How to Save the World

Dave Pollard [1 2] has some thought-provoking ideas on how to “create a new ‘tipping point’ to restore our planet’s, and our, health, and replace the thirty thousand year old, well-intentioned but fatally flawed and unsustainable culture called civilization.”

Top Enterprise Software Start-ups

Torsten Jacobi lists VentureWire’s Top Ten Enterprise Start-Ups:

  • Blazent, San Mateo, CA: “Whether you are launching an enterprise-wide server consolidation initiative or evaluating new server purchases for an expanding business unit, Blazent helps you maximize the value of your server and storage infrastructure, as well as your financial investments. ”

  • Composite Software, San Mateo, CA: “The Composite Information Server makes all enterprise data accessible as if it existed in a single location. Through dashboards and other information applications, business analysts, managers and executives can now obtain complete, real-time views of their business operations – views that can be stored, reused, and combined with other views.”

  • Gluecode Software, El Segundo, CA provides open source application infrastructure and seems to be competitive to Grand Central

  • Intelligent Results, Bellevue, CA: “Intelligent Results delivers business analytics software and solutions that unleash the value stored in unstructured data. This enables companies to discover powerful new insights and trends not possible from existing structured data, and turn those insights into operational and competitive advantage.”

  • MetaMatrix, New York, NY: “MetaBase serves as a map of the enterprise’s data resources, including relationships among elements and keys on the same or disparate data sources. The MetaBase Modeler, a UML based diagramming tool, is used to build E/R diagrams and graphically produce relationships.”

  • Pivia Software, Cupertino, CA: “Application generation bottlenecks are often the most crucial problems enterprises must resolve in order to be fully functional. Pivia offloads the origin web site infrastructure by applying a number of technologies including connection pooling, SSL optimization, static caching, and application smart caching. In concert, these technologies can reduce the load on databases, application servers, and web servers by as much as 90% as well as increase web application responsiveness.”

  • Proofpoint, Cupertino, CA probably company 101 to sell anti-spam and anti-virus solutions

  • Quadrus Financial Technologies, Vancouver, British Columbia: “The Quadrus system can perform tasks in seconds that can take other systems hours to complete (achieving gigaflop performance on standard desktop computers and teraflops on distributed server environments) and offers users the ability to dynamically extend and customize system functionality to handle even the most complex models, instruments and analytics.”

  • Syndera, Redwood City, CA: “Syndera offers a comprehensive application that delivers real-time visibility across the organization to align business, operations and IT around the same goals.”

  • Wily Technology, Brisbane, CA: “Introscope, the industry-leading enterprise application management solution, provides deep visibility into the entire application environment and helps enterprises keep their mission-critical applications high-performing and available 24×7.”

  • HP’s Strategy

    HP is emerging as a formidable No. 2 in the industry (in terms of sales) to IBM. The Register writes about its growth path:

    In her keynote address at the analyst conference, Ms Fiorina talked about how the 1980s were about having stable, reliable (and relatively simple) IT systems, and that the 1990s was the era of the hot box, when customers chased best-of-breed technology to build client/server and then Internet-style computing infrastructures. In the 2000s, everything is about going digital, mobile, and personal.

    “This is a profound change in the industry,” she explained. “The key technology imperatives are about simplicity, manageability, and adaptability. These trends are changing entire industries, and this is the world we built the entire company for.” She said that HP would bring the same focus on execution to selling products and services in this new technology era, as it did with the HP-Compaq merger.

    While this is interesting, what Ms Fiorina really wants HP to do is get a bigger piece of the markets that the company plays in (PCs, servers, storage, services, and to a small extent software) as well as targeting emerging and nebulous markets such as digital media. Getting more share from where it is already playing is an obvious tactic, and there is apparently a lot of room for growth here for HP.

    According to HP’s own estimates of the IT market, HP played in markets that comprised a total of $710bn in spending in 2003. The enterprise market, at $320bn, was about half of the total potential market for HP, but HP only had 8.4 per cent of that market. HP reckons it has the largest share of the $186bn market of small and midsized businesses, which is growing at 5.8 per cent compounded annually, but that share is still only 10.2 per cent. (The enterprise market is growing at about 5 per centannually, according to HP.) There seems to be less upside in the consumer market, which HP estimates was worth about $87bn in 2003, of which it had about an 18.6 per cemt share. The public sector business (healthcare, state, local, and federal governments) comprised about $118bn in opportunity, but HP only had a 7.6 per cent share. While getting market share from 10 per cent to 20 per cent is not as easy as getting from 5 per cent to 10 per cent in most markets, HP is one of the two largest IT suppliers in the world. If anyone has a shot, it is a company like HP. (Getting much beyond 25 per cent seems very unlikely in most markets.)

    HP reckons it has about 23 per cent of the $98bn imaging and printing market, about 12.6 per cent of the $168bn PC business, about 16% of the $96bn enterprise systems business, and only 3.5 per cent of the $349bn IT services business. (Again, those categories are only for products and services HP offers, not for the entire IT sector.)

    HP is also adding new markets that it believes can push the company’s total addressable market to $1 trillion, and by getting products in these new markets it can increase the IT spend in places where it already has customers. HP reckons that, in the 2003 market, security was worth $11bn, IT management software was worth $15bn, mobility products comprised $200bn in sales, and rich digital media comprised another $400bn.

    HP’s share in these markets is very small, and this is what Fiorina wants to change. She also said that even the largest HP customers typically spend only 10 per cent of their IT budget with HP. She wants that number to go up, too. It’s all about cross-selling, upselling, and stressing the value of the full HP portfolio. This is easy to say but hard to do.

    VoIP Rising

    Dan Gillmor writes:

    When it comes to making voice calls over the Internet, no company has gotten more attention lately than Skype. This is the service that lets people use PCs to make long distance and international calls for no additional charge.

    Skype’s developers have earned the praise, given the service’s high quality and ease of use. But they might not be winning such plaudits if it wasn’t for some underlying software they have licensed from a company called Global IP Sound.

    The operation, founded in Sweden with headquarters in Stockholm and San Francisco, has its own substantial fan club among the cognoscenti of a technology known as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. It’s one of many companies helping to transform plain old phone service into just another Internet service — and not a moment too soon.

    Today, the old-monopoly phone carriers are working feverishly to dominate tomorrow’s communications. We desperately need the competition from the emerging upstarts such as Skype and other VoIP players.

    As usual in the technology field, Silicon Valley is a focal point for some of the activity. Cisco Systems, the networking company, has been ardently promoting VoIP for several years, for example. And Apple Computer’s iChat AV audio- and video-conferencing system is a marvel of engineering.

    Also as usual these days, the valley has plenty of competition from around the world in this arena. Indeed, one of the pivotal VoIP developments came a decade ago from VocalTec, an Israeli company (with a U.S. base in New Jersey) that pretty much launched the idea of making voice calls from one personal computer to another.

    VoIP uses the Net’s architecture. It converts our “analog” voices into digital data, zeroes and ones, then breaks up the stream of data into packets that get sent to their destination. There, the packets are reassembled and converted back to an analog form that our ears and brains can comprehend.

    Weblogs and Wikis

    Krzysztof Kowalczyk [1 2] writes about the need to bundle blogs and wikis. An interesting point: “Wiki, I write for me, weblog I write for other people.” We need the Memex!

    Personal Server

    Jeff Jarvis wants to place on the Internet to keep all his stuff so that “I can get to it from anywhere on any device to consume, modify, store, or share. This stuff could be anything — my movies, music, to-do lists, shopping lists (for the family to update), contacts, documents, search history, bookmarks, photos, preferences, voicemail, anything, everything. And it should come with the functionality necessary to execute all those verbs I listed (e.g., a nice little list-making ap).”

    He elaborates in a subsequent post on why it would not be a TiVo-like device: “(1) Consumers won’t understand why they should make a capital investment and it will be a hard sell — witness the trouble TiVo has had getting going. (2) Consumers hate installing anything. (3) A service is more efficient — it can offer you a terrabyte of storage but no one will use it all. (4) A service can constantly update itself with new software. (5) If the storage sits in the cloud, you can play your stuff on any device in the home — or anywhere else — without having to network anything; if you store your stuff on a home-based server in the den, it’s not going to be easy to get to yourself from the bedroom TV. (6) It’s possible — possible — that an in-the-cloud service can deal better with copyright issues. That is, you can store a legal copy of (or link to) a show or song among your stuff in the cloud and play it anytime anywhere and copy it onto limited devices (a la iPod) but not endlessly duplicate and distribute it…In any case, I still think this will be a service business, not a hardware business.”

    Ed Sim writes: “in response to his points I believe that technology will continue to change rapidly, prices will continue to drive down, and ease of use will constantly improve (plug and play all-in-one devices will become a reality in a couple of years-just look at the growth of wifi in the home as an example of how fast a new technology can spread). As for the practicality of an in-home all-in-one device, having an IP address for your personal server would allow you to get it from anywhere including your bedroom TV (no different from getting it from the Internet, especially if your home network has a faster connection). So it is not an either or proposition-the personal server idea will take time but it will happen in the next couple of years and be yet another viable option for the consumer. As for what opportunity is bigger, sure the service side will be, but that does not mean a service and personal server are mutually exclusive business models. Why couldn’t Comcast give away Mirra personal servers, charge consumers a monthly fee, and have a cloud-based backup in addition to the backup on the home personal server. In my mind, that is probably how this will all evolve.”

    TECH TALK: A Train Journey: Delhi Station

    Back to India and my journey. It wasnt the length as much as the fact that I was traveling on a route that I hadnt been on before. Most of my train travel have been between Mumbai and Pune. Even after the expressway, I still prefer the train. So, I was looking forward to this Delhi-Dehradun train journey. I was on my way to give a talk in Mussoorie. But there was a hurdle to be overcome: I was on the waiting list.

    For a month, the waiting list number had barely moved stuck in the teens. I would check every few days on the Indian Railways website. Here is a wonderful example of how technology can make a difference. All it took was a couple of clicks to find out the real-time status given the PNR (Passenger Name Record). And yet, access to a technology that could remove pain points for millions is not accessible to the masses. (I will come back to this later.)

    So, with the train departure at 3:30 pm, I wasnt sure till about 2 pm that I was going to be on the train or not. Luckily, one last check and lo and behold! I was confirmed in part, thankful, as I later found out, to a party of twenty-five en route to Haridwar which had cancelled five tickets. So, I rushed to the New Delhi Railway station. And then I started realisng why train travel is not fun.

    I could not find a board linking trains and platform numbers. I asked at an information counter only to be sent to the wrong platform. So, I did what everyone else does in India ask the people nearby (in this case, the porters). And thus, I came to be in a mass of humanity on platform no. 9. The next task was to figure out where my compartment would be coming since the train wasnt yet there on the platform. This time, the answers werent that helpful. The train finally arrived from the yard a mere fifteen minutes before its scheduled departure. I was obviously standing in the wrong place. My compartment was elsewhere. This was also true for the other hundreds of passengers. So, it was a massive, rapid cross-migration. I wished I was boarding a flight.

    A few minutes later which seemed like forever on a hot Delhi June afternoon, I found myself in my seat in the train. It was the middle one in a line of three. Luckily, someone wanted an exchange, and so I got a window. That more than made up for the experiences of the past few minutes. As I settled down and watched people do the same, I started to relax. I was on the train, ready to leave Delhi for the 5 hour 45 minute journey to Dehradun by the Jan Shatabdi.

    Tomorrow: The Window

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