Enterprise Computing

The Economist writes that “faster computer chips are challenging the traditional structure of the huge business-software industry.”

The current brouhaha over software licensing has been set off by the arrival this month of large quantities of chips containing two central-processing brains (or cores) on the same device. Chipmakers have known for some time that merely cranking up the internal speed of their computational engines was delivering diminishing returns.

With the wholesale switch to dual-core processing, some software firms feel they are about to be short-changed. If two cores on a single chip can do twice the work of a single processor, they argue, then customers paying licence fees based on the number of processors running their software (one of the most common forms of software licensing) will be getting a free ride on half the new cores being deployed. Actually, because of internal losses and design restrictions, dual-core chips tend to do the work of anything from 1.3-1.8 comparable single-core processors, depending on the applications they are running. But the free-ride argument still stands.

There are two other developments in computer design that could cause licensing anarchy. One is known as partitioning and virtualisation. .. Then there is the industry-wide trend to rapid provisioning.

Content Centric MVNOs

Russell Beattie writes: “What’s exciting about this is that all of these new services are going to try to differentiate themselves from the carriers and national low-end MVNOs – like Tracfone/Net10 and 7-Eleven’s Ztar powered offering – by their content offerings. They’ll start with branded custom versions of the Holy Trinity of Mobile Content: Ringtones, Wallpapers and Games, and then expand out into more advanced data services which will enable richer content such as music, streaming media, location services, multiplayer gaming and more. In fact, Amp’d and SK-Earthlink are both building on top of Verizon’s 3G EVDO network and consider it an essential part of their service.”

Customer Business Drivers

Supernova 2005 Blog has quotes from a talk by Hossein Eslambolchi of AT&T Global Networking Technology Services:

Customer business drivers include:

  • Security (anti-viruses worms, spam, terrorism, etc.)

  • Right-time collaboration (broadband, Metro Ethernet, presence IM, IP, VoIP, Grid, new access technologies)

  • Mobility/remote worker (telecommuting, wi-fi, Wimax, RFID, sensors, personal firewalls)

  • Flexibility/pay per use: We’re at the beginning of on-demand computing design, virtualization, real-time enterprise, software as a service.

  • Business process/integration. More companies are moving to web services. The network is shielding the customers.

  • Compliance challenges: as much as 8% of corporate budgets is spent on compliance technologies for section 17a3, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.

  • Globalization: NAFTA, WTO, etc.

    Yesterday and today

    ECollaboration will dominate the workplace, he predicted. He drew comparisons between yesterday’s and today’s realities.

    Yesterday’s networks are pipes and ports — revenues of the past. Tomorrow: value-added applications. Software will be the goldmine of the future: rich network-centric services.

    Yesterday: individual networks; today and tomorrow, with IP technology we’re beginning to see the convergence of networks.

    Yesterday: fixed capacity. IP world: on-demand utility everywhere.

    Yesterday: wired world; moving to wireless, free space.

  • Verisign and Wireless Net

    Forbes writes how Verisign’s acquisitions are helping it take up a leadership position:

    In 2004, the company, best known for enterprise security and e-commerce, paid $273 million for Berlin, Germany-based Jamba!, which provides a platform for downloading applications, ringtones and video to cell phones. Earlier this year, it paid $270 million for LightSurf Technologies, which develops multimedia messaging technology.

    VeriSign’s entry into wireless networks reflected “organic growth” for the company, says Roger Entner, an analyst with research firm Ovum. VeriSign was able to move from Internet services to wireless services because of its existing Internet network and e-commerce capabilities, he says. After acquiring Jamba! and LightSurf, VeriSign’s partnerships with carriers gave the company an easy jump-off point for providing mobile content over the wireless networks to individual cell phones.

    Search Mental Models

    Jakob Nielsen writes: “Users now have precise expectations for the behavior of search. Designs that invoke this mental model but work differently are confusing.”

    Search is such a prominent part of the Web user experience that users have developed a firm mental model for how it’s supposed to work. Users expect search to have three components:

    * A box where they can type words
    * A button labeled “search” that they click to run the search
    * A list of top results that’s linear, prioritized, and appears on a new page — the search engine results page (SERP)

    In user testing, people tell us that they want search on websites and intranets to work like X, where X is their favorite major search engine. Luckily, all three of the major engines (Google, Yahoo, and MSN) work the same: exactly as stated in the list above.

    Currently, there’s no single winning label for non-keyword search, but Find and Retrieve seem to work well. For winnowing, you can use labels like “Refine Results.” But don’t use such labels for keyword search — when there’s a box for users to type words, label the action button “Search.”

    Finally, advanced search that combines keyword searching with other search forms can be helpful, but it should be a secondary option that’s only displayed when users ask for it.

    Users are now forming mental models that they expect to apply across the Web, and even to their intranets. This is good. Existing knowledge of interaction techniques lets users focus on their goals, not the mechanics of operating the interface. All this breaks down, however, if your design conflicts with users’ preconceived mental models. Don’t commit this sin.

    TECH TALK: Disruptions: Personal View

    I strongly believe that we in India have an opportunity to build the next Black Swan, a company that in 3-5 years can be as important as Google is being seen today. Keeping a perspective of the future world that we want to create is necessary so that we make the right decisions as we work towards building it.

    The three key building blocks for my thinking about the future are broadband, mobility and emerging markets. Broadband will enable on-demand, net-native services. Mobility will empower users with computers in their pockets. Much of this future will begin and spread faster in emerging markets because they have very little legacy.

    The opportunity lies in putting these building blocks together and creating an ecosystem of focused enterprises which can build out elements of the future. This is what I think of as the Emergic Enterprise Ecosystem. I want to combine this thinking with Bill Burnhams point about thesis-based investing: This approach stresses taking the initiative to develop an investment thesis based on focused expertise and then using that investment thesis as the basis for a directed deal acquisition campaign designed to either ferret out those existing start-ups that fit into this investment thesis or to help create new companies that can take advantage of an identified opportunity.

    Building the ecosystem also provides leverage, a point highlighted by serial entrepreneur Mark Pincus: The big dilemma facing most seasoned entrepreneurs today is about leverage.The VC’s and other investors get plenty by making multiple bets within large funds. They can be reasonably confident that over their fund’s life they can deliver good returns and make good and sometimes obscene money. Entrepreneurs have to make totally concentrated bets and wait several years to see if they pay off at all.

    I am trying to have the best of both worlds be an entrepreneur AND build the ecosystem. Netcore is my entrepreneurial endeavour focused around mobility and software-as-a-service, with a focus on emerging markets like India. The Emergic ecosystem is about taking some of the other disruptions and getting greater leverage.

    I did not start off thinking like this or with a master plan. These ideas have evolved in the past year. My goal is to make a positive difference to the middle- and bottom-of-the-pyramid in emerging markets through the appropriate use of technology. In doing so, I believe we can also build out the next Black Swan from India.

    We have one of the worlds largest populations. We now have in The Times of India the worlds largest selling English-language broadsheet newspaper. And amongst all the enterprise that Indians have been known for, it will be good to also build one of the worlds largest corporations in the next decade. Ambitious, yes. Earlier, it would have taken decades to build the next-generation conglomerates. But now, disruptions provide an opportunity to compress time. Google has become the largest media company (by market capitalisation) in about 6 years. We in India should set ourselves the goal of doing so in even less. Let us embrace Aggregate and Brainstorm Coming Disruptions, leveraging Entrepreneurship to Focus on building the next Googles. Hear me, India?

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