Mumbai’s River of Water and Traffic

Everyone will have their stories about yesterday and the rains. I was at home because my wife wasn’t feeling well. In the afternoon, we needed to go see a doctor. And that started a harrowing hour caught in water which was waist-deep and entered the car. Somehow, our driver ploughed through. I should have taken some pictures but it didn’t strike me then. My only concern was how to make sure Bhavana and Abhishek get home fast enough as the water levels were rising on the streets due to the heavy rains (combined with high tide). We finally made it home without reaching the doctor.

The one memory which will stay on is when I stepped out at Tardeo/Haji Ali and as I looked at the road, the fury of the swirling waters on the road almost made me dizzy. Water had always been so peaceful in the world I inhabited…Now, suddenly, roads had become fast-flowing rivers and endless streams of cars were just stuck or wading through them. People were making their way through the water. And the rains kept coming. I had seen pictures on TV of this in other places — here I was right in the middle of it all.

Many of our staff spent the night in the office since the trains weren’t working. Ramesh had to take a flight to Bangalore and spent 4 hours in traffic before they made a U-turn and got back to the office.

Every year there are a couple days when life in Mumbai comes to a standstill because of the rains. So far, I never really experienced what it was like to be outside during these days. Yesterday, for a brief time, I did.

I couldn’t help think that it is at times like these we need “citizen’s media” – a mechanism whereby people can exhange info on what’s happening. Cellphones can make this happen. Even as the voice networks were clogged, data channels (SMS, GPRS) seemed to be working quite okay. More on this later.

Google Wallet Musings

Charlene Li writes:

I was at the Supernova conference yesterday and ran into transplanted Bostonite Scott Kirsner we had a good discussion about how all of the new blog publishers would get paid for their good work. One of the ideas we tossed around was Google Wallet AdSense already puts paid links on thousands of content sites, so why not also enable them for micropayments? Google is already very good at tracking and collecting clicks worth five cents each. Google could also offer be a subscription pass that securely grants users access to premium content on multiple sites, with each site getting a share of the payment based on usage.

And heres another way that Google could leverage a payment system. Google is one of the largest backers of the new Atom standard, which helps syndicate content. Today, most of the content thats distributed via RSS is news headlines, but Im a strong believe that commerce-oriented content will be appearing soon. So what if Google were to come out with its specialized aggregators or Web sites that would use the open standard to receive items and information?

RSS Clustering

Jose writes: “As a means of improving the scalability of the RSS aggregation approach, i have begun using an approach of doing second order analysis on the aggregated materials to make use of the redundancy in the information. i dub this technique ‘RSS clustering’ because i group stories by topic. the redundancy observed in any collection of RSS feeds can be used for two main purposes. the first is to highlight the interesting bits of news within a pool of feeds, basing this on the assumption that the apperance of the topic in multiple entries is proportional to the importance of that topic. the second is that entries can be clustered around these topics, reducing the volume of information presented to the user at any one time.”

SAP CEO Interview

Systems Management Pipeline has an interview with SAP CEO Henning Kagermann:

…What was missing were the companies that wanted to be different from others and have competitive advantage. They could not do this with SAP [software], which was not that open. The value proposition now [with the new platform] is that you get both. You can combine best practices with innovative practices. In order to deliver on that, we had to change our architecture and underlying software — which we did. It’s called an Enterprise Services Architecture, and it’s based on a business-process platform. This is a broader platform than others because it brings the applications with it as well. So it’s in the same space as IBM.

We have 30 percent of our revenue coming from the midmarket. This is not all channel. It’s channel and direct sales, but it gives you a feeling that we are a leader in the midmarket, which people don’t often know. We are larger than anyone else worldwide. We sell three products: Business One, All in One and ERP. At the higher end, people go more for the suite products; at the lower end, it’s Business One. The midmarket for us are companies below $1 billion. At the end of the day, this is a segment we are going after with different products, and because the midmarket is so large I think you can go with direct and indirect sales. What we want to do is strengthen the indirect channel for better coverage. And the goal is to have in 2010 a ratio of 60/40, with 40 percent of revenue coming from the midmarket. We expect half of the midmarket business to go through the channel.

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: IMS

David Passmore, Research Director for the Burton Group, lays out the ITU vision of NGN:

The ITU NGN isnt just oriented towards voice, but is intended to support presence and instant messaging, push-to-talk, voice mail, video and other multimedia applications. This includes both real-time and streaming modesparticularly important for video.

Architecturally, the ITUs NGN relies heavily on the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) framework, developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)/3GPP2 for 3G/UMTS and CDMA mobile networks. The IMS has been extended to cover wireline facilities, to create a converged, seamless mobile user experience. The ITU NGN also mandates IPv6, and uses traffic prioritization end-to-end to deliver service quality. It requires reservation and commitment of network resources before connections are established.

The IMS upon which NGN is based uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) with extensions, and creates a telephony-oriented signalling network that sits on top of an underlying IP cloud; it replaces telco SS7 signalling and acts as a wireless/wireline control plane. An IMS network consists of many SIP proxy servers that mediate all customer/user connections and access to network resources. Just as with cellular networks, IMS assumes each user is associated with a home network, and supports the concept of roaming across other wired or wireless nets. IMS also includes a policy engine and authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) server for operator control and security.

In this context, it is useful to understand IMS. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

The IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) is an open, standardised, operator friendly, NGN multi-media architecture for mobile and fixed IP services. It’s a VoIP implementation based on a 3GPP variant of SIP, and runs over the standard Internet protocol (IP). It’s used by telecom operators in NGN networks (which combine voice and data in a single packet switched network), to offer network controlled multimedia services.

The aim of IMS is not only to provide new services but to provide all the services, current and future, that the Internet provides. In addition, users have to be able to execute all their services when roaming as well as from their home networks. To achieve these goals the IMS uses open standard IP protocols, defined by the IETF. So, a multi-media session between 2 IMS users, between an IMS user and a user on the Internet, and between 2 users on the Internet is established using exactly the same protocol. Moreover, the interfaces for service developers are also based in IP protocols. This is why the IMS truly merges the Internet with the cellular world; it uses cellular technologies to provide ubiquitous access and Internet technologies to provide appealing services.

Tomorrow: IMS (continued)

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