P2P Update

From InfoWorld: “P2P is moving beyond collaboration and file sharing to serve as connective tissue in virtual datacenters and storage, BPM (business process management), and composite applications.”

The article states that P2P is taking on several hybridized forms:

Pure peer-to-peer is completely decentralized and characterized by lack of a central server or central entity; clients make direct contact with one another.

Computational peer-to-peer uses p-to-p technology to disseminate computational tasks over multiple clients; peers do not have a direct connection to one another.

Datacentric peer-to-peer is information and data residing on systems or devices that is accessible to others when users connect. It is sometimes called peer-assisted or grid-assisted delivery. Applications include distributed file and content sharing.

Usercentric/hybrid peer-to-peer involves clients contacting others via a central server or entity to communicate, share data, or process data. Often used in collaboration applications.

Competiton for Cisco

Fro m Fortune:

Even as [Cisco CEO John] Chambers widens the company’s lead over smaller rivals and knocks on new doors, other competitors smell blood–most notably Dell, which has already sold more than 100,000 low-end switches. Even more fearsome than having Dell as a competitor is the change its arrival signals: Commoditization has come to the networking market. For now, Dell’s market share is so small that it doesn’t even register in surveys, but Cisco is worried enough that this past summer it banned Dell from selling Cisco products. Huawei, a $3-billion-a-year, privately owned Chinese company, is causing a similar stir in Cisco’s China operation by developing and selling its own switches.

Cisco likely has some time before Dell-ification starts eating at its margins. But the mere mention of the Austin PC giant sends Volpi to the whiteboard in his office to scribble an illustration of why Dell won’t succeed. His argument is that, unlike players in the markets for PCs and servers, Cisco controls the router and switch game from start to finish. In computers, Intel makes the chips, companies like IBM, HP, and Dell assemble the machines, Microsoft makes the operating system, and hundreds of companies make applications. Industry standards help the products interact, but often force companies to compete on price alone. In networking, by contrast, Cisco owns the hardware, the operating system, and the applications. Any company that wants to compete has to start anew. “For anything to become a commodity, it has to be sufficiently simple that you could send your mom out to fix it,” says Jim Reese, who runs the network at Google, the search-engine company. “Networks just aren’t there yet.” For its part, Dell says that commoditization is coming faster than Cisco believes.

Thinking about Failure

Success and Failure are two sides of the same coin in business. A fine line separates the two. Failure too can be a great teacher – if we are preared to learn. Writes Michael K. Tanner of The Chasm Group:

To start your thinking about failure, Id like to suggest a process. There are at least nine operational activities that require alignment for any new successful business or product launch to occur. At each step below there are infinite modes of failure. But as you think through your own experiences, try and be specific and honest with yourself about not just what worked, but what didnt work. Here are the 9 activities:

1. Fact-finding taking the time and effort to base planning on real data
2. Insight applying out-of-the-box thinking to understand what the facts are telling us
3. Strategy defining the high level filter that business decisions will be made to
4. Organization making sure the structure is suitable to the strategy (and visa-versa)
5. Resource identifying and assembling both the right quantity and quality
6. Alignment creating deep understanding in the organization about expectations, a uniform culture and norms
7. Accountability putting roles and responsibilities in place and identifying owners
8. Measurement specific, measure-able, realistic and time-bound goals
9. Management putting systems and processes in place and providing oversight

TECH TALK: Disruptive Bridges: The Vision

To bridge the technological digital divide in developing countries, we need to look at disruptive innovations. These innovations are ideas and technologies which for the most part are already in existence. Each idea as a singularity may not be earth-shattering, but taken together, they can make a big difference. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. I have talked about most of these ideas here in the past, so Ill summarise them briefly. Then, we will look at three markets which need to be targeted first in our efforts to build digital bridges. We will also consider marketing strategies which can be used to proliferate technology into these markets.

Let us first begin by stating our basic objective. A computer on every desk and in every home used to Microsofts mantra. We need to think of an adapted version of this vision for the developing countries: A connected computer accessible to every employee and family. Lets look at each of the phrases.

Connected computer signifies the use of both the Internet and the computer. The Internet is crucial it becomes the window to the outside world. At the same time, we want to make available a full-fledged desktop computer. It is hard to use handhelds or cellphones for many significant length of time.

Accessible does not necessarily imply ownership. This is an important difference. Microsofts vision was about giving each worker and home owner a computer. In our world, we want to look at sharing of resources and community ownership to bring costs down. This is akin to the STD/PCO booths in India, where telephones are used by the neighbourbood, rather than owned by an individual. They have proliferated telephony to even the remotest corners of India.

Every Employee needs to have access to a computer. This is what their counterparts in the developed markets have. Computing needs to become central to the enterprise. It needs to become ingrained into every business process. This is the only way we are going to see an increase in productivity. An enterprise may be selling its products and services locally, but it needs to be globally competitive with its product quality and pricing. Competition has no barriers. Competitive organisations imply a productive workforce. We need to use new software concepts to share information, collaborate better, communicate faster and manage customers and the supply-chain better.

Every Family too needs to have access to computing. This will help in many different ways. For starters, it will take away many of the daily pains that are faced in some of the things that we have do booking tickets, interacting with government agencies, paying bills. Next, it opens up new opportunities for both education and business for the younger generation. Just as the railways blew away the geographical limits in the world on the nineteenth century, the connected computer shatters distance in todays world. Everyone young and old can expand their horizons through the Internet-enabled computer.

At the heart of this vision is the promise of a computer-literate populace, which will serve as the underpinning for both the real-time society and the real-time enterprise. Information and knowledge will become the new rivers, whose flow creates fertile minds and competitive organisations. By empowering their people with technology, the developing countries can create the foundation for bridging the digital divide.

Tomorrow: The Building Blocks

Continue reading TECH TALK: Disruptive Bridges: The Vision