think of Sideways world in this way, then it gives you the answer to that very question. Ben can't move on yet because he hasn't connected with the people he needs to. It's going to be his job
to awaken Roussou, Alex, Anna Lucia (maybe), Ethan, Goodspeed, his father and the rest. He has to attone for his sins more than he did by being Hurley's number two. He has to do what Hurley and Desmond did for our Lostaways with his own people. He has to help them connect. And he can only move on when all the links in his chain are ready to. Same can be said for Faraday, Charlotte, Whidmore, Hawkins etc. It's really a neat, and cool concept. At least to me.

But, from a more "behind the scenes" note: the reason Ben's not in the church, and the reason no one is in the church but for Season 1 people is because they wrote the ending to the show after writing the pilot. And never changed it. The writers always said (and many didn't believe them) that they knew their ending from the very first episode. I applaud them for that. It's pretty fantastic. Originally Ben was supposed to have a 3 episode arc and be done. But he became a big part of the show. They could have easily changed their ending and put him in the church -- but instead they problem solved it. Gave him a BRILLIANT moment with Locke outside the church ... and then that was it. I loved that. For those that wonder -- the original ending started the moment Jack walked into the church and touches the casket to Jack closing his eyes as the other plane flies away. That was always JJ's ending. And they kept it.

For me the ending of this show means a lot. Not only because I worked on it, but because as a writer it inspired me in a way the medium had never done before. I've been inspired to write by great films. Maybe too many to count. And there have been amazing TV shows that I've loved (X-Files, 24, Sopranos, countless 1/2 hour shows). But none did what LOST did for me. None showed me that you could take huge risks (writing a show about faith for network TV) and stick to your creative guns and STILL please the audience. I learned a lot from the show as a writer. I
learned even more from being around the incredible writers, producers, PAs, interns and everyone else who slaved on the show for 6 years.

In the end, for me, LOST was a touchstone show that dealt with faith, the afterlife, and all these big, spirtual questions that most shows don't touch. And to me, they never once waivered from their core story -- even with all the sci-fi elements they mixed in. To walk that long and daunting of a creative tightrope and survive is simply astounding.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

HBR: The India Way of Leading Business



The India Way of Leading Business - Imagining the Future of Leadership - Harvard Business Review
"When Indian companies, for instance, take over publicly traded American firms — such as Tata Motors' acquisition of Ford's Jaguar and Land Rover divisions in 2008 — research confirms that the acquired firms increased both their efficiency and their profitability. Rather than appreciating the value of the India Way only upon acquisition, Western firms might be well advised to have a careful look in advance. Understanding the India Way and its drivers has become important for business managers everywhere."

Monday, May 17, 2010

SAP Buys Sybase For US$5.8bn


"WALLDORF, Germany and Dublin, California, USA - May 12, 2010 - SAP (NYSE: SAP) and Sybase, Inc., Dublin, California (USA) (NYSE: SY) today announced that SAP’s subsidiary, SAP America, Inc., has signed a definitive merger agreement to acquire Sybase, Inc., in a transaction that will bring the two information technology (IT) leaders together to enable companies to become better-run “unwired enterprises.” As a result of this transaction, customers will be able to better harness today’s explosion of data and deliver information and insight in real time to business consumers wherever they work so they can make faster, more informed decisions. Companies will benefit from greater productivity, speed and agility to help their businesses grow. Under the terms and conditions of the merger agreement, SAP America, Inc., will make an all cash tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of Sybase common stock at $65.00 per share, representing an enterprise value of approximately $5.8 billion."
Read the complete press release here ...


Friday, May 14, 2010

HTML5+h.264+WebSockets == Begining of the end for Flash?

HTML5 defines a standard way to embed video in a web page, using a "<video>" element. What does this mean for us? A few things. Soon all major browsers will support HTML5 (including firefox from version 4). This means that with HTML5 and an h.264 video codec in your system, you no longer have to install a Flash plugin to view video on the web. YouTube is already in beta with their HTML5 player. Which brings up my other find...



Open Standard Media (OSM) Player is an all-in-one media player for the web. It is an industry changing, open source (GPLv3) media player that is written in jQuery to dynamically deliver any type of web media.

Don't just take my word for it, just browse to http://www.mediafront.org/ with your HTML5 supported browser.

Flash! Looks like your days are numbered. Once HTML5 is in all major browsers and toolkits such as JQuery and GWT add API components for the new HTML5 media tags and WebSockets, there won't be a need for 3rd party plugins.

I think Apple just carried out the execution of a technology that's getting outdated in today's media rich and mobile friendly internet.




Friday, May 07, 2010

HBR: Leading from Behind



Leading from Behind - Imagining the Future of Leadership - Harvard Business Review
For now and into coming decade or so, the most effective leaders will lead from behind, not from the front — a phrase I've borrowed from none other than Nelson Mandela. In his autobiography, Mandela equated a great leader with a shepherd: "He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind."

Hasn't this been the ideal for some for at least 2010 years? I always interpreted leadership this way, maybe because as a Christian the ultimate leader was considered the Good Shepherd. Leading the flock, keeping the sheep together and even times abandoning the rest, just to find and bring in that one member of the flock who has gone astray.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

How to Write a Google Analytics Application




Google Analytics Applications are third party applications that uses APIs provided by Google to extend existing functionality of Analytics and Adwords. For instance if you are a marketer looking for better segmentation of your sites users, you can use an app from the gallery or build one of your own.

If you are a developer, read this tutorial for sample code and a demo app.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Open Social Development Environment

The Open Social Development Environment is a nice, Apache 2.0 licensed Eclipse plugin that helps developers to ...
  • Create an Open Social (gadget) project via a wizard
  • Generate a foundation gadget by configuring its properties through a wizard and
  • Preview the gadget using its embedded Shindig/Jetty runtime



Sunday, May 02, 2010

"What your fiercest rival does badly, do incredibly well."



Strategy's Golden Rule - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
In difference lie the seeds of disruption. In similarity, only obsolescence, and decay. As Michael Porter and Gary Hamel have both so eloquently discussed, the essence of strategy is discovering meaningful differences that make a firm inimitable, singular, and unique. Strategy's cornerstone, that is how to build a disruptively different business.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Industrialized IT

IT is industrializing: What does that mean to me? | The View from Forrester Research | ZDNet.com
Manufacturing process improvements like the assembly line and just-in-time manufacturing combined with automation and statistical quality control to ensure that we can make products faster and more consistently, at a lower cost. Most of the products we use could not exist without an industrialized model.

Wal-Mart has industrialized retail, by perfecting industrialized supply chain management. Supply chain management at Wal-Mart (and many other game-changing companies) is incredible. Products are always moving and the supply-demand cycles ebb and flow almost instantaneously to market demand, with inventories kept at a bare minimum everywhere and always. Service companies like FedEx, Amazon, and Apple’s iTunes also demonstrate the power to destroy the old models of business because their business models are based on the same principles of industrialization.

A good, thought provoking article. But I must admit that words like "assembly line", JIT and manufacturing don't usually make a good impression with puritan geeks. Task 0, therefore, would be to find geek friendly terms to all this buiz jargon :)

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Biz School Chronicles :: What the bleep is a buyer persona?


"A buyer persona is a detailed profile of an example buyer that represents the real audience – an archetype of the target buyer. Marketers can use buyer personas to clarify the goals, concerns, preferences and decision process that are most relevant to their customers. Imagine how effective marketers could be if we would all stop making stuff up and start aligning our messages and programs with the way real people think."
I just came across a nice blog dedicated to the study of "Buyer Personas". The above explanation is from there. The author also posts some practical examples ...
"Design engineers frequently build user personas as a part of their product development process. The application of personas for marketing is less common, but hardly without precedent. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush successfully campaigned to the soccer mom persona during the 1992, 1996 and 2000 elections. By 2004, the soccer mom had morphed into a security mom persona as school violence and terrorism became big issues. The Presidents' campaign staffs used dozens of personas like these to focus their messages and win more votes."
So where do we need buyer personas? I feel that it is ideal to develop your buyer personas immediately after Segmentation of your potential market. Now that you have an idea about your market segments, and the next logical steps in the process are targeting and positioning, developing buyer personas for the target segments would help a lot moving forward.

Case studies, brochures or any marketing collateral for that matter will benefit immensely if you have a buyer persona in mind when you develop it. This makes targeting more accurate and the whole positioning exercise a productive one. Otherwise a marketer falls into the abyss of messaging to no one in particular, which is a costly mistake. The blog I mentioned above takes Sugar CRM website as an example of doing things the right way ...
"I recently visited the Sugar CRM website and saw a series of demos for their Customer Relationship Management product, one for each of the five personas who influences the decision to buy. Navigation to these role-based demos is labeled for each buyer's functional role -- sales, marketing, support, executive and admin -- a great example of the application of persona-based messaging. This website offers visitors a chance to hear how this single solution addresses the needs of whichever buyer persona lands there, and as a bonus, SugarCRM can readily measure which of their target influencers is spending the time to listen to their message."

So that's what the bleep a buyer persona is :)

Google Web Toolkit + HTML5 = Javascript Qake2 ?

Confused? Some of the engineers at Google have used their 20% time to port Jake2, a Java port of the Qake 2 engine to Javascript.
"We started with the existing Jake2 Java port of the Quake II engine, then used the Google Web Toolkit" (along with WebGL, WebSockets, and a lot of refactoring) to cross-compile it into Javascript. You can see the results in the video above -- we were honestly a bit surprised when we saw it pushing over 30 frames per second on our laptops (your mileage may vary)!"

Here's a demo. I, for one, can't wait to try it out (and have a look at the GWT code of course).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Google Announces OAuth access to IMAP/SMTP in Gmail

Google Code Blog: OAuth access to IMAP/SMTP in Gmail
Google has long believed that users should be able to export their data and use it with whichever service they choose. For years, the Gmail service has supported standard API protocols like POP and IMAP at no extra cost to our users. These efforts are consistent with our broader data liberation efforts.

In addition to making it easier for users to export their data, we also enable them to authorize third party (non-Google developed) applications and websites to access their data at Google. One of the more common examples is allowing a social network to access your address book in order to send invitations to your friends.

This is great news for Gadget and Mashup developers. We will definetely have some sample Gadgets and Mashups in a near future release using the newly 'liberated' GMail :)

The Enterprise OSGi spec is here ...

Enterprise OSGi spec rolls out at EclipseCon
At EclipseCon in Santa Clara, Calif., the OSGi Alliance announced approval of its long-brewing OSGi Enterprise Specification (Release 4, Version 4.2). This release of the OSGi bundled component standard is targeted at a broad group of Java application server developers. Greater modularity and increased component re-use are main OSGi goals.


WSO2 Gadget Server and WSO2 Mashup Server .next



The WSO2 Mashup Server, still the only true Free and Open Source Mashup platform in the industry will see its 2.1.0 release alongside Carbon 3.0.0 - Irridium. Highlights for this release include ...
  • Carbon 3.0.0 - Irridium as base platform
  • Hierarchical mashup deployment (mashups deployed under user work spaces)
  • New HTTP client Host Object to retrieve any resource over the internet, supplementing the Screen Scraper and WSRequest Host Objects and
  • numerous fixes and improvements as suggested by users in our forums 



We are almost there with version 1.1.0 release of the WSO2 Gadget Server and Nuwan, a key member of my team has done a nice round up of the latest features and improvements we've done for this release. To highlight ...
  • We are powered by Carbon 3.0.0 - Irridium
  • Latest stable revision of Apache Shindig
  • Pub/Sub and i18n for Gadgets and
  • HTTP mode portal (in case you haven't noticed we ran the portal on HTTPS in previous releases, which was not a must, since Gadgets themselves come from HTTP sources.)
I'm also working on an article explaining inter Gadget communication with pub/sub that I hope to publish in the WSO2 Oxygen Tank right in time for the release.

We are at the beta testing stages of the release cycle and are hoping to announce the final release within the next couple of weeks.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The funnel is dead. It's time for Conversational Marketing


This came via Annie Infinite. One of the marketers in my social network.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Add Gadgets to your blog

Step 1: Go to layout settings in your blogger.com blog and click "Add a Gadget".




Step 2: Click "Add your own" and type the gadget URL as http://gsdemo.wso2.org/registry/resource/system/gadgets/soa.xml

(This gadget is hosted in the WSO2 Gadget Server demo instance at http://gsdemo.wso2.org)




Step 3: Change gadget settings if required and click "Save".



Step 4: Save your layout. Now the latest posts from the SOA Platform Blog will be visible in your blog. And the beauty of this particular gadget is that your viewers can read the SOA Platform Blog's posts without leaving your blog :)




Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Biz School Chronicles :: Hierarchy of Social Community Needs

Read the original article here.

Forrester analyst Nigel Fenwick makes a nice connection between Abraham Maslow's classical theory on the Human Hierarchy of Needs and the needs and aspirations of those who participate in today's on-line communities. At a glance the mapping looks like ....



The author recommends that those who develop/host such communities keep these motivational factors in mind and facilitate achieving them via;
  • Offering a mechanism for easy communication (e.g. micro-blogging).
  • Helping members to connect through rich profiles and profile search with friending.
  • Encouraging support by providing not only Q&A but also the ability to vote and reward contributions
  • Providing the ability to share ideas and to comment and add insight such as through virtual whiteboards, photos, video or a wiki-type content platform.
Good read!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bill Gates No Longer World's Richest Man



India, China make mark on Forbes rich list / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com
Eight Indians made Forbes magazine’s latest list of the top 100 billionaires, and two – energy tycoon Mukesh Ambani and steel mogul Lakshmi Mittal – sit in the top 5. Mr. Ambani is now the fourth richest person in the world, and the richest person in the Asia-Pacific region.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Google Buzz: revolution, evolution, or devolution?




HBRs Umair Haque takes an in depth look at Google Buzz. Quite frankly, after a few days as a user and the amount of privacy issues encountered with the lack of anything breathtakingly new, I have to agree.

Google Buzz and the Five Principles of Designing For Meaning - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
Tomorrow's products and services have to be designed not just for mere consumption, but "designed for meaning": they must yield lasting, shared, meaningful economic gains — or else. Or else we continue our voyage into a no-future future. That's the big picture that tomorrow's radical innovators must redraw. I think Google Buzz is actually really, really cool — it's just not yet a meaningful service. It lives in the shadow of yesterday's big picture, instead of redrawing it. Redrawing the big picture of prosperity, by going from Great to Good: that's today's fundamental challenge.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Haiti Is a Marketing Lesson

Haiti Is a Marketing Lesson - Dan Pallotta - Harvard Business Review
"The reason people are giving so much money to Haiti is simple: They are hearing about it. They are seeing and reading about the catastrophe over and over again on the front page, in prime time, and in viral web appeals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is not a singular occurrence: Every so often, for brief moments, disasters trigger the deluge of media for humanity as is enjoyed every day by the likes of Budweiser, BMW, and the iPod. If it had to be paid for, the media that is currently publicizing Haiti would cost many tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars. But alas, we would never let humanitarian organizations spend that kind of money on advertising, despite the fact that it might bring in many times more dollars than it costs."

Interesting read, considering the fact that even for-profit marketers seem to ignore these fundamentals sometimes.

Latest Releases of WSO2 Mashup and Gadget Servers



We announced the releases of WSO2 Mashup Server version 2.0.2 and WSO2 Gadget Server version 1.0.1 yesterday. These releases as usual include improvements and fixes and in case of the Mashup Server, a new Host Object in addition to the collection already available. So make sure you have a look at the brand new HttpClient Host Object once you download 2.0.2.

I'm really happy about the traction WSO2 Gadget Server is gaining since its initial release in December 2009. It not only fulfils the last mile of our SOA platform story by providing a presentation layer, but also uses the Google Gadgets Specification to make this presentation layer SOA centric and interoperable with other portals such as iGoogle. And the most encouraging part? The users get it. That is a great feeling.

Our next major set of releases will come in March 2010, code named Iridium and will have some major enhancements and features. We are also doing a great amount of work targeting the Cloud. The WSO2 Gadget Server will soon be available as a Service, with Mashup Server to follow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Webinar: New Decade, New Portal



Webinar: New Decade, New Portal
In this webinar, Paul Fremantle, CTO of WSO2, will be explaining the benefits of the Gadget approach to portals, and also showing how you can get started with building effective portals fast. Tune in to find out about the best portal for the next decade.

Starts: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 09:00 AM; Ends: 10:00 AM (PST)
Presenter: Paul Fremantle
Register Now it's free!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Don't Make Conan's Mistake

Don't Make Conan's Mistake - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review
So what's in your best interest? How can you avoid making Conan's mistake?

Stay in your role because you are gaining experiences that will help you achieve your long-term career objectives, or because you think it is the job you can get at the moment, or because it's fun — but you don't stay in your job because of some potential future rewards that may or may not materialize.

No organization can make reasonable promises of future placement — you're setting yourself up for disappointment trusting an organization to honor that agreement. In fact, that's essentially today's career deal.

I've had a similar discussion recently during a gathering of friends and those who were there might remember my stance being exactly this. If I have anything more to add to this great post in HBR, it would be that; every time you think about someone else's dream, you take time away from thinking about yours. So allocate time carefully.

Always think about your dream and consider everything that surround you, including your employer, your peers and the cards life has dealt you in general as tools to realize this dream. Trust me, you will be a very satisfied individual no matter what the present situation is, if you do so.



Gartner's Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2010 and Beyond

Highlights from the report are;
  • By 2012, 20% percent of businesses will have no ownership of IT assets. Fueled by technological developments in 2009, such as virtualization and cloud computing, there’s a movement toward decreased IT hardware assets and more ownership of hardware by third parties.
  • By 2012, India-based IT companies will represent 20% of cloud service providers in the market. Gartner attributes this to companies leveraging their market positions and R&D efforts in cloud computing, resulting in cloud-enabled outsourcing options.
  • By 2012, Facebook will lead the pack in developing the distributed, interoperable social Web through Facebook Connect and similar mechanisms. The interoperability will be critical to survival of other social networks.
  • Other social networks (including Twitter) will continue to develop with focus on greater adoption and specialization. However, they will all revolve around Facebook.
  • By 2014, building on server vitalization and desktop power management as savings in energy costs, more organizations will be driven by the need to be responsible for carbon dioxide emissions and will include carbon costs in business cases. Vendors will have to provide carbon lifecycle statistics for their products.
  • In 2012, 60% of a new PCs total life greenhouse gas emissions will have occurred before the user first turns it on. In its lifetime, a typical PC consumes 10 times its own weight in fossil fuels, but around 80% of a PC's total energy usage occurs during production and transportation. Buyers will be paying more attention to eco labels.
  • Online marketing by 2015 will control more than US$ 250 billion in Internet marketing spending worldwide.
  • By 2014, mobile and Internet technology will help over 3 billion of the world's adults to electronically transact. Emerging economies will see increase in mobile and Internet adoption through 2014. Worldwide mobile penetration rate will get to 90%.
  • By 2013, mobile phones will replace PCs as the most common device for Web access. A piece of advice: optimize your site for the smaller-screen formats.

Read the complete report at Gartner >>

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 and Cloud Stocks

Is 2010 Another Great Year for Cloud Stocks? | AMR Research - Supply Chain Management Experts
Today, cloud applications represent a small percent of software spend. In the Piper Jaffray study, it’s 5.7%. This is expected to grow to 13.5% of total spend over the next five years. Personally, I think that figure is too conservative.

For now, 72% of respondents are leaning toward best-of-breed vendors for cloud applications. That said, though, when asked to select the tech vendor that would be a “material part of your organization’s cloud-computing plans,” Microsoft earned top billing with 65% of the vote, followed by Oracle (61%), VMware (55%), Google (53%), and salesforce.com (52%).

If you’re curious about SAP’s ranking, only 11% see the ERP leader as a key cloud vendor. The relatively low response placed the company 16th on the list, trailing RIM, Dell, Red Hat, Amazon.com, IBM, Sun, EMC, Apple, Concur, and Yahoo.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Gartner Acquires Burton Group

Gartner Acquires Burton Group
STAMFORD, Conn., January 5, 2010 —    Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT), the leading provider of research and analysis on the global information technology industry, today announced that, on December 30, 2009, it acquired Burton Group, Inc. for approximately $56 million in cash. Burton Group is a leading research and advisory services firm that focuses on providing practical, technically in-depth advice to front-line IT professionals. The firm has approximately 41 research analysts, 40 sales and client service associates, and projected 2009 revenue of $30 million.